“We can only implement far-sighted environmental policy if we know how things stand with our environment,” writes Environment Minister Doris Leuthard in the foreword to the report , Environment Switzerland 2015, released by the Federal Office for the Environment on Thursday.
The reportexternal link gives an overview of Switzerland’s environment and natural resources and demonstrates how the Swiss way of life and economic activities affect the environment. In 140 pages it outlines the measures that have been taken to counteract these influences and the areas in which action is required.
Measures taken in recent decades have led to improvements in many areas, such as air quality and energy efficiency, according to the report. However, urbanisation and transport continue to claim more land, biodiversity is on the decline and fertilisers used in agriculture still cause soil pollution. As a stark reminder of the challenge ahead, the report also states that “if all countries were to use as many resources as Switzerland, around 2.8 Earths would be needed to meet the resulting demand”.
Switzerland’s environmental policy will focus on three key areas in the years to come, says energy minister Leuthard: climate protection, the conservation of biodiversity and the management of natural resources.
The report looks at implementation of environmental policy and changes still needed in the areas of climate, biodiversity, air, water, soil, landscape, forests, natural hazards, noise, electrosmog, waste, contaminated sites, major accident risks, chemicals, biotechnology and international cooperation.
In the future, says Leuthard, the cabinet will pay more attention to the implementation of existing laws in cooperation with the cantons, and will “foster dialogue about the value of the environment with the population”.
“To achieve these objectives, we need to understand the situation,” writes Leuthard. “Understanding is achieved through facts. This report presents the facts.”
As agreed with the ratification of the Aarhus Convention, Switzerland will produce a similar report on the state of the environment at least once every four years.
With “Environment Switzerland 2015”, says Leuthard, the cabinet fulfils this obligation for the first time.