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 13 – 24 of 264

KENYA - Strengthening Livestock Sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2026

60% of the population in northern Kenya depends on livestock production in an environment of recurrent droughts and natural resource-based conflicts. The programme will contribute to poverty reduction, improved resilience to shocks and enhanced socio-economic inclusion of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist men and women by supporting climate-smart livestock production, improving rangelands management and promoting peaceful coexistence of communities.


RNI, Phase unique

01.03.2022 - 29.02.2024

Reconnue pour ses actions de promotion de la paix, la Suisse souhaite contribuer à la prévention de la violence dans la région du Lac Tchad. En appuyant la Radio Ndarason Internationale (RNI), la Suisse favorise l’accès à des informations fiables et contribue à offrir un espace d’expression et de dialogue aux habitants de la région. Elle leur permet ainsi une meilleure compréhension des enjeux, socle pour bâtir des solutions locales aux problèmes de gouvernance, de violence et de développement.


Gender Mainstreaming 2022-2025 Phase 7

01.03.2022 - 28.02.2025

In collaboration with selected strategic partners, the SDC will promote gender equality and women’s rights in 3 priority areas that correspond to the SDC’s strategic interests and where it can promote innovative approaches: Peace building and crisis response, data driven advocacy and policy influence, and mobilising quality investments for gender transformative change. This will contribute to accelerate the implementation of the SDG 5 and to reduce its current funding gap.


Civil society resilience strengthening

18.02.2022 - 17.02.2027

This project, in delegated cooperation with USAID, supports democratic development in Serbia by fostering an enabling environment for civil society and strengthening its resilience. It improves capacities of civil society to perform its monitoring and advocacy roles, to facilitate citizen’s engagement and to engage in constructive dialogue with the government. Ultimately, this leads towards a more resilient, inclusive and pluralistic society.


FfD Financing for Development 2022-2024

01.02.2022 - 31.12.2024

The United Nations (UN) estimate the financing gap for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at $2.5 trillion per year with an additional shortfall for 2020 of $1.7 trillion due to Covid-19. Financing for Development (FfD) is therefore a core issue for the UN. This credit proposal contributes to make the intergovernmental process of FfD more evidence-based, inclusive and participatory, with a focus on Switzerland’s priority themes: private sector engagement and multi-stakeholder partnerships.


Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine

01.02.2022 - 31.03.2024

With a contribution to the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine (PFRU), Switzerland aims at strengthening communities and at enhancing government legitimacy in Eastern Ukraine through improved services, economic recovery and empowered civil society. The PFRU is an innovative multi-donor financing tool which focuses on supporting the implementation of reforms in the conflict-affected areas of the country through an integrated approach (humanitarian-development-peace nexus). The PFRU unites five development partners (UK, US, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland) and it is co-owned by the Government of Ukraine.


Support to Village Councils – Area C Infrastructure

01.02.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland fosters the resilience of marginalised communities in Area C of the West Bank by enhancing planning capacities of local authorities and improving the access to basic infrastructure in partnership with UNHABITAT and the Municipal Development and Lending Fund MDLF. SDC’s contribution is part of a wider donor engagement in Area C to Leave No One Behind. A stronger accent is put in this third and final phase on active participation of women and youth in the selection and social auditing of infrastructure projects.


Single Phase - City-to-City Partnership Hawassa – Lugano

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2026

This contribution supports an innovative Swiss-Ethiopian municipal twinning partnership to enhance capacity at the sub-national level to manage access to drinking water in good quantity and quality according to the Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 and 6.3 in underserved communities. The partnership will be accompanied by a research and education component, involving local and Swiss innovative university partnerships.


Contribution to the country office of UN Human Rights in Honduras (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)

01.01.2022 - 30.06.2024

UN Human Rights has established itself as the principal point of reference for critically positioning human rights in the public and political agenda of Honduras. It will continue to strive to provide protection of individuals and communities whose rights are at risk or denied, while also working to further develop institutions, laws and policies that effectively protect human rights. This will contribute to rule of law and providing the necessary framework for equitable and sustainable development.


GVCD - Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Through the Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme, Switzerland contributes to covering basic needs and fostering social cohesion in the Gaza Strip. The successful intervention model applied in the 1st Phase is extended and scaled up under this 2nd Phase. Small infrastructure projects addressing basic needs of vulnerable communities serve as an entry point for a local dialogue on development priorities, enabled through building the capacities of both duty bearers and right holders, including youth and women.


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.

Object 13 – 24 of 264