Under the definition of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, official development assistance (ODA) comprises financial cooperation, technical cooperation and personnel resources made available as part of official development cooperation. This definition has been in place since 1972 and has undergone minor revisions since then. However, additional costs that are recognised to be part of ODA have been defined over the years, including administrative costs incurred by the donor country, academic scholarships, assistance for asylum-seekers during their first year in the host country, and the cancellation of debts.
Parliament decided that Switzerland's official development assistance during the 2017–20 period would correspond to 0.48% of gross national income (GNI). This is below both the 0.5% target adopted by Parliament in 2011 and the UN's 0.7% target, which Switzerland has accepted as a long-term objective.
These figures include expenditures incurred by:
The SDC (development cooperation, humanitarian aid, cooperation with Eastern Europe)
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (development cooperation, cooperation with Eastern Europe, debt relief measures)
The State Secretariat for Migration (benefits for asylum seekers, repatriation assistance)
The FDFA's Human Security Division (primarily peacebuilding and human rights)
The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (primarily peacebuilding and security)
The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets, scholarships for foreign students in Switzerland)
The Federal Office for the Environment (contributions to international organisations)
A number of other federal offices as well as the cantons and communes