Portugal’s development co-operation focuses on providing expertise to Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Timor-Leste. The majority of Portugal’s official development assistance (ODA) is provided as core contributions to multilateral organisations, with the largest share going to European Union (EU) institutions. Total ODA (USD 449.7 million, preliminary data) increased slightly in 2021, representing 0.18% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

A new development co-operation strategy is currently being developed. The 2014-2020 Strategic Concept for Portuguese Development Cooperation focuses on co-operation with Portuguese-speaking countries, building on the particular links between Portugal and these countries. Thematic priorities are very broad ranging, with a traditional focus on human development as well as governance and the rule of law. A recent policy document is the National Strategy for Development Education 2018-2022 (in Portuguese). Through its peer-to-peer links, Portugal’s bilateral co-operation mainly aims to strengthen institutional capacity in its partner countries. Country strategies are jointly agreed with partners at a high level and cover all government interventions.

In multilateral co-operation, the EU is Portugal’s main partner. Portugal advocates in particular for human development and the partnership with Africa. It is also closely engaged with the CPLP, the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries, and has a private sector partnership with the African Development Bank focused on Portuguese-speaking countries. Portugal promotes protection of the oceans, co-hosting the UN Ocean Conference with Kenya in 2022.

The 2022 OECD-DAC peer review praised Portugal for mobilising its whole-of-government expertise and its strong focus on partner country ownership. It also highlighted its effective international advocacy, notably on triangular co-operation and during its presidency of the Council of the European Union. The review found that Portugal can make more out of its system of numerous stakeholders. It recommended improving co-ordination across government, pulling bilateral efforts together, focusing more on outcomes and taking action to increase ODA. Learn more about Portugal’s 2022 OECD-DAC peer review.

Portugal provided USD 449.7 million (preliminary data) of ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.18% of GNI. This was an increase of 4.0% in real terms in volume, while the share of GNI remained unchanged from 2020. Following a decline from 0.31% in 2011 to 0.16% in 2015, ODA as a share of GNI has remained stable, albeit at low levels. Portugal is not in line with its domestic and EU commitments to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Within Portugal’s ODA portfolio in 2020, 85.8% was provided in the form of grants and 14.2% in the form of non-grants.2

Portugal’s ODA/GNI ratio ranked 23rd among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries in 2020. In line with its policy, ODA allocations are highly concentrated in Portuguese-speaking countries, notably in Africa. Among DAC countries, Portugal had the highest share of bilateral ODA allocated to least developed countries (LDCs) in 2020 (54.4%), and high shares to fragile contexts (44.3%) and small island developing states (SIDS) (27.9%). Untied bilateral ODA is still significantly below the DAC country average.

Portugal is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Portugal provided a slightly higher share of its ODA multilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 47.6% of total ODA. Seven per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Portugal allocated 52.4% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Portugal provided USD 3.1 million of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 1.3% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Less than 1% of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditure within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Portugal provided USD 270.5 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 6.5% in real terms from 2019. Of this, USD 253.4 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding that is earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 45.8% of Portugal’s non-core contributions and 54.2% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Eighty-seven per cent of Portugal’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to EU institutions.

The UN system received 9.6% of Portugal’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through core contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 25.9 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Portugal’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the UN Secretariat (USD 6.0 million), the UNDPO (USD 4.8 million) and the ILO (USD 3.1 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2020, Portugal’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 230.4 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 25.0% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Portugal focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the education, partnerships and poverty eradication goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid was 62.5% of Portugal’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49.7%. Portugal reported less than 5% of ODA as in-donor refugee costs.

Portugal’s approach to triangular co-operation combines international advocacy and co-oepration partnerships. It mobilises high-level political engagement and its main partners are Portuguese-speaking countries. Learn more about specific projects at the OECD’s voluntary triangular co-operation project repository and more broadly.

In 2020, Portugal channelled bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector. Technical co-operation made up 14.2% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 13.0 million of gross bilateral ODA. Almost none of Portugal’s gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 5.6% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 8.0% to 5.6%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Portugal’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 128.9 million was allocated to Africa and USD 60.4 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 56.0% and 26.2% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 11.0 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in the Americas. Bilateral allocations to sub-Saharan Africa are maintained at high levels, in line with government policy. Asia was the main regional recipient of Portugal’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, 84.4% of gross bilateral ODA went to Portugal’s top 10 recipients. With the exception of the People’s Republic of China, its top 10 recipients are mostly Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Timor-Leste, in line with its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 11.7%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees.

In 2020, the LDCs received 54.4% of Portugal’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 125.3 million). This is much higher than the DAC country average of 24.4%. The second-highest share of Portugal’s gross bilateral ODA (24.8%) was allocated to upper middle-income countries in 2020, noting that 11.7% was unallocated by income group. Within bilateral ODA that was unallocated, Portugal estimates that 56% was directed to the LDCs. Portugal allocated 27.9% of gross bilateral ODA to SIDS in 2020, equal to USD 64.2 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 102.0 million in 2020, representing 44.3% of Portugal’s gross bilateral ODA. Five per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing from 11.0% in 2019, while 4.6% was allocated to peace, a decrease from 5.9% in 2019. Four per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing a decrease from 4.8% in 2019.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2020, more than half of all of Portugal’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 64.1% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 91.3 million), with a strong focus on education (USD 59.8 million) and health (USD 11.4 million). ODA for other macro sectors totalled USD 40.0 million. Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 6.2 million (4.3% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on social sectors in 2020.

In 2020, Portugal did not commit any bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries. Portugal committed USD 4.9 million (4.8% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2020.

In 2020, Portugal committed 41.4% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 34.9% in 2019),3 compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 44.6%. This is equal to USD 42.6 million of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 1.7%, compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 4.8%. A significantly higher share of interventions on population and reproductive health address gender equality than those in other sectors. Portugal screens all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020, Portugal committed 7.4% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 7.6 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (the DAC country average was 38.8%), down from 12.2% in 2019. Three per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid in 2020 focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 10.8%. Two per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1.8 million) focused on climate change overall, down from 3.2% in 2019 (the DAC country average was 34%). Portugal had a greater focus on adaptation (1.3%) than on mitigation (0.5%) in 2020. Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Portugal provides resource flows to developing countries beyond ODA and makes use of leveraging instruments to mobilise private finance for development.

Portugal uses its ODA and other official development finance to mobilise private finance for development. In 2020, the Portuguese government, Camões-Institute for Cooperation and Language, and Portugal’s municipalities mobilised USD 14.1 million from the private sector through guarantees and simple co-financing.

A share of 98% targeted the LDCs in 2020, 1% targeted middle-income countries and 1% was unallocated by income. Furthermore, USD 13.8 million was mobilised for fragile contexts.

Private finance mobilised by Portugal in 2020 primarily related to activities in the energy sector (90%), all of which targeted climate change objectives.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

Portugal describes its development co-operation system as “decentralised”, reflecting the engagement of many ministries, public and non-governmental institutions. The development co-operation agency Camões I.P. (also responsible for language and culture promotion) is responsible for the overall co-ordination of Portuguese co-operation. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, it also leads engagement with the EU and multilateral organisations. It directly implements some bilateral programmes and delegated co-operation on behalf of the EU. Camões-led co-operation centres have been established in key partner countries, and gradually have greater authority. The development finance institution SOFID is planning to grow its portfolio and is currently preparing its pillar assessment to implement EU programmes.

An important mechanism for consulting stakeholders is the Development Co-operation Forum, which meets once a year. The Strategy for Development Education was elaborated by a multi-stakeholder group. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body Plataforma Portuguesa das Organizações Não-Governamentais de Desenvolvimento (Plataforma).

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Portugal’s development co-operation. See Features of Portugal’s systems for quality and oversight for some of its select features.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2018 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Portugal: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/DAC-mid-term-Portugal.pdf

Camões Institute for Cooperation: https://www.instituto-camoes.pt/en

Sociedade para o Financiamento do Desenvolvimento (SOFID), Portugal’s development finance institution: www.sofid.pt/

CSO umbrella organisation Plataforma: https://www.plataformaongd.pt/english

Portugal’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=Portugal#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960/91 (Portugal joined the DAC in 1960, withdrew in 1974 and rejoined in 1991).

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.


← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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