What will Dutch Development cooperation look like in 2025? Partos - the Dutch membership body for international development organizations – has tapped into the collective wisdom of some 100 stakeholders by collecting 'forecasting experiences', gathering reflections on trends, and asking for advice.


I work for a(n):

My organisation is:

Years of experience with Dutch Development Cooperation

My age is:

For me this meeting of young and old, of starting and seasoned professional, theory and practice, idealism and realism represents the future of the sector. It sparks the necessary new lines of thinking"


Respondents shared a short story or anekdote about an actual experience, which they consider to be a forecast of the future of Dutch development cooperation (in 2025). Click on dots or on filters to access told or written stories. Look for patterns that are sending a message. Get a feel for the messages that respondents are sharing.

The newspaper headline of my story

The tone of voice of my story is:

Richness and poverty, freedom and suppression, they are like communicating vessels, interconnected

The following resources were used to design the questions, and reflections on trends and and uncertainties: • The Future of Aid, INGOs in 2030 (IARAN, Action Against Hunger, IRIS, Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, futurables). • Fast Forward: The Changing Role of UK-based INGOs (bond for international development). • Tomorrow’s world – How might megatrends in development affect the future roles of UK-based INGOs? (bond for international development). • Ahead of the Curve – Insights for the International NGO of the Future (FSG). • Exploring the Future – scanning the horizon – findings 2016 (International Civil Society Centre). • Riding the Wave… rather than being swept away (International Civil Society Centre). • Diversify, Adapt and Innovate (International Civil Society Centre).

Which global mega trend resonates most with your story?

Which development cooperation theme relates to your story?

What (new) actors do you see playing key roles?


Respondents have looked at a number of different themes. For each theme it is uncertain how it will evolve. They have been characterized by two poles and the question was: which of these two poles do you think will be most prominent in 2025 ?

1. Needs, crisis en challenges are resolved by:

2. Governance structures are characterised by:

3. The funding landscape is mostly influenced by:

4. Decentralisation in development cooperation is characterised by:

5. Dutch development cooperation policies are guided by:

6. The dominant players in development cooperation are:

7. The main operational challenges for Dutch development cooperation are:

8. The most resilient agents in development cooperation offer:

While the SDG reflect our ambitions, our institutions are in the way…

Needs, crisis and challenges are resolved by (x) - Governance structures are characterized by (y)

Funding landscape is most influenced by (x) - Decentralization is characterized by (y)

Dutch policies are guided by (x) - Dominant players are (y)

Main operational challenges are (x) - Most resilient agents offer (y)

Which of these 8 uncertainties will have the highest impact BUT is also the most uncertain of all (max 2)?

My advise

  • Become resilient, invest more in agility, adaptiveness & innovation
  • Bet heavily on mitigating the impact of climate change
  • (REAL) listening/ wondering/ dialogue/ collaboration/ and design (responsably, see ) Take the SDG's as a license to operate (largely) and also as a licence to kill!! We all signed, so we all (private sector, government, NGO's, individuals, movements, private foundations etc) are responsable & accountable! Lets do it !!!
  • I formulate my advice as an experience that I want to share and as an orientation that might inspire others: My story is about the Sustainable Development Goals. For many years I have been lobbying for an ambitious Dutch development policy. This has been an uphill battle. Instead of gains, just losses. Public and political confidence in the impact of development cooperation shrunk substantially. In my organisation we analysed what we should do. We decided to focus on policy coherence for development: what if you have a fine, strong development cooperation policy for poor countries, but with your trade policy, your environment policy and your migration policy you destroy those same countries. Or, to put it more positively, how can we make sure that all our policies with external impact will benefit developing countries? We beefed up this new approach with concrete examples which we used in our lobby & advocacy. Then the internatonal community adopted the SDGs, a universal agenda which focuses on change at home and abroad. This agenda came for us at the right moment. It helps us address directly politicians from all sectors, whether it be environment, trade, fiscal policy, migration, agriculture or development, and encourage them to contribute to sustainable development at home and abroad. I see the Agenda 2030/Sustainable Development Goals as THE bedrock for our future advocacy efforts. It helps us to focus our efforts in the right direction, it helps us to appeal to a broad spectre of politicians, not only development junkies. BUT, it will not be easy: short-term interests ('après nous le déluge/after us the flood'), economic and business interests, fear for the unknown (migrants), it will all make it a challenge anyway. In this complex environment, the SDGs are the compass that helps us greatly.
  • Focus on sustainable and impactfull development cooperation
  • Start listening. Leave your prejudgements home. Start cooperating and define shared goals.
  • Be adaptive and flexible to these global changes, without losing the goal you have in mind. Join new ways and opportunities to reach your goal.
  • Start focussing on European and Dutch policies, let the Global South do it themselves
  • Choose a thematic focus that addresses one of the global challenges and develop yourself into a facilitator/broker of networked cooperation between civil society organisations, activists, and other actors of change (academics, private sector companies) on that particular topic.
  • specify your added value in development cooperation. What role in developing countries and what role in the Netherlands/Europe
  • To try to work with what exist and its positive to recreate model of development.
  • * Think beyond 4 year terms in development planning: transforming old mind sets, harmful practices and gender relations takes a long time. * Change the OS tender procedures to include/finance innovative small and daring partners, rather than making southern partners subcontractors of northern donors
  • Invest in buidling your track record as innovator, catalyst and process coordinator. Make sure that your organization stays relevant, by having a clear added value to what others already do.
  • Stop developing new models and frameworks and observe and listen.
  • kijk naar het brede spectrum van bedrijvigheid
  • collaborate with young professionals
  • luister naar lokale partners en laat meer los
  • to reconsider your own role because Southern organisations and governments will get more empowered. There will be a need for mergers and acquisitions in the Dutch development sector.
  • Denk groot(s) start klein en schaal op
  • give the power of decision to local actors. step out a bit!
  • organization that dont have a CTO, CIO or CDataO in their board will vanish!
  • benader je donor als een stakeholder, niet als pin-automaat
  • inclusiveness of all actors
  • Use technological advances for local peace initiatives
  • behandel inclusie voor gemarginaliseerde groepen, w.o. mensen met een beperking, hetzelfdeals met gender de afgelopen 20 jaar is
  • strategise media
  • flexibility to cope with change one of the biggest assets
  • restru ture your organization,decentralize, innovate and find your nichd
  • ga uit van waar de echteproblemen zitten ipv reactie tbv nederland
  • EU pressure on authoritarian regimes
  • keep asking yourself: do I have added value? if not, move out of the way...
  • economiseer niet teveel esn spreadsheet is ook maar een moment opname
  • bring ecosystem considerations structurally into policies
  • houdt einddoel in de gaten en denk na over de weg erheen
  • cooperate
  • be more focused on international partnerships
  • increase contributions to system reform within ODA
  • denk groot, nederland kan leidende rol spelen; denk aan She Decides
  • Als je blijft doen wat je al deed, kom je uit waar je naartoe ging.
  • Fight corruption & fight corruption
  • Take some time to think things over, join really genuinely hands and stop the ongoing ratrace.
  • accept decreasing relevance
  • 1. Demonstrate greater accountability to those whom they serve, exercise exemplary transparency and be willing to demonstrate greater activism in volatile environments 2. Change some of their behaviours, from weaning themselves off grant/contract funding reducing donor reliance, to exploring new ways of raising resources, to designing activities that do not need financial support and develop voluntary capacity, to invest in people with organising skills versus technical skills 3. Favor locally-driven approaches to civil society resourcing that engage affected communities in funding decisions (e.g. participatory grant-making), and also that mobilize local resources and assets to realize greater, more durable change. 4. Go beyond log-frames and workplans, to engage in the politics of social transformation and protecting civic space 5. Be braver when it comes to speaking out when others in civil society are targeted by financial and other restrictions 6. Develop new relationships with donors where they can engage to influence their priorities and strategic directions, and challenge existing accountability relationships and understandings of what constitutes impact as well as the unrealistic expectations donors are placing on civil society. 7. Establish and implement resourcing policies that make clear the grounds on which does and does not accept resources and prioritise the building of coalitions of support and solidarity between CSOs of different types and at different levels, to help assert the norm that CSOs have a right to seek and receive funding 8. Connect-the-dots better across progressive actors playing different, complementary roles i.e. facilitate collaboration between change-makers and stewards of change; engage disparate actors who are united in a common struggle for social justice and human rights; connect local struggles globally supporting grassroots organising and building linkages with people’s movements; identify areas of inter-connectedness and shared principles; and support a wide range of solidarity activities
  • think outside the box on funding - how could you innovate and produce win/win results, working with local people as equals.
  • Choosing to mimic and defending the businessmodel of precursors (government endorsed missionaries) was a big mistake in hindsight. It's however still how a lot of devcoops are organized. So, coming up with new social business models is key. I don't see the entrepreneurial capacity (again very Dan Palotta of me) flowing to doing good. Why not make a skunkworks next to your organization and be your own biggest competitor. Reboot the organization every 10 years. And step down 5 years before you normally would.
  • Be ready to let go off everything you believe to be true, so that we face the future with an open mind, rather than from old paradigms and self-interests and fear for loosing face, status, security, and what else.
  • Make way for the next generation!
  • Step outside the box
  • Make use of the experience of seniors
  • Follow the "clients" of development aid, let them have the steering wheel, co-create with them solutions and do not make a difference in where you come from, but who you are and what you can add to the whole. There must be no competition anymore: who is the best Start-up? And those who lose? What do they need to do? Their expertise also must count: their passion and skills must be Thrived!
  • Assuring that business change their policy from CSR to shared value in their corporate business
  • To find legitimacy on the ground, by teaming up with local CSOs, faith-based organizations and the local stakeholders and private companies.
  • Focus on setting up long(er) term projects, in close cooperation with and involvement of the local people you are working with
  • organize an open, professional, critical debate on what we have learned so far from our investment in development cooperation and reflect on how the new and "innovative" solutions propagated now fit into what we have learned
  • Making the development of open, easy distributive, quality learning key for mass education
  • stay true to your values and core principles and work together to foster change
  • The particpants and their systems make the changes and chances. The time that Dutch DC appear as carpenters to build something and that is the change are long due: If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
  • Please play influencing role to mediate for political solutions of all conflicts because of proxy wars, advocate on connecting local actors for fast response, like asses that who is well placed in country locally to act as focal point like Red Cross Red Crescent Movement etc
  • Don't think that pushing will favourably tip decisions; Take a step back, make space and be friendly
  • Really focus on what is needed locally and incorporate local actors in the creation, implementation and evaluation of development/aid projects.
  • Innovate or die
  • non action costs will be higher than intervention costs needed now.
  • In conflict affected countries which have a fragile governance system, the focus could also be to look at traditional judiciary structures and how they could be improved
  • Transform the problem you seek to solve into a business opportunity. If your business thrives your mission will be accomplished
  • Be less prescriptive, less control, adapt approach to the increasing complexity, use insights of system transformation processes like theory U, focus on leadership development to get leaders who can guide, lead transformation and system wide approaches. Get rid of the logframes, use theory of change loosely and try to do more with less money. More creative and innovative. Work together with other countries, work with regional organisations, and more with private sector. be less rigid in looking at proposals, be open for new approaches, new partners, focus on facilitation and less on implementation, look also at small successful initiatives and see if you can rol them out, build on existing good projects with sustainable results.
  • Create partnerships with actors in other sectors, but also within the sector with more unusual partners (e.g. small initiatives, social enterprises).
  • Have your eyes wide open and be prepared to be surprised
  • Diversity! In types of organisations, in employees, in your board etc. So that we can link with several generations, networks etc.
  • Closely follow and interact with new networks, alliances and start-ups.
  • Stop talking about the future, and start making it. Only a few people need to thin about transitions, the one that can influence it. The rest needs to focus on the development of new initiatives that do not depend on subsidies.
  • Build public-private sector partnerships in the interest of a balanced role for both public and private and emphasysing social inclusion threnghtening small Enterprise within the global value chains
  • Keep on being inspired by our 'for profit' counterparts. Keep on brainstorming with creative and solution based agencies.
  • Do we, as Dutch taxpayers, look at Development Cooperation and assume exclusively our own interests or do we look with the eyes of the citizens who are most affected by global problems, such as climate change and inequality? As a donor, we need to be humble in what we expect and demand. And all actors in the development aid sector need to focus on diversification of their own organizations and of the entire sector in order to become more effective and legitimate.
  • Think and act OUT-OF-THE-BOX, be a risk-taker
  • look for complementary partnerships to reach common long term goals; move towards sustainable development by finding the root causes and by transforming the system as a whole
  • Make community relevant solutions
  • Support local initiatives by civil society
  • to not be biased by the advantages of technology, but to also include with lessor no access to technology
  • wissel regelmatig van werkplek binnen de organisatie om tot nieuwe inzichten te blijven komen
  • empower the locals
  • Focus on advocacy as a means to strengthen local ownership in the South
  • keep listening to people you aim to reach: Do not silence them by focussing only on your own agenda
  • including migrant voices in development policy
  • use the creativity and potential of new initiatives/startups
  • kijk vooruit, niet alleen naar het nu
  • re framing their message
  • kijk lokaal wat nodig is
  • Do NOT try to do everything by yourself
  • Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

End of report