The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is Switzerland’s international cooperation agency within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). In operating with other federal offices concerned, SDC is responsible for the overall coordination of development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as for the humanitarian aid delivered by the Swiss Confederation.

The goal of development cooperation is that of reducing poverty. It is meant to foster economic self-reliance and state autonomy, to contribute to the improvement of production conditions, to help in finding solutions to environmental problems, and to provide better access to education and basic healthcare services.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation implements the Federal Council’s foreign policy in humanitarian aid, development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe. Switzerland’s international cooperation programme for 2013–2016 follows five strategic goals and focuses on fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is responsible for implementing the Federal Council’s foreign policy on humanitarian aid, development, and cooperation with Eastern Europe. It supports countries in their efforts to overcome poverty- and development-related problems. For example, the SDC enables disadvantaged groups among the population to gain better access to education and healthcare, and it helps resolve environmental problems. The SDC places special emphasis on fragile states and countries affected by conflict. 

International cooperation for the period 2013–2016 has five strategic goals:

  • Prevent or surmount crises, conflicts and disasters
  • Create universal access to resources and services
  • Promote sustainable economic growth
  • Support transitions to democratic, market-based economy systems
  • Help shape globalisation that favours development, safeguards the environment and is socially acceptable

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

SDC short portrait


Humanitarian aid

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

At the heart of humanitarian aid are the victims of crises, disasters and conflicts. The task of humanitarian aid has three pillars:

  • Immediate and survival assistance (emergency relief)
  • Sustainable reconstruction
  • Disaster preparedness and prevention

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

Humanitarian Aid and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit


Cooperation with Eastern Europe

Switzerland’s cooperation with Eastern Europe contributes to building democracy and social market economies in the former communist states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Cooperation with Eastern Europe encompasses transition assistance and the enlargement contribution.

With transition assistance the SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) promote the rule of law, democracy and the social market economy, and strengthen civil society. With the enlargement contribution, Switzerland invests in the stability and prosperity of the enlarged EU and reduces economic and social disparity.

Cooperation with Eastern Europe

The Swiss Enlargement Contribution


South Cooperation Department

The South Cooperation Department helps reduce poverty in 20 of the poorer countries and regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia. The SDC’s 800 or so programmes and projects revolve around nine themes:

  • Health
  • Agriculture and food security
  • Water
  • Climate change
  • Migration
  • Conflict transformation and resilience to crisis
  • Basic education and vocational training
  • Private sector and financial services
  • State reform, local government and civic participation

South Cooperation Department


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 and in so doing is fighting to reduce poverty.

Multilateral Cooperation

Global Programmes