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Lobby & Advocacy News

Massive development cooperation budget cuts in The Netherlands damage our international position and own interests.

In a world where we are more connected than ever before, the announced budget cuts to Dutch development cooperation are a disastrous step backwards. They undermine global efforts to address poverty, climate change, inequality and injustice. This affects people in the most vulnerable positions worldwide and our Dutch society. Global challenges do not adhere to national borders. Climate change, wars, and conflicts elsewhere have effects here. The new coalition plans to cut the development budget by 350 million euros in 2025, increasing to 550 million euros in 2026 and 2.4 billion euros annually from 2027. This damages the Dutch international position. A better world is also of great importance for the Netherlands, and especially in times of crisis, we must continue to invest in stability, peace, and security. 

16 May 2024

It is optimistic that the allocation of asylum costs to the development budget will be capped at 10%. This will increase the development budget’s predictability and reduce the impact of non-development-related expenditures on it. However, given the size of the cuts, this is not enough to prepare for the challenges ahead. 

What is good for the world is good for The Netherlands  

We live in a time heavily marked by geopolitical tensions and threats to our security, livelihoods, climate, and international legal order. The “shifting relationships in the world” mentioned in the annexe of the coalition agreement calls for generous investments instead of the proposed heavy cuts. The necessary solutions to these challenges are inextricably linked to the position of the Netherlands in the world. Partos is concerned about the new coalition’s plan to cut development cooperation and calls on the coalition to adhere to international agreements and treaties, be mindful of the Dutch’ position in the world, and ensure that The Netherlands continues to invest in international cooperation in the fields of peace, security, human rights, health, trade, sustainable development, and climate. 

In this time of geopolitical tensions and global challenges such as poverty, climate change, conflicts, and the erosion of the international legal order, intensifying our development efforts would be justified. This makes these cuts incomprehensible and short-sighted. Especially in times of crisis, we must invest in sustainable development for stability, peace, and security, says Liana Hoornweg, director of Partos, the trade association for development cooperation representing more than 100 development organisations. 

Good relations with countries near Europe are crucial for international security and stability. To restore cooperation for stability, the Netherlands must show that we are aware of these countries’ problems. This requires substantial investments in emergency aid and development cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to which the Netherlands has committed itself in the UN framework. 

Cuts go against Dutch interests

The cuts to development cooperation will severely affect people living in extreme poverty or  in need worldwide. Additionally, it is not in our own interest. Dutch people are concerned about their energy bills, the cost of living, and access to healthcare. These concerns are closely linked to what happens abroad. The Netherlands earns one-third of its national income through international trade. European and international cooperation and a predictable and stable foreign policy are crucial . Continuing climate investments and collaboration within Europe to implement the Paris Climate Agreement are more urgent than ever. We simply cannot afford to ignore or half-heartedly fulfil international climate agreements. 

Urgent appeal to the coalition  

Therefore, we urgently appeal to the coalition: A change of course halfway is better than a total misdirection. Prevent cuts to development cooperation and ensure that the Netherlands, in the interest of our freedom, prosperity, and livelihood, continues to invest in international cooperation and sustainable development. Collaborate as much as possible with civil society organisations. They are embedded in the fabric of society and can act as a powerful counterforce in the context of authoritarian forces. They continue to play an essential role in sustainable and social change worldwide.