Seeking global solutions in solidarity with development partners
A conversation about development cooperation and the importance of investing in systemic change, including during the current pandemic. Just under a year into her tenure as director general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Patricia Danzi gave “Die Zeit” an interview which was published on 8 April 2021. The keywords were COVID-19, partnerships and sustainable global solutions and actions.
SDC Director General Patricia Danzi in an interview with the German weekly “Die Zeit”. © Keystone
Almost a year has passed since Patricia Danzi took up her post as SDC director general. In an interview with “Die Zeit”, she talks about various topics that are of central importance to the SDC, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
Thinking and acting globally
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDC immediately adapted its programmes to meet emerging needs. "In Bolivia, for example, we saw an increase in domestic violence against women during the lockdown. In collaboration with local NGOs and the Bolivian government, we gave out the number of a helpline over the radio to help women break out of their isolation," explains Danzi.
A targeted action to complement global responses: on 13 May 2020, the Federal Council approved an additional credit of CHF 70 million to support a global pandemic response based on the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) initiative. Danzi notes that Switzerland, together with the SDC, is one of 190 countries – including low-income countries – international organisations and foundations that have joined forces to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. "We were able to reduce the price of COVID-19 tests in the poorest countries from CHF 25 to CHF 2.50, and to provide access to vaccines in countries that did not have the financial means to buy them."
Investing in systemic change
Collaboration has long been a keyword in Swiss international cooperation, not just during the current pandemic. "When we establish partnerships, we begin by examining the needs on the ground, then consider Switzerland's interests, and finally identify where we can bring added value compared to other organisations engaged in development work." The added value of Swiss development cooperation is the willingness to invest in long-term projects.
Has the pandemic reversed the progress the SDC has made over the past few years in various countries? "No, and the reason is that we've invested in systems, for example in health systems," says Danzi. "Achieving these goals requires a long-term commitment. Projects take eight to ten years, but the results are worth the effort. A good health system is naturally much better able to weather a crisis like the one we are facing today."
Working with development partners
To achieve long-term goals, most importantly eradicating poverty, all development partners need to work together. Switzerland and its development partners share a common goal: fighting poverty. They also have a common approach: sustainable models. Danzi also highlights the importance of collaboration with the private sector: "Businesses also want to reduce poverty so that they can access new markets. [...] Big companies can no longer afford not to be socially engaged. Sustainability is becoming a business model, and the SDC can help to influence this trend in a positive direction," she explains.
The full text of this interview is available in German under 'documents'.