Influencing development policy

The presence of a supportive policy framework determines the impact and sustainability of local development programmes. That is why HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation engages in dialogue and debate with governments, the private sector and civil society, particularly regarding water and climate issues.
Local development processes are significantly influenced by the prevailing political, economic and social conditions at multiple levels. Thus sustainable progress in supplying water to the poorest, for example, can only be achieved if the national governments recognise in law the human right to water and then devise and implement appropriate mechanisms as part of national water policies. Similarly, the success or failure of international climate negotiations will determine how strongly and early the negative impacts of climate are felt by people living in the Southern countries.

As a development agency with programmes worldwide, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation therefore actively campaigns for a fairer legal framework. In Switzerland, in its partner countries and internationally, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is committed to dialogue about development both at the policy level as well through lobbying and campaigning. We communicate our development policy ideas to governments, funding bodies, the private sector and civil society organisations - and to the general public. The fact that we have our roots in practical projects and work closely with people in developing countries ensures that we remain focused on the problems of the poorest. Water and climate change are the two issues where we lay the greatest stress on policy dialogue and advocacy due to our expertise in these fields.
  • Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation is a fundamental human right and was recognised as such by the United Nations in 2010. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is striving both internationally and nationally to turn this right into a reality.
    At international level, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is on the board of the international NGO network “End Water Poverty”, whose goal is to push the issue of water to the very top of the political agenda. The coalition campaigns and lobbies for greater funding for water projects and a coherent water policy at the international level and in developing countries. To this end, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation participates in international conferences such as the World Water Forum.
    In Switzerland, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation highlights international agreements and commitments and negotiates with Federal Council for adherence and support to these.
    HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation also takes a stand to prevent international water conflicts. For instance, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has been part of putting off, perhaps for good, a controversial dam-building project on the Mekong in Laos.
    In all its development projects, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is not simply concerned with building physical structures and technical skills but gives equal emphasis to developing civil society capacities and structures and in training local authorities. In this, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation draws upon the positive experiences from Switzerland, where among others, the construction and maintenance of water supplies is traditionally a matter for corporations, cooperatives and local authorities.
    HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation offers assistance in devising water-use plans that reconcile the needs and interests of various user groups through a democratic process. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation also acts as mediator in local water disputes such as those between sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists in Mali.
  • People in developing countries are those most profoundly affected by the consequences of climate change, despite being least responsible for them. Thus HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation actively promotes environmentally friendly forms of development and campaigns for an effective global climate policy that takes account of developing countries’ needs.
    Internationally, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has a role in most of the global climate debate. Several HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation staff members are Lead Authors for the scientific assessment of climate change literature for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since 2003, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has been participating in the negotiations within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), informing the negotiations through its practical experiences in the domains of Agriculture, Forests and Land Use as also adaptation to climate change. Further, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation advises several multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, UNDP, FAO and ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organisation) on the adoption of effective climate measures in the sustainable use of natural resources. At the same time, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation campaigns for an effective global climate policy that takes account of developing countries and of the concerns of the poorest.
    In Switzerland, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is a member of the Climate Alliance which confronts the Federal Council and the relevant federal government departments with internationally agreed NGO demands. These include the requirement that water scarcity be part of the ongoing climate debate and of negotiations regarding sustainable development. At the same time, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation advises various federal departments on climate-related topics such as “green economy”.
    In its partner countries HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation offers support and advice to several national and regional climate delegations. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation also regularly organises training programmes on climate change, resource management and disaster prevention. These have been attended by over 700 people to date.