This profile has been updated in August 2018
Strategic priorities
  • The ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’, published in March 2018, outlines seven sectoral priorities of Spanish ODA, all linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 1) zero hunger; 2) good health and well-being; 3) quality education; 4) gender equality; 5) clean water and sanitation; 6) decent work and economic growth; and 7) peace, justice and strong institutions.
  • Gender equality and democratic governance are cross-cutting sectors of Spain’s ODA. This is reflected in its bilateral programming: support to governance and civil society, including for women’s rights, is the largest sector for bilateral funding to projects in partner countries.
  • Spain seeks to establish new models of development cooperation with middle-income and least-developed countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. This includes through ‘triangular’ cooperation programs, blended finance, and the delegated cooperation of the European Union (EU).
  • Agriculture and food security together are a key priority of Spanish ODA. Health has traditionally been a priority sector, but in recent years funding levels have been low.
Key opportunities
  • Continued economic recovery (GDP growth was 3.1% in 2017 and projected to be 2.7% in 2018), combined with a supportive parliament, which is in a key position to influence the government’s decision-making and the budget, may generate further resources for development programs.
  •  As a result of a parliamentary no-confidence motion in June 2018, the socialist Pedro Sánchez substituted conservative Mariano Rajoy as prime minister of Spain; the entire government was replaced accordingly. Given the Spanish Socialist Workers Party's (PSOE) traditionally stronger engagement in global development, ODA is expected to grow.

Key Questions

the big six

Spain has a traditional cooperation relationship with Peru, where it focuses on enhancing civil society’s capacities and fostering democratic participation

Spain

Outlook

How will Spain's ODA develop? — What will Spain's ODA focus on? —What are key opportunities for shaping Spain's development policy? read more

How will Spain’s ODA develop?

  • Spain’s net ODA has significantly increased from its 2015 levels (US$1.4 billion), reaching US$2.4 billion in 2017 (+68%), driven by its economic recovery and a supportive parliament. A near-peak of US$4.7 billion in 2016 was due to an exceptional debt relief operation with Cuba.
  • Spain is likely to increase its use of ODA loans and equity investments in the coming years due to its strong focus on middle-income countries (MICs). In accordance with Span’s focus on the 2030 Agenda, ODA grants (mostly to low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa) are also likely to increase with budgetary limitations overcome.  

What will Spain’s ODA focus on?

  • The ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’, published in March 2018, outlines seven sectoral priorities of Spanish ODA, all linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 1) zero hunger; 2) good health and well-being; 3) quality education; 4) gender equality; 5) clean water and sanitation; 6) decent work and economic growth; and 7) peace, justice and strong institutions.
  • To increase the effectiveness of its development assistance, Spain has reduced its number of priority countries from 50 in 2013 to 21. Almost all of the 21 priority countries are located in three regions: Latin America (12), sub-Saharan Africa (5), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (3).
  • Spain has developed strong capacities to cooperate with MICs: it is focusing on innovative development modalities (e.g., triangular partnerships, South-South cooperation, and blended finance) to adapt to its traditional partner countries’ needs. Due to security and migration reasons, Spain’s development focus on Western Africa and the Sahel region may be strengthened as well.

What are key opportunities for shaping Spain’s development policy?

  • Under Spain’s current minority government, Parliament is in a key position to influence the government’s decision-making and ODA budget, and with all major parties except for the conservative People’s Party supporting ODA increases, the mood is favorable. This parliamentary makeup combined with the ruling Socialist Party’s past engagement in global health and global development more broadly represent an opportunity to advocate for increased ODA funding and influence allocations.
  • Spain has reiterated its commitment to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to setting up a High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda at the PM’s office La Moncloa, the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEC) has launched its new ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ and announced that it will welcome recommendations to implement its new plan from parliamentarians, think tanks, NGOs, and multilaterals.