A guide to sustainable development for businesses in Switzerland

SDG circle

Switzerland provides extensive support to companies aiming to enhance their sustainability practices in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A new platform aggregates all the efforts, best practices and instruments.

At the historic United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, the global community set a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and 169 targets, taking into account the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. All UN member states have made political commitments to implement the 2030 Agenda at national and international levels.

Mid-term review paints a worrying picture

In addition to ending extreme poverty and hunger, the Sustainable Development Goals include limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century. Despite almost 8,000 projects launched, 3,900 events organised and over 1,300 publications published, the UN’s SDG mid-term report from last year paints a worrying picture: the global community must immediately accelerate its efforts to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda.

Switzerland adopts action plan 2024-27

Switzerland is also called upon to achieve the goals it has set itself by 2030. It ranks 15th out of 166 countries in the latest Sustainable Development Report. Although Switzerland is making good progress in some areas and the Federal Council has presented the priorities it intends to set for implementing the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland (sustainable consumption and production; climate, energy and biodiversity; equal opportunities and social cohesion), implementation is still too slow.

To accelerate the 2030 Agenda, the Swiss Federal Council has recently adopted an action plan with 22 measures for the years 2024-27. The measures in the new action plan include, for example, planning photovoltaic systems for entire municipal areas, promoting energy consultations and increasing the number of trees in rural and urban areas. Another measure aims to encourage people's participation and thus contribute to social cohesion.

Business as a key component

The economy is recognised as a key driver of sustainable development. By operating in a sustainable manner, companies can conserve resources, reduce emissions and thus make their contribution to combating the climate crisis. The Swiss government supports companies and organisations in their efforts to become more sustainable through a variety of programmes and activities. Some of them are listed below.

Sustainable development funding programme (in German, Federal Office for Spatial Development)

Environmental technology promotion (Federal Office for the Environment)

ProKilowatt – reduction of energy consumption by companies (Swiss Federal Office for Energy)

New Regional Policy (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO)

Financial aid for projects on gender equality in the workplace (Federal Office for Gender Equality)

A toolbox with concrete instruments for companies

Many companies are thinking about how they can improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and thus indirectly support the 17 SDG goals. However, the number of possible measures and instruments can quickly become overwhelming. This is why the 2030 Agenda Toolbox (available in German, French and Italian) was brought to life. Taking inspiration from its counterpart for municipalities and cantons, this toolbox provides businesses with industry-specific sustainability goals and actionable measures to achieve them. It also offers practical examples of companies that have already embarked on the path to greater sustainability. In addition, it gives an overview of the most important tools and support services.

Toolbox Agenda 2030

The new Toolbox Agenda 2030 for businesses

One more reason to set up a business in Switzerland

The Federal Office for Spatial Development, which is responsible for the platform, has no knowledge of comparable platforms in other European countries. Switzerland is already one of the most popular countries in which to set up a business according to different international indexes (ranking among the top three most competitive countries and as Europe's best country to invest in and work). This comprehensive overview offers even greater value, especially for companies setting up operations in Switzerland for the first time, who may not yet be familiar with all the relevant resources and agencies.

Toolbox Agenda 2030