Oak Foundation

The Oak Foundation was established in 1983 to address issues of global, social and environmental concern. The Oak Foundation has a principal office in Switzerland and other offices in Denmark, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Oak Foundation supports civil society as a pillar of democracy and justice and nurtures innovation and visionary leadership within it. Programmes benefiting developing countries include: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, Environment, International Human Rights, Issues Affecting Women, Learning Differences, India, Zimbabwe and Brazil.

The Oak Foundation provided USD 136.3 million for development in 2019 in the form of grants. Compared to 2018, this amount represents a decrease by 35% in real terms.

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In 2019, the Oak Foundation provided USD 1 million to the multilateral system, accounting for 1% of its total development finance. These activities with the multilateral channels related to earmarked contributions to the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.

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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 Oak Foundation channelled its development finance mostly through non-governmental organisations (88%) and universities, research institutes and think tanks (7%).

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In 2019, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 122 million of gross disbursements. Of this, 9% was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 91% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the provider (earmarked funding). CSOs based in developing countries received 16% of the Oak Foundation’s allocations channelled to/through all CSOs.

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In 2019, USD 88 million (64%) of the Oak Foundation’s development finance was unallocated by region. Still, USD 21 million was allocated to America and USD 15 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 16% and 11%. Grants allocated to Africa amounted to USD 9 million (7%).

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Bilateral private development finance by recipient country

In 2019, 29% of gross disbursements went to the Oak Foundation’s top 10 recipients, most notably Brazil, India and Mexico. The share of 68% was not allocated by country, mainly relating to expenditure for projects and programmes with a regional scope or unrestricted character.

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Least developed countries received USD 5 million (3%) of the Oak Foundation’s gross disbursements in 2019. The Oak Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (26%) to middle-income countries in 2019, noting that 68% was unallocated by income group. Moreover, the Oak Foundation allocated 2.2% of its gross development finance to small island developing states in 2019, equal to USD 3 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country.

In 2019, most of the Oak Foundation’s development grants were allocated to social infrastructure and services. Contributions in this area accounted for 57% of its commitments (USD 77 million), showing a strong focus on human rights, ending violence against women and girls, and women’s rights organisations and movements. Commitments for general environmental protection (under multisector/cross-cutting) totalled USD 25 million (18%), with a particular focus on environmental policies.

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In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Oak Foundation focused its development finance on a broad range of objectives, most notably peace, justice & strong institutions; reduced inequalities; partnerships; and gender equality.

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In 2019, the Oak Foundation committed USD 45 million (35% of its allocable development finance) to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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In 2019, the Oak Foundation committed 16% of its allocable development grants (USD 20 million) in support of climate action. The Oak Foundation has a greater focus on mitigation (15%) than on adaptation (1%).

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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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