The experiences of the last ten years have shown that the dominant logic of growth leads to exploitation and global destruction of the environment.
A sustainable economy needs binding international rules and a shift away from a compulsion to achieve economic growth. In order for people to live in dignity, human rights and environmental standards must be respected. With a policy on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Switzerland can make an important contribution to sustainable development.
Profit at the expense of workers’ wellbeing
Today, powerful companies – many of which are headquartered in Switzerland – dominate global trade. At the same time, in the globalised economy, there are often dozens of subsidiaries and sub-contractors involved in the production of goods. The motto in the global supply chain is to strive for production to become ever faster and ever cheaper.
This ethos takes a major toll on workers in the Global South – workers who live near a factory that pollutes the local environment; who are forced to work endless overtime for meagre wages; who have no pension or health insurance; or who, due to extreme poverty, have to send their children to work on plantations or factories instead of sending them to school.
In the meantime, a wide range of sustainably produced goods are available in Switzerland. An increasing number of globally active companies recognise sustainability as part of their business model. However, this is not enough to achieve a turning point.
We need binding regulations in line with the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. In addition, we need measures to reduce extreme inequality, for example targeted promotion of small companies and cooperatives to facilitate fair access to credit, technology, means of production and markets.
In the Global South, Solidar Suisse works to develop cooperatives, which use a democratic approach to set an example of a forward-looking, sustainable and fair economy. In Nicaragua, for example, Solidar Suisse supports a cooperative that produces cocoa under fair conditions and sells it successfully.
«For the first time, we have security of knowing that we can sell our cocoa at a fair price.»
Sustainable public procurement
Swiss municipalities alone procure goods worth CHF 16 billion annually; this means they have market power and act as a role model.
Solidar Suisse is using a rating to investigate whether Swiss municipalities are behaving in a manner that is sustainable and shows solidarity. Consumers can also act – by looking for social and environmental labels when making purchases and asking critical questions about companies’ activities.
Sustainable agriculture secures the livelihood of farming families in Nicaragua.
With our projects, we contribute to the empowerment of workers in the global South. We support sustainable economy and advocate for responsible consumption in Switzerland.