The new coalition agreement presents some striking reforms in the field of international cooperation. One ambition is to establish clearer links between policy addressing sustainability, poverty reduction and security. The creation of the new post of Minister for International Trade and Development Cooperation underlines that there is indeed a relationship between international trade and poverty. However, the ambitious programme is accompanied by a 25% reduction in the development cooperation budget. It seems that the government hopes to do much more with much less funding. In this discussion paper, experts from the worlds of research, politics and the civil society propose a far-reaching reform of international cooperation. Innovation, expansion (in terms of both effort and resources) and stronger coordination are cited as the three strands which will combine to create an effective, integrated approach to poverty reduction, sustainability and security. It must be remembered that international cooperation is not solely a government responsibility; it requires a national commitment based on the principles of reciprocity, global solidarity and the equality of all people, everywhere.

In this discussion paper, we first describe the shifts and developments in the field of international cooperation before briefly examining the motives and objectives of the Netherlands’ involvement. We then propose a new agenda for international cooperation, examining the various aid channels and the role of the various actors. The paper concludes with recommendations for the practical implementation of the agenda, with a particular emphasis on coherence and coordination.

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International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)