Criteria of cooperation

The SDC selects the countries with which it works – or decides to terminate its cooperation – according to set criteria. It also chooses the multilateral organisations and NGOs with which it works on the basis of clearly defined objectives.

The priority countries of Swiss development cooperation are among the poorest and structurally weakest in the world. The SDC focuses on some 20 priority countries and regions. These are chosen according to specific entry and exit criteria, such as needs, fragility, added value, the potential of the results of cooperation, the will of the countries concerned to carry out reforms and cooperate, mutual interest in cooperation, and the presence of other donors.

Switzerland’s transition cooperation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is offered to countries that are not members of the European Union, have a communist history and now demonstrate the will to carry out reforms. In such cases, the SDC coordinates its activities with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

List of priority countries
Engagement in fragile states

Emergency aid is provided in cases where there are major humanitarian needs and where a large number of people face serious difficulties as a result of a crisis, armed conflict, natural or man-made disaster or an epidemic. The lack or inadequacy of local, national and regional capacities to cope with such crisis situations and their consequences can also justify humanitarian action.

Priorities of Swiss Humanitarian Aid

Thematic priorities

Switzerland’s international cooperation is focused on a series of priority themes and areas where meaningful results have been obtained in the past and where Swiss expertise can be drawn upon.

With regard to themes linked to global challenges, in the years to come, the SDC will strengthen its activities in the areas of climate change and the environment, water, food security, health and migration. In developing countries specifically, emphasis will be placed on education, vocational skills development and access to jobs, the management of fragile situations and economic development. Although ‘gender’ and ‘governance’ are cross-cutting themes of the SDC activities, they are also covered by specific projects.

Selected partnerships

By supporting several multilateral organisations, Switzerland is able to consolidate its international networks and widen the scope of its activities. It selects partner organisations on the basis of the four following criteria:

  • Swiss foreign policy and economic interests;
  •  the importance of the organisations for Swiss policy on development cooperation and humanitarian aid;
  • the results achieved by the organisations in question;
  • the scope it has to influence these organisations’ policies and strategies.

Multilateral cooperation

Switzerland allocates one part of its financial contributions to non-governmental organisations for specific projects and another part for the programmes of its ‘institutional partnerships’. Its decision to support such organisations is based on an examination of the organisations’ competencies and the relevance of their projects and programmes. 

Criteria for cooperation with Swiss NGOs