SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland
Switzerland is a landlocked nation, directly intertwined within Europe’s great powers: it borders Italy to its south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Liechtenstein and Austria to the east. Switzerland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, ranking consistently among the highest of all nations with regards to GDP per capita at roughly $82,000 in comparison to a global average of slightly under $11,500. It is also home to excellent infrastructure and a reputation for timeliness. Moreover, it can boast that it is one of the few nations that has actually managed to have eradicated poverty within its borders according to Sustainable Development Goal 1. Here is some information about SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland.

Sustainable Development Goal 1 and Income in Switzerland

Part of Sustainable Development Goal 1 prioritizes increasing incomes of people across the world, such that they may work to earn at least $1.90 per day. Switzerland has found massive success reaching SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland: according to the 2020 Sustainable Development report, less than 0.1% of all Swiss citizens fall into this category. Indeed, when expanding the scope of the Goal and its expectations to $3.20 per day, Switzerland still maintains a rate of less than 0.1% of its citizens living within this category. 

If anything, this is a testament to the Swiss tradition of higher education. Studies have demonstrated that higher education frequently leads to higher incomes, resulting in Swiss policymakers improving access to, and quality of, education throughout the nation. Indeed, Swiss schools are receiving recognition as among the best in the world at every level: elementary, secondary and post-secondary. Given the role of education in breaking the cycle of poverty, Swiss excellence in education has been remarkable in establishing the nation’s role as a major financial hub across the world.

The Veil of SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland

However, even if one thinks that poverty does not exist in Switzerland, it is extremely real and is largely a function of the country’s extremely high cost of living. In the canton of Geneva, a law passed requiring a $25 per hour minimum wage, the highest in the world. The push for Switzerland to implement this wage was largely as a result of exacerbated inequalities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Likewise, while the 2020 Sustainable Development report notes that the poverty rate after taxes and transfers has decreased over time — a sign that the welfare system, as well as the overall governance of Switzerland, is extremely strong — it still stood at 9.1% as of 2015, the last year data was available.

Swiss Solidarity

Non-governmental organizations have been present in Switzerland to help its most vulnerable citizens get out of poverty. Swiss Solidarity, an umbrella organization working to coordinate the efforts of 26 smaller groups, has donated more than 50 million Swiss francs to improving the lives of Swiss citizens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This money focused on buying more temporary housing for the homeless during the pandemic, as well as the elderly and those facing a precarious financial situation prior to the pandemic.

The scope of Sustainable Development Goal 1 is so narrow, only measuring nations by the number of people living under $1.90 per day, $3.20 per day and the post-taxes and transfers poverty rate. If one looks at poverty through the lens of Sustainable Development Goal 1, then,  it appears that Switzerland has completely eradicated every single form of inequality and poverty within the nation. However, that is simply untrue, as nearly 10% of Swiss people can attest to.

– Alexander Bloukos
Photo: Flickr

poverty eradication in Switzerland
The Central European nation, known as Switzerland, may have a reputation for being a country full of bankers while holding nearly the highest GDP per capita. However, an ignored (and perhaps somewhat surprising) problem about the country is poverty. Though Switzerland has a relatively generous social benefit program, in addition to great schooling — those who do not quite fit the seemingly “well off” stereotype end up struggling. Moreover, for these people, the country’s very high cost of living exacerbates the problem. Innovations in poverty eradication in Switzerland, both public and private, have done solid work to help remedy the complex problem of poverty, to a certain extent.

Swiss Solidarity

One of the private aid organizations, which are currently influential in Switzerland, is “Swiss Solidarity.” This private organization is not only crucial in helping Swiss citizens who fall into poverty, but also citizens of other nations, abroad. One of the key examples of how this innovative, private aid organization operates is through direct monetary assistance to its citizens.

Swiss Solidarity has a program titled, “Severe Weather Assistance Program” that directs funds to disadvantaged individuals within Swiss society affected by severe weather. This fund for natural disasters is vital in creating a strong social safety net that stops people from going into unbridled bankruptcy — if and when disaster strikes.

In addition to their specific programs, Swiss Solidarity partners with many other organizations that attempt to fight poverty and its downstream effects. Swiss Solidarity officially partners with 26 NGOs, including Save the Children Switzerland, SolidarMED, Swiss Red Cross and Nouvelle Planète, among others.  This cooperation between organizations helps to maximize the effectiveness of their outreach.

Switzerland’s Successful Programs and Policies

Though Switzerland does not have a generous welfare state, like some other Western European countries and the United States, Switzerland leverages the power of prudent policy decisions to reduce poverty within the country. One of the key policy decisions that Switzerland has implemented is called a “social insurance” program. In Switzerland, every business and citizen pays into this program. The program covers things such as sickness, disability and other tragedies that might put people out of work. Alternatively, in other nations, disability or sickness may plunge people into poverty without much hope for relief.

Another of the key innovations promoting poverty eradication in Switzerland is its brilliant foresight concerning public policy. Switzerland actively tries to write legislation that preemptively addresses the roots of poverty — rather than trying to focus on alleviating at the back end, when millions of lives already experienced despair. Also, Switzerland places a very high priority level on education and makes sure that each child has access to quality education. This, in turn, serves to point them toward a field in which they can work and support themselves.

These are just two examples of how both private and public industries can evolve to help the poor in Switzerland. Specifically, Switzerland’s culture of shared responsibility and relative cosmopolitanism helps private organizations thrive. Moreover, foresight and intelligent planning make public governance work best for all of the people. Both of these factors are innovations in poverty eradication in Switzerland that also help increase overall well-being within the country.

– Zak Schneider
Photo: Wikimedia Commons