Overcoming global challenges

Switzerland's international cooperation is geared towards responsible, joint action by the international community. To implement its goals at international level, Switzerland works closely with multilateral organisations such as the UN and the World Bank. Sustainable, cross-boundary water management was a central aspect of Switzerland's global cooperation in 2017.

Flags of various nations blow in the wind in front of a skyscraper – the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
In 2017, Switzerland called for the commitment of various UN organisations to greater cooperation. © KEYSTONE

A common chapter for sustainable development

As part of its efforts to make the UN more efficient, in 2017 Switzerland got the four biggest development agencies to commit to working together more closely. Thanks to its international engagement and globally recognised expertise, Switzerland was able to convince the 193 UN member states in negotiations of the necessity of this strategic adjustment. In future, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Population Fund (UNDP) will have to set out in their strategic plans how they intend to work together to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) were unanimously adopted by all of the world's heads of state and government in 2015. The 2030 Agenda is the world’s most pioneering development agenda because it contains a radical promise: leave no one behind. The goals include ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (SDG1), achieving gender equality (SDG 5) and promoting sustainable economic growth and decent work for all (SDG 12). 

The 2030 Agenda aims to help those who have so far benefited the least from globalisation and development. It is for these people that the SDC uses its influence at the UN. 

2030 Agenda 

17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Better assistance thanks to joint planning 

Switzerland’s engagement has resulted in better coordination and more concerted UN efforts, providing those who need it with more comprehensive, effective assistance. 

A common chapter of the new strategic plans states the commitment of the four UN agencies to work more closely together. The common chapter sets out how the agencies intend to work together in six key areas also prioritised by Switzerland in its efforts to achieve 2030 Agenda: 

Six Swiss development cooperation priorities:

  1. combating extreme poverty

  2. climate change and managing natural disasters

  3. overcoming crises

  4. healthcare provision for young people, women and girls

  5. gender equality

  6. common data collection on the situation of disadvantaged people 

Shared responsibility – shared goals 

This exemplary approach anchors the optimal use of UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women und UNFPA expertise and synergies in the agencies’ respective strategies, allowing their collaborative advantage to be harnessed in efforts to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals around the world. 

This was a major success for Switzerland because the common chapter encourages the UN to work efficiently and coherently to implement the 2030 Agenda. Switzerland’s work in this area is helping to create a strong UN that uses its unique universal mandate to support all countries as they strive for sustainable development. Switzerland also benefits from UN support in its efforts to achieve its national sustainable development goals.

Drinking water in the refugee camp

Water flowing out of a pipe with the Azraq refugee camp in the background.

Jordan currently hosts over 600,000 refugees. Azraq is the second biggest refugee camp. Together with UNICEF, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has built a water distribution network. Thousands of families now have direct access to safe water. 

Blue Peace in Central Asia

Torrents of water gush through the sluice gates of a dam.

Switzerland's 'blue' diplomacy in Central Asia encourages dialogue and cooperation in the management of the region's water resources.

Switzerland shows its commitment to multilateralism

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Amman at the conference to commemorate 25 years of Swiss membership of the World Bank in August 2017 in Bern.

To celebrate 25 years of membership of the World Bank, Switzerland organised a conference with President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Amman.

Return of illicit assets to fight poverty

Nigeria – Switzerland returns USD 321 million to Nigeria under World Bank oversight: signing of a tripartite agreement at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery in Washington.

Some USD 321 million in funds from the entourage of former dictator Sani Abacha are being repatriated to Nigeria by Switzerland.