Deloitte survey: Switzerland demands more sustainability

Two thirds of people in Switzerland believe that companies are primarily responsible for making the country more sustainable. The state and consumers should also exert their influence. This is shown by the latest "Pulse of Switzerland" survey by Deloitte.

(Image and graphics: Deloitte)

The topic of sustainability is on people's minds in Switzerland and is a constant topic of public debate. The promotion of sustainable development requires the commitment of various stakeholders such as consumers, companies, the state, the media, non-profit organizations and NGOs. Deloitte asked 1,900 people living in Switzerland who should play a more active role in shaping a more sustainable Switzerland and what specific measures they would prefer.

For two-thirds of respondents (66%), companies are the first and foremost duty bearer for a more sustainable Switzerland. 61% cite the state and 53% see themselves as responsible as consumers. In French-speaking Switzerland, the figures for companies and the state are above average at 72% each, which expresses a higher expectation of these two groups in French-speaking Switzerland. The group of consumers is mentioned almost equally frequently by respondents in both parts of the country. There were no differences according to age or gender.

"Our survey clearly shows that people are hoping for additional commitment from companies and the state. At the same time, however, they also see themselves - i.e. consumers - as having a duty to exert their influence on more sustainable business practices," says Liza Engel, Chief Sustainability Officer at Deloitte Switzerland. "This leads to a classic dilemma, where consumers are waiting for companies and governments to act, while companies and governments are waiting for consumer demand to drive change."

Company: No clear preference

What exactly the companies should do, however, seems less clear when looking at the survey results. None of the measures surveyed are clearly at the top of the list. Most respondents think that companies should use more environmentally friendly materials (57%), emit less CO2 (51%) and offer more sustainable products or services (51%). They also want companies to pay more attention to their supply chains (48%) and consume less energy (47%).

"Some companies still view potential investments in more sustainable production purely from a cost perspective and point to current consumer behavior and any necessary regulations. However, many companies - especially in Switzerland, a high-price country - have seen consistent investment in sustainability as an opportunity for differentiation and, above all, innovation," says Marcel Meyer, Head of Sustainability Services at Deloitte Switzerland.

State: Positive incentives preferred

When it comes to government measures to promote sustainability in Switzerland, there are clearer ideas. 53% of respondents support subsidies for environmentally friendly and sustainable behavior, such as a tax deduction for commuting by bike or subsidizing vegan food. Subsidies are particularly popular in French-speaking Switzerland, where 63% of respondents agree.

There is also significant interest in investment in research and development (46%) and in education and awareness-raising (42%) for sustainable behavior through campaigns or in school lessons. Additional regulations such as stricter standards and norms (29%) for companies and consumers and the taxation of less sustainable products (27%) are less popular.

Marcel Meyer emphasizes: "People in Switzerland prefer incentives to paternalism. They want to reward sustainable behavior with positive incentives and thus send clear signals. The state has the opportunity - particularly through education - to specifically promote an understanding of the importance of sustainable action."

Consumers: Far from sustainable

Consumers in Switzerland are well aware of their crucial role in promoting sustainability. However, many are reluctant to take action themselves, especially if there are no clear initiatives from companies or no government incentives. Around three quarters (74%) plan to change their behavior in the next twelve months - especially people under 35 (89%) and people from urban areas (83%). In the area of nutrition, 57% would like to become more sustainable, for example by reducing meat consumption or buying local products.

(Graphics: Deloitte Switzerland)

Just over half of respondents (51%) plan to adopt more sustainable consumption behavior by using fewer goods and services. Just under half (48%) stated that energy and water-saving measures could be taken in the home.

"Each and every individual prioritizes their own needs today. The challenge for us is to recognize and take into account the demands of future generations. This makes it necessary to look beyond the current horizon. We must understand long-term growth and the regeneration of our natural resources as key elements of sustainable development," explains Engel.

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