Inclusive Development Action Plan results

The eradication of extreme poverty by 2030, one of the main goals of the UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development, is only achievable if inequality is tackled. As part of its Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation policy, the Netherlands is already doing much to reach poor and excluded groups. The Inclusive Development Action Plan places extra emphasis on achieving the results of: creating jobs for young people and women; and engaging in dialogue with developing countries to encourage stronger commitment to inclusive growth and development. The first progress report was submitted to parliament in November 2016. From this year onwards, the progress and results of the action plan are part of the annual results report on Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation policy.

Work is the main route out of poverty and is crucial for future prospects. Lack of prospects is often a reason for young people to migrate. In order to address the root causes of migration, extra funds are being invested in the promotion of entrepreneurship by and employment opportunities for African youths. EUR 25 million has been reserved for the Local Employment in Africa for Development (LEAD) programme and another EUR 25 million is available within the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF).

Through the LEAD programme in 2016, 3,600 youths were trained in social, technical and entrepreneurial skills, and internships and workplace-learning programmes were supported. More than 80 existing small businesses were helped to expand and thereby create new jobs. The first young, start-up entrepreneurs were also put in touch with investors and consultations were held with government bodies and the private and financial sectors on improving both the business climate for start-up entrepreneurs and access to financial services.

Through local financial institutions, the DGGF made various investments in start-up and local SMEs in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Ethiopia. In addition, financing was extended to two Dutch entrepreneurs, which led to investments in Kenya (operation of a dairy business) and Ghana (investment in a frozen food warehouse to increase meat storage capacity). The investments took place in 2016 and 2017. It is expected that these DGGF investments will help to create around 1,300 new jobs, largely for young people.

Four out of nine projects within FLOW (Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women) are focused on strengthening the economic position of women and aim to reach 25,000 women in 10 countries. The first results will become visible over the coming years but, already, Dutch interventions have increased the capacity of 68 civil society organisations to work with women’s organisations in developing countries on economic independence, and to work with local employers on improved working conditions. In Pakistan and Ghana, among others, FLOW’s commitment has already resulted in women uniting to further their common interests.

The cabinet also invests in knowledge exchange on and international attention for youth employment opportunities. On 30 May 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the knowledge platform INCLUDE organised the international conference Boosting Youth Employment in Africa, What Works and Why? The conference resulted in joint recommendations being made by European and African governments, the EU and African Union, international organisations, scientists, NGOs and youth organisations to the Africa summit meeting, which will be held in the Ivory Coast in November. The main focus of these recommendations is: to invest in work and entrepreneurship for African youth!

Advocacy and political dialogue are key elements of the action plan. In September 2016, the Dutch government opened the Voice fund. This fund focuses on activities that give a voice to marginalised groups in developing countries. Demand for funding is enormous and, so far, 60 projects have been selected, of which eight have already begun. Among others, they are aimed at the LGBT community, indigenous groups, victims of exploitation and abuse, and disabled people. Within the Dialogue and Dissent (D&D) policy framework in 2016, EUR 1 million was made available to strengthen organisations representing the rights of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In 2016, various embassies called upon the Accountability fund to provide additional support to the most marginalised groups. In Nigeria, for example, the Netherlands supports the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities in better representing disabled people in political processes. The results achieved by VOICE, D&D and the Accountability fund will be reported over the years ahead.

Seven NGO alliances are working on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in partnerships formed with the Dutch government in 2016. They are focusing on opportunities for vulnerable groups, such as children in danger of falling into prostitution, girls who are forced into marriage at a young age, young people who wish to gain access to sexual education and contraception, and sex workers, intravenous drug users and practicing homosexuals with no access to medical care or disease prevention measures. The alliances set up their monitoring procedures in 2016. In doing so, they paid particular attention to the question of how to attract groups of people that are difficult to trace and reach to participate in the programmes. To this end, it is also important to collect data per target group and for people of different ages. The Bridging the Gaps programme records the results achieved, for example, disaggregated by gender (male, female, transgender), age group and partly also by so-called key population (sex workers, practicing homosexuals, intravenous drug users). This provides deeper insight into what works and what does not work well enough to reach these specific people.

The Netherlands has also advocated for inclusivity and placing the position of marginalised groups on the international agenda. During negotiations on the new EU Consensus on Development (adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council/Development Co-operation on 19 May 2016), the Netherlands, together with other member states, successfully argued for maintaining the focus on the poorest in the new EU development co-operation policy. In addition, partly thanks to the Netherlands, the importance of the Leave No One Behind (LNOB) principle in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was underlined in the council’s conclusions on the Commission Statement ‘The next steps for a sustainable European future’ (adopted by the General Affairs Council on 20 June 2016), which oversees the implementation of the SDGs in the EU.

The Netherlands also recognises the importance of Leaving No One Behind in the first voluntary report to the UN on the SDGs. At the recent UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), in July 2017, the Netherlands generated greater attention for the fight against inequality. Together with the United Kingdom, UNDP and the civil society organisations CIVICUS and Development Initiatives, the Netherlands organised an event during the HLPF aimed at keeping this subject high on the international agenda. At that same event, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation called upon the private sector representatives to do more to promote the position of disadvantaged groups. The Netherlands has itself contributed in this respect by encouraging the dialogue within the textiles supply chain to combat child labour and to improve working conditions. Partly thanks to the Netherlands’ efforts and those of like-minded donors, the strategic focus on Leaving No One Behind is anchored in the guidelines for reforming the UN development system, negotiated by the member states. In his first report on these reforms, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, also committed himself to the central standpoint of connecting the UN’s activities to those of the 2030 agenda. Concrete proposals are expected in his second report, which is due at the end of 2017.

The Netherlands advocates for the right and opportunity for every woman and girl to choose for themselves with whom, when and how many children to have. The She Decides movement started at the beginning of 2017, as a Dutch initiative to gain political and public support and financing for access to sexual education, contraceptives and safe abortions, particularly for poor, marginalised women and young people. This is threatened with reduced funding, due to changing policy of the United States. The American government has implemented the so-called Mexico City Policy. This policy ensures that the US provides no more funding to foreign organisations, or to US organisations with other foreign investors, for family planning, among other things, if these organisations also provide information on safe abortion and/or abortion services.

In the meantime, more than 50 countries have endorsed the movement, along with more than 100 organisations and thousands of citizens. In just six months, She Decides has raised more than EUR 280 million, which is intended for organisations affected by the Mexico City Policy.