The indicator system MONET, created for the monitoring of sustainable development (Monitoring Nachhaltiger Entwicklung), is carried out jointly by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The system aims to provide information about the current situation and trends in social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development and to demonstrate Switzerland's position compared to other countries. It is designed as an information source for the public, politicians and the Swiss federal government.
At the United Nations Environment & Development Conference in Rio in 1992, Switzerland undertook to draw up and implement a policy for promoting sustainable development. The intention is to use suitable indicators to evaluate this development. The schedule for the 1999-2003 session of the legislature, the government's Sustainable Development Strategy 2002 and the Interdepartmental Committee Rio (IDC Rio) all ask for the regular production of sustainability indicators.
The indicator system is to be found in the MONET Database, the file exists both in French and German. The database contains the completed, illustrated and commented indicators. Also various print publications are available as pdf downloads.
The principles of sustainable development
Sustainable development is translated into concrete terms via principles. These principles ultimately constitute the framework with which observed developments can be rated with regard to their sustainability. Therefore, each indicator must be related to at least one principle.
The principles are allocated to the respective target dimensions "social solidarity", "economic efficiency" and "environmental responsibility" and subdivided in 20 specific areas.
2a Meeting needs
The basic needs of all individuals must be met over the long term. Individuals should be allowed reasonable leeway to meet material and non-material needs which extend beyond the basic needs.
2b Promoting health
Human health should be protected and promoted.
2c Fighting poverty
A life of dignity is free from poverty. Needy members of society should receive solidarity benefits.
4a Ban on discrimination
No-one shall be discriminated against on the basis of external or internal characteristics.
4b Equal opportunities and fair distribution of wealth
Each member of society should have equal rights and opportunities. Society should strive to achieve fairer access to resources and their equitable distribution.
4c Integration of the less fortunate
The integration of disadvantaged groups of the population and regions into economic, social, cultural and political life should be promoted.
5a Intercultural and interpersonal understanding
In recognition of the fact that the proper functioning of society and its ability to survive are largely based on the solidarity of its members, exchange and understanding between individuals, groups and people of different ages should be promoted.
5b Social and political participation
Social and political participation should be promoted.
6a Development cooperation
Equitable global development must be encouraged. This involves combating inequalities at global level. To that end, it is essential to fight poverty and to support disadvantaged countries, regions and population groups.
6b Promoting peace and democracy
Peaceful coexistence of peoples and nations, respect for human rights and democracy should be promoted.
6c Multilateral policy
Multilateral policy should encourage the preservation of natural resources and the observation of human rights.
8 Economic order in favour of the communal good
Economic activity should effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the individual and of society. The economic framework should be shaped in such a manner that it promotes personal initiative, thus putting self-interest to the service of the well-being of the present and future population.
9a Market as economic order
Goods allocation should primarily be by free market means. If the market fails or in the case of goods primarily in the public interest (merit goods), intervention in the free market is justified.
9b Genuine costs and principle of polluter-pays
Prices should reflect the scarcity of natural resources and sinks and include external costs. The "polluter pays" principle should be applied consistently.
9c Market intervention that conforms to the system
In the case of market intervention, market-economy tools should be chosen above all others.
10a Promotion of economic efficiency
The economic efficiency of a society must be at least maintained over time. The efficient use of natural resources and a future-oriented economic structure should be promoted.
10b Economic order that favours innovation and competition
The framework of the market system should be shaped in such a manner that innovation and knowledge transfer are encouraged and functional markets are maintained or improved. Competitivity and locational quality should be maintained and promoted.
10c Promotion of research
Research and development activities which support sustainable development should be promoted.
10d Long-term focus of public finances
The current use of public finances must not be allowed to jeopardise the capacity to meet the individual and social needs of future generations.
10e Maintaining produced capital
Existing produced capital, such as buildings, machinery or equipment should be maintained or renewed through investment or replaced by more sustainable alternatives.
11a Predictability of changes in the system
The framework of the market system should be shaped in such a manner that a long-term outlook is worthwhile and the social change necessary to adapt to future requirements is facilitated.
11b Socially compatible rate of change
The rapidity or slowness of changes in the framework of the economic system must not jeopardise social peace.
14a Environmentally and socially acceptable world trade
The multilateral trading system should encourage social equity as well as the careful management of natural resources and promote the transfer of technology required.
14b World trade from which all parties can profit
The multilateral trading system should assist in ensuring that one nation's individual and social needs are met without consequently compromising the ability of other nations to meet their own needs.
15a Preservation of natural resources
The natural foundations of life should be maintained in the long term and existing damage should be repaired.
15b Preservation of biodiversity
The dynamic diversity of nature must be preserved. Any damage to nature shall be compensated for so as to ensure the maintenance of biological diversity as well as the quality and interconnectivity of habitats.
17a Limits for degradable waste and toxins
Pollution of the environment with degradable waste and pollutants should be minimised. Contamination should not exceed the absorption capacity of the ecosystem.
17b Avoidance of non-degradable toxins
The emission of non-degradable pollutants into the environment should be prevented wherever possible.
18a Ecological compensation
Preventive or adaptive measures should be taken to protect people, their livelihoods and infrastructure from the effects of natural disasters.
18b Minimisation of ecological risks
Hazards caused by human activity that have a serious impact on people and the biosphere are only allowed if the damage they cause does not last longer than a generation.
18c Caution in the case of uncertainty
Severe or irreversible environmental damage should be prevented, even in the absence of absolute scientific certainty of the actual risk. This also means that preventive measures should be taken against climate change and its impact.
20 Decent natural and agricultural landscapes
Development of the natural habitat of humans must be guided by the concept of human rights. Human dignity requires a decent natural and agricultural landscape to which all people should have equal access.
Each MONET 2030 system indicator is accompanied by three symbols:
The first describes the targeted trend according to the objectives of sustainable development. These objectives are the 2030 Agenda sustainable development goals (SDGs) and its targets adapted to the Swiss context, principles of sustainable development and quantified objectives with set deadlines.
The second describes the observed trend based on the trend calculated for the period under analysis, generally since 2000, or since the date of the first survey if it was conducted after 2000, as well as the last value available.
Assessment of the observed trend in relation to targeted trend
The third is derived from a comparison of the first two and makes it possible to assess the observed trend. The observed trend is positive if it corresponds to the targeted trend, negative if the opposite is the case and unchanged if its change in trend ranges between +3% and -3%.
Detailed explanations are available in PDF format below
Experience gathered since the MONET indicator system went online in 2003, as well as a user survey in 2007, have confirmed that the system is very reliable and meets a real need. Nevertheless, some elements were in need of improvement: For example, the system was difficult to read as it was too large; some indicators lacked relevance; there were gaps in the system and international comparability was limited.
Objectives of the revision
The system revision project which took place from September 2007 to June 2009 had the following objectives:
reduce the size of the system
increase its relevance
fill in gaps
optimise international comparability
As they are deemed to be very reliable, the structural elements of the system, such as the principles of sustainable development and the typology of indicators, have not been revised.
The system was analysed and the indicators were tested by means of a series of selection criteria. These dealt with the use of indicators in reports and analyses, on their presence in the Federal Council’s Sustainable Development Strategy 2008 - 2011 as well as on the possibilities for international comparison.
The results of this analysis were discussed, commented on and completed by several workgroups made up of FSO representatives from the domains involved as well as from other federal offices active in the area of sustainable development.
The new MONET system
The list of themes, gateway to the system, has also been revised in order to simplify the reduction in the system’s size and to make it easier to read.
The system resulting from the revision conducted in 2009 was almost completely in line with international recommendations on measuring sustainable development.1 The subject of sustainable development and its measurement have moved on since then, however, especially following the United Nations Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. The revision of the MONET indicator system took place between 2014 and 2016 as the federal council was renewing its sustainable development strategy for 2016-2019 and as the UN was adopting its sustainable development goals (SDGs) in September 2015 (Agenda 2030).
1 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Conference of European Statisticians Recommendation on Measuring Sustainable Development, 2014
Objectives of the revision
The purpose of the revision was to adapt the MONET indicator system to new developments in the measurement of sustainable development and in the statistical system as well as making the indicators easier to use and explain. There was no intention of enlarging the indicator system or of making it more complex.
One of the reasons for revising the indicators was to anticipate the inclusion of the SDGs into the sustainable development strategy as well as incorporating new possibilities arising from developments in the system of environmental-economic accounting (SEEA).
The structural elements of the system, such as the themes and the typology of indicators were not revised as they meet international recommendations.
The components of the indicator system (themes, principles, indicators) were analysed according to a set of criteria. The results of this analysis were discussed, commented on and completed by several working groups of experts from within and outside of the federal administration.
The new MONET system
This work resulted in the adaptation of some of the sustainable development principles and the revision of indicators. The revised system comprises of 73 indicators, 22 of which are new. The complete set of MONET indicators is only available in French and German.
Gender equality is measured using a range of indicators spread across several topics from the MONET system. These indicators are grouped together in a cross-disciplinary theme aimed at presenting gender equality from a sustainable development angle (only available in French and German).
Due to a lack of data or suitable definitions, the production of a certain number of indicators that are considered to be particularly relevant to sustainable development will not be possible in the near future. These indicators are listed in the document below (only available in French and German).