Annual Development Cooperation Conference: Climate Protection and Development belong together

Bern, Press release, 21.08.2009

Climate change particularly impacts the countries in the South, jeopardizing the progress made in development over the past years. How can climate protection be reconciled with the right to development? This was the question addressed at the Annual Development Conference organized by the SDC and SECO on the theme of “Climate Protection and Development”, which took place on 21 August in Zurich. Some 2500 persons attended the Annual Conference which featured Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden, the Peruvian Minister of Environment Antonio Brack, as well as numerous speakers from both Switzerland and abroad.

It is the poor countries and the poor segments of the population that primarily bear the brunt of the impact of climate change. Those mainly responsible are the industrialized countries of the North, but also, increasingly, the so-called threshold or newly industrialized countries. In opening the Annual Conference, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard launched an appeal to governments, the private sector, the scientific community, and civil society in the North and in the South to join forces. “In today’s ever more complex world”, she said, “only by taking an interdisciplinary approach can we hope to achieve success in our policy on sustainable development, not to mention our climate and our trade policies”. The Minister of Economic Affairs went on to stress that, “There is no reason to neglect taking measures to address the climate crisis because of a supposedly more urgent economic crisis. For in the long-term, climate change represents a much more significant threat to economic development.”

Innovative solutions are called for if we are to promote an economic development that is climate-friendly. SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden emphasized the close relationship between fighting poverty and protecting the climate: “Climate protection and poverty reduction are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand.“

Dahinden pointed out that by means of climate-friendly technology transfer and the fostering of sustainable development based on renewable energies, Swiss development cooperation is contributing to climate protection in its partner counties. He underlined that climate protection must be forcefully addressed, but that in no case should this be at the cost of development cooperation, but rather by the earmarking of additional funds.

Antonio Brack, the Peruvian Minister of Environment, also sounded the call for global sustainability. He stated that climate change represented a major threat for Peru’s biological diversity in particular, and that protection of the tropical forests was a key element in the stabilization of the climate. Still other guest speakers from the South, Great Britain, and Switzerland – hailing from the domain of politics, the scientific community, civil society, and the private sector – were unanimous in advocating enhanced cooperation between the North and the South as being indispensable for the achievement of the global climate targets.

The Annual Conference boasted a record-breaking turnout of some 2500 persons. The audience was provided with an insight into the connection between climate and energy policies, and with information on Swiss development cooperation’s commitment to climate protection. Be it a question of sustainable utilization of the rain forest in Colombia, energy efficiency in the mega-cities of India, or agricultural research in the fight against hunger in Africa: The SDC and SECO illustrated, in an exemplary manner, how their partner countries could be supported in the pursuit of sustainable and climate-friendly development.

embargo 4h00 p.m. 

Contact / Questions: Markus Spörndli, Information Officer SECO, tel. +41 (0)79 232 98 12,
Georg Farago, Information FDFA, tel. +41 (0)79 301 70 35,
Photos of the Conference:
-> Economic Cooperation and Development -> NewsFurther Information on the Conference:  (German version)  (French version)  (English version)  

Further information:

annual report
brochure of Statistics

Address for enquiries:

Press and Information Service
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research