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

Object 1 – 12 of 199

Public Service Improvement (PSI) in the Kyrgyz Republic

01.08.2024 - 31.07.2028

To improve people's quality of life, municipalities need to deliver efficiently and effectively services such as safe drinking water, waste collection, cultural facilities in a socially inclusive and gender responsive manner. In rural Kyrgyzstan, their capacities still need to be improved in a sustainable way. To achieve this, the project will develop the municipalities' support system which shall then provide adequate counseling and training to those municipalities today and in the long run.


Social Cohesion and Peace Initiative, Phase 1

15.07.2024 - 31.12.2025

Social cohesion in Moldova is weak, with low levels of intergroup contact and civic engagement. Divisions run largely along political lines and have deepened since the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Fostering constructive dialogue is essential for building social cohesion and resilience. The project aims at creating opportunities for young and elderly people to become more active in community processes, while addressing dividing lines within the Moldovan society and paving the way for inclusive nation-building and sustainable peace.


Single-phase project: Enhancing Peace and Economic Prosperity through Women's Leadership and Inclusion (Women for Peace & Prosperity)

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

In line with the priorities of the Governments of Moldova and Switzerland, the project aims to socially and economically empower women, including refugee women from Ukraine, increase their participation in decision-making and the workforce, promote their entrepreneurial activities, and finally contribute to a just, equal, inclusive and resilient society and economy in Moldova. The project will promote gender-responsive policies and initiatives to address key barriers to women's socio-economic inclusion.


E-Governance for Accountability and Participation (EGAP), Phase 3

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

Digital transformation of Ukraine’s public administration significantly contributed to its resilience in the critical war conditions. Switzerland will consolidate its support to Ukraine in promoting innovative digital tools as amplifiers of democratic reforms in socially important sectors, catalysts of sustainable recovery and effective service provision to citizens and the private sector.


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.


Citizen Participation and Conflict Prevention programme (PCPC)

01.05.2024 - 31.12.2029

Rwanda has achieved notable progress with regard to socioeconomic development and improved social cohesion. However, the role of citizens in decision-making and in holding leaders to account remains insufficient affecting the sustainability of results. This programme will increase the capability of the 30 districts in Rwanda to properly engage citizens in decision-making processes and will strengthen local conflict-resolution mechanisms, hence contributing to improved accountability and lasting social cohesion.


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.


Burundi – Programme conjoint sur les droits humains

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

La situation des droits de l’homme au Burundi reste préoccupante en raison de la persistance des violations des droits de l’homme et de l'absence d'obligation de rendre des comptes. Le Programme conjoint sur les droits humains est une initiative multipartite (Gouvernement et bailleurs de fonds) qui vise à promouvoir l’application du cadre légal en matière de droits de l’homme par des institutions crédibles et efficaces.


Supporting Anticorruption and Asset Recovery through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the UNCAC Coalition

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland has a fundamental interest in preventing corruption so that resources in partner countries flow in public services and sustainable development, and stolen assets are not deposited in Swiss financial institutions. Supporting the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) including a multilateral dialogue platform on asset return will ultimately lead to increased resources for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Tchad-FAO, Assistance aux politiques

08.12.2023 - 31.12.2024

La Feuille de route nationale sur les systèmes alimentaires, la Loi d’orientation agro-sylvo-pastorale et halieutique et la politique semencière sont des documents stratégiques sectorielles importants dans la projection de la politique du gouvernement dont la DDC a contribué à leur élaboration. En soutenant l’élaboration des textes d’application et l’appui au processus d’adoption desdits textes, la Suisse contribue aux réformes diverses permettant d’accélérer les transformations souhaitées pour améliorer les systèmes alimentaires.


Urban Durable Solutions - single phase

01.12.2023 - 30.11.2025

Through inclusive spatial planning analysis and the implementation of Urban Durable Solutions this program will upgrade the capacities of the city of Pemba to provide space and better living conditions for displaced and host communities, including improved access to basic services, infrastructures, and socio-economic opportunities. This project complements interventions in SDC’s portfolio in Mozambique to provide quality services. 

Object 1 – 12 of 199