Private sector engagement gaining in importance in international cooperation

Press release, 12.10.2021

At the beginning of 2021, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) produced its general guidance and handbook on private sector engagement, which is becoming increasingly important for international cooperation. At a symposium in Bern today, representatives of the SDC, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the private sector and civil society discussed the potential and challenges of private sector engagement and how it can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The focus of the symposium was on possible cooperation between the private and public sectors in order to combat global poverty. In his opening speech, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis stressed the importance of the private sector in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: "Nine out of ten jobs in developing countries are created by private companies, generating income and improving living standards," he said, speaking before an audience of some 250 participants from the private sector, civil society, academia and government.

An important complement to traditional instruments

During the symposium it was highlighted that the private sector is a source of innovation and progress and that it should be increasingly involved in international cooperation. Innovative and sustainable products – such as renewable energy technologies and new medicines to tackle deadly diseases – help to improve people's lives. Digitalisation is also playing an increasingly important role, giving people easier access to financial services such as microcredits and microinsurance. It is not only households and families that benefit from this, but also many businesses in developing countries.

Alongside its private sector engagement, Switzerland continues to use the traditional instruments of international cooperation. Its main objectives are to support good governance and respect for human rights, to fight corruption, to promote peace and to provide high-quality education and healthcare. Nevertheless, private sector engagement remains an important complement to these efforts. The local population and the private sector both benefit from stable framework conditions, an investment-friendly environment, good working conditions and a sustainable ecological and social environment.

SDC Director General Patricia Danzi referred to the long-established cooperation between public institutions and the private sector. Today, more than 100 cooperation projects are already under way with the private sector. In January of this year, the SDC published its general guidance and handbook on private sector engagement.

Clear conditions for public-private partnerships

Private sector engagement focuses on improving economic policy frameworks and international standards for greater sustainability, as well as promoting local businesses in SDC priority countries. The SDC sets out clear conditions for public-private partnerships, which must continue to meet ecological standards as well as social and governance criteria in the future.

Further information:

General Guidance on the Private Sector in the context of the International Cooperation Strategy 2021–2024
SDC Handbook on Private Sector Engagement

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
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CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs