Switzerland is a small state with a federal political system and a parliamentary democratic structure with strong direct involvement of citizens through regular elections and referendums. The Swiss Confederation dates back to 1291 and consists today of 26 autonomous cantons. The federal government (the Federal Council) includes 7 elected ministers, one of them serving-on an annual rotation basis - as Federal President. Beyond water and hydroelectricity, which provides 60% of demand, the country is not endowed with significant natural or mineral resources. The economy is open and globalized and has a positive trade balance. Unemployment is low (2.5 %) and per capita income amounts to about 52'000 USD.
Swiss Presence in the World Bank Group
Switzerland's membership in the WBG: Switzerland became member of the WBG in 1992, when the Swiss public voted for the country to join the Bretton Woods institutions (the WBG and the IMF). Switzerland enjoys a permanent seat in the Executive Board and represents a constituency of eight member states, including Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The role of Switzerland in the WBG: As a member and shareholder, Switzerland actively participates in the shaping of the institution's strategic direction and in the approval of projects and programs. In the Executive Board, Switzerland strives to assure the institution's attention to poverty reduction and balanced economic growth and the institution's compliance with a rules-based and results-oriented approach in the design and implementation of development initiatives and projects. Switzerland also supports the establishment of partnerships between the WBG and other multilateral institutions and encourages an increased involvement with civil society and the private sector in order to multiply and sustain the development efforts.
Switzerland cooperates with all arms of the WBG. It currently contributes USD 2.7 billion (1.69% of the total) to the capital base of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), whichentitles Switzerland 1.66% of the total voting power. In the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Switzerland holds a 1.5% share and actively supports structural and organizational reforms that will allow MIGA to better respond to market demands. Switzerland also collaborates closely with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), owning 1.75% of its total capital. Within the IFC, Switzerland focuses on sustainable development of the private sector in developing and emerging countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, East and Central Asia, and Latin America. This approach is in line with Switzerland's bilateral development activities. In order to increase direct investment opportunities for the private sector, Switzerland (SECO-IFC Partnership) participates in advisory services and in the IFC Technical Assistance Trust Fund. Switzerland is also a committed partner to the International Development Association (IDA), the concessional finance window for the least developed countries, and participates in IDA's governance framework to set the association's direction and strategies.
In addition, Switzerland takes part in bi-and multilateral initiatives such as the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening Initiative or the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. It also co-finances several projects, which allows Switzerland to bring in the expertise of its specialized development agencies, the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which in turn acquire knowledge from the work of one of the leading multilateral development institutions.
Swiss staff in the WBG: The number of Swiss staff in the WBG has substantially increased over the past several years. Through targeted efforts, the number has almost doubled from 27 in 2006 to 59 in 2009, four of whom landed managerial positions.
Swiss experts in decision-shaping or policy steering groups: Through active promotion, the involvement of Swiss experts in decision-shaping and policy steering groups has also increased. This allows Switzerland a growing influence on the thematic direction of the WBG.
Cooperation between the Swiss private sector and the WBG: World Bank procurement follows open international tender practices to ensure open competition and value for money. The volume of contracts awarded to Swiss companies was around USD 84 million in FY2009 (and around USD 37 million for the first half of FY2010). While this number is still below potential, it is a significant improvement from the average of around a mere USD 31 million for the years 2004 to 2009. Due to the increased business volume in the realm of crisis response lending, a renewed focus on infrastructure, and new investments in the area of climate change and food security, it is likely that this positive trend will continue. Switzerland has a strong position in some of these fields of priority and Swiss companies, including ABB, Nestle, and Syngenta, have accordingly shown increased interest in cooperating with the WBG. In addition, OSEC Business Network in Switzerland has actively engaged with the WBG through organizing seminars and missions of Swiss private sector representatives to Washington, D.C.
Partnerships between the Swiss private sector and the WBG: Swiss-Re remains the most active Swiss company in developing an operational partnership with the WBG. With regard to the development of natural disaster risk management tools, Swiss-Re is the co-lead manager of the 2009 MultiCat Programs and contributes substantially in designing risk management tools such as index-based weather insurances. And in collaboration with IFC and SECO, Swiss-RE organized a conference in Switzerland in 2008 on how to mobilize climate-friendly investments in developing countries,
Nestle is partnering with IFC in establishing a sustainable supply chain for Nespresso's coffee production in Central America. IFC plays a central role in leading the efforts of the private sector in corporate social and environmental responsibility.
Swiss financial market: In 2009, the World Bank issued 10-year bond of CHF425 million to the Swiss bond market after a long absence thereof. Yet, while the recourse to the Swiss bond market remains limited due to relatively infavorable market conditions, major Swiss banks often serve as lead-managers in short and long-term bond issuances.