Switzerland’s sustainability footprint


In this project we are creating new data on global sustainability inventories. The focus is on a better understanding of the effectiveness and limitations of alternative policies aimed at sustainable consumption patterns and related socio-economic impacts.




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Project description (ongoing research project)

We are developing new measures to achieve sustainable footprint targets for the Swiss economy that are to become part of a publicly accessible database. In view of these objectives, we are also examining the effectiveness of alternative tax-based and voluntary instruments. This includes a projection analysis of usage trends and an investigation of contractual restrictions concerning the application of alternative instruments resulting from Switzerland’s membership of the World Trade Organisation. The latter will also serve to identify potential scope for international actions and initiatives on the part of Switzerland.


As a rule, national resource consumption targets focus on national or local production. However, not only producers but also consumers bear responsibility. Due to international trade, local consumption is also a burden on the environment in other geographic regions. A careful analysis of cross-border production links and their impacts on local consumption and global sustainability is an important step towards understanding the effectiveness and limitations of a sustainability policy designed for the long-term.


Our main aims are to quantify the sustainability situation of the Swiss economy, identify future challenges and evaluate the political options for Switzerland. The four key elements are: (i) The development of sustainability indicators; (ii) The preparation of projections of future emissions and resource use in Switzerland; (iii) The analysis of economic and legal design of instruments for a sustainability policy for Switzerland; (iv) The assessment of the potential for eco-labelling.


Taking into account the complexity of global supply chains we will provide a scientific analysis of alternative instruments and their basis in international commercial law. By developing public databases we will reduce the threshold costs for conducting broader future research.

Original title

Switzerland’s Sustainability Footprint: Economic and Legal Challenges

Project leader

Project leader

  • Prof. Dr. Joseph Francois, Universität Bern, World Trade Institute

Project partners

  • UN International Trade Center (ITC)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)



Further information on this content



Prof. Dr. Joseph Francois Universität Bern
World Trade Institute
Hallerstrasse 6 3012 Bern +41 31 631 32 70

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