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 61 – 72 of 212

Provincial and Local Governance Support Program (PLGSP)

01.04.2019 - 15.07.2023

Nepal’s new federal constitution addresses the long-standing root causes of conflict related to poverty, gender inequality and social exclusion. The Provincial and Local Governance Support Program is the government’s nationwide framework capacity building initiative to enable the newly elected provincial and local governments to assume their constitutional rights and duties. Switzerland led the planning for the development partners, The program will strengthen subnational institutions and service delivery, and contribute to peace and stability.


Support to SNDD Cambodia

01.04.2019 - 31.12.2022

SDC supports the third phase National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development (NP-SNDD) with a specific focus on the Implementation of Social Accountability Framework (ISAF) through a World Bank Trust Fund. The objective is to improve the performance of public service providers (primary schools, health centers and communes) with improved transparency, strengthened citizen engagement and government’s responsive actions


Regional Development Programme in Northern Albania

01.04.2019 - 31.03.2023

The Government of Albania is pursuing the Regional Development (RD) reform in order to reduce regional disparities, provide better socio-economic conditions for citizens and prepare the country for the EU accession agenda. Within this, the project will support the legal and institutional framework for RD .and strengthening local, regional and national capacities for strateqic investrnents in the regions.


Colombia, UNDP: UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Peacebuilding (MPTF)

01.04.2019 - 30.06.2021

Launched in 2016 within the “Colombia in Peace” framework, the first phase of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) of the United Nations for Post-Conflict for Colombia aimed to support national stabilization efforts as well as early preparation and implementation of the peace agreements. In 2019, nine donors (Norway, UK, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Chile, Korea and Switzerland) and the UN Peacebuilding Fund have agreed to support the second phase of the Fund, focusing on strengthening the stabilization of the territories and contributing to the achievement of sustainable peace results.  


Partenariats pour l’exercice d’une gouvernance appropriée (PEGA)

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2022

La région comme unité administrative décentralisée assure la cohérence et coordination des politiques publiques et initie des cadres de dialogue avec les acteurs du développement économique local. La dernière phase du PEGA couvre Sikasso, Mopti et Tombouctou. Elle permet à la Suisse de soutenir la consolidation des compétences des régions en faveur d’une bonne gestion des affaires publiques et contribue ainsi à la création de perspectives économiques durables et à la stabilité du Mali.


Coordination and society-wide dialogue on implementing the 2030 Agenda in Serbia - SDGs for all

01.03.2019 - 31.07.2022

The project is a contribution to support an innovative society-wide dialogue on the priorities of Agenda 2030, which leads to citizen-oriented and inclusive policies that contribute to sustainable development. Civil society is supported to influence development priorities through multi-stakeholder platforms, the Government is strengthened to better coordinate and finance Agenda 2030 implementation and the quality and availability of data for Agenda 2030 implementation is improved.


National Human Rights Program for Afghanistan (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2023

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has a constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights in Afghanistan. The Commission continues the journey of building an Afghan society free of fear and discrimination. It lobbies with the government and other actors and contributes significantly to enhance human rights awareness, education, monitoring and reporting, and to empower Afghan citizens to defend their human rights. Switzerland together with other donors provides financial and when required technical support.


She Leads – Women Leadership Programme

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

Federalism has created a historic opportunity for some 14’000 Nepalese women, over half of them from socially discriminated groups, to serve for the first time as elected representatives at local level. However, most elected women at local level remain excluded from political decision making due to discrimination based on patriarchal norms and values, and lack of resources and networks. The project promotes women leadership to support the peace process and to prevent future conflicts.


Support to Safe Spaces for Women, Youth and Children in Gaza Strip

Safe Spaces Project, Khan Younis, Gaza Strip

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

In 2019-2020, Switzerland will support the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) and the Culture and Arts Association (NAWA) in the Gaza Strip to provide quality educational and cultural services in safe learning environments for children, youth and women, including persons with disabilities. This contribution aims to enhance the inclusion of marginalized groups in local development and in community-led initiatives, and to prevent wider spreading of violent extremism and radicalisation.


Social Accountability Programme 2019 - 2022

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

Against the backdrop of shrinking civic space in Tanzania, the Social Accountability Program supports four key accountability Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country. It aims to enhance transparency and accountability of public resource management at national and local level and to empower citizens – including youth and women - and local organizations to engage effectively in public oversight, decision making and advocacy on social issues of concern.


Accès aux populations vulnérables grâce au soutien au Service Aérien Humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS)

01.01.2019 - 30.11.2024

L’UNHAS est le service aérien des Nations Unies qui appuie la mise en œuvre d’interventions humanitaires ainsi que du développement économique et social en faveur des populations les plus vulnérables et marginalisées du Niger. L'UNHAS facilite et sécurise au Niger l'essentiel des déplacements des agents des programmes respectifs, leur permettant de rejoindre les régions reculées du pays et leurs populations rapidement et en toute sécurité.


Regional Economic Development Program, Cambodia

01.01.2019 - 30.09.2021

The Regional Economic Development (RED IV) program, co-financed by Switzerland and Germany, will be implemented in three north-western provinces of Cambodia. It aims at strengthening the capacity of sub-national and local governments to tackle economic development measures and supporting rural poor, in particular women, to increase their income and actively participate in local economic development, thereby reducing poverty of the rural population.

Object 61 – 72 of 212