Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021-2024
The international cooperation strategy 2021-2024 is a foreign policy framework for Switzerland, based on the Federal Constitution, to alleviate need and poverty worldwide, improve respect for human rights, promote democracy and protect the environment. Based on the Federal Constitution and legislation, every four years the Federal Council and Parliament define the strategic approach of Switzerland's international cooperation. Alleviating need and poverty in the world and sustainable development are at the heart of the international cooperation mandate. The following thematic priorities have been set for 2021–24: creating decent local jobs; addressing climate change; reducing the causes of forced and irregular migration; promoting the rule of law. Switzerland seeks to increase the impact of international cooperation through these four priorities, a focus on specific regions, innovation, and the use of digital technologies. This new approach will also give Switzerland greater flexibility in responding to crises and opportunities. In this regard, Switzerland promotes private sector integration in global value chains and strengthens the relevant dimensions of sustainability in the process. Companies and producers from developing countries are integrating global or regional value chains. These are crucial for agricultural and mineral commodities exports as well as for industrial sectors like textiles, and for information technologies.
With its international cooperation strategy 2021-2024, Switzerland seeks to increase the impact of international cooperation through four priorities: Economic development: contributing to sustainable economic growth, market development and the creation of decent jobs; Environment: addressing climate change and its effects and managing natural resources sustainably; Human development: saving lives, ensuring quality basic services – especially in education and healthcare – and reducing the causes of forced displacement and irregular migration; Peacebuilding and governance: promoting peace, the rule of law and gender equality.
Today, global value chains are perceived as both a cause of and a solution to urgent challenges in the areas of climate, poverty, biodiversity, migration and food security. In order to tackle these challenges, Switzerland consistently includes sustainability criteria in its value chain projects and programmes. Private, voluntary sustainability standards, known as “labels”, are key market-based instruments to strengthen the three dimensions of sustainability (society, the economy and the environment) along global value chains. Standards help minimising risks and abuses such as child labour, the improper use of chemical substances or illegal deforestation. They improve employment conditions and promote the efficient use of environmental resources and, eventually, increase the productivity and market access of businesses.
Switzerland furthermore supports broad dialogues and platforms to align strategic goals and resources with various stakeholders. These multi-stakeholder efforts are better placed to tackle the often systemic sustainability challenges in producer countries. In pilot projects, Switzerland applies a territorial “landscape” approach, which defines, promotes and reviews sustainability criteria for whole regions.