Switzerland is the United Nation’s fourth-biggest supplier, behind only the United States, India and the United Arab Emirates, providing almost 5% of all the world body’s goods and services in 2015.
That’s according to a UN report released on Wednesday showing the Alpine nation supplied $743.27 million (CHF729.9 million) of the $17.6 billion in UN procurement last year.
The Swiss share represents a 20% increase from a year earlier – adding up to the highest growth rate among all countries over the past decade (158%).
It helps that Geneva hosts the UN’s European headquarters and affiliated agencies, which employ around 9,500 staff and account for about two-thirds of the global organisation’s activities.
The UN presence also acts as a hub for other international work in key areas such as humanitarian aid, health, labor, human rights, telecommunications and intellectual property. The canton Geneva values the international presence at around CHF3 billion a year from taxes and spending power.
In June 2015, Swiss parliament approved CHF117 million ($120 million) in UN contributions through 2019, almost a third more than the previous cycle. Some CHF48 million of that is earmarked to improve Geneva’s hosting abilities, beef up security and renovate an international conference centre.
In all, some 40,000 international diplomats and civil servants are based in Geneva. Some 2,700 international conferences are held in the city each year, attended by over 220,000 officials and experts. In addition, 3,000 visits by heads of state, ministers and other dignitaries occur each year.
Swiss share of the UN pie
Switzerland surpassed all other nations with the most number of procurement contracts – 20,427 – signed with the UN last year. The US, with 19,650, and Kenya, with 15,779, had the next most.
Almost 30% of what the Swiss provided to the UN were goods, particularly medical equipment.
The rest were services – and more than 40% were for building and maintenance.
Switzerland was number one in the world for attracting UN money spent on construction and engineering – 15% of what the UN spends globally.
Swiss firms appear well placed to handle all these contracts. Almost 2,900 Swiss suppliers benefited from UN contracts, including 88 that won contracts worth at least $1 million in 2015.