National Council votes “yes” on environmental remediation of playgrounds

Switzerland’s National Council voted yesterday to provide financial support for the environmental remediation of residential playgrounds, thus passing a bill proposed by the Federal Council. UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Alliance Enfance, Pro Juventute, Ärztinnen und Ärzte für Umweltschutz, Dachverband offene Kinder- und Jugendarbeit Schweiz and Fachstelle SpielRaum welcome this child-friendly decision. It must now be taken up by the Council of States. 

Kinder auf dem Spielplatz.

Yesterday , the National Council took up the amendment to the Environmental Protection Act and passed the Federal Council’s proposal. This includes the financing of environmental remediation of residential playgrounds and green spaces through the OCRCS Contamination Fund, which the Council of States sought to strike in the previous winter session. We welcome this child-friendly decision. The matter will now be sent back to the Council of States.

According to the Federal Council Dispatch, around 19,000 hectares of residential children’s playgrounds may be contaminated with lead, dioxins and other pollutants. The areas for remediation comprise between 900 and 2,500 hectares. Without environmental remediation, the only way to protect children from exposure to such contaminants at these playgrounds is by restricting access to them. This would mean a drop in the number of play and recreation areas. That in turn would mainly affect young children in cities who do not have many alternative outdoor play and recreational areas available to them. They would no longer have access to play areas near their homes. 

Outdoor play and recreation are important for children’s physical, mental and social development. By interacting with their surroundings, children develop self-confidence and self-efficacy. For this, they need open spaces that are accessible and modifiable, and which allow them to grow up healthy. Restricting the use of recreational areas creates an obstacle to this, especially in densely populated urban areas. 

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), priority must be given to the best interests of children in all decisions that affect them. Children also have a right to good health and development, recreation and play. Switzerland ratified the CRC in 1997, making children’s rights national law. The state is therefore obligated to establish the legal framework to guarantee the rights of all children at all times. To meet this responsibility, We  recommend continued financial support for the environmental remediation of residential playgrounds and green spaces. It is now up to the Council of States to re-evaluate its original position in prioritizing the interests of children.

Stay informed.
Stay up to date with UNICEF’s latest information.