The aims for sustainable development: a driving force for the green economy?

By Michael Gerber, 9.12.2015

Michael Gerber

Michael Gerber studied political philosophy, history and ethnology at the University of Bern, and completed the post-graduate certificate programme in development studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. He has been on the staff of the SDC since 2002. In autumn 2012, the Federal Council appointed Michael Gerber as Ambassador and Special Envoy to prepare Switzerland's position and represent it in the international negotiations and bodies. On 14 January 2015, Federal Council handed him the mandate to head the Swiss delegations in the intergovernmental negotiations at the UN on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the financing of sustainable development.

On 25 September 2015, the 193 United Nations Member States passed the new global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a summit in New York. The over 150 heads of state and government in attendance sent an important political signal for the transformation of the global economy in the direction of sustainability. The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, which all countries shall contribute to attaining by 2030, form the heart of the new Agenda. Switzerland assumed an active role in the three-year negotiation process for the Agenda and played an important role in its development.

The aims of Agenda 2030 include the facilitation of the transition to a green economy. To be able to meet challenges like climate change, environmental pollution, resource scarcity, poverty and unemployment, new global solutions are needed that take all dimensions of sustainable development into account (economy, society, environment). For example: 80 percent of Switzerland’s water consumption arises along production chains abroad. Approximately 140 litres of water are needed to produce one cup of coffee. As part of a Swiss project with Nestlé in Vietnam, it was possible to reduce the water consumption of over 50,000 coffee growers by over 60 percent without reducing yields. Through measures like this Switzerland fulfils its international responsibility and makes an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12).

A unique aspect of the Agenda’s development process in the UN context was the involvement of civil society, science, politics and the private sector which were represented in the process until the conclusion of the intergovernmental negotiations. The commitment of these actors is now also required for the implementation of Agenda 2030.

More and more private sector representatives support the Sustainable Development Goals and aim to contribute to their fulfilment through their business activities. This can be achieved by

  1. channelling private investments increasingly into SDG-relevant sectors, e.g. sustainable infrastructure and energy;
  2. making the core business of companies more ‘responsible’, for example in line with the UN Global Compact; and
  3. engaging in more public-private partnerships. These are concrete steps to be taken in the direction of a green economy.

As the negotiations on a climate agreement in Paris (COP21) show, the political debate will remain difficult for the foreseeable future. Irrespective of this, many companies and civil societies are forging ahead with making a commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030. The success of sustainable development and the green economy depends on the willingness to adopt a new way of thinking, the strength of innovation and effective partnerships between state and non-state actors – in Switzerland too.


Switzerland’s Agenda 2030 platform:
For companies:


Will be published with your comment.
Will be published with your comment.
Will be published with your comment.
Will not be published.

* Click here to access the Netiquette and Editorial principles. Your data are stored on a federal administration server for 60 days so that we can process your comment.

Last modification 09.12.2015

Top of page