Netherlands

The Netherlands proactively links development co-operation with trade, is a lead provider in aid for trade, and has had a joint development and foreign trade minister for some years. It has historically provided high levels of official development assistance (ODA) and has a clear regional and thematic focus, linked to clear results frameworks. It is one of the leading providers for gender equality and women’s organisations. Most of the Netherlands’ ODA budget is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The most recent OECD-DAC peer review of the Netherlands was undertaken in 2017 and an OECD-DAC mid-term review is scheduled for 2020. Learn more about the 2017 OECD-DAC peer review of the Netherlands.

The 2018 development and trade policy – “Investing in Global Prospects: For the World, for the Netherlands” – shifts the Netherlands’ focus to the unstable regions of the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa, with a view to tackling the root causes of poverty, migration to Europe, terrorism and climate change. Traditionally, the Netherlands focuses on four thematic priorities: 1) security and the rule of law; 2) water management; 3) food security; and 4) sexual and reproductive health and rights, including HIV/AIDS. In addition, the 2018 policy introduced the new Dutch Fund for Climate and Development for investments in developing countries, increased funding for education with a focus on vocational education, increased support for countries to host refugees in their region of origin and gave a new emphasis on harnessing digitalisation for development. The Netherlands is committed to forming and supporting multi-stakeholder alliances and to strengthening the contribution of the private sector to development co-operation.

The Netherlands provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 5.3 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.59% of the Netherlands’ gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The fall of 4.1% in real terms compared to 2018 was partly due to lower costs reported for in-donor refugees. The Netherlands ranked seventh among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019. The government has committed to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio and the Netherlands is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis has the same value as net ODA under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, as the Netherlands provides only grants.2

ODA levels of the Netherlands appear to be recovering after several years decline from 0.7% ODA/GNI, and a decreasing proportion of ODA is spent on in-donor costs. The Netherlands directs a high proportion of its ODA to governance and civil society, in particular to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. In line with its policy, allocations to fragile contexts are increasing. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, the Netherlands provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 67% of total ODA, of which 25% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). The Netherlands allocated 33% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including European Union (EU) institutions.

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In 2018, the Netherlands increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 2.8 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 26.0% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 1.9 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 56% of the Netherlands’ non-core contributions, while the remaining 44% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, the Netherlands’ total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the United Nations (UN), the EU institutions and the World Bank Group. These contributions together accounted for 85% of the Netherlands’ total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 36%, mainly through core contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 1 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of the Netherlands’ support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 180 million), the United Nations Development Programme (USD 175 million) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (USD 119 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, the Netherlands decreased its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 3.8 billion of gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a fall of 1.6% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 29% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 574 million in 2018, a decrease of 35.8% in real terms over 2017, and represented 10% of the Netherlands’ total net ODA.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, the Netherlands channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector, with significant funds channelled through non-governmental organisations and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 1 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Three per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 27% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the Netherlands (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 25% to 27%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, the Netherlands’ bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 833 million was allocated to Africa and USD 438 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 22% and 11% of gross bilateral ODA. Africa and Asia were also the main regional recipients of the Netherlands’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with its policy priorities. Sixty-five per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 15% of gross bilateral ODA went to the Netherlands’ top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are either partner countries or fragile contexts, in line with its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 74%, reflecting expenditure for in-donor refugees as well as a high proportion of centrally managed programmes.

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In 2018, least developed countries (LDCs) received the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (15.9%) of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 609 million). This is below the DAC country average of 23.8%, noting that 74% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA was unallocated by income group.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 746 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (19.5% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 66.7% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of the Netherlands’ bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 35% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.3 billion), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 566 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 349 million (9% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on social infrastructure and services and humanitarian aid in 2018.

In 2018, the Netherlands committed USD 3.8 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of bilateral allocable aid. The Netherlands committed USD 708.6 million (25.7% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018. The Netherlands is among the top providers of aid for trade globally.

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In 2018, the Netherlands committed 57% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (down from 64% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 1.6 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 13%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly high share of interventions on social infrastructure and services and on water and sanitation addresses gender equality. The Netherlands screens all activities against the gender marker (100% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, the Netherlands committed 33% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 921 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 34% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Two per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Thirty-two per cent (USD 884 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 33% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). The Netherlands has a greater focus on adaptation (28% in 2018) than on mitigation (19%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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In 2018, the Netherlands’ development finance institution, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), mobilised USD 874.6 million from the private sector through syndicated loans, direct investment in companies or project finance special purpose vehicles (SPVs), credit lines, shares in collective investment vehicles (CIVs), and simple co-financing arrangements.

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Notes: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle. For the purpose of this figure, the Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) is considered official in line with the OECD-DAC definition of official transactions. However, in the Netherlands’ National Accounts System, the FMO is registered as a private, independent bank. The data presented in this figure were not collected through the regular CRS, but on an ad hoc basis.

Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 88% targeted middle-income countries and 12% targeted LDCs.

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Notes: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories. For the purpose of this figure, the Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) is considered official in line with the OECD-DAC definition of official transactions. However, in the Netherlands’ National Accounts System, the FMO is registered as a private, independent bank. The data presented in this figure were not collected through the regular CRS, but on an ad hoc basis.

The Netherlands’ private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the industry, mining and construction (39%); banking and financial services (34%); and energy (18%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in particular the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), is responsible for development co-operation policy and for its co-ordination, implementation and funding. The ministry collaborates with other government departments and with the Dutch development bank, the FMO. The FMO is a public-private partnership, with 51% of shares held by the Dutch state and 49% held by commercial banks, trade unions and other members of the private sector. It manages a number of funds which blend ODA with other resources.

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The Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) is an independent unit responsible for evaluation activities for the MFA. The IOB conducts policy reviews, impact evaluations, process and other evaluations and studies. In addition to evaluations led by the IOB, departments and embassies commission decentralised evaluations. The IOB is placed under the authority of the Deputy Secretary-General of the MFA. Policy reviews are submitted to the parliament along with a policy reaction from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and/or the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. Read more about the Netherlands’ evaluation system.

The IOB has recently evaluated the Dutch policy on International Corporate Social Responsibility and will publish its policy review of Dutch international trade and investments policies by 2021. Read IOB’s evaluation plans.

Visit IOB’s website and the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Dutch development co-operation.

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

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation: https://www.government.nl/topics/development-cooperation

Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO): https://www.fmo.nl

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960.

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 provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices.

← 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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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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