Switzerland’s Foreign Aid Sets A Global Example


CLEMSON, South Carolina — Switzerland has pledged to give $12 billion between 2021 and 2024 in an ambitious effort to reduce global poverty and increase peacemaking measures around the globe. With this investment, Switzerland further commits itself as one of the world’s leaders in spending for international aid. Switzerland placed eighth worldwide in 2018 with 0.46% of its GDP given toward international aid. For reference, the United States gave only 0.18% in 2018. The Swiss are carefully investing the money too. Switzerland’s foreign aid reduces international poverty and sets an example for other high-income nations.

Targeting the International Refugee Crisis

With nearly 82 million displaced refugees worldwide, the international refugee crisis looms greater than ever. Switzerland’s foreign aid is being used specifically to help ensure migrants’ safety through the help of organizations including the Red Cross. Additionally, Switzerland funds peacekeeping efforts to stamp out conflicts that force people to flee home countries in the first place.

Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries experience war and instability that force millions of people from their homes. Because of this, Switzerland has made facilitating international cooperation a top priority. By targeting both the symptoms and sources of the refugee crisis, Switzerland hopes to reduce the severity of this issue and the poverty that follows.

Supporting the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 goals that were adopted by every United Nations member state in 2015. Among the 17 goals is a resolution to end poverty, eliminate hunger and provide clean water worldwide by 2030. This is a hugely ambitious goal that requires people and nations everywhere to act with haste. Switzerland is doing its part for this cause by leading the way for other countries.

Many U.N. member states are matching the funding provided by the Swiss. This allows Switzerland’s foreign aid to work with more synergy and go further than it would by itself. The fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda would be the greatest triumph over poverty to date. Therefore, Switzerland’s contribution to this cause is vital.

Prioritizing the Environment and Climate Change

Data has proven that increasing global temperatures result in rising sea levels and an increased rate of natural disasters. Natural disasters such as hurricanes disproportionately threaten developing countries and the 2.4 billion people living near one of the Earth’s coasts. According to the National Wildlife Federation, “a 1.8°F increase in global temperatures results in a 7% increase in the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere,” which contributes heavily to the formation of hurricanes and increased rainfall.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that Earth is heating up by 1.7°C per century, showing how urgent of an issue this could be in the coming years. To limit the damage that hurricanes and other natural disasters can cause both financially and in terms of human lives, Switzerland spends roughly 15% of its foreign aid on combating climate change. This will help slow down a long-term issue that severely threatens the world’s most impoverished people.

Helping Sub-Saharan Africa

According to the nongovernmental organization SOS Children’s Villages, the world’s largest nonprofit focused on protecting vulnerable children. SOS Children’s Villages stated, nearly half the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives below the international poverty line. This organization is of great importance to the children of the region because of the extent of suffering poverty brings.

Accordingly, Switzerland has given more of its international aid to this region than any other. In 2012, more than a quarter of Switzerland’s total aid went to sub-Saharan Africa. Switzerland continues to focus on this region of Africa in its spending today. While many other developing countries receive financial aid from the Swiss as well, the levels of poverty in this region make it the primary recipient of Switzerland’s foreign aid.

Focusing on Economic Development

Possibly the most sustainable way for any country to reduce its poverty is by developing a stronger economy. This is easier said than done in many cases as developing countries often lack the resources that larger nations possess. This fosters difficulty to compete on a global scale.

Switzerland understands the issue and has devoted resources toward ensuring that businesses in developing countries will have better access to foreign markets and opportunities. Particularly, Switzerland aims to improve business environments through the development of fair-trade agreements and the application of Swiss expertise in particular industries. This provides avenues for developing countries to improve their businesses, industries and overall economies.

Switzerland also maintains a heavy focus on the support of the private sector where roughly 90% of jobs are provided. This support is shown through the heavy allocation of international aid in Foreign Direct Investment. According to Investopedia, “an FDI goes from one country directly into business interests in a foreign country.”  The FDI made up 73% of Switzerland’s foreign aid spending in 2012, showing just how heavily Switzerland invests in the economies of developing nations.

Coincidentally, “73% of Switzerland’s aid goes to countries with more than” one million impoverished people, as stated by the International Developmental Assistance Committee. Switzerland is investing directly in the economies of some of the world’s lowest-income nations.


Despite ranking just 20 in GDP in 2018, Switzerland was the eighth-most giving country in relation to its nation’s GDP. This makes the country a clear leader among developed nations in providing aid to reduce global poverty. The distribution of Switzerland’s foreign aid is heavily focused on the most at-risk people and areas of the world. The philanthropic goals of the nation also coincide with international aims and should catalyze the global mission of reducing poverty. In articulating clear goals for its spending, Switzerland has made itself accountable going forward. By taking such a multi-faceted approach to reduce global poverty, Switzerland has set a strong example for other nations.

Jeremy Long
Photo: Flickr


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