South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Switzerland's involvement in the South Caucasus is aimed at the needs and priorities of its three partner states in the region. It focuses on making economic development inclusive and sustainable, improving the efficiency of democratic institutions and human security.

Map of the South Caucasus region

The South Caucasus continues to face unresolved conflicts and tensions. While the region is of geopolitical significance due to its importance in terms of connectivity and for energy supplies to Europe, persistent tensions affect people’s safety and are an obstacle to economic and social development. Thanks to its long-standing experience in the South Caucasus, Switzerland is seen as a trustworthy partner to support these former Soviet countries in their political transition. It fosters greater cooperation between them on common interests that are not politically sensitive such as trading in agricultural products and climate change adaptation.

Inclusive and sustainable economic development

Developing the agricultural sector in the region is a priority in order to sustain an income for the rural population. In practice, this involves integrating small-scale subsistence farms in the agricultural value chains, which allows farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises to sell their products on national and regional markets. It also enables them to access financial services to take out a loan, attend professional training courses to update their knowledge and get customised support.

Agriculture and food security
Basic education and vocational skills development

Private Sector Development and financial services

Effective democratic institutions, human safety and security

Inclusive and sustainable economic development requires functioning democratic institutions, respect for human rights and a secure environment. That is why Switzerland aims to improve the efficiency of governmental institutions. It focuses in particular on building capacities at the local administrative level so that they can provide good-quality services, and at the national level in terms of better management of public finances. Switzerland also engages in conflict resolution by promoting dialogue between the parties in question. In addition, it is involved in natural disaster risk reduction along with adaptation to climate change with a focus on the sustainable development of rural and mountain regions.

Moreover, with its engagement for arts and culture, Switzerland supports the creation of opportunities for artists from the three countries to exchange and to contribute to the discussion on the future of the region.

State and Economic Reforms
Fragility and violence impede poverty reduction

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Organisation and partners

Switzerland’s involvement in the South Caucasus dates back to the relief aid it provided during the devastating earthquake in northern Armenia in 1988. In 1999, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) opened a regional cooperation office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. While Swiss Humanitarian Aid ended its activities in 2016, Swiss efforts focusing on cooperation and peacebuilding activities in the region will continue. The 2017-2020 cooperation strategy is implemented jointly by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Switzerland’s key partners in the South Caucasus:

  • Development partners (GIZ, ADA)
  • Local and international NGOs
  • Multilateral organisations e.g. UNDP, European Investment Bank, Bretton Woods institutions
  • Civil society organisations
  • Private sector

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 15

Women’s Increased Leadership for Democracy in Georgia

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2027

To engage more women in Georgia’s political and public life, the WILD project will

(i) increase the political literacy and skills of 1’150 locally active women, their organizations and public servants;

(ii) sensitize 60 journalists, and 150 data producers and users on gender-related reporting;

(iii) contribute to development and adoption of gender-responsive laws and policies, benefitting some 38’350 public servants. The project will engage with men to foster behavioural change.

Modernization of Vocational Education and Training related to Agriculture in Georgia

01.09.2022 - 31.08.2025

Agricultural productivity and incomes are low in Georgia, which is largely due to obsolete knowledge and skills. The project contributes to introducing systemic changes in agriculture-related vocational education and extension services, increasing the role of private sector actors in planning and delivering vocational training. Rural youth, women and men, will thus be better trained and acquire more relevant skills; this will contribute to increasing their incomes and employment opportunities.

Market Alliances for Rural Development

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2026

A majority of rural inhabitants in Georgia rely on incomes from agriculture and the use of natural resources. The project where Switzerland contributes will strengthen their access to markets (sale, inputs). It will enable rural producers to enhance the quality and scale of production, improve resilience to changing climate, and access domestic and export markets, which will contribute to raising incomes, increasing inclusion and the quality of the living environment in rural areas.

Contribution to the Council of Europe Action Plan in Georgia - Democracy Starts in Schools

01.03.2022 - 31.12.2023

Good governance is key to achieving sustainable development and just and peaceful societies. Building on its expertise in governance and human rights, Switzerland will foster Georgia’s culture of democracy by supporting the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plan 2020-2023. In particular, by equipping young people with democratic values, attitudes and skills at schools, they should become active and responsible citizens, ready to engage in local decision-making.

Improving National Animal Identificationand Traceability Systems (NAITS)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

In Georgia, the livestock sector is dominated by small-scale subsistence farms, using common grazing and increasing the spread of diseases, which reduce productivity and farmers’ incomes. Switzerland has been supporting the authorities to introduce a digital system of animal identification and registration to improve health control since 2016. The system is operational, but further support is needed to ensure that it is effectively used and contributes to increasing competitiveness and farmers’ incomes.

Enhanced resilience of viticulture in Abkhazia

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2026

A vast area in Abkhazia was contaminated by the explosion of an ammunition warehouse in 2017. Clearance efforts supported by international experts are about to be completed, enabling the restoration of the land for agricultural purposes. Endemic grape varieties will be reintroduced fostering biodiversity and resistance to disease. Growers’ resilience to climatic and economic shocks will be enhanced by setting a sector association and training in advanced agricultural practices.

Modernizing VET in Agriculture in Armenia

01.12.2021 - 31.08.2025

While 37% of Armenia’s labour force is employed in agriculture, men and women do not earn sufficient income, incl. due to a lack of professional skills. This multi-stakeholder intervention, which includes a SDC contribution, further develops country-wide work-based learning education, strengthens specialized institutions and modernizes the regulatory framework, enabling professionals and graduates to acquire relevant qualification, find employment or establish their own businesses.

Regional Arts and Culture Project in the South Caucasus

15.11.2021 - 31.10.2025

By supporting documentary films, documentary theatre and photography as powerful tools of contemporary art, the project will challenge social stigma, promote inclusion and human rights through empowering the civil society, nurturing intercultural dialogue and regional cooperation in the South Caucasus.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus

01.08.2021 - 31.07.2024

In 2017, Switzerland embarked on a multi-donor project which laid a solid foundation for women’s economic empowerment in the South Caucasus, yet, further support is needed to fulfil women’s rights, which remain constrained by structural and cultural barriers. The Swiss-funded contribution will support capacity-building and provide technical assistance at institutions and policy level and, combined with activities at grassroots level, benefit at least 1’850 vulnerable women in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia

15.04.2021 - 31.05.2025

Mountain ecosystems in Armenia are an important productive asset for rural communities, but they are rapidly deteriorating due to inappropriate exploitation and management. Within a region-wide project that preserves the natural basis of life through more sustainable use of resources, the Swiss contribution will introduce in Armenia economic incentives for the conservation of natural resources, while creating additional income. This will reduce rural poverty and support the implementation of Armenian policies and international commitments.

Supporting Small-scale Dairy Production

01.10.2020 - 30.09.2024

This contribution aims at improving economic empowerment and resilience of women dairy producers in Abkhazia and Samegrelo. The protracted conflict in Abkhazia impedes socio-economic development, leading to high poverty and vulnerability to external shocks, as COVID-19. Women are particularly vulnerable, as they are also victims of gender-based discrimination and domestic violence. Farmer Field Schools will empower women by enhancing their technical and leadership skills.

Strengthening Livelihoods and Social Inclusion in Georgia's Forest Sector Reform

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2025

As part of a comprehensive forest sector reform, the proposed project contribution aims at diversifying livelihood opportunities of target forest dependent communities and at strengthening the local capacities in forest management in a sustainable manner. This is particularly relevant since up to 90% of Georgia’s rural households rely on forests for energy and other purposes, leading to progressive forest degradation. The COVID-19 crisis further aggravates economic hardship of the most vulnerable groups among them.

Object 1 – 12 of 15