The gap between rich and poor continues to widen, the economic environment remains volatile and natural resources are becoming scarcer. In addition, the world has had to deal with pandemics, conflicts and extreme weather events. Numerous transnational and complex challenges once again had a direct impact on development in 2014. Switzerland responded to these challenges with strategic direction, innovation, patience and reliability. "It was important – as indeed it always is – to align our activities with the needs defined by our partner countries themselves", SDC Director-General Manuel Sager and SECO Director Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch highlight in the foreword to the 2014 annual report. "Our overriding objective is to help our partner countries achieve not only prosperity, but also well-being. That can only happen if economic growth benefits everyone and does not come at the cost of our natural environment."
The following selection of focus areas provides an overview of Switzerland's activities on the ground in the past year.
• Help for people fleeing war and disaster
In 2014 Swiss emergency aid and crisis prevention activities had to contend with geopolitical instability and a particularly high number of crisis situations. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. Switzerland alleviated poverty and misery on the ground and provided support through peacebuilding measures.
• Helping smallholder farms to succeed
Many smallholder farmers still lack market-based experience and access to credit. Among other things, Switzerland supported smallholder farmers in Laos in forming farmers' organisations and improving land planning, water and soil management.
• Working with the private sector to create added value through innovation
Not everyone has benefited from the upturn and impressive growth rates seen in many developing and emerging countries. Moreover, the unbridled exploitation of natural resources is often unsustainable. Switzerland is actively involved in this area in a broad spectrum of partnerships and initiatives with the private sector.
• Creating better prospects through vocational education and training and youth employment
Many developing and transition countries suffer from high youth unemployment. Switzerland is therefore actively involved in its partner countries in vocational education and training and youth employment, taking ideas from the Swiss VET system.
• Recognising and harnessing the potential of labour migration
Migrant workers make an important contribution to development in their countries of origin and countries of destination. For Switzerland it is important to protect the rights of migrants and to maximise the potential of labour migration. It is therefore actively involved in projects encompassing the whole cycle of migration, working closely with governments and civil society.
• 17 new global goals for sustainable development
As part of efforts to continue the work started under the UN Millennium Development Goals, Switzerland has contributed to the formulation of the new global goals for sustainable development (post-2015). The aim is to create a reference framework for the future development agenda which is applicable to all states and which integrates social, economic and environmental dimensions in a balanced manner.
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SDC/SECO Annual Report 2014
SDC – Vocational education and training
SDC – Post-2015 development agenda
SDC – Smallholder and family farming
SDC – Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief and reconstruction
SDC – Partnerships with the private sector: strengthening cooperation
SECO – Economic cooperation and development
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