The House of Representatives has voted not to ratify framework protocols of the Alpine Convention.
In a close vote, 97-94, opponents of ratification argued that the implementation of the nine protocols would limit development in the Swiss Alps, and infringe on the nation’s sovereignty.
The protocols outline the concrete steps signatory states are obliged to take for the protection and sustainable development of the Alps in areas including farming, land use planning, tourism, soil conservation and nature conservation.
Parliamentarians rejected a report by the cabinet that said implementation of the protocols would ease international cooperation and in no way would hinder development.
Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger told the House that none of the countries that had implemented the accords had suffered any disadvantages, and he warned that Switzerland would become more isolated if it rejected the Convention.
The issue will be debated next in the Senate, which, in 2004, voted in favour of ratifying three of the nine protocols.
Switzerland signed the agreement in 1991, along with Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and the European Union. Slovenia and Monaco joined later.
Italy is the only other country which has not ratified any of the protocols.
swissinfo.ch and agencies