Natural resources and development

View of a large open-cast phosphate mine in Togo.
Developing countries such as Togo have an abundance of natural resources. The SDC is committed to ensuring that these are exploited fairly © Alexandra Pugachevsky

Exploiting natural resources is crucial to the economies of many developing countries and Swiss companies play a key role in commodities trading. Natural resources can be used to alleviate traditional forms of poverty, but many countries fail to take this step. The SDC aims to address this problem. 

The commodities sector is becoming increasingly important in developing countries. According to a 2016 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 91 developing countries in 2015 were dependent on commodities, where commodity exports accounted for more than 60% of a country's total merchandise exports. The World Bank also estimates that Africa alone is home to about 30% of the world's mineral reserves. Certain minerals, such as cobalt and tantalum, which are used extensively in electronic products, mainly come from fragile countries. 

With the expansion of 'clean' industries and technologies, the demand for minerals is set to increase, generating significant investment in exploration and developing new mines.

The various backgrounds and roles of the stakeholders involved have been debated for years by the academic community, international development policy committees, governments and civil society. The macroeconomic effects of exploiting natural resources and the factors causing price volatility have also been assessed. Attention has also been focused on extraction practices that cause damage to health and the environment, exploitative working conditions and conflicts over access to natural resources, which have the potential to unleash violence or even armed conflict.

Issues relating to financial flows from commodities trading are also the subject of intense debate. In general, funds that have been acquired illegally, or in questionable circumstances, and are transferred abroad present a major obstacle to economic growth and good governance in developing countries. There is broad consensus that illicit outflows from developing countries exceed the value of official development assistance many times over. A high percentage of these financial flows are attributable to commodities production and trading.

Switzerland is a key player in the commodities trading sector. It is estimated that more than 3 billion tonnes of commodities, calculated at over CHF 960 billion, are traded in Switzerland each year. In a report entitled 'The Swiss commodities sector: current situation and outlook' published in November 2018, the Federal Council states that it expects all companies operating in or out of Switzerland to demonstrate integrity and responsible conduct with regard to respect for human rights as well as environmental and social standards, both within Switzerland and abroad. The Federal Council also states that this applies to the entire value chain and is especially important for companies that operate in fragile states. 

 The SDC's main areas of activity

  • The SDC is committed to raising international standards for commodities production and trading and ensuring that governments and companies properly implement such standards.
  • Switzerland supports the implementation of multilateral instruments in the fight to control corruption and illicit financial flows.
  • In terms of international development cooperation, the SDC is committed to assisting its commodity producing partner countries in managing natural resources and creating sustainable value chains.
  • By supporting research and multi-stakeholder platforms, Switzerland is contributing to a better understanding of both the challenges and opportunities facing developing countries in relation to mining.

Current projects

Object 37 – 48 of 260

RAPID+ The Kenya Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development Plus

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2026

Pastoralist communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) have for a very long time adapted to the harsh environments to derive livelihoods (mainly livestock). Communities in the ASALs are facing multiple pressures of climate change, degraded natural resources and conflicts. This program supports the historically marginalised and under-developed pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya to access safe, reliable and affordable Water and manage their rangeland ecosystem sustainably.  


Locally-led Governance: the road to legitimate and effective delivery of services

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2022

The Somali population is facing considerable development and state building challenges, with Government institutions still very weak and fragile, particularly at the local level. With the UN Joint Programme for Local Governance and Decentralised Service Delivery (JPLG) as well as local peacebuilding initiatives, SDC contributes to enhanced state legitimacy, more equitable access to public service and well-being for all citizens, leading to more stability in the Horn of Africa.


African Risk Capacity Programmes in Zambia and Zimbabwe

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2026

This programme will contribute towards strengthening national systems for disaster preparedness through support to drought insurance premiums and capacity building. Switzerland is thus consolidating its engagement in climate change mitigation and disasters risk reduction with the aim to sustainably minimize risk to loss of lives and assets for vulnerable men and women. The Africa Risk Capacity, a specialized agency of the Africa Union, will implement this programme. 


IPDLI - Initiative Pilote de Développement Local Intégré

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2025

Mise en œuvre par l’Organisation Internationale du Travail (OIT), l’intervention contribue à l’amélioration la qualité de vie des populations de 14 communes des régions défavorisées à travers un accompagnement au processus de décentralisation dans son axe transfert des compétences du pouvoir central vers le pouvoir local. Les communes seront appuyées dans leurs rôles d’acteur développement et de fournisseur de services de base dans les secteurs de la santé et de l’éducation.


Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)

15.10.2021 - 30.06.2023

Asset recovery remains an important priority for Switzerland, which plays a pioneering role. Strengthening the rule of law is one of 4 priority topics of the Strategy on International Cooperation 2021-2024. Demand for expertise on asset recovery remains high around the world. This contribution will support the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations that supports international efforts to recover stolen assets and to end safe havens for corrupt funds.


Support to Ukraine Reform Conference 2022

15.10.2021 - 30.09.2022

Switzerland will co-host the 5th Ukraine Reform Conference in Lugano (4-5 July 2022). In addition to events held outside Ukraine, Switzerland will support an inclusive and multi-stakeholder in-country preparatory process to generate broader support for reforms and to present concrete commitments at the conference itself. For this purpose, it will organize a series of activities in Ukraine including civil society, the private sector, local authorities, academia and government institutions.


Strengthening livestock sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties of Kenya

01.10.2021 - 30.04.2024

Around 60% of the population in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Eastern Kenya Counties live in abject poverty and are almost entirely dependent on livestock production for their livelihoods in an environment that is characterized by droughts and resource based conflicts. This programme will support these Counties to enhance livestock production by strengthening key factors such as fodder production, animal health, etc. and by strengthening the institutions to more effectively deliver relevant services and reduce conflicts. 


RESPECT - Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens

01.10.2021 - 31.08.2025

L’intervention vise à renforcer la capacité de la Commission Nationale de la Lutte contre le Terrorisme (CNLCT) dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent (PEV) en améliorant la coordination entre les acteurs clés des secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice. L’approche choisie est holistique combinant des activités qui ont pour objectifs de renforcer la cohésion sociale en ciblant les groupes à risque. Un autre aspect de l’intervention consiste à soutenir la réforme du secteur de la sécurité afin que celui-ci soit conforme avec les standards internationaux régissant les droits humains.


Sustainable and Inclusive Balanced Regional Development

01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025

The level of development among the 8 regions in North Macedonia is highly unequal. This misbalance directly affects the wellbeing of citizens living in less developed areas. SDC supports North Macedonia by working on the country system, to improve the national legal framework for planning, monitoring and evaluation of balanced regional development (BRD) ensuring greater allocation of funds for BRD, hence improving the living conditions for all citizens, especially in the underdeveloped regions.


Supporting the operationalisation of the temporary reception center for migrants Lipa

01.10.2021 - 30.06.2022

Migrant reception centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) do not have sufficient capacities; more than a thousand migrants are without shelter. They squat in empty houses and forests, leading to tensions with the surrounding local communities. Switzerland contributes to international efforts to support the BiH government in providing decent reception capacities for 1,500 people in Una-Sana canton, where most of the migrants are stranded. This helps to improve the authorities’ capacity to manage migration and to reduce conflict potential.


UN CC:Learn – The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership – Phase V

15.09.2021 - 31.12.2025

UN CC:Learn is the partnership of key multilateral organizations assisting member states in designing and implementing learning to address climate change. It supports countries in developing national strategies and designs and promotes learning materials to strengthen human resources and skills for climate resilient-development and global climate literacy. Switzerland’s focus therein is on further advancing the youth component and strengthening the sustainability aspects of the initiative.


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2025

Jointly with the European Union, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes Region, a program run by Interpeace with local NGOs. This third phase will focus on young women and young men as key drivers for peace and stability in the region and expand its activities to Uganda to further tackle the regionality of conflicts in the region. This will contribute to a better promotion of peace, good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions, in the region. 

Object 37 – 48 of 260