Recently the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag published the policy document for the coming 4 years of governance ‘Investing in Global Prospects’. In a general sense, ICCO is positive about the ambition that the policy document conveys. A summary of the most important points of ‘Investing in Global Prospects’.
The worldwide shrinking space for civil society organizations is addressed in the policy document. It is therefore good that the document announces that the Netherlands will continue to invest in strengthening civil society organizations in developing countries. This is currently being done through the program ‘Strategic Partnerships’, of which ICCO has the lead in the Civic Engagement Alliance (Convening & Convincing). However, it remains unclear in the policy document what the Netherlands is going to do to increase the scope for civil society.
The attention for innovation in the policy document is supported by ICCO. This is very welcome given the intense changes in the world and also in development cooperation. Innovation and technology can for example be used to apply climate-smart agriculture in countries most affected by climate change. Projects of ICCO in this perspective are for example the Salt Solution and the projects within Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW).
Budget and SDGs
It is good that the Netherlands are working towards the standard of 0.7% of the Gross National Income for the development budget. However, the government's ambition is to only spend 0.7% of GNI on development cooperation again in 2030. In the year 2030, however, SDGs should already have been realized. In order to eliminate extreme poverty and to achieve the climate goals, increasing the budget is therefore urgently needed. A good things of the policy document is that the SDGs have been given a prominent place.
Employment opportunities for youth
Minister Kaag will make € 60 million available each year to strengthen opportunities for future generations by stimulating employment and improving education. This € 240 million in four years is a serious commitment to the next generation of African young people. The coming months will have to make clear how the Minister will give concrete substance to this.
New focus regions
The focus of development cooperation is shifting to the regions of the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, with a view to tackling the root causes of poverty, migration, terrorism and climate change. ICCO also underlines that these regions face major problems to offer young people perspective and create enough employment. Policy that specifically addresses this is therefore urgently needed in these regions. However, we also remain critical of the government’s focus on solely migration.
ICCO thinks there should be more attention in the policy document to the position and strengthening of subsistence farmers, specifically women and youth, who are also central in SDG 2 and 8. In line with the recent evaluation of the Dutch Food Security Policy ‘Food for Thought’, ICCO recommends to clearly differentiate the various instruments for the different groups of producers in order to mitigate the risk of subsistence farmers missing out on development.