A specific target has been set at the level of funding for Objective B of the Swiss International Co-operation Strategy 2021-2024. Switzerland’s international co-operation funding in this field is set to increase gradually from CHF 300 million per year in 2017-20 to CHF 400 million per year by the end of 2024. This will be equivalent to around 15% of the total international co-operation resources.   

At the level of the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC), progress towards achieving the goal is being tracked by its statistical unit associated to the Directorate and reported to the Board of Directors in the frame of the comprehensive semi-annual steering report that includes a visual “traffic light system” for quick reference whether things are on track.  

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) monitoring system is comparable to SDC’s. Progress towards achieving the goal is monitored by a Climate Network that reports to the Directorate of the SECO Economic and Development Co-operation Division on a semi-annual basis. 

Climate change and environment were set as one of four overarching objectives of the current Swiss International Co-operation Strategy 2021-2024. Objective B, titled “Addressing Climate Change and its Effects and Managing Natural Resources Sustainably”, addresses the environmental dimension and complements the other three objectives on: 1) contributing to sustainable economic growth, market development and the creation of decent jobs (economic development); 2) saving lives, ensuring quality basic services – especially in relation to education and healthcare – and reducing the causes of forced displacement and irregular migration (human development); and 3) promoting peace, the rule of law and gender equality (peacebuilding/governance).  

In addition to the activities that specifically target climate change and environmental concerns (referred to as “targeted activities”), the subject of climate change and environment is factored into most of Switzerland’s international co-operation programmes by means of mainstreaming efforts (representing a “climate proofing” of investments and application of the “do no harm” approach as the strict minimum).  

At the level of the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, since April 2019, as per a communication by its Director General, climate risks have to be systematically considered and incorporated into co-operation programmes (strategic level) and considered at the level of operational work (projects and programmes). This consideration always includes two mutually reinforcing perspectives – the risk perspective about how the working domain/programme/project might be impacted by the negative impacts of climate change; and the impact perspective, about how the work supported might negatively contribute to further aggravating the environmental situation.     

At the level of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, new projects are as well checked against climate and environmental risks. Where risks are identified, measures for mitigation must be proposed.  

Poverty reduction and sustainable development are – and remain – the raison d’être of Switzerland’s international co-operation. The funds deployed for climate change mitigation and adaption therefore always have to make a tangible contribution to the mandate to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. To encourage more pro-climate private sector investment in developing countries, Switzerland is promoting partnerships, some of them multilateral, aimed at mobilising additional private funds to this end.  

At the level of the SDC, systematic use of the Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Integration Guidance (CEDRIG) tool has been prescribed. This instrument jointly developed by SDC’s thematic networks on climate change and environment and disaster risk reduction helps development co-operation providers assess whether their strategies, programmes and projects are at risk from climate change, environmental degradation and natural hazards. Moreover, it helps identify whether these interventions could further increase greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation or disaster risks.  

At the level of the SDC, the integration of environment and climate objectives is being done through the application of so-called Aggregated Reference Indicators (ARI) and Thematic Reference Indicators (TRI) that have been developed by the concerned thematic divisions and networks for a systematic application throughout the institution. Country and regional programmes are requested to include these indicators in their respective results framework – where it is expected that they represent at least 50% of the indicators for newly developed country/regional co-operation programme frameworks. The information obtained by the application of ARIs/TRIs will feed into an institution-wide Results Data Management (RDM) system that is currently being developed and tested, and which should become operational by the end of 2021. 

The Economic Co-operation and Development Division of SECO monitors environment and climate objectives in its projects through specific standard indicators, which provide the basis for reporting at the level of the division for Parliament and the wider public. As one of only two key transversal themes, climate and resource efficiency are a focus for monitoring, as well as evaluation and learning within the institution. A portfolio evaluation on SECO’s efforts to mainstream and promote climate and environment objectives is scheduled for 2022. 

With regard to country ownership and the role of priority country governments, under the bilateral co-operation modality, primary responsibility for development in a priority country lies with its government (partner government), and Switzerland prioritises direct co-operation with government agencies at the national, regional and local levels. The willingness of the country to undertake reforms and potential impact of the action are key aspects for the decision of a Swiss engagement. Regular dialogue with the government partners provides Switzerland with an opportunity to review and, where necessary, adapt the partnership.  

Climate Change Management Support (Peru): The overall objective of this project is to help improve Peru’s capacity to implement its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and their national Framework Law on Climate Change, and to influence the development of more ambitious regional and international climate change and mitigation goals. 

SECO, in its economic development co-operation for Switzerland, systematically takes into account climate risks, as well as reduction and adaptation measures in the design and monitoring of its activities. The main goal is to establish an integrated urban development and develop resource-efficient production processes as well as sustainable value chains and financing solutions. 

SECO conducts a dialogue with authorities and interest groups and helps them to develop forward-oriented strategies for the development of their cities. Experts advise urban and national authorities on how to analyse their urban areas and how to set development objectives, enabling them to select, plan and implement infrastructure projects. SECO also helps cities to put together funding packages and include local sources of financing. 

SECO prioritises the following areas: 

  • expanding public and non-motorised transport in the interests of efficient and sustainable mobility (e.g. by introducing express bus corridors) 

  • reinforcing the protection and resilience of cities against climate-related natural hazards and other extreme events (e.g. through monitoring systems and the training of authorities) 

  • improving urban energy management and expanding renewable energy (involving the Swiss label “Energy Cities”, or the European Energy Award as part of this). 

In order to tackle the lack of basic public services in developing countries, SECO assists utilities in managing their facilities professionally and introducing innovative technologies. It also promotes renewable energy in its partner countries, for example, hydropower and solar power. Furthermore, SECO supports skills development in public utilities to ensure the availability of qualified personnel. In addition, it helps national and local authorities develop viable funding solutions and implement favourable regulatory framework conditions, for example, in the area of tariffs. 

One such example is: Project Example: City Resilience Program.  

Another example is the “Solar Power Project” in Viet Nam: Project example: Solar Power Vietnam.

Switzerland does not have a special focus on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and none of its priority countries for bilateral co-operation efforts falls into this category. SECO is active through its bilateral economic development co-operation in 13 priority countries (no SIDS).  

SECO’s bilateral measures are enhanced by measures addressing global challenges, such as finance and trade, migration, climate change and environment, and water. Global measures are usually supported by several donor states and are implemented by international organisations, such as multilateral development banks. SIDS may also be beneficiary countries of global measures. 

There has been some targeted support in the past, notably an SDC co-financing of the Pacific Climate Change Roundtables (PCCR). This bi-annual climate change co-ordination mechanism for the Pacific has been established to co-ordinate and facilitate climate change dialogue and networking in the region. 

Supporting SIDS’ access to finance

There are no specific programmes or approaches happening in the frame of SDC’s bilateral co-operation efforts. It is important, however, to highlight the efforts undertaken in the frame of multilateral (climate) funds to which Switzerland contributes (Adaptation Fund, Green Climate Fund, etc.) and which have dedicated programmes and approaches regarding access to finance for SIDS. 

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