The Experience of the Swiss Negotiated Approach

Borders as a Challenge
  • Martin SteinebrunnerEmail author
Part of the Energiepolitik und Klimaschutz. Energy Policy and Climate Protection book series (EPKS)


Within the framework of its sectoral plan procedure for deep geological repositories, Switzerland has been searching for disposal sites for its radioactive waste since 2008. Regional conferences as central elements of a regional participatory process have accompanied the national site search since 2011. The exploration and narrowing down of the number of potential geological sites has been proceeding step-by-step in 3 stages and will continue to do so over a time of two decades at the least. In the meantime, the selected site areas lie, without exception, on the border to Germany. In order to let the public participate in the selection process, site regions were defined and negotiated upon prior to the outset of the participatory process. Within these, the participation areas for the envisioned individual regional waste disposal projects were circumscribed in accordance with potential geological storage areas. The lines were drawn along township boundaries; indeed, the Swiss site search has placed the affected townships in the center of public participation. From the start, Switzerland has included those German townships lying in immediate proximity to its designated site areas in the participatory process. The small size of the site regions, the exclusion of additional affected neighbours and conflicting interests amongst the participants have proven over the years to be stumbling blocks which have again and again placed a strain on communication and cooperation across regional borders and the German-Swiss frontier as well. When trying to solve the national quandary of radioactive waste disposal, it is of decisive importance that the people affected are involved fairly, justly, and on equal footing. This is an aspiration difficult to achieve once a border to a neighbouring country is brought into the equation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deutsche Koordinationsstelle Schweizer TiefenlagerWaldshut-TiengenGermany

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