More effective international cooperation: FDFA and EAER launch public consultation

Bern, 02.05.2019 - Swiss development cooperation is to become more focused, making it more effective. This is the proposed strategic approach for Switzerland’s international cooperation, submitted for optional public consultation by the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department for Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) on 2 May 2019.

Based on the Federal Constitution and legislation, every four years the Federal Council and Parliament define the strategic approach of Switzerland's international cooperation, which helps to alleviate hardship and poverty in the world.  The following thematic focus has been defined for 2021–24: local job creation, the fight against climate change and against the causes of irregular migration and forced displacement as well as the promotion of peace and the rule of law. 

International cooperation takes Switzerland’s migration policy interests into account. The FDFA and the EAER wish to make international cooperation more effective by focusing on specific regions and issues, innovation and the use of digital technologies. This new approach will also give Switzerland greater flexibility in responding to crises and opportunities.

Focus on four priority regions

The FDFA's bilateral development cooperation will now focus on four priority regions: North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia (Central, South and South-East Asia), and Eastern Europe. To improve the impact of its engagement, the FDFA will transfer resources from certain middle-income such as Latin American countries to the four priority regions by 2024. The number of SDC priority countries will be reduced from 46 to 34. More flexibility will be proposed, for example between the credits for humanitarian aid and development cooperation.

The EAER will continue its economic development work in a limited number of countries within the four regions and its engagement in certain emerging countries in Latin America

Humanitarian aid, peacebuilding and action to tackle global challenges (climate and the environment, water, migration, food security and health) will be focused on the four priority regions, without compromising their global mandate. Close cooperation with multilateral organisations enables Switzerland to put its expertise and experience to good use and to increase the effectiveness of its engagement.

Dispatch to Parliament in early 2020

Following the consultation, the Federal Council will submit the dispatch on international cooperation for the 2021–24 period for approval by Parliament in early 2020. The Federal Council outlined the key priorities in November 2018. Switzerland’s international cooperation will be based on the needs of affected populations (especially with high poverty rates), Switzerland’s interests (the economy, migration, security and climate) and Switzerland’s comparative advantage at international level (added value, expertise and innovation).

The strategic approach of international cooperation has been submitted for an optional public consultation for the first time. The cantons, the political parties represented in the Federal Assembly, the communes, cities and mountain regions, umbrella business associations and other stakeholders are invited to comment by 23 August 2019.

Financial parameters

As set out in the current financial planning, CHF 11.37 billion are envisaged over four years. Switzerland can undertake commitments up to this amount for the period 2021–24 in order to implement the objectives set. The relevant funding will be determined by Parliament during the annual budget debates. According to current forecasts, Switzerland’s official development assistance (ODA) will amount to 0.45% of gross national income with the expected payments. This is below the 0.5% target which was approved by Parliament in 2011 and has since been reaffirmed on several occasions.

Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs