Swiss international cooperation

Switzerland pursues strategic objectives in its international cooperation. These correspond to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Switzerland follows a new framework for its international cooperation: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals of this Agenda address, for the first time, the social, economic and ecological dimensions of development. They were adopted by the United Nations and came into effect in 2016. The vision under this Agenda is binding for all Swiss actors in international cooperation.

A man and woman testing grains in a laboratory.
Switzerland as a supportive and responsible member of the international community: Here, a research team at the National Seed Testing Laboratory in Ghana checks the quality of local seeds as part of a Swiss-supported UNIDO project.

The Federal Council has embraced the vision of the 2030 Agenda. Accordingly, Switzerland’s international cooperation should contribute to long-term worldwide development that is environmentally and socially responsible.

Making this a reality calls for new and innovative approaches, as envisaged in the Federal Council’s 2017–2020 Message on international cooperation.

SECO fosters sustainable and inclusive economic growth that benefits all segments of the population. One way to achieve this is by strengthening its partnership with the private sector. It has the greatest potential for creating employment. SECO also endeavours to find more new sources of funding to finance development. And it is committed to the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. This is particularly important in preventing the poorest and most vulnerable communities bearing the brunt of climate change.

What are SECO’s strategic objectives in international cooperation?

SECO is committed to achieving the strategic objectives of Switzerland’s international cooperation:

Promoting gender equality is also one of SECO’s fundamental values.

Why engage in international cooperation?

Switzerland participates on the international stage through a sense of solidarity with poor and marginalised communities. Moreover, the experience and expertise that Switzerland has to offer are renowned worldwide. Switzerland enjoys high credibility internationally. Its traditional commitment to humanitarian causes and neutrality gives the country legitimacy. SECO engages in subject areas in which it already has a strong track record. It also chooses areas where Swiss actors have much expertise to share. In all cases, the partner country must demonstrate a will to reform if Switzerland’s support is to be effective.


Through its international cooperation, Switzerland acts as a supportive and responsible member of the international community.


Switzerland’s international cooperation also serves its national interests. It generates business opportunities. It creates employment in the partner country, offering an alternative to migration. And improved global stability ultimately contributes to Switzerland’s national security.

Is SECO doing this alone?

No. Over the years, SECO has built an extensive network of dependable partners. These include the partner countries’ governments, multilateral organisations, Swiss, international and local NGOs, as well as universities and research institutes. It also has the support of other investors as well as private firms in Switzerland or abroad.

These financial resources serve to leverage further funds. Through partnerships with the private sector, it can offer more expertise and funding. SECO now assists more and more partner countries in domestic public resource mobilisation, e.g. through their tax policy.

Last modification 28.08.2019

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