Mandate of cooperation with the South

Shepherd family in Mongolia
Thanks to SDC’s support, shepherd families in Mongolia have formed cooperatives permitting them to earn higher income. © SDC

In accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, development cooperation with the South supports partner countries in their efforts to improve living conditions for their population. In particular, development cooperation contributes to ensuring that the poor and the marginalised have sustainable access to resources and basic essentials, and that they are able to participate in decision-making processes concerning issues that affect them. It also works to strengthen the rule of law and democratic governance. Development cooperation is an integral part of Swiss foreign policy and is underpinned by the Federal Act on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid.

The SDC is tasked with implementing Switzerland’s constitutional mandate to "assist in the alleviation of need and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights and democracy, the peaceful co-existence of peoples as well as the conservation of natural resources". Such international cooperation is also clearly in Switzerland’s interests, as these activities contribute to promoting international stability.

The development cooperation undertaken by the SDC is underpinned by the Federal Constitution and the 1976 Federal Act on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, with the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a further frame of reference. Its activities are guided by the 'leave no one behind' principle, and, most importantly, by the imperative of integrating women and excluded population groups into political, social and economic processes, all central priorities of the 2030 Agenda. 

The Federal Council’s Strategy for International Cooperation 2021-2024 includes five framework credits relating to the operational activities of the SDC and of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) as well as to measures for promoting peace and human security.

Development cooperation with the South aims to reduce poverty by supporting partners from civil society as well as from both the private and public sectors. Its activities are planned and implemented in cooperation with local partners, both private and public, in the context of country programmes that span many years. Its aim is to enable the populations, as well as both state and private actors, to assume responsibility for sustainable development on the basis of  democratic governance.