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 230

SDG Lab: multi-stakeholder innovation and collaboration for the 2030 Agenda

10.12.2019 - 31.12.2022

Business as usual will not suffice in order to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Develop­ment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Lab, established in 2016 in Ge­neva, addresses this in using innovative and experimental methodologies and processes. It promotes Geneva and Switzerland as implementation hub for the Agenda, leveraging the unique ecosystem of actors, including the financial sector, to ensure policy and action for implementation of the Agenda. 


Trail Bridge Sub-Sector Program

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2023

The project supports the Government of Nepal to institutionalize trail bridge building under the new federal structure. Due to the ongoing state restructuring process, Swiss support is required for a last phase to ensure the transfer of the institutional and human capacity built-up in trail bridges over the past four decades to the new state and local governments. Walking remains a major mode of travel in Nepal, and trail bridges are still essential for people to access basic public services


Myanmar: Support to the 2020 Elections

01.12.2019 - 31.03.2022

Switzerland contributes to credible, transparent, inclusive and free of violence or intimidation national elections in 2020 through a partnership with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Swiss support will facilitate inclusive reform of the electoral framework, strengthen the capacities of the Union Election Commission as well as increase information and access to electoral process with a focus on women and marginalized groups


Engaged People - Strong municipalities

01.11.2019 - 31.12.2030

Molodova has the most fragmented sytem of local governments in the South-East Europe. People's dissatisfaction with quality of services is high and participatory decision-making is not common. Local governance reforms launched by the Government are being pursued in a centralized manner. Switzerland will support moldova through a two-pronged approach supporting citizens (in enhancing participation and social accountability) and institutions (in improving public service provision), particularly in rural areas.  


DiploFoundation – Digital Governance

01.11.2019 - 31.12.2022

As digital transformation has accelerated, the mechanisms for digital governance (shared norms and standards) failed to keep pace. With this contribution DiploFoundation (Diplo) supports digital governance in general and developing countries in building capacities to participate in inclusive digital policy processes. Diplo has made a significant contribution that Geneva is today one of the main hubs for digital policies and more developing countries are participating in the discussions.


Strengthening Governance and Human Rights in Central America

Natural Resources Governance Dialogue

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

The program strengthens the capacities and the presence of the Inter-American Human Rights System in Central America in order to ensure the follow-up on court judgements and recommendations, to educate employees of the justice sector, to report on the Human Rights situation and to strengthen the protection of Human Rights defenders. The program further promotes dialogue on natural resource management among governments, the private sector, indigenous peoples, and Afro-descendants.


Democratic Society Promotion (DSP)

01.10.2019 - 31.12.2023

Through grants and capacity building, Kosovo's civil society is supported to do advocacy and fulfil its watchdog function, to become more accountable and transparent and to enhance legitimacy by reconnecting with citizens and their constituency. By providing support through a contribution to the newly established donor pool fund administered by the local partner Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF), support to civil society will become more efficient, sustainable and better coordinated.


Horn of Africa: Framework for Risk Governance and Adaptive Programming (FRAP)

15.09.2019 - 31.12.2024

The Horn of Africa is a hyper-fragile context with high security and fiduciary risks. This framework strengthens Switzerland’s fitness to operate remotely in hard-to-access contexts through a innovative monitoring and accountability tool. It supports capacity strengthening of local partners. The framework enables adaptive programming and effectiveness of the portfolio. It strengthens Somalia’s statistical system to improve data gathering and to monitor the implementation of the Agenda 2030.


Unterstützung des Weltentwicklungsprogramms (UNDP) zur Förderung der Krisenprävention und -bewältigung (2019 – 2021)

01.09.2019 - 31.12.2021

Laut einer Studie von UNO und Weltbank spart jeder Franken, der in Konfliktprävention investiert wird, mindestens 16 Franken an humanitärer Hilfe, Blauhelmsoldaten und wirtschaftlichen Kosten. Die Prävention und Bewältigung von Krisen mit den Mitteln der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit ist im Interesse der Schweiz. Die Unterstützung von vier Initiativen des Weltentwicklungsprogramms (UNDP) fördert gezielt Frieden und Sicherheit, Rechtstaatlichkeit und demokratische Institutionen. Die Schweiz beeinflusst dadurch auch die Gesamtausrichtung von UNDP.


Somalia: Strengthening State Institutions for better service delivery

01.09.2019 - 31.12.2022

Building state institutions and the capabilities of the Somali government to implement better services is of primary importance to realize the developmental objectives contained in the Somalia National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals. With the contribution to the World Bank Multi-Partner Fund (MPF) Switzerland will support the rebuilding of core state functions and the socio-economic recovery in Somalia.


Support to Aid Management and Coordination in Somalia

01.09.2019 - 30.06.2021

The project will support capacity development of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in the fields of Aid Coordination and Aid Effectiveness. This will contribute to the international community’s commitment to support the implementation of the New Partnership for Somalia (NPS) and National Development Plan (NDP) through strengthening national capacities for effective aid management and coordination.


Switzerland Co-Chair GPEDC

01.09.2019 - 31.12.2022

In 2019, Switzerland was elected Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC). The GPEDC has an important role in supporting the implementation of the Agenda 2030 at the country level by supporting effective partnerships. Through the GPEDC, Switzerland will advance the Agenda 2030 incl. «leave no one behind», deepen dialogue and engagement with Southern providers, incl. China, contribute to «data for development» and SDG data and support the review of the Global Monitoring Framework for the commitments to development effectiveness.

Object 61 – 72 of 230