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 1 – 12 of 275

Nurturing Active and Responsible Citiziens

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

Molodova's democracy is still young and fragile. The population is disinclined to participate in decision-making, to practice democrtatic values and to demand their rights. Schools have an important role in educating active and responsive citizens, but are not well prepared for it. By improving democratic school governance and introducing practical civic education, Switzerland will support Moldova in raising civic consciousness of chlidren and adolescents, and engaging them in ther communities.


Supporting Civil Society Organizations in Nicaragua

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC and other like-minded donors are engaged in enhancing the democratic and public policy processes in Nicaragua. A strong civil society is essential to the quality and sustainability of this effort. The proposed program will promote citizen participation, strengthen capacities of Civil Society Organizations and foster informed policy dialogue. 


Engaged People - Strong municipalities

01.11.2023 - 31.12.2030

Molodova has the most fragmented sytem of local governments in the South-East Europe. People's dissatisfaction with quality of services is high and participatory decision-making is not common. Local governance reforms launched by the Government are being pursued in a centralized manner. Switzerland will support moldova through a two-pronged approach supporting citizens (in enhancing participation and social accountability) and institutions (in improving public service provision), particularly in rural areas.  


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2023 - 30.12.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.09.2022 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth


Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’insécurité alimentaire touche près du ¼ de la population du Mali. La DDC veut renforcer les capacités institutionnelles et organisationnelles du dispositif national de sécurité alimentaire en vue d’améliorer la prévention et la gestion des crises conjoncturelles et accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle.


Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development through the Youth Advisory Board

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2025

The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) gives young people the opportunity to include the voices of youth in the Swiss Cooperation Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Interventions will better reflect and address the needs and challenges of young people, increasing their impact and relevance. At the same time, YAB members improve their critical thinking, develop ways of articulating important messages to decision makers and influencing policies. They become empowered to actively engage in the development processes in the country and shape their society.


Swiss Hosting 2022 Effective Development Cooperation Summit (GPEDC High-Level Meeting)

01.05.2022 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland will host the 2022 Effective Development Cooperation Summit, to be held in Geneva and hybrid, on the 12-14 December 2022. It is an opportunity to focus on the “how” of development cooperation, it will take stock of the implementation of the principles of effective development cooperation since 2011. The Summit will define the Partnership’s contribution to the Decade of Action to deliver on the SDGs and recovery from COVID19 pandemic. 


Potable Water Management Programme (PWMP) in Upper Egypt Phase 2

01.05.2022 - 31.12.2025

Egypt has critical needs in better managing water resources and reducing water losses as well as consumption, especially in Upper Egypt (climate change impact, lack of infrastructure, high poverty level). Switzerland provides innovative solutions for improved potable water management and service provision to the vulnerable population. The mixed approach based on strengthening capacities of the water company, improving the infrastructure for potable water provision and on engaging the communities will serve as model for nationwide replication.


Strengthening Systems of Secondary Cities

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2026

Rooted in the Swiss principle of subsidiarity the programme will enable local government authorities in secondary cities affected by migration and forced displacement to engage with key stakeholders, including the private sector, to consolidate their urban planning and management skills while securing access to financial and technical resources. It will further strengthen cities’ advocacy capacities to make their voices heard in national, regional and multilateral dialogues with a view to disseminate and learn about best practices on migrants’ integration. 


Appui à la transition au Tchad

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2024

Forte de sa crédibilité en matière de gouvernance et de promotion de l’état de droit, la Suisse s’engage au côté des partenaires du Tchad pour l’appuyer dans une transition politique pacifique et inclusive vers un nouveau cadre constitutionnel propice au développement grâce à l’établissement d’institutions représentatives, responsables et redevables par le financement d’actions concertées. Elle appuie des initiatives spécifiques à l’objectif suisse de promotion de l’équilibre entre sécurité et développement.


Empowering Municipal Councils

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2027

Municipal Councils have, according to the legislation, a very important role to play in local governance. However, councillors often lack the necessary knowledge to fulfil their responsibilities. Through the project, capacities of councillors will be enhanced, citizen participation in decision making promoted and legal framework adjusted, enabling councillors to fulfil their role and to become more independent from the executive branch.

Object 1 – 12 of 275