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OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Sweden 2019

image of OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Sweden 2019

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.

This review commends Sweden for its consistently generous levels of official development assistance and its global development leadership on peace and conflict prevention, environmental sustainability and gender equality. It also welcomes Sweden’s strong focus on and comprehensive toolbox for leaving no one behind. The review suggests that Sweden could benefit from consolidating its development co-operation policy framework and further enhancing the connections between its country, regional and thematic co-operation strategies.

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The DAC’s main findings and recommendations

Sweden is an adept, ambitious and influential actor on global sustainable development who has shown leadership at the international level on peace and conflict prevention, environmental sustainability and climate change, and gender equality. Its highly generous levels of official development assistance (ODA) have strong public support and it prioritises activities to raise development awareness. Sweden has in place a comprehensive toolbox to help it to leave no one behind and promote gender equality and women’s rights. Sweden’s decentralised approach is also a major asset that enables responsive and flexible programming. In addition, it has a proactive approach to addressing corruption.Sweden is strongly committed to the international development effectiveness principles, actively supporting country ownership and donor co-ordination, and is a valued, long‑term partner to multilateral and civil society organisations. However, there is scope for Sweden to do more to partner with and use the systems of developing country governments. It could also optimise its partnerships with the private sector by aligning Swedfund’s investments more fully with its strategic development co-operation priorities.A pioneering approach to focus on long-term, sustainable results through learning and adaptive programming should enhance Sweden’s programme impact, but will require further capacity-building and systems reform. These include strengthening knowledge management and innovation processes. Sweden should also continue to ensure its development co-operation is guided by relevant, strategic and independent evaluations.Sweden is an effective and principled humanitarian donor. Its more co-ordinated approach to addressing the development, humanitarian and peace nexus in fragile and crisis contexts is helping Sweden to better identify and address the root causes of fragility. This approach now needs to be systematically applied in all relevant partner countries.Sweden’s new development co-operation and humanitarian assistance policy framework is coherent but broad in scope, and could benefit from consolidation to facilitate its implementation. There is also scope for Sweden to further exploit the synergies among its multiple strategies and to allocate a higher share of its development assistance to a prioritised set of partner countries in order to enhance impact and reduce pressure on staff capacity.Ensuring adequate staff capacity remains a challenge for Sweden with its growing ODA budget, increasing focus on working in fragile contexts and greater use of complex financial instruments. While the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) have taken steps to bolster capacity, staffing gaps remain and Sweden could benefit from taking a more long-term and deliberative approach in light of this ongoing challenge.

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