OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews

2309-7132 (online)
2309-7124 (print)
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The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) conducts periodic reviews of the individual development co-operation efforts of DAC members. The policies and programmes of each DAC member are critically examined approximately once every five years. DAC peer reviews assess the performance of a given member, not just that of its development co-operation agency, and examine both policy and implementation. They take an integrated, system-wide perspective on the development co-operation and humanitarian assistance activities of the member under review.

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OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Sweden 2013

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05 June 2014
9789264196254 (PDF) ;9789264204874(print)

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This DAC peer reviews of Sweden assesses its overall development co-operation performance, examining both policy and implementation. It takes an integrated, system-wide perspective on the development co-operation and humanitarian assistance activities of the country under review.

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  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Sweden's aid at a glance
  • Context of Sweden's Peer Review

    Sweden, with a population of 9.51 million in 2012, stands out among OECD and EU member countries for having high per capita income, low inequality and poverty rates, good health status and environmental quality, a sound balance between work and life and high trust in institutions. Moreover, Sweden has exhibited economic resilience in the face of international turbulence since 2008 (OECD, 2012). After a drop in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, growth was 5.1% on average in 2010 and 2011. The latest OECD Economic Survey concludes that Sweden has been able to weather the global economic crisis thanks to the sound macroeconomic policies and substantial structural reforms carried out since the early 1990s. The economic survey sees a positive medium-term outlook for the Swedish economy and forecasts steady growth for 2013 and 2014 (OECD, 2012).

  • The DAC's main findings and recommendations
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    • Towards a comprehensive Swedish development effort

      Sweden continues to be one of the leaders in promoting international development. With development at the heart of its foreign policy, Sweden engages strategically on global issues and contributes through high-level political leadership to freedom, peace, security and development internationally. Sweden seeks strategic alliances – within the Nordic countries, the European Union and across the multilateral system – that build on its field presence and implementation capacity in developing countries to generate greater impact. Sweden’s willingness to take the lead in addressing global development challenges is commendable.

    • Sweden's vision and policies for development co-operation

      Sweden’s Policy for Global Development continues to provide a strong foundation for its development co-operation system. Sweden has maintained its focus on poverty reduction and its three thematic priorities identified in 2007: 1) democracy and human rights; 2) environment and climate change; and 3) gender equality and the role of women in development. However, it has a large number of additional priorities, each with their own policies and strategic documents which contribute to layers of complexity. Sweden recognises this weakness in its system and is striving to replace the "forest of policies" highlighted in its last peer review with a clearer policy vision and results-oriented strategies. Until it does so there will be uncertainty about Sweden’s future direction, with consequences for its partnerships and programmes.

    • Allocating Sweden's official development assistance

      Sweden’s international and national commitments, combined with strong cross-party political support underpin its generosity as a donor. In 2012, Sweden was the ninth largest DAC member, delivering USD 5.24 billion in official development assistance (ODA). It was the second most generous DAC member in terms of how much of its national income was given as ODA (0.99%). This reflects its commitment since 2006 to maintain its ODA at 1% of its national income. Most of Sweden’s ODA system is concentrated in just two institutions: the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Sida. Beyond these, the fast-growing refugee expenditures, a consequence of more people seeking asylum in Sweden, managed by the Ministry for Justice and the Swedish Migration Board, comprised 10% of its total ODA in 2011. Sweden meets most OECD requirements in its ODA reporting. However, reporting needs to be more punctual and transparent if Sweden is to meet its Busan commitments and its requirements as a signatory and co-provider of the secretariat of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

    • Managing Sweden's development co-operation

      Since the last peer review, Sweden’s development co-operation system has gone through a period of rapid institutional change which now appears to be coming to an end. These reforms should strengthen Sweden’s ability to deliver an effective aid programme. Some have already delivered positive results, but many will need time to take effect. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) has integrated development across many of its departments and is strengthening its ability to provide policy and strategic guidance for Swedish aid. Sida is improving its programme and financial management and has enhanced its governance structures. The division of labour between these two institutions has been clarified since 2009 and co-ordination between them and other relevant government agencies is good. Sweden has also taken steps to further decentralize its operations by increasing the number of field offices with full delegated authority. Its system supports the implementation of most of its policy priorities and commitments, with the exception of environment and climate change where structures supporting this in the MFA are currently weak.

    • Sweden's development co-operation delivery and partnerships

      Indicator: These processes support quality aid as defined in Busan While Sweden is dedicated to improving its aid in line with the Paris, Accra and Busan aid effectiveness commitments, it has fallen short of meeting some of them. Sweden has met the Busan commitment on multi-year predictability and is planning to strengthen its performance further in this area. However, it failed to meet the Paris commitment on in-year predictability. On alignment, Sweden also fell far short of meeting the indicative target for aligning its aid with partner country’s national priorities, though it did meet the target for use of partner country systems. Sweden uses a mix of aid instruments, which are adjusted to match partner countries’ needs and capacity as well as risks and Sida’s new Contribution Management System should enhance its capacity for programme and risk management. Sweden has reported, until recently, high shares of untied aid. Finally, Sweden has improved the way it communicates with its partners on conditionality, meeting the 2009 DAC recommendation in this area.

    • Results and accountability of Sweden's development co-operation

      Sweden takes results-based management seriously and is currently engaged in a second round of reforms to strengthen its performance in this area. Sweden already has a strong culture of planning for, and monitoring of, programme results. Where possible, Sweden identifies its programme results from indicators in its partners’ monitoring frameworks and assesses progress jointly against these shared indicators. However, it sometimes has problems linking these results to its broader development objectives. Sweden also needs to get better at using evidence from its results monitoring to inform its bilateral and multilateral aid decision-making. Sweden’s reforms are aimed at streamlining and prioritising its many development co-operation objectives to provide greater focus and put results right at the heart of its decision-making processes and bilateral, thematic and multilateral strategies. However, the sequencing of these reforms has been problematic and delays in finalising the new guidelines on results strategies are hampering Sweden’s efforts and those of its partners.

    • Sweden's humanitarian assistance

      Sweden has set out a policy and strategic framework for humanitarian assistance, with appropriate emphasis on recovery and risk reduction efforts. This has been matched by a significant, and growing, humanitarian budget. However, if development colleagues were better engaged more could be done to support recovery and resilience. This could be achieved by integrating humanitarian risks, issues and programmes within the new results offers that will guide Swedish programming in partner countries.

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