More than aid: for fifty years Switzerland has committed itself to fighting poverty

Bern, Press release, 08.03.2011

The world is in upheaval. By fighting poverty, committing itself to improved health care, education and an approach to natural resources bases on sustainability, Switzerland's development cooperation promotes positive change – and has done so for fifty years. The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development is marking the occasion of its 50th birthday by staging a number of events throughout to provide insight into its work and the challenges currently facing Swiss development cooperation. On Wednesday, SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden took stock of the situation before the media and presented the anniversary program.

The decision by Parliament to increase official development assistance to 0.5% of gross domestic product by 2011 is an expression of the confidence placed in Swiss development cooperation. At the media conference, SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden highlighted the fact that 'thanks to the additional funding the SDC will be able to make an even more effective contribution to the solution of local and global problems.’ Alongside multilateral projects, the commitment in the area of of climate protection and the provision of drinking water will be strengthened. Given the increasing scarcity of resources these projects are of particular relevance for the improvement of life perspectives in poor countries.  

For half a century Switzerland has been supporting the efforts of poorer countries to help themselves to overcome the problems posed by poverty and development. Under the motto: ‘Fifty years SDC - more than aid’ a range of debates, itinerant exhibitions, street actions and film cycles thematising Swiss development cooperation are being staged across Switzerland throughout the course of 2011. As the motto highlights, development cooperation means a lot more than just being charitable to people and countries in need: it is a contribution to the solution of local and global problems whose consequences affect us all.

The commitment of the SDC is founded on Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition. The exhibition ‘The other side of the world – a history of humanitarian Switzerland’, which opens on 10 March in the Politforum (Käfigturm, Bern) and will guest in other Swiss towns over the course of the year, will offer visitors a deeper insight into this tradition. The audio-visual touring exhibition of the humen association (human memory) provides a depiction of humanitarian in the form of an interactive documentary film. As Frédéric Gonseth, film director and President of the humem association, emphasized at the media conference, thanks to this exhibition Switzerland will be able to discover the full extent of what it has achieved around the world beyond the purely economic over the last half-century. It will discover a part of its own identity'.

Carole Waelti, spokesperson FDFA: 031 / 324 32 03

Further information:

50 years SDC - More than aid
Events (ge)
Käfigturm - A Political Forum of the Confederation (ge)
Humem - The memory of the humanitarian Switzerland (ge)

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs