By Ernst A. Brugger, 19.06.2015
According to all of the rankings, the Switzerland has one of the five best economies in the world. Competitiveness and, hence also, innovative capacity are high, the labour market works efficiently and, although the recent currency shock understandably prompted complaints, it mainly gave rise to further increases in performance – and this situation prevails despite the fact that our country has comparatively few valuable natural resources.
Or, perhaps, for this very reason? The lack of natural resources was and is one of the main driving forces of Switzerland’s success: it prompts a more efficient use of resources. According to the available comparative statistics, the Swiss economy is among the global leaders when it comes to energy, water and raw-materials efficiency. Swiss innovations for more sustainable materials, energy-saving systems and intelligent construction systems are conquering markets throughout the world. The Swiss economy’s “green cluster” is growing at an above-average rate and rapidly achieving significant export success.
Entrepreneurial self-interest is one of the most important drivers of this dynamic: the more efficient use of resources generates cost leadership, more innovative processes provide competitive advantages, sustainable products and services strengthen customer relations, and the resulting positive image attracts the top experts and partners. For example: the SV Group, one of the leading Swiss companies for employee and student catering introduced the “One Two We” programme in 2013 with a view to achieving significant reductions in the environmental impact of its restaurants. Without reducing the quality of the service provided to customers, the menus now feature fewer air-transported goods, fewer products from greenhouses heated using fossil fuels, less meat, less energy consumption and less waste. This protects the climate and environment, is healthy, and makes economic sense.
Sustainability essentially means the capacity and desire for innovation. This can be stimulated through innovation-friendly conditions and future-oriented research and education at our universities and within the dual education system, which offers a lot of potential. The current debate about a new generation of innovation parks in Switzerland represents an enormous opportunity for sustainable innovation processes and products and, hence also, for increasing Switzerland’s international competitiveness.
And global demand is growing at a two-digit rate. The global demand for intelligent resource-efficient solutions in the infrastructure sector is particularly impressive. Record numbers of infrastructure programmes are being authorised in China, India and Brazil. The Chinese “export programme” in the infrastructure sector will reach an unprecedented level over the next ten years and should be boosted by the new Asian “World Bank”. The decision by the Chinese leadership to develop its own rapid urbanisation process using intelligent resource-efficient solutions is creating strong demand for sustainable systems, products and services.
The green economy is a sustainable economy. It is growing faster than ever at global level. The challenges involved are becoming opportunities for companies with pioneering business models. Switzerland’s market share must be increased in the interest of business and the economy.
Editor's note: Individual contributions may reflect an author's personal perspective. Over time, the spectrum of political views will be reflected in the variety of the contributions published. Editorial principles
Last modification 15.09.2015