New Swiss development network to tackle UN goals

Women wash dishes using water from the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. Securing access to safe water and sanitation is a key sustainable development goal Keystone

Government officials and development specialists have been gathering in Bern to discuss how the United Nations’ ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be successfully implemented in Switzerland. 

This content was published on February 15, 2018 - 15:55

Some 250 decision makers, including solar adventurer Bertrand Piccard, met in Bern on Thursday to discuss the Swiss implementation of the SDGsExternal link. The conference was organized by the new Sustainable Development Solutions Network Switzerland External link(SDSN) under the theme "Where Society, Science and Politics create solutions”. 

Adopted unanimously by UN member nations in September 2015, the 17 non-binding SDGs and 169 associated targets are designed to tackle by 2030 a range of the world's most troubling problems, such as hunger, jobs, education, gender inequality, sanitation, justice and peace. 

The SDGs aim to go further than their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), notably by being more inclusive; unlike the earlier goals, the SDGs will also apply to wealthy states. 

All countries can develop their own targets best suitable for delivering the targets by 2030. As many of the actions required to achieve the SDGS are the responsibility of local governments, national coordination and appropriate funding is critical. 

+ How Switzerland is implementing the UN development goals

Switzerland External linksays its broad focus will be on water security, health, sustainable peace and inclusive societies, as well as gender equality, rights of women, and empowerment of women and girls. There also is a strong focus on issues such as migration and development, disaster risk reduction, as well as sustainable consumption and production. 

It hopes to achieve the targets using existing government instruments and policies, including the Sustainable Development StrategyExternal link set up by a federal inter-departmental working group in 2016. Switzerland has also initiated a broad consultation process involving experts from civil society, academia, business and the public, and last year it carried out an online consultation to compare the results of a government review with public opinion. 

This will all be fed into the first comprehensive implementation report that the Federal Council will present to the UN in July on where and how Switzerland can deliver its contribution to the 17 SDGs. 

Also on Thursday, the Federal Office for Spatial DevelopmentExternal link announced that it is funding 18 cantonal and communal development projects as part of Switzerland’s contribution towards meeting the goals of Agenda 2030. 

Part of the financial support, worth a total of CHF290,000 ($314,000), is helping two cantons and nine communes to integrate Agenda 2030 into their political planning processes.

For the first time, the Italian-speaking city of Lugano in Canton Ticino has drawn up a sustainable development strategy, while the town of Yverdon-les-Bains in Canton Vaud is renewing a similar strategy, the Federal Office for Spatial Development said.

Another joint project receiving funding is led by the cantons of Fribourg, Geneva, Vaud and Valais and focuses on how to implement sustainable development in local institutions. 

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