Review of development cooperation well under way
The government’s fundamental review of development cooperation is well under way. The 2013 budget has a stronger focus on the themes in which the Netherlands excels, is less fragmented, and lays more emphasis on economic development.
‘The world is changing at such a fast pace that, for more and more countries, traditional development cooperation is a thing of the past. In these countries we are making the shift from dependency to a mutually profitable economic relationship. This budget allows us to continue this policy.’ Ben Knapen, Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, introduced the review as soon as he took office. ‘This kind of change cannot happen overnight, if you want to do it properly. It takes time, but we are getting there. In countries like Vietnam and Colombia, we are seeing the relationship change from aid to trade. Ghana will soon be following suit. Moreover, we are continuing to invest in stability, security and education in fragile states and conflict zones.’
Many older activities are being phased out. This reflects the reduction in the number of partner countries, and the shift from social to economic sectors. Making clear choices has allowed the Netherlands to reduce fragmentation by 20%, and more progress will be made in 2013. There will be an even greater focus on priorities, with maximum results being achieved with a shrinking budget.
The emphasis on the four priority spearheads identified by the Netherlands will be intensified, with budgets for food security, security and the rule of law, sexual health and water continuing to increase despite reductions in the total budget. By contrast, in some areas, including education, health care, good governance and the environment, investment will be sharply reduced if these activities do not contribute directly to the four spearheads.
Greater emphasis on economic development and self-reliance also means more frequent cooperation with companies, and greater focus on strengthening the business climate in developing countries. In 2013, €353 million will be available for this purpose, increasing to €416 million in 2015. In emerging middle-income countries like Colombia, South Africa and Vietnam, recently developed contacts will be used to turn aid into trade and investment, presenting a wealth of opportunities for Dutch businesses.