Public-public development cooperation

24-05-2017 | Publication

Development cooperation policy in the Netherlands has become increasingly oriented towards facilitating private sector development and public-private partnerships. As opposed to public private partnerships, the collaboration between sub-national public actors in the Netherlands and public actors in developing countries has received little attention in recent years. The rationale behind this kind of cooperation is that public goals are best achieved by public institutions. However, what the potential of this form of cooperation is and where it is best fit has yet to take shape.

This study explores the potential added value of public-public cooperation between Dutch sub-national actors and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts. To this end, it provides an insight into the goals and motivations of Dutch sub-national public actors to engage in development cooperation and the practices that can be distinguished among these actors. 

Differences in theory and practice

Hypothetically, the main added value of Dutch sub-national public actors in development cooperation is the sustainable transfer of knowledge through the use of a peer-to-peer approach, involving long-term organisational and individual relationships between civil servants and ensuring a shared problem understanding.

In practice, however, there seems to be a discrepancy between the ideal type of development cooperation between sub-national public actors and the actual practices of these Dutch public actors. Although the general intention of Dutch sub-national public actors is to develop long-standing partnerships based on equality and reciprocity, this is in many cases not realised in practice.

Long-term, mutually beneficent cooperation difficult to realise

The potential added value of this kind of public development cooperation in contributing to food security in African countries lies in long-term, mutually beneficent cooperation based on an integrated approach to the governance of public goods. In order to realise this potential, public-public partnerships should be more adapted to the local context in recipient countries and aimed at enhancing integrated (environmental) governance, thus stimulating synergies between the governance of public goods such as land, water and food security.