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 61 – 72 of 259

MLRBP - Motorable Local Roads Bridge Programme

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

The project contributes to the consolidation of Swiss Knowhow transfer in the bridge building sector by supporting the government of Nepal in institutionalizing the implementation of local infrastructure at provincial levels in the spirit of the devolved provisions made in the new Constitution. This will increase people’s perception that their provincial government delivers most essential physical access to basic services and economic opportunities, boosting their confidence in the new federal system.


Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Committee of Armenia

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2022

In partnership with the OSCE, Switzerland supports the Armenian Government in establishing a new Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC). This specialized body will be key in investigating and combatting corruption crimes. Through capacity-building activities and policy support, the ACC will be in a position to contribute to curb corruption, strengthen the Anti-Corruption system and the rule-of-law in the context of the Government’s Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019.


TTDP - Trail Based Tourism Development Project

01.12.2020 - 30.06.2026

The project aims at increasing income of Nepalese people through the promotion of trail based tourism. By attracting national and regional visitors along safe and scenic trails, it will contribute to preserve social and cultural heritage while generating local revenues. Switzerland’s convening power to bring together federal, provincial and local governments will be catalytic in promoting intergovernmental cooperation in view of strengthening local economic development.


Strengthening Systems to Combat Corruption and Impunity in Central America

01.12.2020 - 30.06.2024

The program contributes to the reduction of corruption and impunity in the Northern Triangle of Central America, strengthens the anticorruption investigative and criminal prosecution capacities of the specialized units of the Public Prosecutors and reinforces the political lobbying of civil society organizations to promote institutional reforms.


Resil - Projet de renforcement de la résilience et de la cohésion sociale au plateau dogon

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2022

Au Centre du Mali, les groupes armés exploitent la concurrence pour l’accès aux terres afin d’envenimer les relations entre communautés et de créer un climat d’extrême violence. En visant une meilleure productivité des terres et le renforcement des mécanismes de gestion des différends fonciers, le projet contribue à apaiser les relations et accroît la résilience. La Suisse contribue à la cohésion sociale, au développement rural et à la résilience des victimes du conflit. 


Support the juvenile justice system in Egypt

01.11.2020 - 31.10.2023

A more independent, impartial, and efficient judiciary is a prerequisite for the current protection of citizens. The juvenile justice system is one avenue where there is both a demonstrated need for engagement and government acceptance. Capitalising on OECD framework agreement with Egypt on rule of law, the proposed intervention will lead to enhanced sector specific governance practices and contribute in increasing trust with government stakeholders.


PSPET - Programme de soutien au processus électoral en Tunisie

01.11.2020 - 31.12.2024

L’intervention contribue au renforcement de la bonne gouvernance des autorités électorales et à leur résilience pendant les périodes de crise. Elle veille également à assurer l’inclusion des différentes couches de la société dans la participation électorale et politique, à travers des approches innovantes et durables, ainsi que par la diffusion auprès des citoyen.ne.s tunisien.ne.s d’une information électorale fiable et sensible au genre. Le programme sera mis en œuvre par le PNUD et l’IFES.


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.

Object 61 – 72 of 259