DRR in Switzerland

Disaster Risk Reduction in Switzerland

​Switzerland looks back on a long history of coping with disasters and introduced systematically preventive and preparedness measures as early as the 19th century.


As a result of the decentralised system in Switzerland, operational responsibility for dealing with natural hazards and for civil protection lies, by law, first and foremost with the Cantons and municipalities. The Federal authorities define the strategy and principles, advise the Cantons on sustainable protection measures, provide subsidies and adopt an overall control function. In case of major events with an impact on national level, the Federal authorities are responsible for the coordination of the intervention and for the management of the situation according to the subsidiarity principle.

A National strategy on "protection against natural hazards" was approved by the Federal Council in 2003. Different actors at all three state levels (national, cantonal, municipal) are implementing the strategy. A comprehensive legal framework is in place at national and cantonal levles in the fields of civil protection, protection from natural hazards, protecttion of the natural environment, sustainable use and management of natural resources, and land use planning.  


The Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards (PLANAT) was created in 1997 by the Swiss Federal Council. This extra-parliamentary commission is mainly responsible for coordinating concepts in the field of prevention against natural hazards. The PLANAT includes eighteen members showing complementary expertise within the field of natural hazards and disaster risk reduction. They are chosen from all regions of Switzerland to represent the Confederation, the Cantons, research, professional associations, the private sector and insurances. The Federal Council appoints them for four year periods, which may be repeated.


Steering Committee Intervention in Natural Hazards (LAINAT)

The Federal Office for the Environment, MeteoSchweiz, the Federal Office for Civil Protection, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL with the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and the Swiss Seismological Service have joined forces in the Steering Committee Intervention in Natural Hazards (LAINAT). The secretariat for the Common Information Platform for Natural Hazards (GIN) is attached to the LAINAT secretariat.

Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP

The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP is responsible for the protection of the population in cases of catastrophes and emergencies. The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) runs the federal Reporting and Situation Centre (MLZ) when major natural hazards occur. As a division of the FOCP, the MLZ assembles information and shares it amongst the partners of the FOCP.

Federal Office of Meterology and Climatology MeteoSwiss

MeteoSwiss is the national weather and climate service for the Swiss public, for government, industry and science. With its public service it ensures the basic supply of weather and climate information in Switzerland and thereby makes a substantial contribution to the well-being and the safety of the population. Surface observation systems, weather radars, satellites, radio sounding and other remote sensing instruments monitor the weather. Using the collected data, the weather services of MeteoSwiss generate forecasts and warn authorities and the public of imminent severe weather. Furthermore, these data are exploited by our teams of experts who analyze climate change and extreme weather events and develop scenarios for climate development in Switzerland.

Federal Office of the Environment FOEN

The mission of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is to ensure the sustainable use of natural re-sources, including soil, water, air and forests. It is responsible for minimising natural hazards, reducing risks to the environment and human health from excessive pollution, conserving biodiversity and representing Switzerland in international environmental policy arenas. With respect to natural hazards, the FOEN is responsible for hydrological forecasts and flood warnings, associated mass movements and risks of forest fires.

Swiss Seismological Service SED

The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich is the federal agency responsible for monitoring earthquakes in Switzerland and its neighboring countries and for assessing Switzerland’s seismic hazard. When an earthquake happens, the SED informs the public, authorities, and the media about the earthquake’s location, magnitude, and possible consequences.

WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF

The SLF is an interdisciplinary research and service centre working in the fields of snow, avalanches, permafrost and mountain ecological systems. It forms part of the WSL – the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research – and thus belongs to the ETH Domain. The SLF assesses the avalanche danger in the Swiss Alps and issues daily avalanche bulletins in the winter. The SLF's operational snow-hydrological service (OSHD) continuously analyses the distribution of snow water resources and assists the flood warning service of the National Environmental Agency (BAFU).


National progress report on the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2013-2015)