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

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Good Financial Governance (GFG)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2027

The project contributes to strengthen Tanzania’s public financial system, a central element to cement its economic status. The 3rd phase aims at expanding the mobilization of domestic revenue and improving the government’s expenditure control. It shall strengthen interinstitutional mechanisms for tax data exchange, enhance the audit system, and improve public procurement. At policy level, it seeks to develop an evidence-based and gender responsive fiscal strategy for better public service delivery to benefit the population, especially the poor.


Anti-corruption and Accountability

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

Building on the results achieved in the first phase, Switzerland will contribute to reduce corruption in Mozambique by (1) improving and strengthening legal institutions and the judicial framework (2) strengthening anticorruption institutions to effectively tackle corruption, economic crime and the recovery, management of stolen assets and (3) supporting civil society organisations at national and local level in the fight against corruption. 


Civil Society for Democracy

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2028

Switzerland supports civil society in Kosovo – towards a strong and sustainable democracy actor, by contributing together with other development partners to the local re-granting scheme, administered by the Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF). Various types of grants (for activities, organisational strengthening, etc.) and capacity development enable improved organisational and financial capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), strengthened constituency relations and increased civic engagement in public affairs.


Human Rights Grants (HRG) program in Tajikistan

01.10.2023 - 30.11.2025

The Human Rights grants program will support local and international organizations working in Tajikistan on acute Human Rights issues. The program will provide cofunding opportunities to selected projects related to child rights, freedom of press, human rights in custody, prevention of gender-based violence and the rights of migrants/refugees.


Contr. to UNESCO media project

01.10.2023 - 30.09.2026

The project will strengthen citizen’s access to information, accountability and transparency of governmental institutions and enhance the quality of the media and information landscape in Uzbekistan. UNESCO as implementing partner has a solid partnership with the government and supports ongoing legislative reforms with expertise, ensuring alignment with international standards, capacity building for key government stakeholders (incl. judiciary, law enforcement bodies) and media competence of professionals.


Contribution to OHCHR capacity strenght

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

The project aims to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in Uzbekistan ensuring justice for victims of human rights abuses, enhancing civic space, integrating human rights principles into development and implementing UN Human Rights Mechanisms recommendation. Upon invitation by the President of Uzbekistan OHCHR has expanded its presence in the country. 


Peru, SEDAPAL: Emergency Water Supply in Lima

01.08.2023 - 31.12.2027

Lima with a population of over 12 million is subject to the highest seismic vulnerability in Peru. Hence, ensuring Lima’s water supply continuity in case of a major earthquake is crucial. The initiative aims at contributing to strengthened preparedness capacities of Lima’s water service provider (SEDAPAL) by improving its technical, financial and logistical capacities, knowledge exchange and inter-sectorial coordination together with key partners from government, academia, and the private sector.


Support to Municipal Development Programme (MDP4)

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

Through its contribution to the Municipal Development Programme (MDP), Switzerland aims to improve the quality and accessibility of local services and infrastructure provided by Palestinian municipalities to their citizens in the oPt. The programme builds the capacities for stable, transparent and accountable local institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. Supported by key donors of the sector, the programme promotes and supports reforms and provides a prominent platform for sector policy dialogue with the Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance. 


Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar – Paung Ku

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

In Myanmar, civic space has considerably shrunk since the military coup. In the absence of a legitimate government, networks of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential actors for basic service provision and promotion of democratic values and human rights. Showing commitment to localisation, Switzerland will enable local CSOs to further support vulnerable communities and to protect the foundations of a pluralistic and inclusive society.  


Contribution to UNICEF Transition and Resilience Education Fund (TREF)

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland’s contribution to UNICEF’s Transition and Resilience Education Fund (TREF) in Lebanon ensures access to relevant quality public education for the most vulnerable children of all nationalities to avoid the scenario of a lost generation after 4 years of disrupted education. Amidst Lebanon’s economic crisis, TREF further contributes to improving the governance, efficiency, inclusiveness, and overall resilience of Lebanon public education system.


System Strengthening Partnership Programme of the Ministry of Education Jordan and through UNESCO

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2025

In Jordan, the access to inclusive, protective quality education for vulnerable young people is impacted by natural and human-made hazards, including the protracted Syria crisis and climate change. Switzerland’s contribution to UNESCO for the System Strengthening Partnership Programme of the Ministry of Education enhances governance for evidence-based and crisis-sensitive education planning and delivery, as per Jordan’s Education Strategic Plan 2018-2025.


Central Asia Arts and Culture Programme 2.0. (CAACP 2.0.)

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

The objective of the Central Asia Arts and Culture Programme (CAACP) is to foster the further development of a vibrant and open art and culture scene that contributes to preserving freedom of expression and enhancing social cohesion in the region. The CAACP offers cultural institutions and artists opportunities to create a platform that enables people, including left-behind groups, to address issues affecting their lives and contribute to positive social change.

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