Bernard van Leer Foundation

The Bernard van Leer Foundation is a financially independent foundation based in the Netherlands, which was established in 1949. The foundation’s income is derived from the bequest of Bernard van Leer.

The foundation is guided by the vision of Bernard van Leer’s son, Oscar, that all children deserve a good start in life. It works worldwide to inspire and inform large-scale action to improve the health and well-being of babies, toddlers and the people who care for them. It provides financial support and expertise to partners in government, civil society and business to help test and scale effective services for young children and families.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation provided USD 14.3 million for development in 2019 in the form of grants. Compared to 2018, this amount represents an increase by 3% in real terms.

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In 2019, the Bernard van Leer Foundation provided USD 2 million of gross development finance to the multilateral system, accounting for 11% of its total development finance. All of these contributions were earmarked for specific countries, regions, themes or purposes. The multilateral channels used by the Bernard van Leer Foundation included the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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See the section on Geographic and thematic focus for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system.

In 2019, the Bernard van Leer Foundation channelled its development finance mostly through non-governmental organisations (56%), public-private partnerships and networks (12%) and for-profit private sector (12%).

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In 2019, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 8 million of gross disbursements, earmarked for specific activities. CSOs based in developing countries received 63% of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development allocations channelled through all CSOs.

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In 2019, the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development finance was primarily focused on America and Asia. USD 4 million was allocated to America and USD 4 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 31% and 29% of gross development finance. Thirty per cent of its development grants were unspecified by region in 2019.

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Bilateral private development finance by recipient country

In 2019, 70% of gross disbursements went to the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s top 10 recipients, most notably India, Brazil and Peru. The share of 30% was not allocated by country, mainly relating to expenditure for projects and programmes with a regional scope.

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Least developed countries received USD 1 million (5%) of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s gross disbursements in 2019. The Bernard van Leer Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (66%) to middle-income countries in 2019, noting that 30% was unallocated by income group.

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

In 2019, most of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development finance was allocated to multisector and cross/cutting activities. Contributions in this area accounted for 52% of its commitments (USD 7 million), showing a strong focus on urban development and biosphere protection. Commitments for social infrastructure and services totalled USD 5 million (36%), with a particular focus on early childhood education and social protection.

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In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Bernard van Leer Foundation focused most of its development finance on quality education and sustainable cities & communities.

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The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, the SDG focus of private development finance, channels of delivery, unspecified/unallocated allocations, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

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