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Denmark’s development cooperation

Denmark’s development cooperation aims to contribute to reducing poverty through the promoting of human rights and economic growth. It is focused on some of the poorest countries in the world.

Denmark’s development cooperation is in the international top league, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Denmark is one of only five countries in the world which have exceeded the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) on development assistance. Danish development assistance reached that level in 1978 and has since then constantly remained at or above 0.7 per cent of GNI.

As a member of OECD, Denmark's development cooperation is thoroughly examined at regular intervals. The quality of Danish development cooperation is generally rated highly. The most recent OECD-DAC Peer Review of Denmark 2011 confirmed the high quality of Denmark’s development cooperation. The report can be downloaded here.

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Priority areas and instruments

In line with the strategy for Denmark’s development cooperation, Danish development cooperation targets four main priority areas:

  • Human rights and democracy
  • Green growth
  • Social progress
  • Stability and protection

Danish development cooperation is adapted to the local context in a flexible and varied manner. A general distinction is made between bilateral and multilateral development cooperation and development assistance:

Bilateral development cooperation, which includes direct development assistance to some of the poorest countries and regions in the world. Most of Denmark’s bilateral development cooperation supports national development programmes implemented by partners in our priority countries. About 70 per cent of Danish aid is targeted directly to specific countries or regions.

Multilateral development cooperation, which includes support for development activities of multilateral organisations such as the UN and the World Bank. It also includes aid through the EU system. About 30 per cent of Danish aid is provided through multilateral channels.

Priorities for Denmark’s development cooperation in 2016

In August 2015 the new Danish government launched its priorities for Denmark’s development cooperation in 2016. These stress that the government will focus Denmark’s development engagements where poverty is significant, where Denmark has strategic interests and best can make a difference. It establishes that Danish development cooperation will be focused on 14 priority countries, while seven of Denmark’s current priority countries will be phased out. Henceforth, 10 out of the 14 priority countries will be in Africa, and 11 of the 14 priority countries will belong to the group of least developed countries. Myanmar is one of the 14 priority countries for Denmark’s development cooperation.

Poverty reduction and promotion of human rights will remain at the core of Denmark’s development cooperation, but further emphasis will be given to assist those who flee from war and persecution, as well as to prevent conflicts. The Danish government therefore aims to increase humanitarian assistance to a historically high level, with, among other things, a special focus on refugees in areas hosting refugees and internally displaced people, and on combating the fundamental causes of migration.

Denmark’s development cooperation will aim to promote sustainable growth and employment and to ensure an active engagement from the private sector. Denmark will continue to maintain an active multilateral engagement, primarily through the EU, the UN and the World Bank.