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 121 – 132 of 265

Anti-Corruption Support

Anti-Corruption Support

01.04.2020 - 31.12.2024

The second phase of the Anti-Corruption Support program aims at accelerating the Swiss contribution to an institutional and social environment in Tanzania that is increasingly adverse to corruption. The main line of intervention remains technical assistance to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) but increasingly includes other key anti-corruption agencies. This support is complemented by activities enhancing collective action to foster a society that is increasingly adverse to corrupt behaviour. 


Support for the elections process in Bolivia

23.03.2020 - 30.11.2021

New elections in Bolivia will be held in May 2020 at national level and in November 2020 at local and regional level. SDC support will strengthen the legitimacy of the Plurinational Electoral Agency, and give continuity to the work of civil society to improve media information and electoral observation. This will help overcome the crisis following the general election in October 2019, restore the public’s confidence in the transparency, independence and impartiality of the electoral process and strengthen the role of civil society.


Program Contribution to the Independent Commission for Human Rights

01.03.2020 - 31.12.2022

The ICHR is the Palestinian national Human Rights Institute and ombudsman, dedicated to supporting Palestinian citizens’ rights. It monitors independently the performance of the government and its compliance with its legal and human rights obligations. Using mediation and dialogue, it advises the authorities to improve respect of human rights and to support victims of violations. Support to the ICHR with institutional development as well as with program funding contributes to the democratic state building agenda of Switzerland.


Moussanada Mahaleya

01.02.2020 - 30.06.2025

La décentralisation est un processus clé de la démocratisation de la Tunisie inscrit dans la nouvelle constitution de 2014. Après la communalisation, l’Etat Tunisien engage la réforme de la régionalisation, avec l’objectif d’une mise en place des nouveaux conseils régionaux en 2023. Pour lever ce défi la Suisse appuie l’Etat Tunisien pour poursuivre cette réforme avec une approche holistique et participative, à travers une contribution au fonds fiduciaire TERI géré par la Banque Mondiale.


Civil Registry System Reform Project in Tajikistan (CRR)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

SDC assists the Ministry of Justice in its efforts to replace the paper-based civil registry system with a more efficient electronic civil registry system. This new system and the planned outreach activities will help people across the country in obtaining their vital documents faster and in better quality from the civil registry offices; this will help them to protect and claim their rights in relation to schooling, alimonies,  migration, healthcare and even voting. Moreover, the new civil registry system will also help the government to better plan and monitor its services provided to the population including in the education, health and labor sector.


Fonds d’Appui au Développement des Communes (FADeC)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

Le Fonds d’Appui au Développement des Communes (FADeC) est un mécanisme efficace de transfert de ressources financières aux collectivités locales du Bénin. La contribution de la DDC au fonds permet aux communes de réaliser sur l’ensemble du territoire national d’importants investissements dans les infrastructures et services de base au profit de la population. En phase 2, la DDC renforcera notamment son appui aux structures de gestion, pilotage et contrôle du fonds. 


PARIS21 Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century - Contribution 2020-2022

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) is a global partnership of national, regional and international statisticians, development professionals and policy makers seeking to improve evidence-based decision making mainly in low-income developing countries. The main accent of PARIS21’s activities is to stimulate the dialogue between data producers and users and act as a knowledge hub in the field of statistical capacity building.


Governance and Decentralisation Programme Exit Phase (GDP Exit Phase)

Khoroo organizers participate in “Citizen-centered civil service” training organized by the Municipality of Ulaanbaatar Training Center established in 2017.

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

The Exit Phase of the Governance and Decentralisation Programme will consolidate achievements of previous two phases to support decentralisation and democratisation reforms. It will focus on institutionalisation and ensuring sustainability of results to contribute to equitable and sustainable development through decentralized service delivery and enhanced citizen engagement in public affairs, including in the urban areas. Swiss expertise and Swiss decentralisation model will be used.  


Migration de travail et développement économique en Afrique de l'Ouest

01.01.2020 - 31.05.2025

La migration en Afrique de l’Ouest est en grande partie intra régionale, et se fait principalement à des fins de travail. Grâce à sa longue expérience en migration et développement (M&D), la Suisse vise à faciliter la contribution des migrant-e-s au développement socio-économique de la sous-région par la voie d'initiatives qui ont trait à leur protection, leur meilleure inclusion dans les zones urbaines, ainsi qu’à leur plus grande implication dans les trajectoires de développement des pays concernés. 


AQJS - Access to Quality Justice Services

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

Despite significant progress, Afghan justice institutions face challenges in the delivery of justice services, especially to vulnerable populations, such as women, children and prisoners. This project implemented by the United Nations Development Program provides support to both institutional and citizen engagement to increase access to quality justice for all citizens and particularly to vulnerable groups and strengthen the justice institutions to fulfil their constitutional and human rights obligations.


Appui aux médias dans la région des Grands Lacs

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, les médias jouent un rôle central dans le processus de démocratisation. Cependant, ils sont fragilisés par un contexte politique sensible et des limites d’ordre professionnel et légal. Grace à son engagement à long terme, la Suisse a une grande crédibilité dans ce secteur. Le programme vise à renforcer la cohésion sociale à travers l’amélioration des capacités des médias, à fournir une information de qualité et à offrir une plateforme de dialogue entre acteurs. L’intervention sera faite au travers des partenaires locaux, régionaux et internationaux. 


CASE - Culture, Art and Social Engagement

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

This project aims at promoting the role of people as agents of change in the occupied Palestinian territory. Culture and artistic creativity are used to enhance democratic debate, promote social inclusion and active participation of youth and women within marginalized communities and between the community and the local authorities. Local authorities will be influenced so that local development better reflects the needs of these groups.

Object 121 – 132 of 265