Switzerland occupies an important position in the global trade of hard and soft commodities. Companies headquartered within its borders directly or indirectly shape commodity extraction practices around the world, some of which carry considerable negative environmental and social risks on the ground, particularly in fragile contexts. Minimizing these risks and maximizing shared economic gains could enable mutually beneficial development and counteract persistent social and political inequality.
This factsheet examines these issues locally in developing countries – complementing a previous factsheet that focused on Switzerland’s role as a trading hub. It further highlights promising approaches for research and policy change with regard to developing country governments, involved companies, trading hubs, and the international community.
This factsheet was jointly conducted by the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, the World Trade Institute (WTI) of the University of Bern, and the Institute for Business Ethics (IWE) of the University of St. Gallen.
The factsheet was written in the context of the project “Global change and developing countries: why should we care?” managed by the KFPE and the Forum for Climate and Global Change (ProClim).
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KFPE was co-organiser of this event, taking place 20 September 2016. The event was meant to provide an overview and stimulate dialogue about potential courses of action and solutions at both international and national level, while also providing different stakeholders (science, industry, NGOs and Members of Parliament) with an opportunity to share their views.
Diese Veranstaltung der Akademien zeigt Hintergründe, präsentiert nationale und internationale Lösungsansätze und diskutiert brennende Fragen.
This factsheet outlines key challenges, knowledge gaps, and research questions centring on Switzerland’s role and potential responsibility as a leading commodity hub. It concludes with suggestions of possible avenues for future research and policy.
The Swiss commodity sector has come under increasing scrutiny in the last few years as a result of the substantial growth experienced by global commodity trade since 2002 and the importance of Switzerland as a leading international commodity trading hub.
On 21 April 2015, a group of scholars and stakeholders discussed research gaps in the field of commodities and trade at an academic workshop.
Since the worldwide food price crisis of 2008, foreign investors have rushed to acquire large amounts of agricultural land in poorer coun- tries. Some observers welcome this, claiming that outside investment in ostensibly underused land will jump-start local development. Others regard such investments as land grabs, stressing that the areas are rarely empty and that local people have little say. This brief identifies the types of land targeted by investors and reveals key socio-ecological patterns of such deals. The evidence indicates that foreign investments are inten- sifying competition for the best land. Ensuring that such deals instead contribute to sustainable, inclusive use of land requires strong public guidance and oversight.