Sustainable Finance

Ecological sustainability in the financial sector is becoming increasingly important, both nationally and internationally. For the Swiss financial centre, sustainability in the financial sector presents a considerable opportunity. The government primarily acts as mediator and facilitator in this context, cultivating an intensive dialogue with the financial industry and interested third parties and supporting the creation of an optimal regulatory framework.

On 24 June 2020, the Federal Council adopted a report and guidelines on sustainability in the financial sector. The aim is to make Switzerland a leading location for sustainable financial services. In order to achieve this, the Federal Council wants to shape the framework conditions in such a way that the competitiveness of Switzerland's financial centre is improved and at the same time the financial sector can make an effective contribution to sustainability. An in-depth review of framework conditions is to be completed by the end of 2020.

The Federal Council defined principles for a consistent financial market policy for Switzerland in connection with the environmental dimensions of sustainability and set out further steps at its meeting back in February 2016. These principles are based on market-economy solutions and transparency, while taking the long-term effects of current decisions into account.

In June 2019, the Federal Council held a discussion on a sustainable Swiss financial centre and set up a cross-departmental working group headed by the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF). One of the working group's aims is to assess the impact on the Swiss financial centre of the EU's action plan on sustainable finance. The Federal Council instructed the working group to prepare a report containing the assessment findings and proposals for the Swiss financial centre.

Principles governing Switzerland's participation in international initiatives were also drawn up. As a result, Switzerland joined the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (October 2019) and the International Platform on Sustainable Finance (February 2020). In this regard, it is continuing its activities in international organisations (e.g. International Monetary Fund, OECD, Financial Stability Board, G20).

The question of whether and how the financial market should be regulated was discussed by the Federal Council in December 2019. It instructed the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) to examine whether there is a need for regulatory action as regards transparency, due diligence, risk analysis and stability.

Environmental impact testing

In 2017, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) made it possible for all Swiss pension funds and insurance companies to have the environmental impact of their stock and corporate bond portfolios tested voluntarily and free of charge. Testing was repeated in 2020 and expanded to include banks and asset managers. The results should be available in autumn 2020.

Further information

Last modification 19.10.2020

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State Secretariat for International Finance SIF

Bundesgasse 3
3003 Berne

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