Dutch Development Sector Faces Uncertain Future Amid Budget Cuts 

As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the peace and justice community, the Humanity Hub recently organised an info session in collaboration with HFVC International, to reflect on the impact that the anticipated budget cuts might have on the sector.

After nearly six months of negotiations, the coalition of the PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB parties has reached an agreement to appoint the cabinet of Prime Minister Dick Schoof’s government. The new coalition has outlined its vision for the future of the Netherlands, which included major policy changes and will likely have a significant impact on Dutch development cooperation.

The Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (BHOS), part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been preparing a new round for the Dutch Strategic Partnerships (SPs). This is currently the largest subsidy channel in the Netherlands. The objective of SPs funding is to strengthen civil society, focusing on the role and capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Global South to influence government, businesses, and societal actors in various areas through advocacy towards inclusive sustainable development. 

“The new agreement includes a budget cut of 2.5 billion euros per year.”

Petition against budget cuts

However, the new agreement includes a budget cut of 2.5 billion euros per year. According to Radboud University, this means the new minister will have an available budget of 1.2 billion euros annually, of which only 600 million euros will be immediately available due to existing commitments. 

The sector is understandably concerned. In response, the development industry association Partos has initiated a petition against these cuts which is open for organisations and the general public to sign. KPSRL, the Knowledge Platform for Security and Rule of Law, has mobilized its network on the crucial question of the role of the Netherlands in addressing the global crisis of the rule of law.  

While nearly every development organisation has publicly opposed the new policy, the new coalition’s attention to these protests remains uncertain, as evidenced by the decision to revert the ministry name from ‘development cooperation’ to the outdated and non-inclusive ‘development aid’. The proposed BHOS minister is Reinette Klever from PVV. 

“The coming months are crucial. Can the sector adapt quickly to alternative funding sources?”

Uncertainty will prevail

Uncertainty will prevail until the new minister shares her vision. The coming months are crucial. How will the new minister implement the policy? Will efforts to reverse the policy succeed? Can the sector adapt quickly to alternative funding sources? 

Organisations currently funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must prepare for a significant reduction in their income and seek alternative funding or scale back their ambitions. Those not receiving funding will also face challenges, including increased competition for the remaining funds, leading to higher costs and potentially lower income. 

The announced budget cuts will have a detrimental impact on almost every organization working towards a more sustainable, peaceful and just world. While each must find its own solution, we believe that it is a time for collective reflection on our collaborative power and resources.

Sign the petition

Considering these developments, we encourage everyone in our community to support Partos’ petition. This petition represents a collective stand against the proposed budget cuts and is supported by numerous organisations within our network. By signing, you are contributing to a unified effort to safeguard the future of development cooperation in the Netherlands. It can be signed by organisations as well as the general public. 

Info session

During our session organised at the Hague Humanity Hub on June 13, Kenneth van Toll (HVFC) provided a detailed overview of these latest developments, placing them in an international context. She shared practical information and valuable insights into the new grants scheme, including priority topics, focus countries, eligibility criteria, and the projected timeline. This was followed by an engaging exchange with Koos de Bruijn (Partos) and Han Valk (HVFC), addressing the numerous concerns from participants, many of whom also shared their own experiences with the funding scheme. Particular attention was dedicated to the evolving fundraising landscape, with analysis and insights on how the new government coalition budget cuts may impact it.

About Humanity Hub’s Access to Funding Programme

The Hague Humanity Hub is dedicated to helping professionals and organisations within the peace and justice community improve their organisational and collective fundraising capabilities. Recognising that access to funding and limited fundraising skills are common challenges, our Access to Funding program, run in partnership with HVFC, addresses these issues by providing the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources.