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Switzerland

Actions:

1) Promoting the concept of integrated water management

Switzerland is implementing integrated water management within the catchment area as management and planning space, using the text, “Watershed Management – Guiding Principles for Integrated Management of Water in Switzerland“ as a policy framework for water managers in cantons, regions, syndicates and communes and by developing a code of practice and pilot projects.

2) Water quality: Mitigating micropollutants from point and diffuse sources

The largest wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland are to be upgraded with an additional treatment step to mitigate point-source pollution by micropollutants. The understanding of the origins and pathways of diffuse pollution from micropollutants (originating from transport, urban areas, and agriculture) will be further researched as a basis for determining appropriate mitigation strategies.

3) Remediation of hydromorphological alterations: Strategic planning by the cantons

To respond to the hydromorphological pressures due to river corrections, flood control measures and hydropower production, an amendment of the Swiss Water Protection legislation entered into force in 2011. Through 2015, cantons must develop their strategic planning for rehabilitation activities for rivers and for mitigation measures with regard to hydropower production. Strategic planning of restoration activities for lakes must be finalized by 2018.

4) Climate change adaptation: Adaptation strategy for Water Management

An Alpine country, Switzerland is strongly affected by climate change. Integrated water resources management (see Action 1), the enforcement of the revised Water Protection Act (see Action 3) and transboundary cooperation within the international river and lake commissions to which Switzerland belongs are essential elements for the successful implementation of the climate change adaptation strategy for water management.

5) Integrated Flood Prevention

Flood risk prevention in Switzerland is based on integrated risk management and underlined by the following principles: Know your risks; reduce your vulnerability; be prepared; reduce damage potential; speed up recovery by contingency planning; and learn from past events by monitoring and evaluating the process. This action seeks to use these principles to ensure adequate protection of areas that are vital to human livelihoods and economic development, limit economic damage, improve the handling of uncertainties and residual or remaining risks, and understand rivers and streams as essential linking elements in landscapes and nature.

Progress reports:

2013:

All five actions were listed as "In Progress" in the 2013 report. In-depth and detailed descriptions of the progress of each of Switzerland's five actions are available for review in the country's 2013 progress report, the link to which can be found at the bottom of this page. 

2016:

To be submitted.

Challenges and lessons learned:

A recurring challenge for Switzerland in completing these actions is the limited space availabilities in such a small country, and the resulting issue of competing space requirements across sectors. There are also many uncertainties at local and regional levels regarding the cantons' abilities to predict the hydrological issues relevant for water management in their area and to make investments based on these uncertain issues.

Links for Switzerland:

Download the full text of Switzerland's actions as part of AWA: ENG

Download Switzerland's 2013 AWA progress report: ENG

Return to the AWA homepage