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 37 – 48 of 258

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. 



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.   


Stimulating Participation and Civic Engagement

01.05.2021 - 31.12.2024

The project empowers Cambodian youth to engage in public life, while shifting negative norms and attitudes around youth participation. BBC Media Action creates inclusive on- and offline spaces for civic engagement, encourages a dialogue of youth and decision-makers and strengthens the provision of media for youth. Switzerland’s expertise in civic engagement will be coupled with BBC Media Action’s know-how in media production and complemented with outreach work by three local organisations.


Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca Region - phase II

01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Program facilitates the empowerment of the Watershed Councils of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers in the Gulf of Fonseca Region in terms of their leadership and sustainable and participatory management of the water governance system. This contributes to collaborative processes and investments in the frame of the formulation and implementation of watershed plans, indirectly benefiting 500,000 inhabitants.


PRODEL - Program for strengthening municipal capacities for local development

01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024

PRODEL III contributes to the decentralization reform through introducing its municipal autonomy approach into new laws and policies, through training of “multipliers” and creation of advisory services to extend its tool of Municipal Development Strategy to more municipalities. The EDM strengthens municipal autonomy and efficient use of local resources for production infrastructure and services, while promoting participation and inclusion.


Support to Parliamentary Centre of Asia

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2024

The Parliamentary Centre of Asia (PCAsia) builds the capacities of Parliaments in ASEAN countries in particular Cambodia and Laos plus Myanmar if the situation allows (CLM) to promote democratic accountability in the region. Complemented by the technical assistance of the Swiss Parliamentary Services (SPS), the Swiss contribution to PCAsia will support the capacity building of professional, non-partisan, ethical and accountable parliamentary services.


Municipal Environmental Governance (MEG)

01.04.2021 - 31.03.2025

Close to one quarter of the municipalities in the country will adopt a new performance management system, in line with the reforms of the public administration. Elected officials and municipal administrations will perform their duties and interact with citizens in a more responsive and transparent way. Citizens will benefit from better services, in particular in the water sector, in line with the European Union standards, and by developing synergies with the World Bank Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Modernization Programme. The regulatory framework at all levels will be improved to support these reforms. 


Intelligence and Security Sector Reform

01.04.2021 - 31.03.2026

At the core of this project is to improve the accountability of the state and enhance the division of the executive, legislative and judiciary powers in line with the democratic governance priorities of the Swiss Cooperation Programme in North Macedonia. It focuses on supporting the intelligence and security sector actors to become more transparent and accountable towards parliament, the judiciary and citizens at large, through new and improved existing legal framework, enhanced policy-making and capacity building.

Object 37 – 48 of 258