Swiss international cooperation

Switzerland takes an effective and focused approach to international cooperation (IC). This cooperation aims at contributing to economic and human development, an intact environment as well as peace and good governance. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides the framework for this.

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs [SECO]) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation [SDC] and the Peace and Human Rights Division [PHRD]) implement Switzerland’s international cooperation. SECO is in charge of economic cooperation. The Federal Council and parliament set out Switzerland’s strategy for international cooperation every four years, applying the following criteria:   

  1. Needs of the population: The supported countries experience poverty and face challenges in terms of sustainable development. They are willing to mobilise their own resources for development and to expand the relevant capacities with the aid of international cooperation.
  2. Long-term Swiss interests: Switzerland’s international cooperation contributes to a peaceful and fair international order based on a strong multilateralism. It supports stable economic framework conditions conducive to investment, reduces the causes of displacement and irregular migration and promotes a sustainable global development.
  3. Added value: By putting its specific expertise and competencies to practice, Switzerland generates additional value. Moreover, the supported countries demonstrate a willingness to work with Switzerland and to implement reforms.
Four men in working clothes and with tools on a mound of earth.
Switzerland’s international cooperation aims at contributing to economic and human development, an intact environment as well as peace and good governance.

Based on these criteria Switzerland will pursue four goals up until 2024. Each of the goals has a thematic focus:

  • Economic development: contributing to sustainable economic growth, market development and the creation of decent jobs
  • Environment: addressing climate change and its effects and managing natural resources sustainably
  • Human development: saving lives, ensuring quality basic services – especially in education and healthcare – and reducing the causes of forced displacement and irregular migration
  • Peacebuilding and governance: promoting peace, the rule of law and gender equality

Strong partnerships

In order to bring about sustainable and long-term systemic change, Switzerland works with actors who pursue the same goals and contribute to their implementation. These partners include the governments of partner countries, multilateral organisations, private companies, non-governmental organisations and universities.

11.25 billion Swiss francs over four years

Swiss international cooperation has five framework credits totalling 11.25 billion Swiss francs at its disposal. SECO manages 13.6 percent or roughly 1.54 billion Swiss francs of these funds. Together with the SDC, SECO is also responsible for the use of financial resources relating to international financial institutions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Switzerland’s international cooperation is based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals of this Agenda address the social, economic and ecological dimensions of development. They were adopted by the United Nations and came into effect in 2016.


Last modification 05.03.2021

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