Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation

International cooperation of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Portrait: SDC in brief

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is the agency for international cooperation of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

The SDC is responsible for the overall coordination with other federal authorities of development and cooperation with Eastern Europe as well as for humanitarian aid delivered by the Swiss Confederation.

Swiss international cooperation, which is an integral part of the Federal Council’s foreign policy, aims to contribute to a world without poverty and in peace, for sustainable development. It fosters economic self-reliance and state autonomy, contributes to the improvement of production conditions, helps address environmental problems, and ensures better access to education and basic healthcare services.

SDC in brief

SDC The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation implements the Federal Council’s foreign policy on humanitarian aid, development cooperation, and cooperation with Eastern Europe. Switzerland’s international cooperation for the 2017–20 period pursues seven strategic goals that are designed to meet foreign policy challenges and build on Switzerland’s unique expertise.

The SDC’s activities are designed to reduce poverty and hardship, curb global risks, and promote development that preserves natural resources for future generations.  The SDC focuses its efforts on fragile and conflict-affected regions, where almost two-thirds of the world’s poor will be living by 2030, because there can be no peace without sustainable development, and there can be no sustainable development without peace.  The SDC supports countries in their efforts to overcome poverty- and development-related problems, thereby enabling disadvantaged population groups to have better access to basic education and healthcare. The SDC helps find solutions for environmental problems and creates better prospects for young people and women, both through vocational skills development and income generation.

International cooperation for the 2017–20 period pursues seven strategic goals:

  • Contribute to developing an international framework that responds to global challenges
  • Prevent and manage the consequences of crises, disasters and fragility, and promote conflict transformation
  • Ensure sustainable access to resources and services for all Promote sustainable economic growth
  • Strengthen the rule of law and democratic participation while supporting institutions that serve society and the economy
  • Respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • Strengthen gender equality and the rights of women and girls

Humanitarian aid

Save lives and alleviate suffering: that is the mission of Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is guided by international humanitarian law and the internationally recognised principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

As an expression of Switzerland’s solidarity with people in need, Swiss Humanitarian Aid activities are centred on the victims of crises, disasters and conflicts, and are founded on shared values such as the inalienable dignity of every individual.

  • Swiss Humanitarian Aid focuses its efforts on three core areas: Emergency aid and survival assistance (emergency relief)
  • Sustainable reconstruction
  • Disaster preparedness and prevention

The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit provides direct aid via immediate response interventions and seconds specialists to multilateral organisations.

Cooperation with Eastern Europe

Switzerland’s cooperation with Eastern Europe contributes to building democracy and social market economies in five countries in the Western Balkans and in five former states of the former Soviet Union.   Cooperation with Eastern Europe includes transition cooperation and Switzerland’s contribution to the new member states of the EU. Transition cooperation between the SDC and SECO promotes the rule of law, democracy and the social market economy, and strengthens civil society. In this way, Switzerland contributes to stability in politically volatile regions and provides people there with better prospects.

With the enlargement contribution, Switzerland invests in the stability and prosperity of the enlarged EU and reduces economic and social disparity.

South Cooperation Department

The SDC’s South Cooperation Department contributes to reducing poverty in 21 countries and regions of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Its main priority is to provide disadvantaged population groups with access to basic services (basic healthcare and education) and infrastructure (water), as well as employment and income generation opportunities.

The SDC’s over 800 programmes and projects revolve around the ten themes below. In each case, the focus is geared to the particular needs of each partner country.

  • Peacebuilding, conflict prevention and promotion of human rights
  • Basic education and vocational skills development
  • Employment and economic development
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Water
  • Health
  • Migration
  • Climate change
  • Gender equality Governance (democratisation, decentralisation, the rule of law)

Global cooperation

Through its work at the multilateral level – with organisations such as the UN, the World Bank, and regional development banks, for example – Switzerland is helping to resolve development issues that are becoming increasingly complex.

With its global programmes in the areas of climate change, food security, migration, and water, the SDC is tackling these global challenges in tandem with its efforts to reduce poverty.


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Location Geneva, Genève, Switzerland
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the, Cuba, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Laos, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, United Republic of, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Sectors Sector agnostic