International cooperation: jobs, climate, migration and the rule of law

Two children with a water jug walk through a dried out riverbed.
Fighting climate change is one of the priorities of international cooperation for the 2021–24 period. © A. Ishokon

Switzerland's international cooperation strategy is a foreign policy instrument that is rooted in the Federal Constitution. Its purpose is to alleviate need and poverty around the world, to foster respect for human rights, to promote democracy and to conserve the environment. The Federal Council set out the thematic priorities and geographic focus for the next four years in February 2020, and Parliament adopted the strategy in the autumn session of 2020.

Four thematic priorities

Based on the Federal Constitution and legislation, every four years the Federal Council and Parliament define the strategic approach of Switzerland's international cooperation. Alleviating need and poverty in the world and sustainable development are at the heart of the international cooperation mandate. Switzerland has defined the following four thematic priorities for the 2021–24 period:

  • creating decent local jobs 
  • addressing climate change 
  • reducing the causes of forced and irregular migration 
  • working to promote the rule of law

The Federal Council seeks to increase the impact of international cooperation by setting these four priorities and by focusing on specific regions, innovation, and the use of digital technologies. This new approach will also give Switzerland greater flexibility in responding to crises and opportunities.

Key figures

A total of CHF 11.25 billion has been earmarked for the 2021–24 period (compared to CHF 11.11 billion for 2017–20). After correcting for inflation, this amount is less than the CHF 11.37 billion expected at the time of the public consultation. Switzerland can undertake commitments up to this amount during the relevant period. The relevant funding will be determined by Parliament during the annual budget debates. Based on the latest projections, with the proposed payments, Switzerland's official development assistance (ODA) would amount to 0.46% of gross national income (GNI). When taking the latest GNI forecasts into account, the expected rate of ODA is slightly above the rate expected at the time of the public consultation (0.45%). This is below the 0.5% target which was approved by Parliament in 2011 and has since been reaffirmed on several occasions. Parliament adopted Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 in the autumn session of 2020.