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

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Participation active des citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens – PACT

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2028

La Suisse veut contribuer à la transition démocratique de la Tunisie suite à la révolution de 2011. Cette transition passe par une participation accrue des citoyens, en particulier des jeunes, dans la gestion des affaires publiques à travers la mise en place de mécanismes de participation inclusive. La Suisse entend promouvoir des initiatives citoyennes faisant la promotion d’une culture de redevabilité des acteurs politiques auprès des communautés tout en formant les nouveaux élus locaux dans le cadre de la décentralisation.


Anti-Corruption Support Programme (ACS)

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2027

The programme will build technical capacity in the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau to more effectively investigate complex financial corruption cases and increase asset recovery. This will reduce impunity, return financial resources and have a preventive effect. The programme will also promote collective action between state and non-state actors to build a social climate that is adverse to corrupt practices.


Participation des femmes dans le processus de paix, de sécurité et de relèvement au Mali

30.04.2024 - 31.03.2031

La Suisse s’engage au Mali pour une participation plus significative des femmes dans le processus de paix. Par l’intermédiaire de ONU-Femmes, les soutiens directs à des initiatives de la société civile malienne seront complétés par la réalisation du Plan d’Action National pour la mise en œuvre de la Résolution 1325 de l’ONU, concernant la participation de femmes dans les processus de paix et les garanties de sécurité. Le programme contribue ainsi à la stabilisation de la sous-région


Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Project (GBV Project)

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Gender-based violence is prevalent in Nepal because of patriarchal values, lack of rights awareness or support services and poor implementation of laws. In the first phase, the project will directly reach 50,000 households in three districts with GBV prevention activities involving women, girls, men and boys and will provide improved medical, psychosocial and legal services for a minimum of 1’000 GBV survivors. Subsequently, the coverage will be increased.


Supporting Civil Society Organizations in Nicaragua

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC and other like-minded donors are engaged in enhancing the democratic and public policy processes in Nicaragua. A strong civil society is essential to the quality and sustainability of this effort. The proposed program will promote citizen participation, strengthen capacities of Civil Society Organizations and foster informed policy dialogue. 


Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’insécurité alimentaire touche près du ¼ de la population du Mali. La DDC veut renforcer les capacités institutionnelles et organisationnelles du dispositif national de sécurité alimentaire en vue d’améliorer la prévention et la gestion des crises conjoncturelles et accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle.


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2022 - 30.06.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth


Strengthening livestock sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties of Kenya

01.10.2021 - 30.04.2024

Around 60% of the population in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Eastern Kenya Counties live in abject poverty and are almost entirely dependent on livestock production for their livelihoods in an environment that is characterized by droughts and resource based conflicts. This programme will support these Counties to enhance livestock production by strengthening key factors such as fodder production, animal health, etc. and by strengthening the institutions to more effectively deliver relevant services and reduce conflicts. 


Direct Health Facility Financing

Zuena Hussein Ismail with her baby attended by a health worker at Makole Health Centre in Dodoma.

01.09.2021 - 30.06.2026

Together with the Tanzanian Government and development partners, Switzerland’s contribution to the reformed Health Basket Fund builds on positive results achieved so far and pursues to strengthen the health system that benefits 58 million inhabitants. Switzerland’s contribution will further expand effective decentralisation through the Direct Health Facility Financing mechanism to state and non-state primary health care providers, thus accelerating Tanzania’s progress towards universal health coverage and “Leaving no One Behind”.



Leave No One Behind Project

01.08.2021 - 31.07.2025

Albania is building up its social protection system, with the vision of providing decentralized services. The importance of an effective social protection system has increased by the ongoing pandemic. The project covers part of the social protection system. Its 2nd phase scales up the reform roll-out. This Albania-Switzerland-UN’ effort collaborates with 50% of municipalities and strengthens their capacities to support 160’000 vulnerable people.

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