“For Switzerland, infrastructure, whether digital or analogue, is an obvious area of great commitment. Switzerland has a passion for infrastructure! Over the years, my country has developed a robust network of roads and railways, power grid and digital infrastructure like high-speed broadband. Given Switzerland’s mountainous topography, we have always had to be innovative in order to find adequate sustainable solutions. We share this resolve with UNIDO,” explained the president.
Ms Leuthard and UNIDO Director General LI Yong jointly launched a new quality and standards programme in Switzerland’s development cooperation priority countries. The aim of the programme is to improve quality infrastructure – such as standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment bodies – in the partner countries, and so deepen their integration in world markets. The investment amounts to around CHF 17 million over five years.
Delegates at the 17th UNIDO General Conference discussed ways of achieving inclusive sustainable industrial development (ISID) under the heading of ‘Partnering for impact – achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’. Switzerland is among UNIDO’s leading donors and is a member of the Industrial Development Board, which reviews implementation of the work programme and budgets.
President Leuthard also used the opportunity to hold bilateral talks on the fringes of the conference with heads of state and government and representatives from international organisations. She also held separate talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Christian Kern.
The talks focused on European policy, but also covered bilateral relations and exchanges on the domestic situation in both countries. Ms Leuthard briefed her partners about the meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on 23 November. They also discussed the priorities of Austria’s EU Council presidency in the second half of next year.
On Tuesday, Ms Leuthard will travel to Portugal for the presidential visit originally scheduled for mid-October, but which was postponed due to devastating forest fires and the subsequent period of national mourning.
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