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 25 – 36 of 230

Financing Basin Development at Municipal Level (Localized Blue Peace)

15.02.2021 - 31.12.2024

Whit this contribution, Switzerland catalyses the set-up of a technical assistance facility, managed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Based on Swiss experience, municipalities in developing countries are supported in managing innovative water-related multi-sector projects in the context of wider basin development (localized Blue Peace). Inclusive economic development based on a self-sustaining financing model will be enhanced.


Mekong River Commission (MRC) – Contribution to the basket fund for the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2021-2025

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2025

The Mekong River Commission is the only treaty-based intergovernmental organisation for the Mekong River Basin with a clear mandate for integrated water resources management, procedures and tools to support equitable use of water and address transboundary issues. Switzerland with its experience in water diplomacy and management contributes to the implementation of the new Basin Development Strategy (2021-2030) and Strategic Plan (2021-2025) through the multi-donor Basket Fund. 


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.


International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) / Phase VII of core contribution (2021-2024)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland has since many years a very proactive asset recovery policy, and has returned more than USD 2 bio. of stolen assets to countries of origin. The International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) is a Swiss based, independent competence centre in asset recovery. Its mission is supporting affected countries to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, with the goal of strengthening anti-corruption institutions and recovering stolen public assets. Due to the growing demand by developing countries for support in asset recovery, and ICAR’s unique position in this field, Switzerland / SDC continue will continue this strategic partnership.


UNDP – Core Contribution 2021

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2021

UNDP is the leading UN organisation working on poverty eradication, governance, rule of law and conflict prevention. It also provides coordination and back office services to the UN Resident Coordinator System. Switzerland supports UNDP because it is its most important partner in the UN Development System to work on poverty eradication, sustainable development, good governance and conflict prevention. 


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.


Empowering Media in Tanzania

BBC Media Action presenter Melissa Michael

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

Citizens and governments rely on media to stay informed, communicate and be held accountable. Quality issues, revenue challenges, a difficult legal environment and security concerns limit the capacity of the Tanzanian media to play this role effectively. The Empowering Media Tanzania Program builds on long standing Swiss experience and works through contributions to six local and international media support partners to improve media quality, journalism security and content provided to young Tanzanian women. 


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.


Open source Health Insurance Management Information System (OpenIMIS)

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2023

Health related costs often represent a massive financial burden for poor households. Lack or inexistence of social protection mechanisms imply that ill and injured people have no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for services and care. Health insurance schemes potentially prevent households from falling into a poverty trap. SDC and BMZ have developed the only open-source software for fully managing a social health protection scheme. This tool will be further promoted and implemented in LMICs.



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.

Object 25 – 36 of 230