The development policy of the Netherlands
In 2000, the international community drew up eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at halving world poverty by 2015. The Netherlands is striving to improve the effectiveness of the Dutch contribution to achieving the MDGs. To this end, the Netherlands is contributing 4.6 billion euros in 2011 towards the development of partner countries.
Effectiveness and efficiency
Roughly half of the money the Netherlands spends on development cooperation goes to Africa, where poverty is most acute. But in recent decades, we have learnt that simply giving money is not enough. Other factors, such as the political will of both rich and developing countries, global market opportunities and the degree to which countries enjoy peace and security also play a role. The development policy of the Netherlands aims to increase its effectiveness and efficiency by making clear choices:
- a shift from social to economic sectors, from aid to investment;
- an emphasis on self-reliance, not creating unwanted dependence;
- public-private partnerships instead of market distortion;
- less fragmentation: fewer themes and fewer partner countries;
- better alignment with Dutch expertise and interests;
- less dependence on government financing from NGOs active in development cooperation.
Economic growth in developing countries is now at the heart of the agenda for international cooperation, with greater use being made of Dutch know-how, including business sector expertise. Public-private partnerships, business instruments and economic diplomacy can lead to gains in both commercial profit and poverty reduction. A larger proportion of the development budget will be spent on instruments of this kind. Extra emphasis will be placed on economic areas in which the Netherlands excels, such as water and food, with €500 million a year earmarked from the development budget to promote economic cooperation with developing countries.
Fewer partner countries – more effective cooperation
The Government also aims to assist fewer partner countries while focusing on four spearhead areas in which the Netherlands can add special value.
The Government’s 4 new spearheads for bilateral development are security and the legal order, water, food security, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. All are areas in which Dutch businesses, civil society organisations, and knowledge institutions can offer expertise and add special value.
Less fragmentation means more effective aid
The government will reduce the number of countries receiving development aid from the Netherlands from 33 to15. Making aid less fragmented should make it more effective.
The total amount of aid will be permanently reduced from 0.8% to 0.7% of the Netherlands’ Gross National Product (GNP), a measure that will save €1.9 billion. These savings will be divided among grants to civil society organisations providing aid, donations to international organisations, and aid programmes run jointly by the Netherlands and developing countries.
More focus through international organisations
The government wants to be more selective when providing development assistance via international organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank. The government is keen to stress the importance of international organisations for the Netherlands, not only because they carry out Dutch development policy but also because they form the basis of the international legal order. The Netherlands’ contributions strengthen Dutch influence on decision-making in these organisations and on global governance. Owing partly to reductions in the budget for development cooperation, the government has made a critical assessment of the value added by these organisations, scoring their effectiveness and relevance to Dutch foreign policy according to a points system. Their scores will affect the size of the contribution they receive.
On the basis of their scores, the World Bank, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will remain central to Dutch international development efforts. The assessment also showed that some organisations provide more value for money when implementing Dutch development policy. Examples include the African and Asian development banks (AfDB and AsDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).