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 25 – 36 of 259

Support to Ukraine Reform Conference 2022

15.10.2021 - 30.09.2022

Switzerland will co-host the 5th Ukraine Reform Conference in Lugano (4-5 July 2022). In addition to events held outside Ukraine, Switzerland will support an inclusive and multi-stakeholder in-country preparatory process to generate broader support for reforms and to present concrete commitments at the conference itself. For this purpose, it will organize a series of activities in Ukraine including civil society, the private sector, local authorities, academia and government institutions.


Strengthening livestock sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties of Kenya

01.10.2021 - 30.04.2024

Around 60% of the population in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Eastern Kenya Counties live in abject poverty and are almost entirely dependent on livestock production for their livelihoods in an environment that is characterized by droughts and resource based conflicts. This programme will support these Counties to enhance livestock production by strengthening key factors such as fodder production, animal health, etc. and by strengthening the institutions to more effectively deliver relevant services and reduce conflicts. 


RESPECT - Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens

01.10.2021 - 31.08.2025

L’intervention vise à renforcer la capacité de la Commission Nationale de la Lutte contre le Terrorisme (CNLCT) dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent (PEV) en améliorant la coordination entre les acteurs clés des secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice. L’approche choisie est holistique combinant des activités qui ont pour objectifs de renforcer la cohésion sociale en ciblant les groupes à risque. Un autre aspect de l’intervention consiste à soutenir la réforme du secteur de la sécurité afin que celui-ci soit conforme avec les standards internationaux régissant les droits humains.


Supporting the operationalisation of the temporary reception center for migrants Lipa

01.10.2021 - 30.06.2022

Migrant reception centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) do not have sufficient capacities; more than a thousand migrants are without shelter. They squat in empty houses and forests, leading to tensions with the surrounding local communities. Switzerland contributes to international efforts to support the BiH government in providing decent reception capacities for 1,500 people in Una-Sana canton, where most of the migrants are stranded. This helps to improve the authorities’ capacity to manage migration and to reduce conflict potential.


Sustainable and Inclusive Balanced Regional Development

01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025

The level of development among the 8 regions in North Macedonia is highly unequal. This misbalance directly affects the wellbeing of citizens living in less developed areas. SDC supports North Macedonia by working on the country system, to improve the national legal framework for planning, monitoring and evaluation of balanced regional development (BRD) ensuring greater allocation of funds for BRD, hence improving the living conditions for all citizens, especially in the underdeveloped regions.


UN CC:Learn – The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership – Phase V

15.09.2021 - 31.12.2025

UN CC:Learn is the partnership of key multilateral organizations assisting member states in designing and implementing learning to address climate change. It supports countries in developing national strategies and designs and promotes learning materials to strengthen human resources and skills for climate resilient-development and global climate literacy. Switzerland’s focus therein is on further advancing the youth component and strengthening the sustainability aspects of the initiative.


Direct Health Facility Financing

Zuena Hussein Ismail with her baby attended by a health worker at Makole Health Centre in Dodoma.

01.09.2021 - 30.06.2026

Together with the Tanzanian Government and development partners, Switzerland’s contribution to the reformed Health Basket Fund builds on positive results achieved so far and pursues to strengthen the health system that benefits 58 million inhabitants. Switzerland’s contribution will further expand effective decentralisation through the Direct Health Facility Financing mechanism to state and non-state primary health care providers, thus accelerating Tanzania’s progress towards universal health coverage and “Leaving no One Behind”.


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026

Jointly with the European Union, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes Region, a program run by Interpeace with local NGOs. This third phase will focus on young women and young men as key drivers for peace and stability in the region and expand its activities to Uganda to further tackle the regionality of conflicts in the region. This will contribute to a better promotion of peace, good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions, in the region. 


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. 

Object 25 – 36 of 259