The Netherlands applies its thematic priorities, notably food, water, sexual and reproductive health and rights, civil society, and private sector engagement, across its bilateral and multilateral official development assistance (ODA). These priorities inform large multi-country programmes as well as country partnerships, with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. The Netherlands’ total ODA (USD 6.5 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2022 due to an increase in in-donor refugee costs, support to Ukraine and higher contributions to European Union (EU) institutions. It represented 0.67% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

The 2022 development and trade policy, “Do what we do best” continues the focus on partnerships with least developed and fragile contexts in Africa and the Middle East. In addition, in select middle-income countries, it combines trade and co-operation efforts. Long-standing thematic priorities are water management and food security; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and private sector development. Strong attention is given to the rule of law, gender equality and civil society. Multiannual country strategies steer co-operation in each country.

The Netherlands sees its multilateral engagement as an effective way to advance its policy priorities, such as climate adaptation and gender equality. To mainstream gender equality across all foreign policy, the Netherlands has issued a feminist foreign policy. The country’s first Global Climate Strategy sets out the Netherlands’ ambition to step up climate action in international diplomacy, trade and financing. Building on previous efforts, a new policy coherence action plan steers cross-government efforts to reduce negative spillovers from Dutch trade and consumption, work on taxation, illicit financial flows, and global health.

The 2020 OECD-DAC mid-term review praised the Netherlands’ reforms towards a less fragmented portfolio, strengthened human resources and long-term approaches with a focus on local resilience. It also highlighted international leadership in climate diplomacy and efforts to promote responsible business conduct. Programmes increasingly strengthen the role of Southern civil society. The mid-term review encouraged efforts to enhance local ownership in bilateral partnerships. Stabilising ODA levels was flagged as a challenge. Learn more about the Netherlands’ 2020 OECD-DAC mid-term review. The next peer review will be released in the second half of 2023.

The Netherlands provided USD 6.5 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 6.9 billion in constant terms), representing 0.67% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 30.1% in real terms in volume and a substantial increase in share of GNI from 0.52% in 2021, mainly due to higher in-donor refugee costs. While this is the first increase in ODA as a share of GNI since 2015, the Netherlands is not yet in line with its domestic and EU commitments to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. All of its ODA was provided as grants in 2021.2

The Netherlands ranked sixth among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2022. Among DAC members, it had the highest share of interventions targeting gender equality as a principal objective in 2020-21 (31.4%), and the highest share of ODA allocated to interventions that focus on peace in fragile contexts (25.9% in 2021). The Netherlands is also one of the largest providers of aid for trade. Almost all Dutch ODA to countries covered by the DAC Recommendation on Untying ODA is reported as untied (98.2% in 2021).

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

The Netherlands provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 71.8% of total ODA. Thirty per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). The Netherlands allocated 28.2% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, the Netherlands provided USD 177.2 million of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, of which USD 0 million was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data). In 2021, it provided USD 1.1 million.

In 2022, the Netherlands provided USD 125.3 million in ODA for the COVID-19 response. The Netherlands did not report donations of vaccines from their domestic supply in their ODA in 2022. In 2020 and 2021, the Netherlands’ total bilateral support for COVID-19 response was USD 294 million and USD 169.8 million, respectively.

In 2021, the Netherlands provided USD 2.6 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 5.3% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 1.5 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 55.6% of the Netherlands’ non-core contributions and 44.4% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-two per cent of the Netherlands’ total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to the UN system and EU Institutions (in descending order).

The UN system received 42.2% of the Netherlands’ multilateral contributions, mainly in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 1.1 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of the Netherlands’ support (core and earmarked contributions) were UNDP (USD 198.5 million), UNICEF (USD 168.1 million) and UNOCHA (USD 143.3 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 2021, the Netherlands’ bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 3.8 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 4.2% in real terms from 2020.

In 2021, country programmable aid was 25.9% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 45.2%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 407.6 million in 2021, a decrease of 31.8% in real terms over 2020, and represented 10.7% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA.

In 2021, the Netherlands channelled bilateral ODA mainly through public sector, multilateral organisations and NGOs. Technical co-operation made up 9.5% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 1 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 24.1% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased slightly as a share of bilateral ODA, from 26.1% to 26.4%. 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 2021, the Netherlands’ bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 852.8 million was allocated to Africa and USD 153.8 million to the Middle East, accounting respectively for 22.3% and 4% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 87.4 million (2.3%) was allocated to Asia (excluding the Middle East). This corresponds to the Netherlands’ strategic focus. Africa was also the main regional recipient of the Netherlands’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2021, 10.6% of gross bilateral ODA went to the Netherlands’ top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are mainly in Africa and the Middle East, where the Netherlands focuses its co-operation, notably on low-income countries. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 80.5%. This high level is primarily due to multi-country and regional programmes managed from headquarters that are not reported by the recipient country and partly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees and administrative costs.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 14.3% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 544.7 million). This is lower than the DAC average of 22.9%. The Netherlands allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (14.3%) to least developed countries in 2021, noting that 80.5% was unallocated by income group. Within bilateral ODA that was unallocated, the Netherlands estimates that 28% was directed to the LDCs. The Netherlands allocated 9.3% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 353.5 million. The Netherlands allocated 0.1% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to USD 3.3 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 629.1 million in 2021, representing 16.5% of the Netherlands’ gross bilateral ODA. Fourteen per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing from 15.6% in 2020, while 25.9% was allocated to peace, slightly increasing from 24.9% in 2020. Eight per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing a slight increase from 7% in 2020.

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

In 2021, close to half of the Netherlands’ bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 46.4% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.7 billion), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 869.3 million), health (USD 397.7 million) and water supply and sanitation (USD 184 million). ODA for production sectors totalled 6.7% (USD 251.1 million), with a focus on agriculture (USD 202.6 million), while ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled 5.9% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 220 million), focusing on business (USD 154.4 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 131.2 million (3.5% of bilateral ODA). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused on government and civil society, health and environmental protection.

In 2020-21, the Netherlands committed 82% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 68.2% in 2018-19, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 44.4%). This is equal to USD 3 billion 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 31.4% in 2020-21, compared with the DAC average of 4.5%. The Netherlands includes gender equality objectives in 41.9% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 17.5%. The Netherlands screens virtually all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020-21). The Netherlands committed USD 211.9 million to support women’s rights organisations and movements and government institutions in 2020-21. 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 2020-21, the Netherlands committed 42.1% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1.6 billion) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (DAC average of 34.3%), up from 34.9% in 2018-19. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Four per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11.3%.

  • Forty per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1.5 billion) focused on climate change overall (the DAC average was 29%), up from 34% in 2018-19. The Netherlands had a lesser focus on mitigation (22.1%) than on adaptation (35.1%) in 2020-21.

  • Twelve per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 461.1 million) focused on biodiversity (compared with the DAC average of 6.5%), up from 1.1% in 2018-19.

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.

In 2021, the Netherlands also:

  • Committed USD 7.3 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.3% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and custom duties for ODA-funded goods and services, the Netherlands does not typically seek tax and customs duty exemptions on its ODA-funded goods and services in partner countries and territories and it makes information available on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 471.1 million (16.4% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2021.

The Netherlands uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2021, the Netherlands’ DFI, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), mobilised USD 414.5 million from the private sector through shares in collective investment vehicles and syndicated loans.

In 2020-21, 71.6% of mobilised private finance by the Netherlands targeted middle-income countries and 6.3% LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs), noting that 22.2% was unallocated by income. During the same period, the top beneficiary region of this financing was Asia (excluding the Middle East) (30.3% of the total).

Mobilised private finance by the Netherlands in 2020-21 mainly targeted activities in the banking and financial services (41.4%), agriculture, forestry, fishing (26.3%) and energy (18.8%) sectors. Furthermore, over this period, 39.7% of the Netherlands’ total mobilised private finance was for climate action.

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

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a dedicated Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, is responsible for the development co-operation policy and management. The Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) steers the bulk of the ODA budget, directly delegating a small share to embassies. Important implementing institutions, notably for private sector engagement, are the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Development Bank FMO (a public-private partnership, with 51% of shares held by the Dutch state)3 and Invest International (a joint venture of the state and the FMO). The Foreign Trade and Development Committee in the Dutch parliament oversees development co-operation. The DGIS has around 300 staff at headquarters and another 300 in embassies in focus countries, of which around half are local staff.

An important mechanism for consulting stakeholders is the so-called Dutch diamond approach, thematic multi-stakeholder partnerships bringing together the government, the private sector, companies, CSOs and research institutions. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body Partos.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of the Netherlands’ development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following a reform of the exercise during 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) has resumed. More detailed results for the Netherlands based on the 2016 and 2018 Monitoring Rounds can be found here. Monitoring profiles for other providers are available here.

2020 OECD-DAC mid-term review of the Netherlands:

2017 OECD-DAC peer review of the Netherlands:

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation:

Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO):

CSO platform Partos:

Netherlands’ practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform:

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 2019 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Other providers also provide non-grants, which include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. For the purpose of the OECD statistics on amounts mobilised from the private sector, the FMO is considered official, in line with the OECD-DAC definition on official transactions. However, in the Netherlands’ National Accounts System, the FMO is registered as a private, independent bank. Data on mobilisation are therefore provided by the FMO.

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