Switzerland invests about CHF 2.8 billion a year to combat poverty and promote economic development in countries of the developing world as well as in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Two federal offices coordinate international development cooperation on behalf of the Swiss Confederation: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (<>SDC), and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).<>
All official development cooperation activities aim to improve living conditions for the world’s most disadvantaged people. Development cooperation focuses primarily on conflict prevention and transformation, social development, good governance, promoting economic structures and safeguarding natural resources. Swiss development cooperation also strives to strengthen the ability of its partner countries to take their own initiatives.
SDC and SECO support Eastern Europe and the CIS in their transition to a market economy through know-how transfer and financial assistance. Since 2008, the two institutions also implement the Swiss Enlargement Contribution aiming to reduce the social and economic disparities in new member states of the European Union (EU), most of them located in Central Europe and the Baltic region. In 2010, the Swiss Enlargement Contribution was extended to Rumania and Bulgaria.
The Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) respond to emergencies such as natural catastrophes, crises and armed conflicts.
While emergency aid is focused on areas with the greatest need, SDC’s bilateral development cooperation takes a different approach: It c concentrates on 12 priority countries and regions and on 6 special programmes. SDC’s development cooperation always strives for sustainable impact. In Eastern Europe, the SDC’s work focuses on 9 transition countries. The SDC works multilaterally with specialised UN agencies, the World Bank and regional development banks.
SECO is responsible for planning and implementing economic and trade policy measures with developing and transition countries and the new Member States of the EU. The primary aims of SECO are to integrate partner countries into the world economy and promote their sustainable economy growth, making an efficient and effective contribution to reducing poverty. SECO’s priorities lie in strengthening the partner countries’ competitiveness and diversifying their trade, mobilizing domestic and foreign investments, improving the basic infrastructure and promoting stable economic framework conditions. Special attention is paid to economic governance, the climate, energy and the environment. The mobilization of private capital and know-how in the partner countries and in Switzerland forms an important principle of SECO’s development cooperation.
The on-site activities of Swiss development cooperation are managed through about 50 Cooperation Offices. Currently, the SDC has approximately 1000 projects worldwide. Roughly 550 Swiss work at headquarters and abroad for the SDC along with 900 people employed locally in partner countries. The SHA has over 600 mission-ready members, of which around 100 specialists are on standby at any given moment. Around 70 people work at SECO’s Economic Cooperation and Development Division.
More about the activities of SDC and SECO and the cooperation priorities in Eastern Europe: