Findings and recommendations

The period of this review has been marked by political changes. Spain held three general elections between 2015 and 2019 and saw its government shift from a minority coalition led by the Popular Party (PP) to another minority coalition led by the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) together with Unidas Podemos in 2018. The political situation has had a direct impact on Spain’s ability to reform its development co-operation system; approve new strategies and partnership agreements with countries and territories, as well as multilateral organisations; and vote in new budgets, including the budget dedicated to official development assistance (ODA).

Linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain recorded one of the worst recessions in Europe in 2020, and its economy contracted by 10.8%. Gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow by 5.9% in 2021 and 6.3% in 2022 (OECD, 2021[1]). Pre-pandemic, Spain was facing lower productivity and higher inequality than most advanced economies, although its employment rates were higher.

Spain’s institutional setting for development co-operation is diverse, with numerous ministries and public institutions involved in planning and delivering the policy for international co-operation (Figure 1). Autonomous governments and Spanish municipalities are responsible for their own development co-operation policies, and delivered on average 12% of Spain’s total ODA in 2018 and 2019.

The current government, elected in 2018, has embarked on an extensive reform agenda for development co-operation. It aims to update the 1998 law regulating international co-operation for development – Law 23/1998 (Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado, 1998[2]) – redesign Spain’s development co-operation architecture; draft a new development policy for 2022-25 (the VIth Master Plan) to meet the demands of the 2030 Agenda; and increase the ODA budget to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) by 2023.

Public support for development is high in Spain. According to the latest Eurobarometer (European Commission, 2021[3]), 94% of respondents in Spain say it is important for the European Union (EU) to partner with other countries and territories to reduce poverty around the world. This is much higher than the EU average of 88%, making Spain’s public support the third-highest of all EU Member States. The same ratio applies to views on the importance of tackling climate change. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents, the highest of all EU Member States, think tackling poverty in developing countries should be a priority for their national government. In Spain, the top concerns are health (45%), education (41%) and economic growth and employment (38%).

In 2018, Spain renewed its commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development domestically and internationally, as reflected in its Action Plan for Implementation of the 2030 Agenda (MAUC, 2019[4]). The 1998 Law on International Co-operation for Development (Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado, 1998[2]) and successive master plans1 provide the formal rationale and regulatory framework for development co-operation. In 2018, Spain’s government committed to update this framework to make international co-operation a state policy and use it as a lever and catalyst to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally. As part of this commitment, Spain embarked on an extensive reform of the overall governance architecture in order to ensure its development co-operation is fit for purpose. This reform is expected to encompass updating the law on development co-operation, agreeing on new priorities in the VIth Master Plan, defining new regulations and institutional structure, and increasing budget commitments.

Increased consideration of development co-operation has revived Spain’s efforts to dialogue and co-ordinate within its diverse development architecture. Four ministries,2 two public institutions, a public-private foundation,3 autonomous communities and municipal governments are all actively engaged in international co-operation with their own policies and budgets (Figure 1 and Figure 2). Aiming to consolidate a shared understanding of international co-operation across government and society, Spain has reactivated its co-ordination bodies for government, decentralised co-operation and external partners,4 giving fresh impetus to thematic and structural working groups (Box 1).

This revived dialogue has enabled Spain to develop whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches: Spain can now speak with one voice on key challenges such as debt forgiveness and COVID recovery. A shared government vision is also evident in the bilateral portfolio. As seen during a virtual mission in Colombia, there is a shared understanding of development objectives throughout the embassy. The ambassador uses his political position to advance the development and peace agenda in priority regions, while the education and trade counsellors work with the technical co-operation office of the Spanish Agency for Development Co-operation (AECID) to identify Colombia’s needs and encourage private sector development.

In theory, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Co-operation (MAUC) is the point of leadership for development co-operation and humanitarian assistance. The State Secretariat for International Co-operation (SECI), together with the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPOLDES), are in charge of drafting, monitoring and evaluating Spain’s international development co-operation and co-ordinating with decentralised co-operation. SECI’s steering role is facilitated by its presence on the governance of AECID, and in the boards of the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas - FIIAPP) and the Fundación Carolina.5

In practice, the system was centred on a Secretariat of State with limited political weight and that was in charge of Latin America in addition to development co-operation until 2020 (Development Co-operation Council, 2020[7]). A Secretariat with political weight is crucial in Spain’s context, given that MAUC is only directly in charge of a limited share of the development co-operation budget. Indeed, after continual decreases in the ODA budget over 2010-15, Spain’s development co-operation mainly comprises assessed contributions to the EU and other multilateral institutions, leaving MAUC directly in charge of only 25% of ODA (Figure 2).

As a consequence, and despite co-ordination efforts, MAUC has not been fully able to lead in creating a sense of unity or maintaining coherence across the system. SECI’s mandate tends to facilitate dialogue rather than decisions, and the ministry’s role in co-ordinating development policy with strategic foreign policy objectives remains limited. An indication of this lack of a systemic approach is the fact that successive master plans have not been used as roadmaps by all actors despite being drafted through inclusive consultations. For instance, the three institutions engaged in technical co-operation – FIIAPP, Fundación Carolina and AECID – have their own strategies and thematic and geographical scope and they allocate their budgets accordingly. The diverse ministries engaged in development co-operation have each created their own mechanisms in accordance with their sectoral mandates. While some co-ordination occurs locally through partnership frameworks (marcos de asociación país or MAPs),6 AECID’s technical co-operation offices based abroad are not necessarily equipped to fully engage with partners and rely on the good will of partners and informal exchanges (see Designing and engaging in horizontal and inclusive partnerships).

Spain’s current approach of intense consultations over a limited development co-operation budget can affect the efficiency of its support in partner countries and territories. Furthermore, semi-independent partners, decentralised policies and funding decisions can make it challenging to bring the broader Spanish co-operation under one umbrella to make the most of a limited budget. However, the partnership frameworks have succeeded in providing an overview of Spanish co-operation in a given country or territory (see Designing and engaging in horizontal and inclusive partnerships). Labour-intensive consultations can help identify areas to scale up in the future, but achieving results with the very limited financial and human resources available has likely damaged staff morale in recent years. Better identifying complementarities between partners and instruments could help design more focused and integrated master plans and MAPs and build synergies. This could be informed by the progress made when mapping Spain’s contribution to the SDGs, and by current efforts to systematise data collection and results monitoring around shared indicators.

Challenges with developing an integrated strategy are also affecting the quality of Spain’s partnership with multilateral organisations. Spain sees multilateral organisations as key partners for addressing global challenges and leveraging bilateral support in Latin America and Africa. While Spain engages with them through high-level policy commitments and technical work to advance collective debates on issues such as debt, climate and development finance, the effectiveness of its engagement is limited by the lack of central co-ordination on policies and standards. What is discussed in multilateral boards is not necessarily relayed to MAUC; nor does it trickle down to embassies. The forthcoming multilateral strategy is an opportunity to 1) develop a more focused approach, at least when it comes to dealing with the same multilateral entity; 2) help meet Spain’s UN Funding Compact agreements (United Nations, 2019[9]); and 3) leverage further its non-regional membership of the African Development Bank to help inform its new bilateral focus on Africa, and of the Inter-American Development Bank to advance work on water and sanitation.

SECI’s new dedicated role for development co-operation could help re-build political leadership and ensure high-level visibility of Spanish development co-operation in international fora. However, high-level visibility will not be enough. Spain’s rethinking of its overall development co-operation architecture raises opportunities to clarify the roles and mandates of SECI in relation to AECID and other ministries over political steering, policy planning and implementation through alliances.7 It could also streamline decision making, accountability and administrative management by pooling resources between the cabinet, DGPOLDES and AECID (including staffing8); leverage synergies across channels, instruments and institutions; and clarify each institution’s specific value added. Emphasising SECI’s new role would also help to create whole-of-government policy and positions, further pursue policy coherence for development, ensure a coherent approach to multilateral contributions and comprehensive reporting on TOSSD. This would give Spain even more influence in advancing its priorities on various governing boards.

The government’s commitment to increasing the ODA budget could improve the influence of SECI and DGPOLDES. Spain did not meet its national commitment to achieve a 0.4% ODA/GNI ratio by 2020. Strong political coalescence around a shared vision, along with a strategic roadmap and annual forecasts of ODA budgets increases to meet the new ODA/GNI ratio, would help Spain reach 0.5% ODA/GNI by 2023, the end of the current legislative period.

Human resources policies that are not linked to strategic objectives affect organisational performance and staff motivation, as already observed by previous peer reviews. One of the key challenges is the split between the layers of generalists and diplomatic staff in Spain, and development experts based abroad with limited opportunities to work in Madrid. Such dual career tracks have a direct impact on staff morale and limit their ability to produce and share internal knowledge and strengthen the overall expertise of Spanish development co-operation in headquarters and technical co-operation offices.

The lack of a development career path within Spain’s development co-operation architecture, limited rotation between headquarters and technical co-operation offices, and poor terms and conditions of contracts reduce Spain’s ability to attract and retain talent. The use of short-term contracts of shorter duration than the life of development co-operation projects can also create inefficiencies in project management and limit knowledge building. At the partner level, current practices for recruiting local staff do not make the most of the local talent pool, as local staff can only hold support functions and cannot be responsible for project or programme management.

As Spain engages in an institutional reform that includes revising the status of AECID, there is an opportunity to rethink the split between staff based in Spain and abroad and to identify what skills are needed across the system to deliver on Spain’s ambition. Revising legal labour statutes, terms and conditions, and streamlining the type of contracts for staff working with the agency would boost morale and improve Spain’s ability to attract and retain talent. Including local staff in the current inclusive staff brainstorming exercise on the agency they want could provide interesting perspectives, show their inputs are valued, and improve motivation.

A number of laws and regulations impede the flexibility, predictability and accountability of the development programme. The regulations, procedures and ability to provide multi-year funding vary by instrument, including instruments that are directly managed by AECID. This complex regulatory framework also limits the ability of the agency to better link its different tools – such as technical co-operation, grants and loans – to achieve a shared purpose (see Mobilising public sector expertise for building and sharing knowledge and Leveraging development finance). Reforming this regulatory framework will be critical for Spain to be able to properly mobilise all the instruments at its disposal and to be fit for purpose.

Lengthy approval processes in multiple institutions and committees have delayed the implementation of the development co-operation and humanitarian programme,9 especially the operations executed by the Development Promotion Fund, FONPRODE (see Leveraging development finance). Strict procurement procedures with limited flexibility and thresholds make it difficult for Spain to adjust to country contexts – especially in complex operational environments where contextual changes can be drastic and require quick intervention. Such procedures also impact Spain’s ability to fully apply the development effectiveness agenda, including the use of partner country public financial reporting systems.10 As observed in Colombia, the lack of detailed guidance on administrative processes and the plethora of protocols tailored differently to each instrument is increasing the administrative burden and reducing the efficiency of technical co-operation offices. Local efforts to develop manuals and guidance to assist staff in managing projects and risks is helping to compensate for these challenges though.

Regulations for grants and subsidies provided by Spain are also onerous and reduce the quality of partnerships. As observed during the previous peer review (OECD, 2016[5]), screening processes, funding mechanisms and accountability measures focused on inputs and outputs rather than outcomes place an excessive administrative burden on all parties. According to the Law, Royal Decree and Ministerial Order on subsidies and grants, beneficiaries – including states, non-government and international organisations – must refund any amounts not used, including interest. The process of dealing with reimbursements of what are generally quite small sums of money strains AECID’s already limited human resources, creating severe management problems. Perhaps the greater risk, however, is that it undermines Spain’s reputation as a reliable development partner (see Leveraging development finance).

While Spain is committed to managing risks within its operations, strong emphasis on fiduciary risk and controls may overshadow other dimensions of risk management and quality assurance at the expense of development impact, especially in fragile contexts. As AECID in Madrid is developing new guidance on risk management, there is an opportunity to build on good practices from technical co-operation offices, to expand the focus from fiduciary risks to a more structured approach to managing corruption risks, recognising political and power-related risks as potential drivers of corruption and to ensure a more systematic and comprehensive approach across interventions. Further, the recent introduction of formal whistle-blower reporting mechanisms in Madrid has not always filtered down to technical co-operation offices. These reporting mechanisms would likely benefit from accompanying communication measures, the setting up of focal points to discuss integrity and corruption-related issues, and efforts to better support those uncovering and reporting cases. The result would be stronger management of corruption risks in Spain’s operations.

Limited systematic institutional learning further challenges strategic steering across the system. Recognising this important challenge, Spanish co-operation has set up an Inter-institutional Committee for the Co-ordination and Monitoring of the Transparency, Communication and Knowledge Management Programme,11 in addition to internal efforts in each institution. Over the years, Spain has supported institutional collaboration and networks for sectoral experts, but the dynamism of these networks has varied, as has the support they have received from the successive executive teams. These initiatives are not structured around a shared strategic vision that would support the systematic use of knowledge for strategic steering. For instance, the impressive effort to report all of Spain’s contributions to the SDGs12 is an ad-hoc exercise, building on comparable indicators developed by each implementing partner at output level, and they are not yet used for planning.

Bilateral partnership frameworks (MAPs) are multi-annual (typically four years) instruments that set out how the partnership between Spain and a partner country or territory can contribute to sustainable development. The MAP13 establishes a common framework for consulting with and forging partnerships involving all actors and instruments funded by Spanish ODA. Spain is currently piloting the inclusion of TOSSD in MAPs.14 Consultations to develop MAPs are held both in Spain and in partner countries and territories (Figure 3).15 When it comes to the individual partnership frameworks, a subset of the 89 actors involved in the Platform for Consultation at Headquarters participates in extended country teams in Spain. The extended country team for the Colombia MAP was the most participatory of any recent country framework and involved 31 institutions. The extended country team validates the MAP once it is agreed with national stakeholders and both government parties sign the final document.

Spanish co-operation cultivates an open and transparent process focused on alignment, ownership and alliances. Starting with the Vth Master Plan, a new generation of MAPs has been developed that are fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda. National and sectoral plans are the starting point for designing new MAPs and the timeline for approving a MAP is flexible so that it can align to national planning cycles. A “stable country group” meets regularly in the partner country – not just when developing the MAP (Figure 3). Two commissions also meet regularly – one at the strategic level, and the other at a technical level – and involve partner country government officials, the embassy and the technical co-operation office. Mixed working groups include local civil society and other stakeholders and are set up when needed for specific sectors or areas. Once a MAP is in place, the technical co-operation office relies on the alliances it has established with different stakeholders to implement programmes, and is responsible for ensuring the alignment of bilateral funding. For example, the technical co-operation office assesses all project proposals from civil society organisations (CSOs) located in Spain against criteria for MAP alignment and local needs; this office also applies for horizontal funds managed by AECID in Madrid, but is not directly involved in FONPRODE programming. Spain and partner countries co-finance various programmes, which is a common feature of Spanish co-operation, helping to ensure that programmes are well-adapted and fully owned by local stakeholders.

Stakeholders consistently appreciate the MAP process and the trust it builds, seeing this as critical to the success of Spanish development co-operation. The continuous dialogue between partner country and the Spanish authorities on the ground shows how Spanish co-operation is as much about networks, knowledge and expertise as it is about financial resources. The fact that Spanish co-operation offers a strong localised agenda, working at the community level and with local NGOs, while at the same time providing technical and financial co-operation at the regional and national levels, means that Spain is able to communicate a wide range of needs, encourage political dialogue and amplify voices that may not otherwise be heard. Spain’s credibility in Colombia is bolstered by the experience and expertise of its own autonomous communities and municipalities in delivering messages and implementing programmes. For example, parliamentarians and civil society from the Catalonia region and the city of Barcelona were able to meet directly with local authorities in Colombia and speak from experience about how important it was for Colombia to restore dialogue, address human rights, and make the peace process a political priority.16 As a result, the 2020-24 MAP was able to retain a focus on human rights.

Partner countries and territories see Spain’s value added as a trusted partner that listens and does its best to be flexible in its programming within the limits of regulations. The continuous dialogue between local authorities and Spanish co-operation through the embassy and the technical office is instrumental for maintaining a flexible approach that can adapt to the different requests and needs of stakeholders. Initial evidence suggests that this participatory, horizontal and egalitarian approach also holds true even outside of Latin America and the Caribbean (a region where Spain’s commercial, cultural and historical interests dwarf its development co-operation), demonstrating how ingrained this way of doing business is for Spanish co-operation. Partners also value Spain’s expertise in human rights, gender, decentralised co-operation and cultural diversity, and its use of this expertise in its programming to reach the more marginalised and vulnerable (Box 2). The trust Spain has built with partners in these areas is reflected in the priority SDGs in the current MAPs: gender equality (SDG 5); clean water and sanitation (SDG 6); peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16); and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11).

The MAPs list instruments and modalities to give an overview of potential investments over the period. Spain’s development co-operation instruments include bilateral support in the form of scholarships, technical and financial co-operation, thematic funds, and multilateral support. Different modalities – reimbursable finance (loans); public-private partnerships (PPPs); support to NGOs; triangular co-operation; and innovation funds – are all identified in the MAPs. A new section on risks and programming in the MAP identifies both internal risks (linked to the MAP process) and external risks (political, institutional, social, economic and environmental). There is clear political interest by Spain and partners alike to involve more local and Spanish private sector actors in the design and consultation process for MAPs and country programmes. So far, this has not materialised into concrete public-private partnership (PPP) investments on the ground, although it is clear that Spain’s commercial and development networks can and do overlap, as seen in Colombia with TECNiCAFE (see Leveraging development finance).

Spain has made great strides in including decentralised co-operation in the MAP, as recommended in the previous peer review (Annex A). For the first time in Colombia, the design of the 2020-24 MAP directly involved Spanish decentralised authorities in the technical and mixed group country commissions. This initiative of the technical co-operation office in Bogotá was important given that autonomous communities and municipalities directly fund programmes in Colombia and that there were likely to be synergies with other programming that would be less evident from the conversations in Madrid. Although a methodology manual issued by DGPOLDES helps guide and co-ordinate the participation of different actors, the process relies on the good will and informal exchange of the various actors involved. It is thus unsurprising that the intensive MAP process relies so much on the quality and dedication of AECID officials in each technical co-operation office. The quality of human resources in technical co-operation offices is clearly perceived as a strength of Spanish co-operation, despite the limited number of technical experts in some offices – a point that would merit further reflection in the context of the comprehensive reform (see Becoming fit for purpose: A renewed commitment to international co-operation requiring a comprehensive reform).

Spain places particular emphasis on EU joint programming and the MAPs include a section on how to leverage the development co-operation of EU member states and institutions. The MAP design process is labour intensive;17 it makes sense for other partners to build on the results of these consultations and each other’s strengths in designing EU joint programming. Partner governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have also come to see Spain as a bridge to EU co-operation, and rely on Spain to help determine how they can get the most out of the various EU instruments. This may be due to the fact that Spain implements a large share of EU delegated co-operation and because there is often close alignment between Spanish and EU co-operation strategies, but also because Spain and the EU co-finance a large number of programmes. It would also be important to see how extended country teams in Madrid liaise with Brussels to leverage Spanish and EU co-operation.

Spain’s participatory approach to programming, being fully adapted to the local context and priorities, can make prioritising challenging. In preparing future MAPs, stakeholders usually reflect on how to narrow the scope of Spain’s actions. For example, a review of Colombia’s previous MAP notes that actors and actions were dispersed across 786 projects in the period 2015-19 for a total development co-operation programme worth EUR 69.5 million. It suggests that Spanish co-operation would benefit from a more integrated approach (LPIC, 2019[15]). The process of MAP development, budget cuts in recent years, and fragmented decision making (see below) can result in a large catalogue of relatively small projects and programmes. Interviewees also point out that commitments carried over from previous years because of delays can make a fragmented portfolio almost inevitable despite the best efforts to focus. Aligning closely with the peace process in Colombia and defining geographical areas of concentration are ways Spain has succeeded in better focusing its programme in that country (Box 5).

MAPs represent political commitment on the part of Spain and its partners, but funding is short term. The four or five-year country strategies have to reconcile the fact that budgeting is only done annually, leaving future funding unpredictable. While there are creative solutions to the lack of multi-year programming,18 their use is rare. Other than multi-year programming, Spanish co-operation also relies heavily on calls for proposals to allocate non-reimbursable funding (grants), for which demand often exceeds supply, especially for CSO funding. Introducing procedures for long-term support would help address this challenge (Recommendation 5).

Spain’s medium-term predictability remains well below the DAC average according to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring report (OECD/UNDP, 2019[16]). Significant ODA budget cuts, annual budgeting process, and decisions made by different actors in different places at different times are all reasons for the lack of predictable resources in the last decade. Co-financing with other bilateral and multilateral partners has helped Spain secure some longer-term funding that can lead to more structural change. The fact that the extended country team in Madrid is fully involved in the design and approval of the MAP at least makes Spain’s commitments to specific outcomes public, and helps to make sure that Spain delivers on its partnership agreement as much as possible.

Although various Spanish co-operation actors view the MAP priorities as a comprehensive vision for Spain’s engagement in a country or territory, they do not necessarily feel bound by it in pursuing their activities. Despite aligning with MAP priorities, civil society actors generally feel that the MAP embodies more of a government-to-government commitment that does not necessarily drive their activities. The participation of a broad group of stakeholders, such as NGOs, in MAP consultations may stem more from a strong commitment to engaging with AECID rather than to the MAP itself.

While the technical co-operation office is responsible for the development of the MAP, in practice it cannot oversee all programmes in a country or territory. In addition, financial or technical co-operation from FONPRODE or the Co-operation Fund for Water and Sanitation (FCAS) is rarely initiated through the technical co-operation office and is often outside of MAP planning. It is difficult to imagine that the current configuration of the technical co-operation office – with its relatively small country team – would be able to ensure the coherence and integrity of the MAP even if it did make all programming decisions. A significant portion of the budget for Spanish and decentralised co-operation funding is based on calls for proposals for civil society, thematic funds allocated across partners based on proposals, scholarships and financial co-operation – all largely managed by processes in Spain. Furthermore, carryovers due to delays in delivering on past commitments may largely determine the areas and resources that the technical co-operation office has to prioritise even if they are not central to the current MAP. Spain might consider a more integrated strategy approach to its development co-operation centred on shared priorities and linking technical and financial co-operation (Recommendation 2).

The new MAPs better reflect the results that Spain wants to achieve with all of its partners. The 2016 peer review recommended that Spain develop appropriate tools to monitor and analyse results (Annex A). This is still a work in progress. The new generation of MAPs includes a results framework based on the SDGs and national plans and sets out a results framework that is negotiated and agreed by the partner and Spain through the technical committee. The results framework looks at two levels: (1) the partner country’s own development results; and (2) intermediate results that link to the MAP (Table 1). Project performance or output level indicators are disaggregated by sex, geography and ethnicity for internal accountability and link to intermediate results, but are not included in the MAP logframe. In a separate table, the framework clearly identifies the roles of different actors in leading, participating or contributing to each intermediate result.

The new MAPs are reviewed annually for accountability, which helps programmes to adapt. The MAP process now includes annual monitoring at the intermediate results level. The reports will be shared with all partners in the partner country technical commissions for accountability purposes. The diversity of Spanish co-operation actors across projects and programmes, each with their own monitoring and evaluation systems and implementing partners, can make it complex to consolidate and manage for results at a more strategic level and to inform decision making. Beyond reporting on progress made, it is unclear how MAUC or AECID are using this information in its decision making, or how well equipped it is to draw analysis from the data it collects.

Capturing the results to which Spain contributes, but that are less easily measured, is a difficult challenge for all members (see Mobilising public sector expertise for building and sharing knowledge). Yet, as seen in Colombia, Spain’s support for systemic reform and peace by reinforcing legal and public policy while at the same time investing in smaller projects through CSOs has led to sustainable results in the medium to long term. New tools are currently being developed in Madrid to help capture such results. Results frameworks are not consistent across countries and territories and it is currently difficult to identify standard indicators when there is no system in place to report such information. Pursuing efforts to measure results locally could help inform future programme design at and beyond the country level and systematise lessons learned across Spanish co-operation (Recommendation 8).

A key characteristic of Spain’s development co-operation is its use of public sector expertise to strengthen public administration capacities and reform public policies in partner countries and territories. The 1998 Law for International Co-operation establishes technical co-operation as the primary instrument for international co-operation (Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado, 1998[2]). By building mutual trust, fostering dialogue and generating space for peer learning, public technical co-operation can inform effective public policies in partner countries and territories that drive inclusive and sustainable development.

This approach is developed both at the central and local level in Spain. Spanish public administrations, including those of the autonomous communities and local entities, contribute knowledge and experience, while the Spanish co-operation agencies provide the methodologies required to obtain development results and to optimise management and accountability. To do so, Spain relies on two institutions with similar ways of working: (1) AECID, in charge of the INTERCOONECTA and COO-TEC (Programa Latinoamericano de Cooperación Técnica, or Latin American Technical Co-operation Programme) programmes, the former acting at the regional level and the latter bilaterally; and (2) FIIAPP (International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies). Each is described in turn below.

The INTERCOONECTA programme19 aims to generate knowledge partnerships for development through learning and collaboration between civil servants in Latin America and the Caribbean. The programme is carried out through a network of four regional training centres, each dedicated to specific themes relevant to the region (Figure 4).20 Based on the needs identified by the training centres, Spanish public institutions develop training programmes in the form of seminars, workshops and meetings that are then delivered in the training centres either face-to-face or in a virtual classroom. AECID plans to mobilise its regional training centres and turn them into innovation hubs as a next step. In doing so, there are opportunities to work closely with the technical co-operation offices in the region to identify local innovations and innovators before scaling up these innovations in the region, including through triangular co-operation.

INTERCOONECTA also supports AECID’s horizontal programmes,21 which mobilise technical assistance to facilitate knowledge sharing across the programme and build on complementarities when possible. For instance, the COO-TEC programme works bilaterally to facilitate missions or consultancies by sending Spanish technical co-operation experts or partner officials on missions or consultancies in third countries.

FIIAPP uses a similar methodology without mobilising AECID’s training centres. FIIAPP supports peer learning, capacity building and the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practices among public administrations to promote the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies and to build institutional capacities. Not being limited to geographies or themes identified in the master plans, FIIAPP mainly works on foreign policy priorities of the Spanish institutions. A characteristic of the foundation is that at regional and multi-country level, it implements EU delegated co-operation and twinning rather than Spain’s bilateral programme.

Peer learning approaches bringing local, regional and international perspectives to shared challenges have led to the creation of lasting networks and communities of practice, especially in the Ibero-America region. Locally, thematic “mesas país” (country roundtables) facilitate knowledge sharing among partners through a whole-of-government approach by both development partners and partner countries and territories (Box 3). In Latin America, Spain has also fostered regional forums for mutual learning that address transnational or cross-border issues that are relevant to more than one country in the region.22 Most of the networks that were initially created or supported by Spain, such as the Ibero-American Association of Public Ministries, are now self-supporting. The fact that these networks remained active during the COVID-19 pandemic is an illustration of their added value for participants. While durable networks are useful for sustainable knowledge exchange and production, they can also contribute to regional integration and regional advocacy. For instance, the Ibero-American Water Directors Conference (Conferencia de Directores Iberoamericanos del Agua) has mobilised two of its thematic networks dedicated to water and the environment to prepare shared positions for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) on climate change.

Peer approaches also facilitate engagement with middle-income countries (MICs). The Vth Master Plan puts technical co-operation at the core of its differentiated strategy across the globe. Spain plans to use more technical co-operation and policy dialogue as countries and territories transition along the development continuum. Policy dialogue as well as South-South and triangular co-operation can advance MICs’ efforts to secure regional and global public goods.23 Regional sectoral dialogues, in close co-ordination with EU programmes, have also facilitated advocacy work and the integration of complex issues such as gender, inequality, environment and policy coherence into public policies, especially in Latin America.

As Spain increases its engagement in Africa, it can draw on its valued approach to public technical co-operation: a horizontal relationship based on peer-to-peer dialogue, mutual trust, lasting networks of experts and policy makers designed around shared needs, and the expertise of specialised administrations that can provide technical support.

In some instances, Spain has been able to combine public technical co-operation and financial support in the same programme to first improve the strategic framework and then facilitate the provision of services. For instance, this approach allowed the Co-operation Fund for Water and Sanitation (FCAS) to help the Plurinational State of Bolivia (hereafter “Bolivia”) reform its national plans and strategies to better integrate environmental, drought and urban drainage management components in its planning and to provide such services in peri-urban areas (MAUC, 2017[20]).

This complementary approach is not systematic, partly because the institutional set-up is considered too complex by some stakeholders (Development Co-operation Council, 2020[7]). A variety of actors (FIIAPP, AECID, Fundación Carolina, autonomous communities and municipalities) contribute to the mobilisation of public sector expertise. Though they have similar ways of working, they have their own funding and priorities. FIIAPP, which mainly implements EU delegated co-operation and twinning, is not always part of the process of planning the country partnership frameworks (MAP). Even if it is consulted, it does not have to align its activities with those of the MAP and responds primarily to foreign policy priorities. A more integrated approach centred on shared priorities and linking technical and financial co-operation would help address this (Recommendation 2).

There are also opportunities to better link bilateral and regional supports. FIIAPP aims to create links between the national reform efforts and regional concertation through the EU regional programmes it manages. In addition, Spain’s training centres in Latin America have a bilateral and a regional dimension. However, their activities are only co-ordinated with AECID’s bilateral portfolio on an ad-hoc basis, despite efforts to increase synergies with the technical support provided through the COO-TEC programme (AECID, 2016[17]). In other words, training centres can work with the same local partners as those engaged in the bilateral portfolio without necessarily building on complementarities between programmes.

In addition, procedures to mobilise public sector experts are complex because of a lack of incentives for Spanish public administrations to identify and mobilise staff; limited co-ordination; limited access to public sector expertise from decentralised administrations; and lack of career incentives for civil servants to participate in development actions.

Limited co-ordination between Spain’s other development co-operation actors and the bilateral programme also reduces Spain’s ability to transfer the know-how created through technical assistance to each institution in charge of development co-operation. The wide dissemination of the knowledge products created under the various programmes and the recent efforts to build a shared knowledge platform are a first step. An institutionalised and strategic approach to knowledge management within Spain’s development co-operation (Recommendation 7) would accelerate these efforts (see Becoming fit for purpose: A renewed commitment to international co-operation requiring a comprehensive reform).

Spain has made some effort to build a shared understanding among DGPOLDES, AECID and FIIAPP of how its public technical co-operation is contributing to development results. Through the Programme for Transparency, Communication & Knowledge Management of the Spanish Co-operation System, Spain has developed shared methods and tools to evaluate public technical co-operation, to link knowledge activities to specific development results and to integrate lessons into future development co-operation (AECID, 2016[17]). FIIAPP has also developed its own results framework as part of its contributions to EU projects, and some bilateral technical co-operation is identified in the results frameworks of the country partnership frameworks (MAPs).

Despite this, the existing results frameworks do not capture how the various instruments for public technical assistance contribute to institutional capacity building or improve public policies in partner countries and territories. Currently, the main instruments to measure the results of Spain’s capacity-building activities are satisfaction surveys sent to participants. Spain is not able to report on the outreach of its knowledge products, how partners use the knowledge acquired or how it has influenced administrations and their policies. In addition, there is no shared information system to record such results. Therefore, Spain is not in a position to fully capitalise or circulate the knowledge created by its various programmes. A better understanding of the effectiveness of public technical co-operation would help to better identify which policies have most leverage across all dimensions of development and help the administrations of origin to mobilise staff and reach a critical mass of projects.

Spain lists a number of priorities for financial co-operation in its Vth Master Plan,24 but there is no overarching policy that clearly sets out the principles for financial co-operation and what Spain aims to achieve. Spain considers financial co-operation fundamental for mobilising public and private resources and complementary to its technical co-operation efforts. Given Spain’s increased attention to leveraging additional finance for development, it has been vocal in international fora and with its partners on the need to improve transparency and reporting on these issues.

FONPRODE has a modular business model that involves many actors. The Spanish Development Finance Corporation (Compañía Española de Financiación del Desarrollo or COFIDES) provides loans and equity to Spanish companies as additional development finance,25 while AECID provides financial co-operation for sustainable development under the ODA budget via two funds: FONPRODE and FCAS.26 Currently FONPRODE is funded exclusively from the Spanish development co-operation budget and must be 100% resourced from ODA. COFIDES serves as FONPRODE’s financial adviser, performing risk analysis, due diligence and monitoring and evaluation,27 while the Official Credit Institute (Instituto de Crédito Official or ICO) serves as FONPRODE’s financial agent.28 ICO looks at assurance and compliance from the perspective of macro and fiscal balance, ensuring that neither Spain nor the beneficiary is over-exposed in capital markets.

FONPRODE’s model presents a fundamental accountability challenge in Madrid and in countries and territories where it operates. FONPRODE has limited ability to steer and govern operations because banking services and financial advice are provided elsewhere by COFIDES and ICO. As such, FONPRODE (AECID) does not operate as a financial institution. Further, FONPRODE relies solely on a government budget line plus loan repayments and income from investment funds to finance operations.

Many of FONPRODE operations are identified, decided on and monitored in Madrid, without seeking advice from technical co-operation offices, which are not fully involved. To capitalise on the added value of AECID’s geographical and sectoral expertise and ensure that financial co-operation has sustainable development at its core, FONPRODE’s operations must be able to draw on expertise beyond the eight or nine staff in its Madrid office. Failure to do so is missing opportunities to create synergies with bilateral programming and to link technical and financial co-operation. For example, when follow-up from the technical co-operation office is required for a FONPRODE operation, the roles and responsibilities between the technical co-operation office and the FONPRODE office in Madrid can be unclear, causing delays. Greater geographical mobility for staff could lead to better understanding and appreciation of the value and role that financial co-operation can play in Spanish co-operation (Recommendation 4).

The current approval process for financial co-operation is very onerous considering the small volume of operations. FONPRODE’s annual commitment ceiling is EUR 375 million. It can disburse a maximum of EUR 199 million per year, though its actual disbursements were just EUR 15.5 million in 2018 and EUR 25.8 million in 2017 (AECID, 2021[21]). All operations are approved at the highest level of government after a complex series of approvals for which FONPRODE (and AECID) are ultimately held accountable (Figure 5). FONPRODE’s Executive Committee is chaired by SECI and includes representatives from MAUC, MINECO and ICO, as well as other organisations and ministries that manage ODA funds. The committee must approve separate reports or proposals from the three different bodies. Next, operations may need to be approved by the Government Delegate Committee for Economic Affairs before the General Commission of State Secretaries and Undersecretaries gives their accord. Finally, the committee must seek approval from the Council of Ministers, who must approve all operations, regardless of financial threshold.29

The length of time it takes to prepare loans and FONPRODE’s low levels of execution were already noted in the previous peer review (OECD, 2016[5]). The problem persists today. In 2016 and 2017, only three FONPRODE operations were approved by the Executive Committee for a total annual average of EUR 50 million. In 2018, the number doubled to six non-reimbursable operations worth a total of EUR 126 million (AECID, 2021[21]). Past commitments have never come close to meeting the annual limit authorised by the Council of Ministers of EUR 375 million (MAUC, 2021[22]). In May 2021, FONPRODE’s executive committee met for the first time in 2021 to approve three financial inclusion projects worth a total of EUR 24.4 million and a EUR 10 million loan to the Government of Niger for submission to the Council of Ministers (MAUC, 2021[23]).

Spain’s financial co-operation would benefit from aligning governance, internal control, and risk management systems with what is required of a financial institution. Some reform proposals have suggested that Spain’s financial co-operation could be brought under a single institutional umbrella in an attempt to simplify approval processes, shorten lengthy procedures, and more easily mobilise funding opportunities from the EU and multilateral development bank (Development Co-operation Council, 2020[7]). Spain will have to balance the fact that it already has a development finance institution (COFIDES) and that it would like AECID’s expertise in sustainable development to be at the heart of its financial co-operation. Today, AECID does not have the mandate of a financial institution, nor does it have the human resources or expertise to increase and diversify its financial operations. Whatever the architecture or governance of Spain’s financial co-operation, once the new law on sustainable development co-operation has been approved, AECID’s statutes will have to be adapted accordingly.

More technical co-operation could help Spain to identify where to scale up financial co-operation operations. Since 2013 the Executive Committee has rejected any proposals for FONPRODE to fund technical co-operation through non-reimbursable funds because it would increase Spain’s public debt. These budget constraints mean that project identification or feasibility studies that could help develop a more viable pipeline of potential projects for Spanish co-operation must be funded outside Spain’s financial co-operation (AECID, 2021[21]). In part to address this challenge, AECID recently posted 15 finance officers to technical co-operation offices around the world to work with Ministries of Finance and help identify various opportunities for financial co-operation.

Though technical co-operation is an important complement to Spain’s financial co-operation, enabling it to be more sustainable, budget limitations have affected this role. In the past, reflows from loan repayments and other investments resourced a technical co-operation fund to accompany financial co-operation in a handful of countries.30 Today, this technical co-operation is now only possible from partners like the IDB or the EU. Finding a way to ensure that technical co-operation – one of Spanish co-operation’s greatest assets – accompanies financial co-operation (whether funded by Spain or by others), would make operations more sustainable and integrated (Recommendation 2). For example, FONPRODE’s evaluation in El Salvador paints a very positive picture of the impact of technical co-operation that accompanied financial support to the microfinance institute, BANDESAL, and led to better credit and risk management tools, improved operational and internal controls, and better adapted and more agile client services (SIC Desarollo, 2014[24]). Spain can learn from what it has done well in the past – and from the success of FCAS in integrating technical and financial co-operation (see Mobilising public sector expertise for building and sharing knowledge) – to adopt a more holistic approach in the future.

FONPRODE forges partnerships to expand the array of instruments at its disposal (including guarantees, policy-based loans and impact investments), or take part in private-public partnerships.31 In this way, financial co-operation also widens the options for Spain to nurture closer partnerships with governments, civil society, the private sector and multilateral development banks and to encourage additional private funds to promote sustainable development at a time when unprecedented financial resources are required (AECID, 2021[25]). FONPRODE works with multilateral development banks, the EU, and bilateral development finance institutions like the Agence française de développement (AFD) and KfW Development Bank, to increase opportunities for blended finance.

Spain is also able to leverage existing resources. Thanks to Spain, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) set up a sovereign borrowing framework in 2015 that allows it to on-lend funds borrowed from FONPRODE. The possibility to provide IFAD with reimbursable finance (loans) allowed Spain to contribute to IFAD’s operations even when it was not able to provide non-reimbursable contributions (grants) due to budget constraints. The framework is now used by two other IFAD member states, and has thereby increased the financing available for agricultural development.

Blended operations combine mostly reimbursable financing from FONPRODE with non-reimbursable instruments that other partners can offer. These may include guarantees, investment grants,32 technical co-operation or risk capital that can be combined with reimbursable financing from FONPRODE. For example, the Latin American Investment Facility (LAIF) is an EU instrument that uses technical assistance and grants to leverage loans from FONPRODE. To illustrate, a recent co-financing arrangement of a FONPRODE (USD 60 million) and Inter-American Development Bank (USD 105 million) loan for a project on water and sanitation in Asunción, Paraguay includes EUR 15 million in technical co-operation from LAIF (administered by AECID) to help improve the operational, commercial and technical management of the water and sanitation company and ensure greater sustainability (ICEX, 2020[26]) and (IDB, 2020[27]).

Spain’s emphasis is on increasing EU delegated co-operation to augment and reinforce its bilateral investments. Spain’s master plan and actions prioritise EU co-ordination, and Spain is the third largest implementer of EU delegated co-operation (when AECID, FIIAPP, and COFIDES are included). It has invested heavily in influencing EU development policy in Brussels, and increasingly relies on EU co-financing as a lifeline when faced with drastic budget cuts in order to deliver its own development co-operation programmes. Coupled with its mutual reliance on other European development finance institutions like AFD, the result is that Spain’s goals and objectives for financial co-operation and that of EU co-operation are very much linked. Box 4 gives an example of how a Spanish and European partnership coalesced to create Spain’s largest social impact fund.

Working closely with other government entities helps Spain influence private sector actors. In addition to the financial co-operation instruments that constitute its ODA, technical co-operation offices together with Spanish Chambers of Commerce work with the private sector on a variety of initiatives. One example is TECNiCAFÉ, Colombia’s first technological park for coffee. Initially COFIDES had used its own resources to expand a coffee processing plant of a subsidiary of the Spanish coffee company, SUPRACAFE. SUPRACAFE – recognised in 2017 by the Business Call to Action of UNDP as the first Spanish company to conduct inclusive business – was instrumental in leading the way in the creation of TECNiCAFÉ (COFIDES, 2021[28]).

Thirteen of the 33 countries and territories in Spain’s current master plan are fragile, according to the OECD fragility framework.33 Fragile contexts represented 30.5% of Spain’s bilateral ODA in 2019, a significant increase from the 6.9% in 2016, and mainly due to substantial engagement in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereafter “Venezuela”) and Colombia. Overall, development co-operation, not humanitarian assistance, represents the bulk of this growth. This is in line with the principle expressed in the DAC Recommendation on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus [OECD/LEGAL/5019]: prevention always, development whenever possible, humanitarian only when necessary. Spain’s development co-operation is expanding in Africa, notably in contexts such as Sudan or Libya that are experiencing crisis or transition, requiring a specific sensitivity to fragility.

In fragile contexts, Spain sees development co-operation as a way to create environments conducive to sustainable peace and to facilitate conflict resolution. Back in 2007, Spain created a Peacebuilding Strategy for its development co-operation (MAUC, 2007[33]), a decade before the “nexus approach” was formalised. It reflects Spain’s early focus on coherence and complementarity in fragile contexts. In 2021, Spain designed a specific strategy for working in fragile contexts, building on the different dimensions of fragility in line with the OECD fragility framework (OECD, 2021[34]).

Spain’s Vth Master Plan is structured around the SDGs, notably SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions (MAUC, 2018[35]). As a result, Spain invests in sectors that contribute to peace in fragile contexts, as in Colombia, where achieving peace and tackling inequalities are core pillars of Spain’s support to the implementation of the peace agreement (Box 5). With concrete actions for peaceful conflict resolution at national and local levels, Spain strives to normalise the social, political and economic dynamics in contexts affected by violence.

Spain’s humanitarian strategy reflects new ambitions (AECID, 2019[36]). Focusing on rights and protection of the most vulnerable, Spain aims to make its humanitarian assistance coherent with its other instruments in crisis situations. Humanitarian action is embedded in the Vth Master Plan and is strongly related to the EU humanitarian framework. Increasing the humanitarian budget from 5.8% (OECD, 2021[37]) to reach its target of 10% of ODA (AECID, 2019[36]) will allow Spain to implement its strategy credibly and strengthen its voice in humanitarian diplomacy.

Spain’s peace-related ODA34 rose from USD 7 million in 2016 to USD 10.5 million in 2019, representing a 50% increase (OECD, 2021[37]). Spain focuses on difficult sectors such as human rights, justice and governance through technical co-operation and capacity building, involving the relevant Spanish administrations. When crises materialise, Spain does not halt its development co-operation; instead it strives to refocus on the intermediate administrative levels that continue to function irrespective of the high-level political dynamics, in addition to supporting civil society. This is good practice.

Conflict mediation is one of Spain’s historical strengths in peacebuilding. Spain is a founding member of the Group of Friends of Mediation at the UN (MAUC, 2017[38]) and puts its diplomacy into motion to support peace processes. Spain has been instrumental in the negotiation of peace processes – such as in the Philippines and Colombia – and supports their implementation, for example through sending observers to the UN Verification Mission in Colombia (Ministry of Defence, 2021[39]; MAUC, 2021[22]).

Cultural co-operation for peace is another notable focus of Spain’s overall engagement in crisis contexts. While some other DAC members, such as Italy, focus on protecting cultural heritage during armed conflict (OECD, 2019[40]), Spain’s approach is to promote respect for cultural diversity as a cross-cutting priority contributing to the peaceful resolution of conflicts (Box 5). As early as 2005, Spain passed a law to promote the culture of peace through education to “promote values, behaviours, attitudes, practices, feelings, beliefs that end up shaping peace” (Government of Spain, 2005[41]).

Empowered leadership in embassies can be key to linking development and peace components. Because ambassadors provide the political lead for Spain’s development co-operation, the embassy plays an important role in aligning the objectives and implementation of the development and peace portfolios.

Spain’s long-term political engagement in peace processes is prized by its partners (Government of Philippines, 2017[42]). Durable partnerships help build trust amongst partners, and strengthen the political dialogue when crises hit. For example, in Colombia, Spain is working to integrate people’s rights into the political dialogue in areas affected by post-conflict violence, immigration from Venezuela and the threat of natural disasters.

Integrating Spain’s activities within the EU framework increases global coherence in the most challenging contexts (Government of Spain, 2021[43]). For example, AECID supports the “Tahdir Masar” project35 under the framework of the EU Instrument for Peace and Stability (IcSP). This is focused on Syrian civil society in the field of media, women's empowerment, and youth and illustrates how long-term support to civil society can help to create a political and social environment that is conducive to recovery (AECID, 2018[44]).

Some of Spain’s important new tools and instruments are labelled as humanitarian, although they aim to address issues around crisis management. Possibly because the humanitarian department within AECID manages most of Spain’s conceptual work on crisis and fragility with limited human resources, Spain’s crisis instruments are created with a humanitarian lens that can narrow their scope. For example, building on its diplomatic strength, Spain is designing a humanitarian diplomacy policy that goes beyond humanitarian assistance. This policy aims to frame Spain’s advocacy efforts in international fora, and will address many aspects of crisis management, such as preventive diplomacy, arms proliferation, counterterrorism, and the fight against impunity, in addition to a more classical humanitarian diplomacy and protection advocacy (ICRC, 2021[45]). In order to avoid misunderstandings by Spain’s partners about the scope of its humanitarian remit, and to strengthen its diplomatic role, Spain could make sure its diplomatic work also refers to crisis management or peace diplomacy and not solely to humanitarian diplomacy.

AECID’s humanitarian early recovery fund, created in 2021, should enable transition to development assistance more clearly. The fund aims to combine humanitarian assistance with recovery initiatives within the 18 months after an emergency. (AECID, 2021[46]). As Spain recognises, post-crisis needs are generally prolonged years after the crisis, and therefore the line between meeting humanitarian needs and supporting recovery and development is blurred. In order to support early recovery through structural support to locally-designed solutions, Spain should make sure that this fund is not limited to the delivery of services through humanitarian modalities, and that its actions are linked to existing medium-term development strategies. As some DAC members have demonstrated (BMZ, 2020[47]), transitional development assistance funds and programmes can represent a powerful support for peace and recovery when they are designed as early development instruments rather than extended humanitarian assistance.

NGOs are a great asset for Spain’s humanitarian assistance. Up to 86% of Spain’s bilateral ODA in fragile contexts is channelled through civil society, including humanitarian NGOs. However, the humanitarian strategy acknowledges that both the regulatory framework and the contractual modalities driving the partnership remain rigid and restrictive and require adaptation. For example, most of Spain’s humanitarian allocation to NGOs is decided through calls for proposals – a long and unpredictable selection modality that does not align well with the flexibility often required in such operational contexts. As for many other DAC members, framework partnerships extended to all humanitarian responses, and not only emergency ones, often create stronger partnerships for both civil society partners and administrations.


[21] AECID (2021), Informe de actividad FONPRODE 2018 (FONPRODE 2018 Activity Report), Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[13] AECID (2021), La AECID contribuirá a la integración de los migrantes y refugiados venezonalos en Colombia a través de su cooperación financiera [AECID contributes to the integration of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Colombia through its financial co-operation], Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[25] AECID (2021), Plan de acción 2021 de la Agencia española de cooperación internacional para el desarollo (2021 Action Plan of the Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation), Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[46] AECID (2021), Un nuevo Fondo Humanitario español para la recuperación de las poblaciones vulnerables tras las emergencias (A new Spanish Humanitarian Fund for the recovery of vulnerable populations after emergencies), Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[36] AECID (2019), Spanish Cooperation’s Humanitarian Action Strategy 2019-2026, Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[44] AECID (2018), Concluye tras dos años de formaciones el Proyecto Tadhir Masar para el fortalecimiento de la sociedad civil siria (After two years of training, the Tadhir Masar Project for the strengthening of Syrian civil society concludes), Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[17] AECID (2016), INTERCOONECTA - The Spanish Cooperation Plan for Knowledge Transfer, Exchange and Management in Latin America and the Caribbean, Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation, Madrid,

[51] Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (2020), Cuentas anuales del Fondo para la Promoción del Desarollo del ejercicio 2019 (Annual accounts of the Fund for the Promotion of Development for the year 2019),

[2] Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (1998), Ley 23/1998, de 7 de julio, de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo [Law 23/1998 of 7 of July on International Co-operatation for Development],

[47] BMZ (2020), Transitional Development Assistance: Overcoming crises, strengthening resilience, creating new prospects, BMZ, Berlin, (accessed on 15 November 2021).

[28] COFIDES (2021), Supracafé, (accessed on 15 September 2021).

[32] COFIDES (2021), The Huruma Fund marks its third impact investment with COOPAC Norandino, (accessed on 15 September 2021).

[7] Development Co-operation Council (2020), Un Nuevo Sistema de Cooperación al Desarrollo Para Hacer Realidad la Agenda 2030: Propuestas de Reforma (A New Development Cooperation System to Make the 2030 Agenda a Reality: Reform Proposals), Development Co-operation Council, Madrid,

[18] Di Ciommo, M. and K. Sergejeff (2021), Getting Up to Speed: The EU and the Development in Transition Agenda, ECDPM, Brussels,

[3] European Commission (2021), Eurobarometer: EU Citizens and International Partnerships, April 2021, European Union,

[29] European Commission (2018), Huruma Fund, European Commission, Brussels,

[30] Finster, K. (2020), “Microcapital Brief: COFIDES launches $145m Huruma Fund to deliver microfinance to 45k farmers on 4 continents”, MicroCapital, 4 December 2020, (accessed on 13 August 2021).

[42] Government of Philippines (2017), Philippine Government expresses gratitude on Spanish Government’s continuing support in the peace process,

[43] Government of Spain (2021), Foreign Policy, Government of Spain, Madrid,

[41] Government of Spain (2005), Ley 27/2005, de 30 de noviembre, de fomento de la educación y la cultura de la paz (Law 27/2005, of November 30, on the promotion of education and the culture of peace), Government of Spain, Madrid,

[26] ICEX (2020), Fonprode le otorga un crédito a Paraguay para un proyecto de agua y saneamiento (Fonprode grants a loan to Paraguay for a water and sanitation project), (accessed on 30 July 2021).

[45] ICRC (2021), Humanitarian diplomacy, webpage, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva,

[12] IDB (2021), “IDB to approve $1.25 billion in operations for Colombia in 2021”, News Releases 19 March 2021,

[27] IDB (2020), Water and Sanitation Program for the Metropolitan Area of Asunción - Lambaré Watershed (PR-L1172), (accessed on 4 October 2021).

[19] Illan, C. and E. Schneider (2019), Study on the EU and its Member States Mobilising Public Sector Expertise for Development - Final Report, DAI, Brussels,

[14] Kalidadea (2015), Evaluación intermedia del proyecto: Unidad de gestión del Programa Nacional Escuelas Taller de Colombia - herramientas de paz en Colombia [Mid-term evaluation of project: managemnet unit of national workshop schools of Colombia - tools for peace], Kalidadea,

[15] LPIC (2019), Evaluación Externa del Marco de Asociación País Hispano Colombiano Período: 2015 - 2019,

[10] MAUC (2021), Marco de Asociación País Colombia - España 2020-2024 [Colombia-Spain Country Partnership Framework 2020-2024], Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[22] MAUC (2021), Peer Review 2021: self-assessment Spain: document submitted to the OECD DAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid.

[23] MAUC (2021), “Spain steps up its presence in Sahel through financial development cooperation strategy”, Press Release 115, 27 May 2021, (accessed on 28 July 2021).

[6] MAUC (2020), Estrategia de Respuesta Conjunta de la Cooperación Española a la Crisis del COVID-19: Afrontando la Crisis para una Recuperación Transformadora [Joint Response Strategy of the Spanish Cooperation to the COVID-19 Crisis], Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[8] MAUC (2020), Informe Ayuda Oficial al Desarrollo, Presupuestos Generales del Estado 2021 (Official Development Assistance Report, 2021 State Budget), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[31] MAUC (2020), Marco de Asociación País de España-Ecuador 2019-2023 (Spain-Ecuador Country Association Framework 2019-2023), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[4] MAUC (2019), Plan de Accion para la Implementacion de la Agenda 2030 (Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[35] MAUC (2018), V Plan Director de la Cooperación Española 2018/2021 (Vth Spanish Co-operation Master Plan 2018/2021), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[20] MAUC (2017), Evaluacion Intermedia del Fondo de Cooperacion para Agua y Saneamiento [Mid-term Evaluation of the Water and Sanitation Co-operation Fund], Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[38] MAUC (2017), Preventive diplomacy: Spanish priorities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[33] MAUC (2007), Estrategia de Construccion de la Paz de la Cooperacion Espanola para el Desarollo (Peacebuilding Strategy of the Spanish Cooperation for Development), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Madrid,

[39] Ministry of Defence (2021), United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Ministry of Defence, Madrid, (accessed on 7 September 2021).

[49] National Government of Colombia and FARC EP (2016), Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace,

[37] OECD (2021), Creditor Reporting System,

[1] OECD (2021), OECD Economic Surveys: Spain 2021, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[34] OECD (2021), OECD States of Fragility, (accessed on 7 October 2021).

[50] OECD (2019), DAC Recommendation on the Humanitarian Development Peace nexus, OECD, Paris,

[40] OECD (2019), OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Italy 2019, OECD Publishing,

[5] OECD (2016), OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Spain 2016, OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews, OECD Publishing,

[16] OECD/UNDP (2019), Making Development Co-operation More Effective: 2019 Progress Report, OECD Publishing,

[11] Programa Nacional de Escuelas Taller (2016), Caja de Herramientas - Cultura de Paz [Toolkit to promote a culture of peace], Programa Nacional de Escuelas Taller, (accessed on 11 August 2021).

[24] SIC Desarollo (2014), Consultoría “Análisis de desempeño del programa español de mirofinanzas del fondo para la promoción al desarollo (FONPRODE)”: El Salvador (Consultancy: “Performance analysis of FONPRODE: El Salvador), SIC Desarollo,

[9] United Nations (2019), UN Funding Compact, General Assembly, Economic and Social Councilof the United Nations, New York,

[48] Whitfield, T. (2005), “A crowded field: groups of friends, the United Nations and the resolution of conflict”, Occasional Paper, Center on International Cooperation,


← 1. Master plans present Spain’s four-year strategy for development co-operation. Drafted under the leadership of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation (MAUC), they apply to the whole government.

← 2. These are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Ministry of Finance and Civil Service, Ministry of Economy and Business, and Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.

← 3. The Spanish Agency for Development Co-operation (AECID), the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and Fundación Carolina. See snapshot for more information on the three institutions.

← 4. In addition to co-ordination frameworks with partners such as the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), three bodies structure consultation and co-ordination: the Development Co-operation Council responsible for multi-stakeholder consultation; the Inter-ministerial Commission for Development Co-operation responsible for co-ordination within the general state administration; and the Inter-territorial Commission for Development Co-operation, responsible for co-ordinating public administrations, including autonomous communities and local entities. A strategic framework to guide engagement with non-government organisations is in preparation.

← 5. FIIAPP is a public foundation governed by a board of government ministers, secretaries of state and senior officials of the Spanish General State Administration, presided over by the Vice-President of the Spanish Government. Spain's Secretary of State for International Co-operation chairs the board’s Permanent Commission. Fundación Carolina is funded and governed by public and private actors. The Secretary of State for International Co-operation chairs the governing board of the Fundación.

← 6. Country partnership frameworks (MAPs) are multi-annual, bilateral instruments that set out the partnership between Spain and a partner country or territory to contribute to sustainable development.

← 7. See snapshot for more information

← 8. SECI has 16 staff, while DGPOLDES, the directorate under the supervision of SECI, has 35 staff.

← 9. Funding, which is mainly annual, takes a minimum of 20 weeks to be approved, including for humanitarian assistance.

← 10. Since 2016, significant progress has been made in using partner systems for budget execution, financial reporting, auditing and procurement – with an increase from 35% to 57% between 2016 and 2018 (slightly higher than the DAC average of 55%) (OECD/UNDP, 2019[16]). However, further efforts are needed in the use of financial reporting systems, which at 37% remain significantly lower than the DAC average (56%).

← 11. The committee is composed of four Spanish co-operation bodies: SECI/DGPOLDES, AECID, Fundación Carolina and FIIAPP.

← 12. Spain aims to present the results of this reporting exercise to the public at the end of 2021.

← 13. The MAPs include sections on (1) the context and national strategies of a given country; (2) the role of Spanish and international co-operation in contributing to the 2030 Agenda and national priorities; (3) the alliances, networks, modalities, instruments, resources and risks present in the country; (4) cross-cutting issues; and (5) monitoring, evaluation and mutual accountability. Annexes on results matrices, resources, networks and risks are also included in the public document.

← 14. MAPs do not typically include activities implemented by Spanish institutions on behalf of the European Union (EU delegated co-operation), unless such activities are co-financed directly by Spain.

← 15. The system makes use of the Communication and Information Resource Centre for Administrations, Businesses and Citizens (CIRCABC) document management system to share documents and exchange observations between the technical co-operation office and various stakeholders in Spain.

← 16. An organisation called Taula Catalana for peace and human rights in Colombia was established in 2002 in Catalonia. More information on this network can be found here:

← 17. The whole process of developing a MAP – from design to final approval and signing – can take anywhere from 3 to 24 months depending on the context.

← 18. Two solutions can help ensure some predictability and the continuity of projects within the confines of current rules and regulations: (1) disbursing the entire amount for the life of the project in one tranche in an account supervised and controlled by the technical co-operation office, which then manages disbursement each year; or (2) the amount to be disbursed each year is decided when the project is approved so that the annual budgeting process can prioritise this each year.

← 19. Its initial budget was EUR 14 million over 2017-21.

← 20. The training centre located in the Plurinational State of Bolivia (hereafter Bolivia) is focused on water and sanitation, social cohesion and indigenous peoples; in Colombia the centre is focused on Afro-descendants, democratic governance and gender equality; in Guatemala the focus is on resilient agriculture and the environment, as well as migration and asylum; Uruguay’s centre concentrates on public finances, scientific co-operation and public policies for research, development and innovation.

← 21. Horizontal programmes include the Programme for Environmental and Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARAUCLIMA), the Afro-Descendant Peoples Co-operation Fund, the Indigenous Peoples Fund, the Escuelas Taller vocational schools programme and the COO-TEC programme.

← 22. The INTERCOONECTA programme identified eight thematic networks.

← 23. Spain has signed memoranda of understanding on triangular co-operation with 7 countries in Latin America, and 11 activities were on-going in the region in 2018. New generation agreements signed with Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay further emphasise the role of triangular co-operation.

← 24. The Vth Master Plan sets out Spain’s financial co-operation priorities: microfinance, remittance banking, small and medium-sized enterprises, social economy, venture capital, infrastructure creation and PPPs.

← 25. Funding from COFIDES’ own budget is not counted as ODA.

← 26. Figure 1 in the Snapshot of Spain’s development co-operation shows FONPRODE’s portfolio at the end of 2018 (AECID, 2021[21]).

← 27. COFIDES was accredited for the delegated management of the EU’s development co-operation budget in 2015.

← 28. ICO is a state-owned bank attached to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digitalisation (MINECO).

← 29. The Council of Ministers must approve three types of country-level allocations: (1) funding of UN agencies earmarked for specific countries; (2) provision of loans; and (3) humanitarian assistance.

← 30. Five technical co-operation funds (in El Salvador, Peru, Bolivia, Egypt, and Central America) under the previous Fund for the Concession of Microcredits (FCM) still had funds left over in 2019 (Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado, 2020[51]).

← 31. FONPRODE has the mandate to provide loans, credit and credit lines to national, regional, and local authorities and local financial entities, including through special purpose vehicles and investment funds. Its activities consist of loans to states to finance development projects; loans to microfinance entities to improve financial inclusion; shares in investment funds related to food security, renewable energy, agriculture and micro, small and medium enterprises with a development impact and shares in collective investment vehicles.

← 32. An investment grant is a direct subsidy made by a government to a business in order to enable it to make further investments.

← 33. These are Ethiopia, Haiti, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique and Niger in the least advanced association countries grouping; Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Palestine in the middle-income association grouping; and Equatorial Guinea in the advanced co-operation countries grouping (MAUC, 2018[35]).

← 34. In the OECD’s fragility frameworks, ODA to peace-related sectors is tracked using the following Creditor Reporting Sector codes: 15110, 15111, 15112, 15113, 15130, 15150, 15152, 15153, 15160, 15170, 15210, 15220, 15230, 15240, 15250, 15261. For more details see

← 35. The Tahdir-Masar Programme for strengthening social cohesion for a democratic and inclusive Syrian civil society is a European Union programme implemented by AECID and its partners such as the Arab Woman Media Center, Jordanian National Forum for Women (JNFW) and the Center for Strategic Studies. Each of the Jordanian institutions participating in this project covers a key sector to foster democracy and human rights in Syria: the role of women in reconstruction and peacekeeping (JNFW), the education and training of young Syrians to be able to lead the process (SSC) and the role of the media (AWMC). Its Spanish partners are the Complutense Institute of International Studies, the Toledo International Centre for Peace and Radio Televisión Española, respectively (AECID, 2018[44]).

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