In 2016, 193 member states of the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals, also known as Agenda 2030, commit the community of states to making their contribution to a fairer and less poor world. It is important that for the first time the industrialised countries are also called upon to adopt and implement more responsible policies in the areas of trade, climate, health, energy, equality, consumption, marine protection, etc.

SWISSAID is actively and actively involved in achieving some of these goals. The following SDGs in particular guide SWISSAID in its work:

  • Goal #1: End poverty in all its forms and everywhere.
  • Goal #2: Eradicate hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Goal #5: Achieve equality and empower all women and girls to self-determination.
  • Target #6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  • Goal #13: Take immediate action to combat climate change and its effects.
  • Goal #16: To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
  • Goal #17: Strengthen the funding base and breathe new life into the global partnership for sustainable development.

These goals are interlinked and influence each other. They affect both the domestic and foreign policies of the individual states and particularly restructure development cooperation.

Together instead of alone

How do these goals influence the work of SWISSAID? Goal #17, for example, stipulates that cooperation between civil society, the private sector and the state is necessary to achieve the other 16 goals. This also applies to Switzerland, and SWISSAID is actively involved in this cooperation.

The following project illustrates what Goal #17 means: SWISSAID entered into a partnership with 14 communities in the Sahel state of Niger to achieve a participatory and transparent use of oil funds. This has led to more financial resources being generated in Niger, for example in the municipality of Torodi, where a more transparent budget process has made it possible to increase revenues by 50 percent. This cooperation with the communities is a contribution to Goal #16, which calls for less corruption and participatory decision-making processes.

Defying the hurricane

SWISSAID’s cooperation with the University of Nicaragua is another example that illustrates the need for partnerships (Goal #17) to achieve sustainability goals. Hurricane “Nate” destroyed half of the corn and bean harvest in the department of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, last October. Nevertheless, the farming families supported by SWISSAID had enough food to make ends meet. This was in contrast to many other farming families. Prior to this, studies on locally adapted seeds had been carried out with the university, so that the farmers applied appropriate diversification strategies. In addition, water protection measures had been taken. Improved resilience to extreme weather conditions is a central requirement of the Climate Change Objective #13. Cooperation with the scientific community is central to this.

Digital pest control

In Tanzania, SWISSAID is working together with ETH Zurich on the second development goal, which is dedicated to the fight against hunger (Goal #2). With a very easy-to-use smartphone app, farmers can obtain expert advice if their crops are infested with pests. They receive scientifically sound solutions without having to resort to chemical pesticides. This reduces costs, allows timely advice and increases productivity. Experience with agro-ecological approaches and test arrangements are in turn documented in detail. The results can thus be used to enter into a dialogue with the Tanzanian government to promote organic farming. A subgoal of Goal #2 calls for a doubling of the productivity of small farmers without damaging existing ecosystems. The collaboration with ETH Zurich is an important contribution to goal #2.

Equality between men and women

In India, SWISSAID is committed to equality and makes an important contribution to goal #5: SWISSAID supports organisations that care for victims of domestic violence and prevention. Here, cooperation with the “Women’s Studies Center” and the “ILS Law College” is central to training police officers, judges, lawyers and care personnel in dealing with victims of domestic violence. Through the partnership with the ILS, a practical handbook has been developed and published, which has been adopted by the government in the state of Maha-rashtra, and is now being distributed to all state agencies dealing with domestic violence. This handbook is also to be translated into English in order to introduce it at national level. Combating domestic violence is a central requirement of Goal #5, and SWISSAID’s partnership with the ILS has made an important contribution to this in India.

Nothing works without a coherent policy

The examples show that the development goals of the United Nations can only be achieved in cooperation with other actors. This means that in the developing and emerging countries, the state, the private sector and civil society must coordinate better and implement a coherent policy that is consistently geared to the sustainability goals. In terms of domestic policy, this requires support for the goals and the actors involved. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For example, free access to seeds and GMO-free agriculture is central to all small farming families – everywhere, at home and abroad. This is why SWISSAID is also committed to sustainable agricultural trade in Switzerland with strict ecological and social criteria. Because there is still a lot to be done in this area in Switzerland too.