The Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH

Project completed

IDH is a neutral convener that brings together companies in a safe pre-competitive arena, acts as facilitator to organize cooperation between companies, NGOs, governments, knowledge institutes, banks and trade unions. IDH kick-starts sustainability programs by co-funding and de-risking private investments, and helps exploring new concepts that will help create scalable, self-sustaining solutions that deliver impact at scale on Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on: improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers and increased, decent incomes for workers to help end poverty (SDG1), promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth (SDG 8), improve gender equality (SDG 5), nutrition (SDG 2) and help to halt deforestation (SDG 15) and reduce toxic loading.

Country/region Period Budget
South Africa
01.07.2012 - 31.12.2021
CHF  30’000’000

In 2050 about 7 to 9 billion people will live on the earth. This goes along with an increasing consumption and energy use in emerging economies. The arable land is finite, there is already now increased adverse impact on environment and people, raw materials become scarce and agro commodity prices are on a sustained high. Also biodiversity hotspots are under pressure. These issues have become urgent for governments, NGOs as well as companies. This presents a business case for public private cooperation, which IDH is taking advantage of to transform and improve international supply chains with the aim to contribute to the SDGs.


Improvement of the sustainability in international commodity supply chains in order to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Medium-term outcomes

In the period 2016-2020 IDH aims to engage in (approximately) 11 sectors (such as for example coffee, cocoa, cotton and palm oil) triggering more than 100 million Euros of private sector investments and a significant increase in sustainable sourcing in 10 sectors. In 9 sectors IDH will convene public-private sustainability coalitions/platforms which will result in effective sector policy changes on critical externalities in the sector. By convening and strengthening sector governance in this way, IDH will trigger changing business practices and field level impacts in four key areas of public good creation in the following specific programs:

Smallholder inclusion and productivity & livelihood improvements

Mitigation of deforestation

Living wage and improved working conditions

Reduction of toxic load (by agro-chemical use)

Directorate/federal office responsible SECO
Credit area Development cooperation
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    30’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    0 Budget inclusive project partner CHF    294’000’000
Project phases Phase 2 01.07.2021 - 31.12.2025   (Current phase)

Phase 1 01.07.2012 - 31.12.2021   (Completed)