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5 sustainable efforts by Switzerland, the most environmentally friendly country in the world!

Switzerland is known for many things. From pristine lakes, mountains, and forests, to globally exported cheese and chocolate and even the famous tennis legend, Roger Federer, all hail from Switzerland.

Switzerland is also increasingly known for its stance on sustainable development and named as one of the top five countries achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals the fastest in 2017.

Based on the latest results from Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), The Land of the Alps, Switzerland, is now the most environmentally friendly country in the world.

But how exactly have they achieved this? Here are five sustainable efforts by The Land of Alps.

Photo Credit: Eyeem, Getty Images

Adapting to the ways of a 2000-watt society what is the 2000-watt society? It is an environmental vision that aims to reduce the average primary energy usage to no more than 2,000 watts by the year 2050 without lowering the standard of living. Switzerland received heaps of praise after one of its major city, Zurich, was revamped with specific reference to become a 2000-watt society. The current average is at 5,500 watts in the country but with continuous awareness-building efforts, Switzerland is well on its way to realising the vision by 2050.

Championing Waste Recycling – Polluter Pays Principle Switzerland has the necessary infrastructure and legal regulations in place to manage waste effectively. The public authorities encourage everyone to recycle as much as possible and regularly run advertising campaigns to raise awareness of the issue. Paper accounts for over half of recycled household waste, with residents collecting around 152 kg of scrap paper a year. Some 1.3 million tonnes of organic waste is also recycled every year, of which roughly 300,000 tonnes are turned into compost by private households. The polluter pays principle also has a key role in ensuring the Swiss are champion waste recyclers.

Photo Credit: Zürich Tourism

Investment in Waste Water Management- Swimming in the city centre Up until the 1950s, waste was dumped directly into Swiss rivers and lakes, resulting in dying fish, bad smells and swimming bans. Today, clean streams, rivers and lakes are pretty much the norms in Switzerland. The general public are even able to enjoy a swim in the city centre, a privilege envied by many. This was possible thanks to Switzerland’s leading waste water management system and the general public’s growing environmental awareness which pushed the government to invest in infrastructure enabling the revamp process.

Photo Credit: Climeworks/Zev Starr-Tambor

World’s first commercial carbon capture plant – A Giant CO2 Sucking Machine In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated that negative emissions are required to keep global warming below the critical level. CO2 emissions are also shown to be the main driver of climate change. In 2017, Switzerland became the first country to open the world’s first industrial-scale carbon-capture plant, The Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant. The plant is capable of removing tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from ambient air. By using the filtered C02, consumers were able to reduce overall emissions and lower dependence on fossil fuels.

Photo Credit: François Guillot, AFP

Early adopters of Climate Refugees – Disaster Displacement Platform According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) climate refugees are people who are forced to leave their home region due to sudden or long-term changes to their local environment. Switzerland has been accepting groups of recognised refugees as part of a Resettlement Programme run by United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2013. To date, Switzerland has welcomed more than 4000 climate refugees to the country. The initiative was endorsed to such a degree that it has since grown into the Platform on Disaster Displacement and includes support, committee and team members from all over the world.

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