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 85 – 96 of 275

IWGP - Inclusive Water Governance Project in Mekong Region

01.10.2020 - 30.06.2024

Through this project, Switzerland will support civil society organisations, women and vulnerable communities to better influence water resource governance and decision-making processes at all levels in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The Swiss knowhow in transboundary water governance and citizen participation shall leverage more inclusive, transparent and accountable infrastructure development that better responds to the needs of vulnerable riverine communities and improve their livelihood.


Open source Health Insurance Management Information System (OpenIMIS)

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2023

Health related costs often represent a massive financial burden for poor households. Lack or inexistence of social protection mechanisms imply that ill and injured people have no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for services and care. Health insurance schemes potentially prevent households from falling into a poverty trap. SDC and BMZ have developed the only open-source software for fully managing a social health protection scheme. This tool will be further promoted and implemented in LMICs.



Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia (MASAM)

01.08.2020 - 31.07.2023

The 2nd and last phase aims to strengthen civil society and public sector agencies’ capacities in linking (a) policy planning and implementation, including in the health sector, and (b) budget planning and execution (public investments). Social Accountability mechanisms will enable the Government of Mongolia to improve the delivery of key services and impacts of public investment projects on people’s livelihood. The WB and SDC are leading partners in mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia.


Combating Gender-Based Violence in Mongolia

Let's understand and respect each others campaign

01.08.2020 - 31.07.2023

Aiming at sustainable change of behaviour and mental disposition, the 2nd phase of this project seeks to protect the victims of Gender-based Violence (GBV), women/girls and men/boys, and to mitigate the root causes of violence. This follow-up phase focuses on the consolidation and institutionalization of GBV prevention and response mechanism. The project is in line with Mongolia’s and Switzerland’s commitment to combat GBV and gender inequalities.


Promoting good financial governance in Tanzania

Good Financial Governance - Longido, Arusha

01.08.2020 - 31.07.2023

The Good Financial Governance (GFG) project supports the public finance system by strengthening the provision of and demand for accountability as well as enhancing domestic revenue mobilisation to increase local development. GFG builds capacity at national and sub-national level, including of civil society and the private sector. The project enhances Swiss support to state institutions that are more efficient and effective, inclusive and increasingly free of corruption. 


PACUM – Programme d’Appui aux Communes Urbaines du Mali

01.08.2020 - 31.12.2023

Au Mali, la faiblesse des ressources financières et humaines des communes limite leurs capacités à fournir des services de qualité aux populations. La Suisse cofinance une 2ème phase du Programme visant l’amélioration de l’accès aux services de base par le biais de l’augmentation des transferts de ressources de l’Etat  central vers les communes. Le programme contribue au développement économique local, à une urbanisation durable, à une fiscalité locale améliorée et, par conséquent, à plus de stabilité.


PCTL - Programme de Coopération Transfrontalière Locale

01.08.2020 - 31.12.2024

En Afrique de l’Ouest, les services de base sont moins accessibles aux populations vivant près des frontières, dont la précarité n’a fait qu’augmenter avec la montée de l’insécurité. En dotant les collectivités frontalières de capacités de dialogue et d’outils de planification, l’UEMOA, avec le soutien de la DDC, fait de la coopération transfrontalière un moteur d’intégration régionale, de paix et de développement économique des zones proches des frontières. 


Supporting Civil Society Organizations in Nicaragua

01.08.2020 - 30.06.2024

A vibrant and resilient civil society is key to conflict transformation and restoring democracy in Nicaragua. Switzerland thus contributes to protecting the spaces and voices of civil society, and strengthens its capacity to generate reform proposals, promote an informed citizenship and stimulate a culture of peace. It does so by supporting four leading thinks tanks and academic institutes, and by contributing to a multi-donor basket fund designed to foster a civil society response to the socio-political crisis and to provide a platform for aid coordination. 


COVID-19 - Prevention and Recovery in the Mekong Region

01.08.2020 - 30.09.2022

Vulnerable groups in Laos and Cambodia suffered disproportionally from the Covid-19 socio-economic crisis affecting their income, as well as access to public services and employment. Swiss support will combine institutional strengthening of local actors and provision of public services, skills development, access to credit and support to returning migrants. The long-term experience of Switzerland and trusted relationships with governments add value to the intervention


Programme d’appui à la formation professionnelle duale au Sénégal

01.08.2020 - 31.12.2022

Depuis 2015, la Suisse accompagne le Sénégal dans la mise en place d’un système de formation professionnelle dual adapté au marché du travail. Elle contribue ainsi à l’amélioration des perspectives d’insertion socio-économique des jeunes. Cette phase de sortie vise non seulement l’appropriation par les acteurs locaux et la capitalisation des résultats, mais aussi les synergies avec d’autres partenaires actifs dans ce domaine afin d’assurer la durabilité et la poursuite de cette dynamique de changement. 


Strengthening Social Protection in Jordan

01.08.2020 - 31.12.2021

Switzerland's contribution to this multi-donor project will provide social assistance to Jordanians households which are unable to meet their basic needs, including as a result of COVID-19, and at the same time support the institutional reform process of Jordan's social protection system. Switzerland will contribute to the reform process of the National Aid Fund to make it more effective, inclusive, accountable and sustainable. This first phase orient Switzerland’s engagement in upcoming phases which will be manly focussed on the institutional reform process.

Object 85 – 96 of 275