Environmental skills

 

Environmental skills

For environmental skills, the reader can also browse on the previous page of this site presenting my professional experiences.

Specifically during the last years spent at the Federal Office of the Environment, I was given the opportunity to touch and lead the following environmental themes at different levels:

The subsidization of forestry projects by the Federal Government as head of the incentives section of the Federal Direction (Management) of Forests.

Design and implementation of a new policy of forests subsidizing based on "program agreements" developed in the context of a new financial equalization between the Confederation and the Cantons.

The « EFFOR2 » project designed and developed under my guidance, was one of the first pilot projects of this new policy of subsidizing. Its success was followed by a broader implementation of the concept to other environmental policies (or others) under the financial equalization Confederation-Cantons.

General knowledge of environmental law, as Deputy Director of the right sector of the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) with its various laws (Federal Act on the protection of the Environment, Federal Act on Non-Human Gene Technology, Federal Act on the Reduction of Co2 Emissions, Federal Act on the Protection of Waters, Federal Act on Forest, Federal Act on Protection against Dangerous Substances and Preparations, Natural Hazards, etc.) and its 70 ordinances. For example:  Noise Abatement Ordinance, Ordinance on the Protection Against Non-Ionizing radiation, Ordinance on the remediation of Polluted Sites, Ordinance on the Charge for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites, as well as ordinances on waste treatments and transports, air protection, soil protection, chemical and biological products, treatment in confined and full fields of GMO's, etc...)

The policy of waste from the national perspective (in close collaboration with the cantons, municipalities and key stakeholders from the private sector). Main topics: sorting, harvesting and waste disposal in incineration sites and in landfill plants provided for this pupose. Recycling, recovery of raw materials such as metals, phosphorus, and building materials. Fight against the littering. National and international transport of waste etc.

The investigation and remediation of contaminated sites: treatment of major cases such as Kölliken, Bonfol, Visp, Monthey, Muttenz etc. as well as sanitation of hundreds of smaller-scale projects including sanitation of shooting ranges.

National air protection policy (there in close collaboration with the cantons, industry and transport stakeholders) improvement of air quality through the monitoring of immission standards and the assessment of emissions. Design, implementation and follow-up of the action plan on the reduction of fine dust and soot from diesel. Fight against summer smog.

Noise abatement national policy. Fighting against road, rail, air, industrial and societal noises. Here also this fight is done in collaboration with all stakeholders or the various Federal Offices in charge (the Federal Office of Roads, the Federal Office of Transport, the Federal Office of Civil Aircraft, etc.) the Cantons and all the economic and societal actors (for example the shooting stands, the bars and dance halls, farmers and the cows’ bells, churches and their bells etc).

Respect for standards of immission and emission, looking for point solutions (anti-noise walls) and source (sound of the engines, tires and phonic coatings) are the basis of an effective policy to combat noise. Landscaping of the territory under its safeguard, urban and architectural aspects plays an increasingly important role in finding effective solutions in the long term. In the future, protection of the “silence” resource will become increasingly important.

Protection against non-ionizing rays or electro-smogs is more necessary than ever with the exponential increase of rippled waves as well by the mobile phone antennas, by the increasingly dense network of distribution and the electric current consumption.

Non-ionizing radiation unlike the atomic radiation (ionizing) does not show severity as obvious as the lasts. However, there is considerable evidence that seems to show that exposure to the non-ionizing rays at high doses or in smaller doses in the long term can create major damage. Some people considered as ultra-sensitive are disturbed very quickly.

The precautionary principle stated in the law on the protection of the environment is entirely appropriate for this type of policy.

The sustainable soil management in fighting against their erosion, pollution, their crushing and the waste of good land was responsible for the launch, by the Federal Office for the Environment of a real "soil strategy"

Its goal is to coordinate all necessary actions for the conservation of good soils for future generations and their cautious and intelligent use. Instead of building where it is the easiest and in the process of permanently destroying the best soils, it will be necessary in future to know much better the qualities and values of soils in order to preserve those who offer the richest and the most numerous functions.

Develop the necessary knowledge of soils and their smart management tools will become indispensable in the future especially in Switzerland which keeps the search for balance between its small size territory and the population growth.

Production with an adequate and safe use of chemicals, biotechnology and nanotechnology are the basis of a healthy world where the benefits of these technological breakthroughs are not destroyed by the disadvantages and dangers for health, nature and environment that they can generate.

A coordinated approach between all stakeholders: Federal Offices, Cantonal Offices, companies of chemical and biotechnological industries, consumer representatives and research representatives is essential.

The maintenance of biological and landscape diversity is the basis of another important security of life on Earth (through the maintenance of biodiversity) and the preservation of a huge visual and emotional wealth (our beautiful Swiss landscapes).

If the first element allows to wildlife and plants the opportunity to effectively defend themselves against potential scourges by diversifying their responses to the attacks, the second element is a national treasure that should be preserved and to grow by avoiding, the lack of awareness and intelligence, unnecessarily damaging these beauties given to us by the nature.

The development of an economy able to manage long-term and sustainable natural resources (green economy). Beyond the traditional environmental policy aiming to protect the dangers mankind and nature, the sustainable management of natural resources takes into account another complementary concept to protect against the dangers and the preservation of the species against their disappearance.

It makes us be aware that the current use of natural resources (raw materials and energy but also air, water, soil, the zones of silence or those free of electro smog) is not sustainable at long term. Serious studies show that our actual consumption requires the resources of more than two planets. But we only have one.

This over-consumption wears out and is at risk to medium and long term and may result in an inability to provide the necessary survival of mankind and other species with its procession of impoverishment and struggles for resources. The gradual transformation of the economy into an economy capable to sustainably manage natural resources, also called « green economy », is inevitable.

An ethical approach to environmental policies. The Federal Office for the Environment has founded in 2012 an Ethics Committee. Its purpose is to identify ethical issues and look for answers. It plays an advisory and pioneer role for the different environmental policies.

Ethics allows taking a certain distance face to science, economics, political but also the law. Indeed, it is to discover the values that underlie the main decisions and practiced rules. We sometimes see that what is legal is not always right. The criteria of 'justice' may be different depending on the system of reference values.

The two main ethical approaches, consequentialism and deontology, does not consider values in the same way. While the first seeks to maximize the overall utility (regardless if some must suffer) the other one seeks to set clear limits not to be exceeded. These questions often arise in the design and enforcement of environmental law.

Are we right and for whom, do we have to balance the different interests? Is the protection against the risks always well distributed? Is it right to take precautionary measures? Etc. To counteract the misuse of natural resources, properly allocating of risk, build and apply fair rules, ethics will have to find a decisive place if we want to live together harmoniously on this planet. 

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