Public finance for development

Dutch taxpayers' money must be spent in the public interest. The government uses some of it to finance and support projects and activities abroad. It does this through various channels, including Dutch development bank FMO, multilateral banks like the World Bank and special funds such as the UN's Green Climate Fund. In addition, the Dutch state supports high-risk export activities through export credit agency Atradius DSB. To serve the public interest, government expenditure on projects and activities abroad must help prevent damage to people and the environment.

Before deciding to support a project, all institutions operating with public money should assess whether it disadvantages certain groups and whether they receive ample compensation, whether it causes environmental damage and who is responsible for remedying it, and whether the project contributes to sustainable development.

Large-scale infrastructure and agriculture

Large infrastructural projects, such as dams or hydropower plants, are examples of activities which may cause considerable damage. Development banks and other public finance institutions often see them as green energy providers, but fail to take into account what happens to the areas which are submerged, or further downstream when a river is cut off.

Or take large-scale, intensive farming. Often seen as the perfect solution to food scarcity and poverty, it can lead to monocultures and negative impacts on farmers who have been growing food informally for many decades, i.e. without having formal rights to the land they cultivate.

The primary aim of export support, provided in the Netherlands on behalf of the government by export credit agency Atradius DSB, is not to promote sustainable development but to advance Dutch exports. Because they act in the public interest, Atradius DSB, too, should ensure that only projects meeting high social and environmental standards receive export support.

Social and environmental criteria not sufficiently binding

Most public finance institutions commit themselves to social and environmental regulations of some kind, but these are often non-binding and are not adhered to in practice. Both ENDS has been following a number of these institutions, like FMO and Atradius DSB, for several years, monitoring whether they adhere to their own social and environmental criteria and confronting them if they do not. Together with partner organisations from across the world, we continuously advocate for adherence to, and strengthening of, the existing criteria used by the various institutions. In addition, we show how development finance can be utilised to achieve real sustainable development.

Our work on the subject of Public finance for development

  • 2Luz_Marina_Valle_with_products_from_her_Analog_For.jpeg
    Transformative Practice

    Analog Forestry

    Analog forestry is a transformative approach to the ecological restoration of degraded lands. Natural forests are used as guides to create ecologically sustainable landscapes, which support the social and economical needs of local communities.
  • 1Case_3_-_Agroecology_workshop_by_Probioma_2.jpg

    Finance for agroecology

    The lion's share of public budgets for climate, agriculture and development still goes to conventional agroindustrial projects that contribute to the current climate, food and biodiversity crises. Both ENDS and our partners are calling for a transition to agroecological practices that are people- and environment-friendly.
  • Uganda_offgrid_solar_Photo_by_Sam_Cossargilbert.jpg

    Uganda’s Energy Future

    Despite the existence of many hydropower dams, foreign investments and large government spending on energy, and new plans for hydropower, oil and gas projects, the vast majority of rural Uganda still remains without electricity. Together with our local partners we are striving towards a sustainable energy strategy for Uganda that starts from the needs and wishes of local communities.
  • 1soja.jpeg

    The Netherlands, the world and the elections

    Elections are soon to be held in the Netherlands. The political parties are sharpening their knives and have outlined their plans in hefty manifestos. Not surprisingly, they mainly focus on domestic issues. International themes are primarily addressed in terms of opportunities for Dutch companies and threats in areas like health, privacy and competition that we need to protect ourselves against. But if we want to make the Netherlands sustainable, we especially need to look at our footprint beyond our own borders and make every effort to reduce it. In the weeks leading up to the elections, Both ENDS looks at where the parties' manifestos offer opportunities to achieve that.
  • beach_milamba.JPG

    Gas in Mozambique

    In 2011 one of the world’s largest gas reserves was found in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique. A total of 35 billion dollars has been invested to extract the gas. Dozens of multinationals and financiers are involved in these rapid developments. It is very difficult for the people living in Cabo Delgado to exert influence on the plans and activities, while they experience the negative consequences. With the arrival of these companies, they are losing their land.
  • Organic_tea_farmer_Cameroon_.jpg

    Small Grants Big Impacts

    Small grants funds offer an effective, alternative way to channel big money from large donors and funds to local groups and organisations that are striving for a sustainable and just society everywhere around the world. 
  • 1Women_s_protest.jpg

    Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA)

    GAGGA rallies the collective power of the women's rights and environmental justice movements to realize a world where women can and do access their rights to water, food security, and a clean, healthy and safe environment. 
  • 11barroBlancoMooi.JPG

    Fair Green and Global Alliance (FGG)

    Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
  • Foto_vrouwen_Bangladesh.JPG

    The Netherlands and the SDGs: A better world starts with yourself

    In 2015, the member states of the United Nations committed themselves to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs recognise the importance of equality within and between countries, of decision-making processes in which all people are included and heard, and of legal systems that are independent and accessible to all.
  • Protest_tegen_FMO_en_Agua_Zarcadam.jpg

    Advocating for responsible policies of development banks

    Development banks should comply with strict environmental and human rights rules to ensure that their projects benefit and do not harm the poorest groups. Both ENDS monitors the banks to make sure they do.
1 2