Switzerland

Switzerland is a key multilateral player with a strong humanitarian tradition and a commitment to addressing fragility. Multilateral organisations and civil society organisations (CSOs) are its main implementing partners. Switzerland’s total official development assistance (ODA) (USD 5.2 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2023, representing 0.6% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Switzerland’s International Cooperation Strategy 2021-24 identifies four thematic priorities: 1) creating decent local jobs; 2) addressing climate change; 3) reducing the causes of forced and irregular migration; and 4) promoting the rule of law, building on its extensive multilateral and humanitarian experience. Within this strategy, Switzerland plans to focus its programmes on Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. A draft International Cooperation Strategy 2025-28, to be finalised in 2024, has been prepared and has a stronger focus on Ukraine.

Switzerland sees its multilateral engagement as an important pillar of its development co-operation to address global and regional development challenges, including climate change, fragility, emergency relief and the integration of developing countries into the global economy. Switzerland uses multilateral partnerships to deliver emergency relief and encourage more pro-climate private sector investment in developing countries.

Switzerland’s approach to reducing poverty and inequalities focuses predominantly on horizontal inequalities, founded on and guided by the “leave no one behind” principle. According to the current development co-operation strategy, poverty reduction is the raison d’être of Swiss development co-operation. Within this overall framework, Switzerland has a strategic objective of promoting peace, the rule of law and gender equality, and considers gender equality as a cross-cutting theme across all its interventions. The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) has developed overarching guidance on leave no one behind, and sees being “left behind” as closely linked to multi-dimensional poverty. Switzerland has also produced detailed guidance on participatory assessments to involve people at risk of being left behind in different stages of the programme cycle.

The OECD-DAC mid-term review conducted in 2022 recognised Switzerland’s efforts to increase the focus of its bilateral co-operation by reducing its number of priority partner countries and its strong commitment to gender equality and governance. It encouraged Switzerland to continue efforts to safeguard the focus of its ODA on poverty reduction and sustainable development, clarify its strategies for engaging civil society, and communicate with the public. It also encouraged Switzerland to further pursue efforts towards coherent policies for sustainable development. It noted that Switzerland has taken steps to address 10 of the peer review’s 14 recommendations. The next OECD-DAC peer review of Switzerland is planned for 2025. Learn more about Switzerland’s 2022 mid-term review [DCD/DAC/AR(2024)3/19] and 2019 peer review and its management response [DCD/DAC/AR(2024)5/19].

Switzerland provided USD 5.2 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2023 (USD 4.8 billion in constant terms) representing 0.6% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 6.9% in real terms in volume and an increase in the share of GNI from 2022. Switzerland’s ODA budget started to increase in 2020, after some decline, and appears to be maintaining the positive trend. Switzerland is in line with its domestic objective of a 0.5% ODA/GNI ratio, but below international commitments to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Within Switzerland’s ODA portfolio in 2022, 99.4% was provided in the form of grants and 0.6% in the form of non-grants.2

In 2023, Switzerland ranked 8th among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI. In 2022, Switzerland is among the DAC members that channelled the highest share of its bilateral ODA support to and through CSOs (25.1%). In 2022, Switzerland was among DAC members with the highest share of gross bilateral ODA disbursements to fragile contexts given for peace (23.8%). The increase of in-donor refugee costs in 2022 means that shares of bilateral ODA allocated to other areas may have decreased from 2021 to 2022, even if absolute volumes have not.

Switzerland is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Switzerland provided most of its ODA bilaterally in 2022. Gross bilateral ODA was 81.4% of total ODA disbursements. Twenty-one per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Switzerland allocated 18.6% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2023, Switzerland provided USD 160.7 million (preliminary data) of net bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, a 36.6% decrease from 2022 in real terms. USD 29.9 million of the amount was allocated to humanitarian assistance in 2023, a 77.4% decrease from 2022.

In 2022, Switzerland provided USD 1.7 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 9.6% in real terms from 2021. Of this, USD 860 million was core multilateral ODA, while USD 802.5 million was non-core contributions earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 27.4% of Switzerland’s non-core contributions and 72.6% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-five per cent of Switzerland’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2022 were allocated to World Bank, and the UN system.

The United Nations (UN) system received 46.1% of Switzerland’s multilateral contributions, mainly in the form of earmarked contributions. of which USD 466.2 million (60.8%) represented earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 767.1 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Switzerland’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were UNDP (USD 113.2 million), the WFP (USD 111.8 million) and UNICEF (USD 66.3 million).

See the section Geographic, sectoral and thematic focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2022, Switzerland’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 3.8 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 28.2% in real terms from 2021.

In 2022, country programmable aid was 33.5% of Switzerland’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to the DAC country average of 42%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 1.3 billion in 2022, an increase of 249.7% in real terms over 2021, and represented 33.5% of Switzerland’s total gross bilateral ODA.

In 2022, Switzerland channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector. Technical co-operation made up 2.2% of gross ODA in 2022.

In 2022, civil society organisations received USD 947 million of gross bilateral ODA, of which 14.6% was directed to developing country-based CSOs. Overall, 4.0% of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 21.1% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2021 to 2022, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 32.4% to 25.1%. Learn more about the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2022, Switzerland’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 682.7 million was allocated to Africa and USD 397.6 million to ODA-eligible countries in Europe (of which 59.3% for Ukraine), accounting respectively for 18.1% and 10.5% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 360.8 million was allocated to Asia. Africa was also the main regional recipient of Switzerland’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with the policy priorities of its overall strategy.

In 2022, 15.6% of gross bilateral ODA went to Switzerland’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in priority regions and/or fragile countries, notably in West Africa and Asia. The share of gross bilateral ODA not allocated by country was 56.7%, of which 59.1% consisted of expenditures for processing and hosting refugees in provider countries.

In 2022, Switzerland allocated 0.12% of its GNI to the least developed countries (LDCs). Switzerland allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (17.9%) to least developed countries in 2022, noting that 56.7% was unallocated by income group. Additionally, Switzerland allocated 12.7% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2022, equal to USD 479.8 million.

Support to fragile contexts was USD 846.4 million in 2022, representing 22.4% of Switzerland’s gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-four per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, roughly the same share as in 2021, while 23.8% was allocated to peace, a slight increase from 22.4% in 2021. Four per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, in 2021 and 2022. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2022, the largest focus of Switzerland’s bilateral ODA was on activities that are unspecified/unallocated by sector, such as support to refugees in donor countries. Investments in this area accounted for 34.6% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.5 billion) with a strong focus on support to refugees in donor countries (USD 1.3 billion). ODA for social infrastructure and services totalled USD 1.5 billion (33.7% of bilateral ODA), focusing on government and civil society (USD 655.8 million). It committed USD 264 million for health and population in 2022, accounting for 6% of gross bilateral ODA, and representing a 68.2% increase from 2019 in real terms. Humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 551.7 million (12.5% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on social sectors and humanitarian assistance in 2022.

In 2022, Switzerland disbursed USD 49.5 million in ODA for the COVID-19 response, down from USD 443.5 million in 2021. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, Switzerland provided USD 19.1 million in ODA for donations of doses to developing countries in 2022. Of this amount, USD 19.1 million accounted for donation of doses from domestic supply in 2022.

In the period 2021-22, Switzerland committed 71.4% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 56.4% in 2019-20), compared with the 2021-22 DAC average of 43.3%. This is equal to USD 2 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. Unpacking the gender equality data further:

  • The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 3.9% in 2021-22, compared with the DAC average of 3.9%.

  • Switzerland includes gender equality objectives in 37.2% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, above the 2021-22 DAC average of 17%.

  • Switzerland screens virtually all their bilateral allocable aid activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2021-22).

  • Switzerland committed USD 27.7 million of ODA to end violence against women and girls and USD 16.3 million to support women’s rights organisations and movements and government institutions in 2021-22.

Learn more about Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls: DAC Guidance for Development Partners and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2021-22, Switzerland committed 33.9% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 926.2 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (the DAC average was 35.1%), up from 24.2% in 2019-20. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Six per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11%.

  • Thirty per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 827.1 million) focused on climate change overall, up from 19.5% in 2019-20 (the DAC average was 30.5%). Switzerland had a greater focus on adaptation (23.4%) than on mitigation (17.4%) in 2021-22.

  • Eight per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid (USD 229 million) focused on biodiversity overall, up from 6.4% in 2019-20 (the DAC average was 7.2%).

Learn more about the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change [DAC/CHAIR(2021)1/FINAL].

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Switzerland committed USD 4.2 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2022, USD 1.7 million less than in 2021. The 2022 value is equivalent to 0.1% of Switzerland’s bilateral allocable aid.

In 2022, Switzerland also:

  • Committed USD 6.6 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.2% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and customs duties for ODA-funded goods and services, Switzerland generally seeks exemptions. It makes this information available on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 577 million (19.6% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy.

  • Committed USD 354.7 million (12% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as emergency response, agriculture, forestry, fishing and water supply & sanitation.

  • Committed USD 140.3 million (4.8% of its bilateral allocable aid) to development co-operation projects and programmes that promote the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Switzerland uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2022, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation and Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) mobilised USD 50 million from the private sector through simple co-financing and shares in collective investment vehicles. This constituted a 41.4% decrease compared to 2021.

A share of 18.3% targeted middle-income countries, while 5.7% went to LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs) in 2021-22, noting that 76% was unallocated by income.

Mobilised private finance by Switzerland in 2021-22 related mainly to activities in Industry, Mining, Construction (69.4%), as its top sector. Furthermore, over this period, 15.1% of Switzerland’s total mobilised private finance was for climate action.

In 2022, the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) extended USD 90.6 million in the form of private sector instruments (PSI) to developing countries. Of this, loans accounted for 36.2% whereas equities represented for 63.8%.

In 2022, 31.9% of Switzerland’s private sector instruments were allocated to middle-income countries and LMICs in particular (31.4%). Meanwhile, 68.1% remained unallocated by income. Switzerland’s private sector instruments mostly supported projects in the banking and financial services (46.4%) and industry, mining and construction (39.3%).

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following the reform of the exercise over 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) is underway. Information on partner countries’ participation in the exercise as well as their progress is available at the Global Dashboard. Switzerland’s results from the 2016 and 2018 monitoring rounds can be found here.

To help improve the transparency of development co-operation, the OECD provides regular feedback to members on the overall quality of their statistical reporting and works with each member to ensure the data meet high quality standards before they are published. Regarding DAC/CRS reporting to the OECD, Switzerland’s reporting in 2022 was very late, with some areas to improve in terms of the accuracy of the data.

Total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) is an international statistical standard that monitors all official and officially supported resources for financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries, as well as for addressing global challenges. It provides a broad measure of development finance with the objective of increasing transparency and accountability of all external support that developing countries receive. In 2022, activities reported by Switzerland as TOSSD totalled USD 5.7 billion, up from USD 5.1 billion in 2021. Switzerland’s TOSSD activities mostly targeted SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and SDG 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Activity-level data on TOSSD by recipient are available at https://tossd.online.

Three institutions share responsibility for Switzerland’s development co-operation: the SDC; the Division of Peace and Human Rights within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; and the Economic Cooperation and Development Division of SECO within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. Every four years, the Swiss parliament adopts its Dispatch on International Cooperation, which sets strategic objectives for the country’s development and humanitarian assistance. The latest dispatch was approved in 2020 for the period 2021-24. A “Fit for Purpose” restructuring process took place within the SDC in 2022, and the institution is now divided into three geographical divisions, one thematic division and one multilateral division. The Swiss Federal Audit Office regularly assesses aspects of Swiss co-operation; for instance, it published a report on COVID-19 measures from the SDC in developing countries in 2023.

Switzerland has a consultative and consensus-based system of government, and the preparation of the Strategy for 2025-28 involved broad public consultation. Several civil society organisations active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate under the umbrella body Alliance Sud.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Switzerland’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

2022 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Switzerland: DCD/DAC/AR(2024)3/19

2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Switzerland: https://www.oecd.org/dac/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews-switzerland-2019-9789264312340-en.htm

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

CSO umbrella organisation Alliance Sud: https://www.alliancesud.ch/en

Switzerland’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=switzerland#search

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.

Notes

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

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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