During its meeting on 6 December 2019, the Federal Council once again discussed sustainability in the financial sector. It took note of the developments in this area and instructed the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) to examine, in close collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), whether there is a need for regulatory action as regards transparency and risk analysis. The Federal Council considers that there are considerable opportunities for a sustainable Swiss financial centre. It wishes to create the framework conditions which will allow the financial centre to be competitive in the area of sustainable finance.
As part of its discussions of 26 June 2019 on a sustainable Swiss financial centre, the Federal Council set up an internal working group and tasked it with clarifying various related issues. Headed by the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF), the working group collaborates closely with the FOEN and other authorities such as the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and also meets with financial market players and external interest groups. One of the working group’s tasks is to assess the need for financial market regulation on sustainability issues.
Any need for action will have to be aligned with the overriding objectives of increasing the competitiveness of the Swiss financial centre, particularly its ability to meet demand for sustainable finance products, and the attainment of climate goals. Accordingly, the Federal Council has now instructed the FDF to look more closely at the following aspects as regards their impact and in terms of climate and environmental risks: 1. A systematic obligation to disclose relevant and comparable information for customers, owners and investors; 2. The strengthening of legal certainty in connection with due diligence requirements; 3. Consideration of climate and environmental risks or their impact in all matters relating to the stability of financial markets.
The Federal Council’s policy on a sustainable financial sector is based on the principle of the subsidiarity of state action and the primacy of market solutions. The examination of the aspects outlined above will also need to take these principles into account. The working group will present its findings about the impact on the Swiss financial centre of the EU’s action plan on sustainable finance, together with an assessment of public and financial sector measures taken to date.