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 49 – 60 of 265

SRBM - Strengthening Representative Bodies in Mongolia

Workshop on Parliament Monitoring

01.08.2021 - 31.12.2023

On request of the authorities, the project ensures the implementation and oversight over new local governance laws to ensure public service delivery and sustainable rangeland management. Based on SDC supported achievements on democratic governance in Mongolia, increased technical cooperation between the Swiss and the Mongolian Parliamentary Services is at the core of the project. Gender equality and pro-poor approaches are mainstreamed.


Leave No One Behind Project

01.08.2021 - 31.07.2025

Albania is building up its social protection system, with the vision of providing decentralized services. The importance of an effective social protection system has increased by the ongoing pandemic. The project covers part of the social protection system. Its 2nd phase scales up the reform roll-out. This Albania-Switzerland-UN’ effort collaborates with 50% of municipalities and strengthens their capacities to support 160’000 vulnerable people.


Territorial Inclusive Economic Development in the Mosquitia region, department of Gracias a Dios

01.08.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Honduran Mosquitia is one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden region in the country. With the program, Switzerland promotes income for the indigenous population, improves food security and thus contributes to reducing migration and improving regional stability. In cooperation with the private sector the program generates 1000 net new jobs, seeks to increment the income of 1700 families by 5% per year (USD 360/year in 2020), and promotes an increase in public investment in the territory by at least 10% per year. 


Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE) Phase II

16.07.2021 - 15.07.2025

For Nepalese women and men to gain and retain social and economic benefits from lifelong learning, the establishment of a well-functioning federalised Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system is crucial. In light of its long-standing expertise in TVET and federalism, Switzerland is well placed to support the implementation of a federalised TVET system that responds to the needs of enterprises and increases the prospect of gainful employment for all, especially youths. 


Supporting the Security Sector Reform (SSR) Process in The Gambia

01.07.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Gambia, which is a priority country in regard to Swiss migration interest, initiated a national SSR process in 2017. Based on 3 years of in-depth research and support to this process, in 2021 DCAF launched a new program to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Gambian security sector. Through its contribution, Switzerland aims to improve the quality of services provided to local communities by the immigration department by strengthening its management and accountability.


2021 Population and Housing Census of Nepal

01.07.2021 - 31.12.2023

The goal is to support the Government of Nepal to conduct the 2021 census in line with international standards to obtain high quality data, reflecting Nepal’s social, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity and which can be used to better respond to the needs of the different population groups. Given its track record and emphasis on federal state building, Switzerland has a key interest that the census is adapted to the federal context and gender equality and social inclusion principles are followed. 


Long-term support to UNRWA’s reform

01.07.2021 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland contributes to enable UNRWA to pursue key reform areas of its Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2022, mainly by supporting (i) management initiatives and set of actions to ensure that governance, accountability, management and transparency meet international standards, and (ii) the systematic integration and attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular children, persons with disabilities and women survivors of violence.


Promotion and respect of human rights, gender equality and the international humanitarian law

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland aims at enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with Israel, via the respect and promotion of human rights, including gender equality, international humanitarian law and the rule of law by all duty bearers. To this end, SDC supports ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights and humanitarian law organizations active in the oPt, which provide legal aid and protection services to the population and advocate for the respect of the international law. 


Improved Service Delivery (ISD)

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2025

Switzerland and Germany jointly support a project on “Improved Service Delivery for Citizens” in three provinces of Cambodia, implemented by GIZ. The project aims to improve access to equitable and inclusive public services for all citizens, including vulnerable people, in the target provinces, while contributing to Cambodia’s socio-economic development. Besides funding, Switzerland makes use of its longstanding experience in decentralised governance and service delivery.


Quality TVET for Youth (QualiTY)

01.06.2021 - 15.07.2026

The overall goal of the project is for Nepalese youth to benefit from quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and better employment prospects. To achieve this, the project will support the federal, provincial and local governments of Nepal to establish an accreditation and coaching system so that TVET schools can improve and meet national quality requirements. The project capitalises on Switzerland’s long-standing and unique expertise in TVET federalisation.



Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies (SDG 16), Phase 3 (Contribution 21 – 23) Formerly: Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

01.05.2021 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland has a strategic interest in shaping the global dialogue on development and peace. The Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16) on “Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” provides a unique opportunity. This is why Switzerland is contributing to three initiatives advocating complementarily at the global and national levels, increasing poltical engagement and financial means to advance reforms and good governance, while leaving no one behind.   

Object 49 – 60 of 265