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

Object 13 – 24 of 212

Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.03.2021 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.03.2021 - 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


Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies (Sustainable Develoment Goal 16+)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2030

The promotion of peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16) is integral to the success of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In order to accelerate its implementation, a group of UN Member States are coming together to leveraging intersections within the Agenda (16+) and to accelerate national and international implementation, while building a movement of the willing around three grand challenges. Switzerland is a co-convener, a member and a donor to this initiative.


Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture (OMCT)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2025

L’intervention a pour objectifs de renforcer la responsabilisation des acteurs publics pour les violations des droits humains et de contribuer à la réforme de l’environnement institutionnel pour prévenir la torture et réduire l’impunité en Tunisie. Elle offre une assistance directe aux victimes et promeut une meilleure conduite professionnelle des forces sécuritaires et carcérales. L’OMCT travaille aussi en lien étroit avec la société civile pour mener des plaidoyers communs contre la torture et l’impunité des responsables.


Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens RESPECT

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2026

L’intervention renforce la gouvernance du secteur de sécurité tunisien et les capacités institutionnelles de prévention de l’extrémisme violent. Elle contribue ainsi à une meilleure protection des citoyennes et des citoyens tunisiens à travers une assistance vers une gestion de la sécurité redevable et efficace, et à travers un soutien à la définition et à la mise en œuvre de politiques publiques limitant le phénomène de l’extrémisme violent.

 


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.



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.


Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS) Phase Il

16.07.2020 - 15.07.2024

Based on Swiss expertise in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, the project

contributes to establish a federal vocational qualifications system. The NVQS will increase the

transparency on the labour market for employers and workers, improve official recognition of

workers competencies in hospitality, construction and automobile sectors and allow links between

TVET and general education to access higher level qualifications for better employment in

domestic and international labour market.


Social Justice for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (SORAE)

15.07.2020 - 31.12.2022

In order to improve the social inclusion of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) in Kosovo, this project will develop their livelihoods through ensuring better access to educational opportunities, enhanced children rights and protection, upgraded housing conditions and more income generation prospects. These multi-sectorial interventions will be complemented with antigypsyism policy interventions that counter discrimination against RAE and foster equality in Kosovo.

 

 

 


Combating corruption in Kosovo

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2024

The purpose of this project is to address key challenges in the policy and legislative frameworks, strengthen capacities of anticorruption institutions and foster public demand for accountability through civic engagement. This will be done through concluding the framework for preventive and suppressive anti-corruption processes that lead to asset confiscation.

 


Strengthening Livelihoods and Social Inclusion in Georgia's Forest Sector Reform

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2025

As part of a comprehensive forest sector reform, the proposed project contribution aims at diversifying livelihood opportunities of target forest dependent communities and at strengthening the local capacities in forest management in a sustainable manner. This is particularly relevant since up to 90% of Georgia’s rural households rely on forests for energy and other purposes, leading to progressive forest degradation. The COVID-19 crisis further aggravates economic hardship of the most vulnerable groups among them.

Object 13 – 24 of 212