Rating of Swiss municipalities

Stopping our taxes from facilitating exploitation

When the federation, cantons and municipalities purchase cheap products abroad, there is often a downside – their production involves appalling wages, significant overtime, dangerous working conditions or even child labour. Consumer behaviour in Switzerland has a direct influence over the working conditions in the Global South. As a major consumer that spends CHF 40 billion on goods and services annually, the public authorities have a particular responsibility to ensure that no workers were exploited in the production of the uniforms, cobblestones or computers they purchase. Swiss municipalities alone spend CHF 16 billion annually; this spending can influence living conditions in the Global South through socially sustainable purchases and demonstrations of solidarity through support for development projects.

Sustainable public procurement

Since 2011, Solidar Suisse has used its municipality rating to regularly investigate whether Swiss municipalities are living up to their responsibility for their impact globally, by taking account of social sustainability factors in their procurement and by supporting development cooperation.

Ein Kind arbeitet in einem Steinbruch in Mogadischu.
Ein Kind arbeitet in einem Steinbruch in Mogadischu.

Boy at work in a quarry in Mogadishu. © AMISOM

Impetus for sustainability

Steady improvements

The municipality rating is yielding results. There has been significant progress since 2011, above all in procurement processes. The number of municipalities in the ‘leader’ category has risen steadily: from three in 2011, to 16 out of 87 participating municipalities in 2019. Some municipalities have stated that, after receiving a poor score in the rating, they have reformulated their approach to procurement to incorporate sustainability. The municipality of Meilen is a good example – in 2016 it entered the rating with a very good result. It demanded that its suppliers committed to complying with the ILO’s core labour standards. In 2019, Meilen introduced the procurement guidelines produced by the Swiss energy-efficient city programme Energiestadt to strengthen the focus on social criteria.

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