Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation


Organizational profile:

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) implements the Federal Council's foreign policy on humanitarian aid, development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe and at multilateral level. Switzerland's international cooperation for the 2021–24 period has four strategic goals that address development challenges and build on Switzerland's unique expertise. 

The SDC focuses its activities on reducing poverty and distress, as well as curbing global risks. It also aims to preserve natural resources for future generations. The SDC prioritises fragile and conflict-affected regions, where up to two-thirds of the world's poor will be living by 2030. The SDC supports countries in their efforts to overcome poverty and development-related problems, giving disadvantaged groups better access to good quality basic services, including 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. 

The SDC uses its international cooperation activities to support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Switzerland is also committed to mobilising the private sector more to make eco-friendly investments in developing countries, and advocates for this at the multilateral level and with the private sector itself in order to generate more funds. In addition to specific programmes dealing with climate change, the issue has also been mainstreamed in most Swiss international cooperation projects and programmes. 

The Global Programme Climate Change and Environment (GPCCE) division's activities in the sustainable forestry area are guided by three priorities: 

  1. Global forest policy and its integration in Swiss forest policy supporting global thematic forest partnerships; having a proactive influence on the development of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and related global processes in this field; coordinating with other Swiss federal offices. 
  2. Operational forest programme with three regional initiatives on the role of forests and rural areas for climate change mitigation and adaptation namely the Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change in Asia, African Forests, People and Climate Change in Africa, and the initiative on Andean forests and their role in climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Andes. 
  3. Focal point for forest issues: supporting bilateral forest programmes and providing consulting services on the topic.

Financing Instrument: Grants

Project scale: Recent funding efforts within the sustainable forestry theme range from CHF400,000 to CHF10,000,000.  

Funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation was increased from CHF 350 to 400 million per year by the end of 2024, about 15% of the total funds available for international cooperation.

Applicable geographical regions/country groups: 

Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 has honed its geographical focus. Swiss development cooperation now concentrates on the following four priority regions: 

  • North Africa and the Middle East 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa 
  • Asia (Central, South and South-East Asia) 
  • Eastern Europe  

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) intends to phase out its development cooperation work in Latin America by the end of 2024, thereby reducing the number of countries prioritised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) from 46 to 35. This will allow the SDC to concentrate their funds in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where the need for development cooperation activities is the greatest. 

Recipient categories: Governments, Swiss and foreign NGOs, private sector 

Eligibility Criteria: The SDC selects the countries with which it works according to set criteria. It also chooses the multilateral organisations, NGOs and private sector entities with which it works on the basis of clearly defined objectives.  

Application guidelines: For NGOs, once every four years, and synchronised with Switzerland's strategy on international cooperation, the SDC publicly invites Swiss NGOs to apply for programme contributions in accordance with a specified procedure posted on its website. The SDC may provide targeted contributions for specific projects or initiatives by Swiss or foreign NGOs. 

Last updated: 24 August 2023

Publication Date
Monday, 01 March 2021
Applicable location
Climate change
Sustainable land use
Rural development
Financing opportunities