Thursday, July 05, 2007

Setting new priorities for Dutch development cooperation

The Hague, 5 July. In an inspiring and forward looking speech to the SID Conference starting today, Bert Koenders, the new Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation outlined the new priorities of his Ministry.

First, his work will focus on equal opportunities for women, who are the sector of population least likely to be reached by development assistance.

Second, he will address the issue of fragile states. If it's true that these countries account for only one third of the world poor, it's also clear that they recieve a very small percentage of aid. The Dutch goal is to think and develop a new approach focussing on the ‘3 Ds’ - linking development, diplomacy and defense in a coherent way. This is not only in the interests of the poor. It is in the “self interest of western countries to secure fragile and failing states and avoid the spread of trans-national conflicts and terrorism.”

Recognising that growth by itself is not enough for poverty eradication, another priority is the wider distribution of this growth. Again, this requires coherence among different policies, in this case closer cooperation with the External Trade Ministry to assure market access for third world countries.

Last but not least is to address the effects of climate change. Unless this is addressed, all efforts to meet the MDGs will be “either washed away or dried up. Action in this area is needed right now”; the outcome of the recent G8 summit can be seen as a first positive step in this direction. Again, a more coherent approach is needed, and cooperation with Environment and the Transportation ministries will be improved, to promote sustainable energy plans for developing countries.

More on Dutch development cooperation and in Dutch

story by Pier Andrea Pirani