Interview with Werner Thut from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Image above: The four operational departments of the SDC
Which goals for global development post-2015 are important for Switzerland?
Switzerland is likely to promote as stand-alone goals: agenda for equality, health, water as well as peace and security. We also try to ensure that issues like disaster risk reduction, sustainable consumption and production patterns are not lost on the way to a new set of goals.
What do you consider to be the challenges for negotiating a global agreement?
Working under time pressure, being participatory as much as possible, in an agenda that is highly controversial there it becomes very complicated to get those voices heard which are not strong enough or don’t have the capacity to contribute and participate in these international processes.
How will SDC seek to address such global issues, what urgently needs to be done?
I think the most recent documents by the EU also illustrate that it is a fact that this will be a matter to be discussed from a perspective beyond aid. Other sectors’ ministers will also have to be included, non-aid policies will have to be addressed, this cannot just be done within the traditional development/aid constituency any longer. It hasn’t been, in recent years, limited to that, but we will need to expand our outreach even more to other ministries and other stakeholders. Policy coherence from such a perspective will become even more important than it has been in the past few years, and it will be a very challenging task, more challenging than it has been at any time before - and that’s actually what we are working on within SDC. I’m happy to have extended evaluations and exchanges of experience with other players, other agencies, countries and also think-tanks like ECDPM.
This said there are of course important challenges - monitoring and reporting are maybe the greatest challenges we have. Monitoring means we do not yet have, as any other agency, the necessary instruments to really know what kind of progress we are making within a year, two years or five years. Reporting is something that we are working on intensively meaning that we do not have as a particular mechanism reports to the public or to the parliament. Unlike other countries that is something we have to work on very much.
How much of SDC’s work with ECDPM in the coming months will be on migration? What is your interest in this area?
Migration has always been a strategy of human beings to escape poverty, mitigate risks and seek a better life. In other words it has always been a driver of development. While there are important impacts which challenge economies and societies of developed countries, a major challenge nowadays we think is also to counteract a growing negative perception of migration. Of course the tasks of development agencies is to limit possible negative impacts of migration, on migrants, on individuals when they become victims of human trafficking these kind of things. Also when their societies and economies when they are losing thier best brains, their ‘brain drain’.
Our very pragmatic approach is of SDC within this global programme for migrartion for development is to increase knowledge and capture experiences with regard to the nexus of migration and development. We have more and more facts that illustrate that migration can indeed contribute very positively to development. Be it in the South or be it in our own societies. That’s what we try to make available, visible. It’s an instrument to counteract misperceptions of migration.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and may not necessarily represent those of ECDPM.
Filmed at ECDPM in Brussels - a longer interview available on request.