The OECD is a forum for its member states to discuss, evaluate and improve their policies. Cooperation with the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), an OECD sub-group, is a central priority for development cooperation.
Main tasks of the OECD
The OECD aims to strengthen the economic competitiveness of its member states, to support the market economy and free trade, and to promote development in industrialised and developing countries. Its members are the 34 richest countries in the world, representing more than half of the world's economic power. The OECD provides governments with a framework for discussing and further developing their policies in the fields of the economy, finance, education, development, science and the environment.
The OECD is organised into various sub-groups. For the SDC, the most important of these is the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Other OECD institutions involved in development are:
- The Development Centre
The Development Centre is mandated to carry out research on economic and social development. It is a forum for informal policy dialogue between academics, politicians and the private sector from OECD countries and emerging countries, such as Brazil, India and China, which are not members of the OECD.
- The Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC)
The SWAC promotes ties between OECD states and West Africa. Its goal is to facilitate the exchange of experience and know-how and make policy proposals to support development and regional integration. Climate change and food security are important themes for the SWAC.
- Global Relations division
The Global Relations division promotes and coordinates dialogue between OECD states and emerging, transition and developing countries and is the main point of contact for non-OECD member states.
Tasks and goals of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
The DAC has 29 OECD member states, including the most important bilateral donors to the OECD. It aims to increase the level of financial assistance to developing countries and to make development cooperation more effective. The DAC itself does not carry out projects but focuses on the political, methodological and technical aspects of development cooperation. Accordingly, it produces baseline documents and guidelines for development cooperation. It focuses on the following themes in particular:
- Aid statistics
- Aid effectiveness
- Conflict and fragility
- Governance and development
- Environment and development
- Gender equality and development
- Evaluation of development programmes
- Poverty reduction
The DAC was founded in 1961 and has been chaired by Erik Solheim since 2013.
In November 2011, the DAC held the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. The forum discussed the progress made to date in fulfilling the commitments and goals of the Paris Declaration (PD) and the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA), and whether their implementation had contributed to development outcomes. The Busan forum also laid the foundation for a new Global Partnership for Development. In addition to new emerging countries such as Brazil, China and India, the private sector and private foundations were successfully brought on board for the first time. The first meeting of the Global Partnership For Development will take place from 14 to 16 April 2014 in Mexico.
The DAC and Switzerland
Switzerland is a founding member of the OECD and joined the DAC in 1968. Active participation in the OECD is very important for Switzerland, as it enables it to contribute its viewpoints and expertise directly. This is in contrast to other bodies, such as the G20 and the EU, where Switzerland is not represented.
Cooperation between Switzerland and the DAC takes place via the delegation of Switzerland to the OECD in Paris. In addition, representatives of the SDC and SECO regularly take part in meetings and conferences on a wide range of topics. Swiss specialists are seconded to the DAC networks to work on guidelines and recommendations.
One of the DAC’s special areas of expertise is the evaluation of the development assistance systems of member states through peer reviews, which take place every four years. Member states have their work thoroughly evaluated, compare their activities with the principles and approaches set out by the DAC, and thus identify their own strengths and weaknesses. The most recent review of Swiss development cooperation took place in 2019.