Cantons pay attention to sustainability


Basel – Sustainability plays a role in all cantons, but capacities vary. Successful implementation depends on design space and skillful action. Federalism is an advantage here. This is shown by a research project at the University of Basel.

Marius Christen and Basil Bornemann from the University of Basel have investigated the anchoring of sustainability in the cantonal administrations. “Sustainability plays a role in all cantons,” Christen explained in an interview with the University of Basel about the project. However, the capacities of the individual cantonal administrations range from a part-time job to a specialist position staffed with several people.

How successfully sustainability can be implemented in administration depends on constellations, Christen explains. The researcher lists the existence of a specialist unit, its location within the administration and its involvement in decision-making as decisive factors. “Neglect is also often driven by individual actors,” Bornemann adds. “They can make a difference, even in more conservative cantons.”

Federalism is an advantage in embedding sustainability, according to the researchers. “Federal systems are experimental spaces,” Bornemann says. “The cantons are using this space, and the cantonal agencies are sharing and learning from each other.” The autonomy of the cantons to try out new approaches also offers potential for innovation.

As a recommendation, the researchers give administrations the establishment of design spaces. Those in charge should also be “strategically astute, that is, have a sense of when the time is right to do certain things by following political and social dynamics,” Christen says. Specialized agencies should act in a service-oriented manner and “not act as moralizers.” ce/hs