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 73 – 84 of 259

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. 


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. 


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. 


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.


Support to Vocational Education and Training (VET) Reforms in Uzbekistan

01.08.2020 - 31.12.2025

The main goal of the Support to Vocational Education and Training Reforms Project (SVRP) is to contribute to more gainful employment of VET graduates through improved access to the labour market. This will be achieved through a systemic approach supporting capacity development and better coordination among key government institutions and VET providers, by contributing to the development of better quality inputs, teacher training and by facilitating stronger participation of economic actors in the VET system.


Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS) Phase Il

16.07.2020 - 15.07.2024

Based on Swiss expertise in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, the project

contributes to establish a federal vocational qualifications system. The NVQS will increase the

transparency on the labour market for employers and workers, improve official recognition of

workers competencies in hospitality, construction and automobile sectors and allow links between

TVET and general education to access higher level qualifications for better employment in

domestic and international labour market.


Social Justice for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (SORAE)

15.07.2020 - 31.12.2022

 

In order to improve the social inclusion of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) in Kosovo, this project will develop their livelihoods through ensuring better access to educational opportunities, enhanced children rights and protection, upgraded housing conditions and more income generation prospects. These multi-sectorial interventions will be complemented with antigypsyism policy interventions that counter discrimination against RAE and foster equality in Kosovo.


Culture for Democracy

15.07.2020 - 28.02.2025

The Project supports the independent cultural sector to contribute to improved social cohesion and tolerance at the local level. Cultural actors will be provided with resources to unleash their potential for triggering critical thinking and dialogue around topics of immediate relevance for their communities, as well as for creating networks that will empower and enable them to uphold a stimulating space for promoting pluralistic values and inter-cultural dialogue in Serbia.


Combating corruption in Kosovo

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2024

The purpose of this project is to address key challenges in the policy and legislative frameworks, strengthen capacities of anticorruption institutions and foster public demand for accountability through civic engagement. This will be done through concluding the framework for preventive and suppressive anti-corruption processes that lead to asset confiscation.

Object 73 – 84 of 259