Switzerland

Switzerland is a key multilateral player with a strong humanitarian tradition. However, the official development assistance (ODA) budget declined between 2016 and 2018. Multilateral and civil society organisations (CSOs) are the main implementing partners. Three institutions share responsibility for Switzerland’s policy – known as the Dispatch on International Co-operation: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Human Security Division (HSD), within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Economic Co-operation and Development Division of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.

According to the 2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Switzerland’s development co-operation, Switzerland influences global norms by acting as a strong multilateral player, uses results management to positively impact people’s lives and actively promotes humanitarian law and supports peace processes. The review recommended to Switzerland to concentrate on priority themes or countries, safeguard the focus of ODA on poverty reduction and sustainable development, and engage better with the public. Learn more about the 2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Switzerland.

The 2017-20 Dispatch on International co-operation sets Switzerland’s vision for development. Switzerland notably supports multilateralism to protect global goods and tackle global challenges. It makes its voice heard when debating international norms and standards related to water and climate change; health; migration; economic, finance and fiscal policy; trade; and food security. Switzerland also has a strong humanitarian tradition, blending humanitarian, development and policy efforts to prevent and manage fragility. CSOs implement two-thirds of Switzerland’s bilateral co-operation.

Switzerland provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year, with an increase of 0.6% in real terms over 2018. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 3.1 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.44% of Switzerland’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 Switzerland ranked eighth among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019. After continued increases between 2013 and 2016, Switzerland’s ratio of ODA to GNI declined from 0.53% in 2016 to 0.44% in 2019. The government has committed to achieve a 0.48% ODA/GNI ratio over 2017-20. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 3.1 billion in 2019. Within Switzerland’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 3.1 billion), 98.7% was provided in the form of grants and 1.3% in the form of non-grants.2 Providing 0.13% of its GNI to least developed countries (LDCs), Switzerland is close to meeting the United Nations (UN) target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Switzerland provided most of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 76% of total ODA, of which 25% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Switzerland allocated 24% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2018, Switzerland decreased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 1.4 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 3.6% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 766 million was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 40% of Switzerland’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 60% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Switzerland’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the UN, the World Bank Group and regional development banks. These contributions together accounted for more than 86% of Switzerland’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 44%, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 602 million to the UN system, the top two UN recipients of Switzerland’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 117 million) and the World Food Programme (USD 80 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Switzerland decreased its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 2.4 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a fall of 1.6% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, Switzerland focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for poverty eradication; peace, justice and strong institutions; and hunger.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 43% of Switzerland’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Switzerland channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through non-governmental organisations and the public sector.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 823 million of gross bilateral ODA. Eleven per cent was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 23% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Switzerland (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 34% to 35%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Switzerland’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 564 million was allocated to Africa and USD 549 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 24% and 23% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 176 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe. Asia was the main regional recipient of Switzerland’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. Thirty-seven per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 16% of gross bilateral ODA went to Switzerland’s top 10 recipients, all of them being one of Switzerland’s 54 priority countries. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 44%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees and core contributions to CSOs.

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In 2018, the LDCs received 25.3% of Switzerland’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 600 million). This is above the DAC country average of 23.8%, noting that 44% was unallocated by income group.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 755 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (31.9% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 40% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Switzerland’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 37% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 936 million), with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 473 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 345 million (14% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on social infrastructure and services and humanitarian aid in 2018.

In 2018, Switzerland committed USD 9.6 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.5% of bilateral allocable aid. Switzerland also committed USD 292.5 million (14.5% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, Switzerland committed 60% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (up from 51% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 1 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 5%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly lower share of interventions on economic infrastructure and water and sanitation addresses gender equality than those on all other sectors. Switzerland screens the majority of activities against the gender marker (87.2% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Switzerland committed 22% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 445 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 25% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Two per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Eighteen per cent (USD 364 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 19% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Switzerland has a greater focus on adaptation (17% in 2018) than on mitigation (9%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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In 2018, Switzerland’s development finance institution, the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM), mobilised USD 72.9 million from the private sector through shares in collective investment vehicles (CIVs).4

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Note: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle.

All of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18 targeted middle-income countries, noting that 94% of Switzerland’s private mobilisation was of a regional character (thus not allocable by country).

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country.

Switzerland’s private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the industry, mining and construction (67%); and banking and financial services (20%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

Every four years, the Swiss parliament adopts its Dispatch on International Co-operation, which sets strategic objectives for the country’s development and humanitarian assistance. The latest dispatch was approved in 2017 and the Dispatch 2021-24 is being debated in parliament in 2020. Three institutions share responsibility for the dispatch: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which manages well over two-thirds of funding, the Human Security Division (HSD), within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Economic Cooperation and Development Division of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.

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Switzerland’s development co-operation evaluation system is made up of two units, one located in the SDC, the other located in the Department of Economic Cooperation and Development, at SECO. Both evaluation units are independent from implementation and report directly to their respective directors, as well as to an independent evaluation committee for SECO. SECO’s and the SDC’s evaluation policies aim for accountability, learning and support to decision making. Both evaluation units have the mandate to commission and disseminate independent/external evaluations with dedicated budgets and multi-year evaluation plans focusing on thematic and strategic issues. Learn more about evaluation in Switzerland.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Switzerland’s development co-operation.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate for Development and Cooperation: https://www.eda.admin.ch/sdc

State Secretary for Economic Affairs: https://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/en/home/Aussenwirtschaftspolitik_Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit/Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit_Entwicklung.html

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1968.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

← 4. The amounts mobilised from the private sector presented in this section are not exhaustive.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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