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  • The Swiss Federal Constitution1, 1848
  • The Swiss Federal Constitution2, 1999

The Swiss Federal Constitution with its more recent amendments provides for environmental protection in its 24th Article, as following:

1. “The Confederation shall legislate for the protection of man and his natural environment against harmful or annoying acts. In particular it shall counter air pollution and noise.
2. The carrying out of federal provisions shall fall to the Cantons, insofar as the law does not limit this to the Confederation.
3. The Confederation and the Cantons shall strive within the framework of their competence for a sufficient, varied and reliable, economical, and environment-compatible energy supply and for an economical and rational use of energy.
4. The Confederation shall issue principles for:
a) the use of domestic and renewable energies;
b) the economical and rational use of energy.
5. The Confederation:
a) shall issue regulations concerning the use of energy by installations, vehicles, and appliances;
b) shall promote the development of energy techniques, particularly in the sphere of energy saving and renewable energies.
6. The Confederation shall have regard in its energy policy to the efforts of the Cantons and their communities and of the economic sector. Account is to be taken of the differing circumstances of the individual regions of the country and of economic acceptability. Measures concerning the use of energy buildings shall be taken by the Cantons.”

Article 25 of the Constitution provides for hunting, fishing and animal protection and Article 34 regarding housing specifies that environmental conditions are important and should be protected.

The 1999 Constitutions recognizes in its Preamble a “responsibility towards future generations”. Section 4 of the current Constitution provides for environmental protection:
“Article 73: Sustainable Development
The Federation and the Cantons are engaged to establish a durable balanced relationship between nature, particularly its renewal capacity, and its use by human beings.
Article 74: Protection of the Environment
(1) The Federation adopts rules on the protection of human beings and their natural environment against harmful or irritating effects.
(2) The Federation provides for the fact that such effects are avoided. The costs of such avoidance and removal carry the causers..
(3) The execution of the regulations falls to the Cantons, as far as the law does not reserve it for the Federation.”

Following articles of Section 4 provide for zoning, land survey, water, forests, nature and cultural heritage, fishery and hunting, animal protection. Section 5 and 6, regarding transports and energy put an emphasis on environmental protection in energy and traffic policies. Article 104, on the Economic Section, states that agriculture has to be “nature near, environmental and animal friendly.”

Article 120 of the current Constitution provides for Gene Technology and states that:
“(1) Humans and their environment are protected against abuse of gene technology.
(2) The Federation adopts rules on the use of reproductive and genetic material of animals, plants, and other organisms. It takes thereby into account the dignity of the creature and the security of man, animal and environment, and protects the genetic multiplicity of animal and plant species.”

For further information regarding Environmental law in Switzerland or to consult environmental status reports in different fields, please access the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland (OFEV)’s website.

1. A French version of the 1848 Constitution can be accessed at http://www.basiclaw.net/Appendices/switzerland__constitution.htm. The 1848 Constitution has since been completely revised.
2. The current Constitution is available in an unofficial version at http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sz00000_.html.