Each year, Switzerland invests about 2.8 billion Swiss francs (3 billion USD) on fighting poverty and promoting economies of the developing countries as well as in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Under the mandate of the Swiss Confederation, two federal offices coordinate the international cooperation for development: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secreteriat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
All public assistance activities to development aim at improving the living conditions of the most underprivileged people in the world. The strategy favoured by Switzerland in the area of development cooperation is focused primarily on the prevention and resolution of conflicts, social development and good governance, the promotion of economic structures and the preservation of natural resources. The strengthening of individual initiative in partner countries is at the heart of Switzerland’s actions.
In order to help these countries on the path to market economies, the SDC and SECO provide their support to countries of Eastern Europe and those of the Community of Independent States (CIS) through the transfer of skills and credit.
The SDC is tasked with another important mission: Swiss humanitarian aid. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Corps (SHA) provides direct assistance to victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts.
While humanitarian assistance focuses on regions experiencing an emergency situation, the bilateral development cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) focuses on a sustainable development perspective.
Thirty nine per cent of the total bilateral resources are devoted to Africa. Complying with parliamentry requirements, the SDC is in a phase of geographic and thematic focus on its development cooperation. By 2012, the number of priority countries will pass from 17 to 12 and the number of special programs will be reduced from seven to six.
At the multilateral level, the SDC collaborates with the UN specialized agencies, the World Bank and regional development banks.
The SDC also implements three global programmes on climate change, migration, and food security. The SDC contributes to the search for solutions to these new global challenges which necessitate even more intense international cooperation.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), for its part, defines the economic and trade measures of Switzerland’s development cooperation. The aim of its projects is to promote sustainable economic growth founded on a market economy and the integration of countries’ partners in the world economy. Specifically, it participates in the definition of measures targeted to support the macroeconomic political reforms, infrastructure projects and programmes aimed at promoting trade and investment. The good governance and mobilization of private resources (know-how and capital) constitute two essential mandates of the cooperation.
A SECO delivery center “Economic Cooperation and Development" is working closely with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to design and implement Switzerland’s policy of economic and commercial cooperation abroad.
For more information about the activities of SDC and SECO: