Press releases, 19.02.2020

Switzerland achieved most of its international cooperation objectives in the 2017–20 period, helping to save lives, reduce poverty, create economic prospects and promote peace. At its meeting on 19 February 2020, the Federal Council approved the final report on the implementation of the Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017–20. The various development cooperation, humanitarian aid and peacebuilding programmes have produced the desired outcomes. The commitment to sustainable development also ensures security and prosperity for Switzerland and provides a strong basis for the new International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24.

The Federal Council has submitted to Parliament a final report on the implementation of the Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017–20. The report explains how Switzerland helped save lives, provide access to education and healthcare for people living in poverty, create economic prospects, preserve natural resources, build countries' resilience to crises (climate, economic and financial), and promote democracy, peace and respect for human rights.

Swiss international cooperation in developing countries supported 8.4 million people in emergency situations and helped 1.2 million to rebuild following natural disasters and armed conflicts. Switzerland supported 17 peace processes, including in Colombia and Mozambique. Nine million people, more than half of them women and girls, were given access to basic education and vocational training. Swiss international cooperation helped to create 16,000 jobs for women in mountain regions. In North Africa, 59,000 loans were granted to SMEs. Some 5.1 million inhabitants of 60 cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America benefited from a more sustainable approach to urban development.

For programmes to be effective, it is essential that measures are aligned to the priorities of developing countries and help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Working with multilateral organisations and local and Swiss businesses, research communities and civil society, Swiss international cooperation assisted partner countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda, drawing on Switzerland's extensive experience, expertise and capacity for innovation. For the first time in 60 years, Swiss support led to the development of another drug to treat a chronic form of malaria.

Digital technologies to support sustainable economic growth and decent work for all were another major focus of international cooperation. Some 1.4 million smallholder farmers gained access to financial services through their mobile phones, enabling them to save and take out loans and insurance policies. International cooperation also facilitated successful cooperation with capable partners, such as a programme involving the International Labour Organisation which improved the working conditions of 336,000 employees at over 1,600 companies.

The system for assessing the impact of international cooperation was also upgraded, receiving a positive review from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD. Based on the findings from external evaluations and impact assessments built into projects, Switzerland's international cooperation is successfully meeting the objectives set. The final report also referred to some difficult projects that needed to be adjusted or suspended. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, payments to an emergency relief project for displaced families were stopped when irregularities in project implementation were detected. It was also necessary to adjust a project delivering financial services in Kyrgyzstan as it was taking longer than expected for the new products to be introduced and accepted by customers and banks, which meant that additional incentives were needed.

Challenges also lie ahead for international cooperation: the global economic upturn and growing prosperity are putting a significant strain on the environment. A sustainable approach to managing natural resources is needed, for example, especially in the context of climate change. Armed conflicts, human rights violations, poor governance, over-indebtedness, water crises and irregular migration continue to present major challenges to many developing countries. Addressing these issues is also in Switzerland's interests given that Swiss prosperity, security and stability are shaped by global events in our globalised, interconnected world.

Swiss international cooperation achieved a strong set of results in the 2017–20 strategy period, which closes this year. The International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, also discussed by the Federal Council on 19 February, builds on past successes and seeks to enhance its effectiveness by focusing on specific regions and issues.

Further information:

Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017-20
Switzerland’s International Cooperation: mid-term report on the implementation of the Dispatch 2017–20 (in German)
Review of Switzerland's international cooperation by the OECD

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