In preparation for future atmospheric space missions a consortium of Dutch organizations is performing design studies on a nadir viewing grating-based imaging spectrometer using OMI and SCIAMACHY heritage. The spectrometer measures selected species (O3, NO2, HCHO, H2O, SO 2, aerosols (optical depth, type and absorption index), CO and CH4) with sensitivity down to the Earth's surface, thus addressing science issues on air quality and climate. It includes 3 UV-VIS channels continuously covering the 270-490 nm range, a NIR-channel covering the 710-775 nm range, and a SWIR-channel covering the 2305-2385 nm range. This instrument concept is, named TROPOMI, part of the TRAQ-mission proposal to ESA in response to the Call for Earth Explorer Ideas 2005, and, named TROPI, part of the CAMEO-proposal prepared for the US NRC decadal study-call on Earth science and applications from space. The SWIR-channel is optional in the TROPOMI/TRAQ instrument and included as baseline in the TROPI/CAMEO instrument. This paper focuses on derivation of the instrument requirements of the SWIR-channel by presenting the results of retrieval studies. Synthetic detector spectra are generated by the combination of a forward model and an instrument simulator that includes the properties of state-of-the-art detector technology. The synthetic spectra are input to the CO and CH4 IMLM retrieval algorithm originally developed for SCIAMACHY. The required accuracy of the Level-2 SWIR data products defines the main instrument parameters like spectral resolution and sampling, telescope aperture, detector temperature, and optical bench temperature. The impact of selected calibration and retrieval errors on the Level-2 products has been characterized. The current status of the SWIR-channel optical design with its demanding requirements on ground-pixel size, spectral resolution, and signal-to-noise ratio will be presented.