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 25 – 36 of 265

PACTA - Participatory Action Against Corruption: Towards Transparency and Accountability

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2026

In Bangladesh, Switzerland was instrumental in engaging likeminded development partners to support prominent local actors to curb corruption and establish transparent and accountable governance systems. This project, co-funded by Switzerland with the UK and Sweden, will continue the work on reducing corruption by engaging citizens, adding the use of an innovative digital tool for community monitoring. Based on the evidence collected on corruption incidences, the project will reinforce policy advocacy and engagement at different levels. 


Support to Safe Spaces for Women, Youth and Children in Gaza Strip

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland promotes social cohesion and civic peace through creating safe spaces for women, youth, and persons with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. By fostering local capacities and promoting community-led initiatives Safe Spaces strengthens the resilience of vulnerable groups. This second phase puts a stronger accent on skills and economic empowerment for youth in line with the Cooperation Programme 2021-24. By advocating for inclusive societies it contributes to mitigate the spread of extremism and radicalization.


OHCHR - Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the oPt

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

This support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the oPt aims to contribute to promoting and protecting human rights in the oPt and enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with the State of Israel. 


Decentralization and Municipal Support (DEMOS III)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

DEMOS III will consolidate achievements of decentralised governance in the areas of policy framework and municipal performance. A grant mechanism rewarding municipalities for their good governance practices will be institutionalised with the aim to offer better quality services to citizens. The Association of Kosovo Municipalities (AKM) will strengthen its advocacy role and citizens will be engaged in the oversight. Funds will be pooled by Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the EU and the Government of Kosovo.  


International Land Coalition (ILC) Core contribution

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Equitable land rights are key to sustainable and resilient food systems. ILC is a global network of organisations working on people centred land governance in over 80 countries. ILC aims at securing land rights for people, who live on and from the land. SDC supports ILC since it contributes to many Swiss core interests such as peaceful and democratic societies, and addresses growing inequalities in food systems– particularly gender inequality.


UNDP Contribution 2022 - 2024

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

UNDP’s key priorities, i.e. poverty eradication, structural transformations for sustainable development and conflict prevention, rule of law, governance and early response and recovery, gender equality, women’s empowerment, are in line with the Swiss strategic priorities as outlined in the Federal Council’s Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation 2021-2024. Beyond these thematic priorities, Switzerland will also focus its dialogue with UNDP and other member States on UNDP’s organisational effectiveness and transparency. 


Contribution to UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women 2021-2025.

01.12.2021 - 31.07.2026

The purpose of this proposal is to renew Switzerland’s support to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF). The UNTF is the only UN system-wide fund and global multilateral grant-making mechanism devoted to local and national efforts to end violence against women and girls (EVAW/G), including in fragile and conflict affected contexts. Promoting gender equality through combatting all forms of gender based violence is a key strategic objective of Switzerland’s International Cooperation Strategy. The UNTF has the added value of combining systemic engagement (e.g. through global advocacy and legal reform) and outreach to the most at-risk women and girls. 


PYE - Participation and Equity Platform

01.12.2021 - 30.06.2024

PYE, phase 3, aims to consolidate in a platform the efforts of 15 Cuban civil society actors, including the 6 partners part of the Gender Equity Program (PEGIN), for the promotion of laws and public policies to improve human rights in Cuba, in the areas of gender, race, poverty and social inclusion to promote legislative, social and public policy changes, with the promotion of activism and leadership of local actors.


Contribution to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Programme ADRiFi

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2025

Through a contribution to the ADRiFi programme of the African Development Bank, Switzerland intends to facilitate access to subsidies for the payment of natural disaster insurances for at least an additional 15   African countries. Payouts (up to 5 mio USD per event) from the insurance, managed by the African Risk Capacity Group, will allow governments respond timely and effectively to the needs of their population in case of disaster on the basis of the prepared effective contingency plans. 


Inclusive Urbanisation

08.11.2021 - 30.06.2024

The program contributes to inclusive urbanization in Central America in partnership with UN-Habitat with the aim to improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations in urban settlements. Solid data and evidence on informal settlements and specialised advisory will contribute to improve urban policies. Capacity building, participatory planning approaches and increased involvement of the private sector will foster comprehensive and feasible solutions for informal settlements. 


Support to the Trust Fund for a reformed Resident Coordinator System of the Unit-ed Nations

01.11.2021 - 31.03.2023

The Resident Coordinator System is an indispensable aspect of the UN Development System (UNDS) Reform. Mandated to lead and coordinate the UN engagement at global, regional and country level, the RC System relies on predictable and sustainable funding. A contribution to the RC Trust Fund supports the roll out of the UNDS Reform, reconfirms Switzerland’s position as a UNDS reform champion and provides leverage for Switzerland’s multilateral reform dialogue.


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.  

Object 25 – 36 of 265