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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Waste Water Treatment Plant in Thala and Feriana

01.03.2012 - 31.12.2021

This project aims at implementing wastewater infrastructure in the cities of Thala (15'000 inhabitants) and Fériana (27'000 inhabitants) in the Governorate of Kasserine, Tunisia. The infrastructure includes the financing of the treatment plants, the extension of the wastewater networks and pumping stations for both cities.


Emission Reduction in Cities - Solid Waste Management IND

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2020

Cities are important producers of greenhouse gases and at the same time highly affected by the impact of climate change, e. g. by more frequent flooding events which lead amongst others to loss of property and a spread of diseases. Solid waste management is part of Indonesia's strategy to address climate change. The programme foresees to support investments in solid waste treatment in different Indonesian cities, which have climate impacts. Besides the investments, consulting services are foreseen to support city efforts to manage their solid waste in a sustainable way. As a complementary component, the Swiss research institute Eawag will carry out applied research to identify market opportunities for recycling of organic waste and will develop these technologies in a showcase pilot situation.


Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Program in Ukraine

01.10.2011 - 31.12.2020

The project "Promoting the adaptation and adoption of RECP (Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production) through the establishment and operation of a Cleaner Production Centre in Ukraine" aims at enhancing the resource productivity, competitiveness and environmental performance of industry in Ukraine.


Indonesian-Swiss Intellectual Property (ISIP), Phase II

14.09.2011 - 31.12.2020

Intellectual property rights support economic competitiveness and innovation. With its rich cultural diversity and 56 million SMEs, Indonesia has a strong potential to strengthen its creative industries. ISIP-2 supports Indonesia?s strategy to bolster innovation and income generation by improving stakeholder awareness, access and benefits from a robust Intellectual Property framework.


Europe and Central Asia : PPP Transaction Advisory Program

01.06.2011 - 31.12.2022

The ECA Program, managed by the International Finance Corporation IFC, is providing infrastructure transaction advisory and capacity building services to the public sector authorities to promote Public-Private Partnerships in Southeastern Europe and Central Asia.


Pamir Private Power Project II

01.03.2011 - 31.12.2021

In July 2011 the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO approved the financing of a Phase II project comprising a more targeted lifeline subsidy scheme benefitting the poor (2012 - 2014) and the early completion of the ongoing metering programme (pre-requisite for the efficient and equitable operation of such a subsidy scheme).


Partnership for Market Readiness Peru

01.01.2011 - 31.12.2020

The Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) is a forum for collective action and a fund to support capacity building to scale up climate change mitigation. The PMR brings together more than 30 countries, international organizations, and technical experts to facilitate country-to-country exchange and enables enhanced cooperation and innovation.


Water Programme Zenica and Tuzla

04.12.2010 - 30.09.2021

The project, which SECO co-finances with the German Bank for Development (KfW), contributes to ensuring reliable and affordable water supply in the municipalities of Tuzla and Zenica in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. To a lesser extent the project also support the rehabilitation of the sewerage network in Zenica.


Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP)

01.01.2010 - 31.12.2028

The Scaling-Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP) of the Climate Investment Funds is empowering countries to transform their economies by demonstrating the viability of renewable energy to increase energy access and economic opportunities. SREP financing is channeled through five multilateral development banks (MDBs).


Dam Safety Monitoring and Rockfall protection, Phase III

01.01.2010 - 31.12.2023

The overall objective of the Contribution is to assist the competent Albanian Institutions and the Albanian Power Corporation KESH in raising the safety of the dams at Drin and Mat River Cascades to European standards.


North Tajik Water Rehabilitation

01.01.2010 - 31.12.2021

Based on a request of the Tajik Government, SECO and EBRD started to develop a programmatic and integrated approach to replicate the successful Khujand Water Supply Projects in secondary cities throughout the country, including the North.

Object 1045 – 1056 of 1057