Good governance for fair and sustainable development

Figure: A waving figure surrounded by five icons symbolising the components of good governance, as noted in the caption.
Some of the hallmarks of good governance: a strong civil society, democracy, an independent judiciary, administrative processes reflecting the interests of communities and press freedom. © SDC

Mismanagement, corruption, legal uncertainty and an unfair distribution of power and resources give rise to poverty, inequality and conflict. In order to address these issues, decisive action is needed to establish better governance. The SDC is committed to promoting good governance. 

An adequate and affordable healthcare system for all is one of the key indicators of good governance. Another indicator is the availability of education that benefits children from all backgrounds and gives them the skills and qualifications they need to participate in society and access employment. Key infrastructure driving economic development (e.g. roads and market infrastructure), fair trading rules both for large and small-scale businesses, fair and sustainable management of water and other natural resources for all, i.e. low-income households, smallholders, large-scale farmers and businesses, are further markers of good governance. Good governance also creates a level playing field by ensuring that the different interests of all population groups are represented and reflected in political decision-making, e.g. involvement in elections, public consultations and committees, such as school boards.

Effective government agencies with the requisite capability, funding and decision-making powers are needed to meet these challenges. However, other national bodies and independent parties also play a key role, including members of parliament proficient in preparing draft legislation and reviewing government budgets, a court system that penalises malpractice and corruption and does not just rule in favour of the rich and powerful, and properly researched press coverage. This also calls for the involvement of informed and engaged citizens who put forward their concerns and proposals and demand accountability.

The SDC works on the principle that solutions resulting from constructive cooperation between different public bodies, with input provided by various social interest groups and the private sector, will find greater public acceptance and support. This engenders trust and reduces the likelihood of political crises and violent conflict.

The work of the SDC helps create a better future, where all people can live in dignity and security, human rights are respected and different population groups can coexist in peace. 

The SDC's focus

The SDC cooperates with and supports the work of many of the agencies referred to above at all levels of government, contributing expertise, training and backup for a variety of processes. The SDC also provides budget support to cover temporary shortfalls, creating incentives to improve national funding schemes. It initiates dialogue, promotes cooperation and creates trust between all stakeholders, addressing specific local problems and supporting local partners in formulating solutions. It promotes specific measures to advance gender equality and assist underprivileged and vulnerable communities.

The SDC is also engaged at global level. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development specifically highlights the importance of good governance for sustainable development. Switzerland has made a commitment to implement this objective. It puts good governance on the agenda of multilateral organisations (UN, development banks) and supportes the adoption of relevant global guidelines, e.g. mechanisms for safeguarding human rights and combating corruption, standards of quality for humanitarian aid and global guidelines on the sustainable management of natural resources.

In engaging with this issue, the SDC is pursuing a two-track strategy: firstly, it supports a range of programmes designed to promote good governance and secondly, it has incorporated aspects of good governance into all its other programmes (e.g. good governance in water projects or educational systems).