Switzerland's swift recognition of India's independence in 1947, the prompt adoption of diplomatic contacts and the conclusion of the Treaty of Friendship in 1948, laid the foundations for the good relations between our two countries that continue to this day. I am therefore delighted that we are launching a programme to mark this anniversary under the heading "70 Years of Swiss-Indian Friendship: Connecting Minds — Inspiring the Future".
India is one of Switzerland's most important trading partners in Asia and Switzerland is the 11th largest foreign investor in the country. As of the end of 2015, Swiss direct investment in India had led to the creation of up to 1,00,000 jobs, which is why a sound investment protection framework is important. Tourism is also thriving with many Indian nationals travelling to Switzerland to discover the country — and many Swiss enjoy travelling to India.
Given our common experiences, I am convinced that we should act together on climate policy. Unpredictable monsoon rains and the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas will have an impact on the lives of millions of people in India. The glaciers are receding in Switzerland too, which has an influence on water management and energy production. The thawing of the permafrost will make our hillsides more unstable which in turn poses a threat to many villages and valleys. It would, therefore, make sense to further deepen cooperation in the areas of climate change and sustainable development.
As part of its Energy Strategy 2050, Switzerland has decided to take steps to improve energy efficiency and boost the share of renewable energies in the energy mix. India's energy strategy, which is currently being drawn up, shares the same priorities. In terms of energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energies, a number of joint projects are already under way between our two countries. One of those is CapaCITIES, where Switzerland is helping municipal authorities in India to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In this recent op-ed in a major Indian newspaper, the Swiss President Doris Leuthard mentions the CapaCITIES project, managed by South Pole Group, as good practice example of Swiss-Indian cooperation on clean energy. This article has been edited for length. The original version can be read here.