Speaking in Bern on 11 February 2014, the chairman of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Erik Solheim, welcomed the progress made by Switzerland since its last country review in 2009. The increase in official development assistance adopted by the Swiss Parliament, bringing it up to 0.5% of gross national income by 2015, is in the eyes of the OECD a major achievement in this period of international financial turmoil. At the same time, Switzerland has strengthened the strategic orientation and coherence of its international cooperation (technical and economic development cooperation, transition assistance, humanitarian aid) by combining activities under one common strategy for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in the 2013–2016 dispatch.
Thanks to a greater focus on reducing poverty and global risks, greater involvement in fragile contexts and a stepping-up of cooperation with the private sector, the OECD considers that Switzerland is keeping pace with the changing global environment. The OECD's Development Assistance Committee thus concludes that in a cross-comparison with its 28 other member countries, Switzerland's international cooperation has achieved very good results.
Speaking at the press conference in Bern where the country review report was presented today, DAC Chairman Erik Solheim said he would welcome Switzerland assuming a more active leadership role internationally. "Thanks to its broad experience Switzerland is well placed to take on a more prominent leading role in international cooperation," he said.
The Paris-based organisation also sees a need to harmonise different objectives pertaining to development policy and other areas of policy such as migration, agriculture and the environment. The OECD recognises the progress made by Switzerland in this respect, including for example the publication of the Federal Council's report on raw materials with practical measures. It recommends, however, better analysis and reporting on the influence of national and international policy on developing countries.
Effective cooperation by the SDC and SECO
The SDC and SECO – the two Swiss bodies involved in development cooperation – complement one another and work well together, in the OECD's view. This statement is borne out by the results of both of the OECD's field visits to Kyrgyzstan and Burkina Faso. The fact that Swiss humanitarian aid and development cooperation are united under one roof creates synergies between the two instruments. The OECD considers such cooperation to be exemplary by international comparison.
SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden welcomed the new report: "The OECD's country review confirms that Switzerland, with its coherent strategy, is making an effective contribution to global development". Speaking at the press conference, he continued: "We can see that the new direction we have taken over the past years is providing the right answers to the challenges facing the world, and this is recognised internationally".
"As learning organisations we are committed to constantly optimising our programmes. The latest report is proof that we are on the right track: our projects are built on the expertise of the SDC and SECO and are geared to fit the key requirements of our partner countries", said Beatrice Maser Mallor, head of economic cooperation and development at SECO.
OECD peer review
The OECD's Development Assistance Committee carries out a qualitative and quantitative audit of international cooperation for each of its 29 member countries every four to five years by means of a peer review process. The recommendations resulting from these reviews enable the member countries to improve their development cooperation activities.
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