At a glance
Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) was US$3.0 billion in 2020 (in current prices; or US$2.9 billion in 2019 prices), making it the twelfth-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor in absolute terms. Spain spent 0.24% of its gross national income (GNI) on ODA, earning it the rank of the 19th-largest donor in relative terms.
In December of 2020, the Spanish parliament approved the general state budget for 2021 setting Spain’s ODA at €3.1 billion (US$3.5 billion), or 0.25% of its gross national income (GNI).
- The ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ outlines seven priorities, 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.
- Spain seeks to establish new models of development cooperation with partner countries in Latin America and ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ (meaning the countries of Eastern, Western Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union) through ‘triangular’ cooperation programs, blended finance, and delegated cooperation mechanisms of the EU.
- In January of 2021, Spain released a new ‘Foreign Policy Strategy 2021-2024’ which prioritizes global health, nutrition, education, climate change, and gender equality. In March of 2021, Spain also launched a new ‘Feminist Foreign Policy’, promoting gender equality in Spain’s external actions.
- Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s social-democratic socialist party, PSOE, won the general election in November of 2019. PSOE formed a progressive coalition government with the left-wing party Podemos, under which Sánchez has continued as Prime Minister.
- In September of 2019, Sánchez resumed contributions to multilaterals by pledging contributions of €100 million (US$112 million ) to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and €150 million (US$168 million) to the Green Climate Fund.
- In response to COVID-19, Spain has prioritized global health in its development policy. Between May and June of 2020, Spain made pledges to multilateral initiatives part of the Access to Covid-19 tools accelerator including €75 million (US$86 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), €50 million (US$56 million) to Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). In addition, the government committed €10 million (US$11 million) to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) to combat hunger and address nutrition in the context of COVID-19.
- In January of 2021, under the leadership of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC), Sánchez’ cabinet approved the first draft of the ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’, which outlines Spain’s foreign priorities and goals for the next four years. The new plan emphasizes the current administration’s commitment to increase Spain’s ODA to 0.5% of the country’s GNI by 2023, to reform the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and to provide the Spanish development cooperation system with a new and reinforced vision.
Since 2016, Spain’s ODA has been steadily increasing and contributions to multilaterals have resumed
Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) was US$3.0 billion in 2020 (in current prices; or US$2.9 billion in 2019 prices), making it the 12th-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor in absolute terms. Spain spent 0.24% of its gross national income (GNI) on ODA, earning it the rank of 19th-largest donor in relative terms.
Spanish ODA decreased by more than half between 2010 and 2015 due to the impact of the global financial crisis and the Eurozone crisis on the Spanish economy. ODA spending has since recovered in parallel with the economy and renewed political commitment to increase voluntary contributions to multilateral instruments; accordingly, ODA spending has gradually increased since 2016 ODA fell slightly (-1.8%) between 2019 and 2020, due to a decrease in bilateral ODA.
Between 2019 and 2020, the Spanish government was unable to secure parliamentary support for its budget due to a long-standing political deadlock. In December of 2020, the Spanish parliament approved the general state budget for 2021 (the first since 2018), setting Spain’s ODA at €3.1 billion (US$3.5 billion ), or 0.25% of its estimated GNI.
ODA is projected to increase given that Spain’s current political leadership under Prime Minister Sánchez supports a target of providing 0.5% of GNI as ODA. This target has also been confirmed in the coalition agreement between the social-democrat socialist party (PSOE) and the left-wing party (Podemos) as well as in the first draft of the ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’, approved by the Spanish cabinet in January of 2021. The new plan reiterates the current administration’s commitment to increasing Spain’s ODA to 0.5% of GNI as ODA target by 2023 .
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Spain has announced that global health and epidemic preparedness will be prioritized within its development cooperation policy. In December of 2020, to support the global response to the pandemic, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC) announced additional disbursements of €20 million (US$22 million) in ODA voluntary contributions to multilateral organizations. This new funding, which is in addition to Spain’s compulsory contributions to the multilateral system, will be channeled to the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women, the UN Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other organizations .
Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the grant-equivalent measurement system. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.
Spain focuses on the SDGs, development effectiveness, and gender equality
The Spanish government outlines its strategic orientations for development in the ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ (Master Plan), which emphasizes Spain’s commitment to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The next Master Plan for the period between 2022-2025 is expected to be released by the end of 2021.
The Master Plan outlines four cross-cutting development priorities: human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity, and environment. Seven strategic goals are highlighted, in line with the 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. In addition to these thematic priorities, the development strategy outlines four cross-cutting development areas: 1) human rights, 2) gender equality, 3) cultural diversity, and 4) the environment.
Within its development policy, Spain adopts a differentiated strategy depending on the status of its partner countries. When cooperating with middle-income countries (MICs), Spain’s traditional top recipients of official development assistance (ODA) are Latin American countries such as Peru and Colombia, which are transitioning to upper-middle-income status. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAUC, responsible for setting the strategic orientation of Spanish development policy) seeks to progressively substitute traditional development funding with new models of development cooperation, including blended finance, equity investments, and knowledge transfer programs. The existing Master Plan also includes a focus on countries in the ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ region (meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa as designated by the African Union). Spain aims to prioritize traditional ODA disbursements (mostly grants) to support the provision of basic social services and the strengthening of institutions in this region. In March of 2019, the Spanish Foreign Ministry approved an ‘Africa Plan’, aimed at strengthening Spain’s foreign relations with the region. The plan outlines four strategic objectives: 1) sustainable development, 2) peace and security, 3) institutional strengthening, and 4) migration. Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania are listed as priority countries.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Spain has announced that global health and epidemic preparedness will be prioritized within its development cooperation policy. Accordingly, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, and the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, outlined several measures to support low-income countries in tackling the COVID-19 crisis, announcing that Spain will focus its ODA on strengthening public health systems, fostering education, and guaranteeing universal access to public goods in several regions including ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and Latin America.
Spain’s new 2021-2024 foreign strategy prioritizes the strengthening of development cooperation. The new plan emphasizes the current administration’s commitment to increasing Spain’s official ODA to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) by 2023, reforming the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and providing the Spanish development cooperation system with a new and fortified vision. The plan is expected to be approved by the parliament by the end of 2021.
The strategy outlines key priority areas or ‘axes’ for Spain’s development cooperation efforts, outlined as: Vertical axes of Spain's development cooperation, which include:1) Tackling extreme poverty by fostering nutrition, water and sanitation, and global health; 2) Addressing the negative effects of climate change; 3) Fostering global education; and 4) Promoting socio-economic development and Horizontal axes of Spain's development cooperation, which include: 1) Deploying a feminist development cooperation plan; 2) Protecting human rights; 3) Strengthening humanitarian assistance; and, 4) Developing innovative public-private partnerships.
Spain channels the majority of its ODA through core contributions to multilaterals
Several years of economic turmoil between 2008 and 2013 resulted in Spain channeling an increasing share of its official development assistance (ODA) through core, obligatory contributions to multilateral organizations. These core contributions remained high throughout the economic upturn and recovery period and in 2019 they accounted for 64% of Spanish ODA, well above the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 42%.
Bilateral ODA meanwhile has still not recovered to pre-crisis levels - in 2019, Spain provided US$957 million in bilateral ODA (32% of the total gross ODA) which remained far below 2010 levels (US$3.9 billion, 72% of total gross ODA in that year). Spain channeled 56% (US$600 million) of its bilateral ODA through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) in 2019, well above the DAC average of 20%; Spanish civil society, including secular and Catholic NGOs and think tanks, plays a key role in implementing Spain’s development cooperation. The second-largest share of Spain’s bilateral ODA (20% or US$220 million) was channeled through the public sector in 2019. 12% (US$125 million) was channeled through multilateral institutions
Most bilateral funding is directed to hosting refugees in Spain
In 2019, the largest share of Spain’s bilateral ODA (28% or US$300 million) by sector was used for in-country costs of hosting refugees. 11% of Spain’s bilateral ODA (US$122 million) was provided to the government and civil society sector. Within this sector, Spain focuses on gender equality and democratic participation, in accordance with the cross-cutting themes set out in the ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ (Master Plan).
The third-largest sector receiving Spanish bilateral ODA was ‘other multisector’ (11%, US$120 million). Funding to this sector increased drastically by 105% between 2018 and 2019. Other sectors receiving funding included ‘donor administration costs’ (10% or US$106 million), followed by ‘humanitarian aid’ (6% or US$69 million). Most strategic goals outlined in Spain’s Master plan only received a small portion of Spain’s bilateral ODA (roughly 5% each). These include education (US$58 million) and agriculture (US$55 million). These policy priorities received insufficient funding since they were outlined in the 2018-2021 Master plan and therefore, fall outside the funding scope of the 2018 ODA budget, which continued to apply in 2019 and 2020. In contrast, food security remained one of the top priorities of Spanish development policy, and this was reflected in Spain’s international leadership in the sector: Spain hosts the humanitarian logistics hubs of the World Food Program (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Spain provided 97% of its ODA (US$1.1 billion) as grants in 2019, above the DAC average of 92%. Only 3% of ODA was channeled as loans, consistent with previous years.
Spain focuses its bilateral funding on Latin America, 'sub-Saharan Africa', and the MENA region
Spain contributed the largest shares of bilateral ODA in 2019 to Latin America and the Caribbean (34%), to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (15%), and ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ (13%; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa as designated by the African Union). 29% of bilateral ODA was not allocated to a specific country.
Spain has a strong focus on development cooperation in upper- and lower-middle-income countries which curbs its support to low-income countries or “fragile” states. Accordingly, the largest proportion of bilateral ODA was allocated to upper-middle-income countries which received 28% of bilateral funding in 2019. Lower-middle-income countries received 26% of bilateral funding in 2019. By contrast, only 13% of ODA was allocated to low-income countries. Spain focuses its bilateral ODA efforts on reducing poverty and inequality, building social cohesion, mainstreaming gender equality, and empowerment of vulnerable groups. According to the Master Plan, the government will concentrate its ODA on fewer countries going forward, reducing the number of priority countries from 50 in 2013 to 21 by 2021, of which seven are expected to be low-income countries and fourteen are expected to be upper-middle or lower-middle-income countries.
The Spanish government’s renewed focus on countries in ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ indicates that priority countries may change in the next Master Plan for 2022-2025 and that Spain’s geographic focus could shift from Latin America to countries in Africa. Spain currently holds the presidency of the Sahel Alliance’s General Assembly.
Contributions to multilaterals expected to increase
Spain’s core contributions to multilaterals amounted to US$1.9 billion or 64% of ODA disbursements in 2019 (DAC average: 42%). The largest proportion (66%) of Spain’s multilateral contributions went through European Institutions in 2019 (US$1.3 billion), followed by 13% to the World Bank Group (US$242 million), and 7% to regional development banks (US$130 million). Amongst regional development banks, US$61 million was disbursed to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, US$15 million to the African Development Fund, and US$11 million to the Inter-American Investment Corporation and Multilateral Investment Fund.
Spain also provides earmarked funding to multilateral organizations tied to particular regions, countries, or themes (as opposed to core contributions, which can be spent at the discretion of the multilateral itself). These allocations stood at US$125 million in 2019.
Spain’s voluntary contributions have been hampered in recent years by budgetary limitations. However, contributions are expected to resume to previous levels, driven by the current Spanish government’s strong focus on multilateralism. For instance, in 2019, Spain pledged €100 million (US$112 million) to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and €150 million (US$165 million) to the Green Climate Fund. In 2020, Spain’s COVID-19-related multilateral commitments have included €75 million (US$86 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), €50 million (US$56 million) to Gavi COVAX AMC (an innovative financing instrument that will support the participation of 92 low- and middle-income economies in the COVAX Facility and enable access to donor-funded COVID-19 vaccines), and €10 million (US$11 million) to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) to support efforts in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.
Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the grant-equivalent measurement system. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.
For more granular and up-to-date development finance data on Spain, including information on where and in which sectors it is spending both ODA and non-ODA funds, please consult the IATI d-portal. IATI is a reporting standard and platform on which organizations and governments voluntarily publish data on their development cooperation.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs steers strategy; AECID leads implementation
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish socialist workers’ party ‘PSOE’ won the general election in November of 2019 and formed a coalition government with the Spanish left-wing party ‘Podemos’. The Prime Minister’s office (La Moncloa) provides leadership at high-level forums such as the UN General Assembly, the EU, and the G20, and steers international discussions on sustainable development, human rights, and gender equality. Under the Prime Minister’s leadership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, and Cooperation (MAUC) sets the strategic orientation of Spanish development policy.
MAUC is currently headed by Arancha González Laya, former Assistant Secretary-General for the UN and Executive Director of the World Trade Organization’s International Trade Center. MAUC drafts the budget for Spain’s development cooperation efforts.
Within MAUC, Ángeles Moreno, the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, leads Spain’s development policy. In this role, Moreno also supervises the work of the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPOLDES) — an administrative body that steers development policy and defines ODA priorities for MAUC — and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). AECID, which is headed by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, is responsible for implementing bilateral programs, humanitarian assistance, and funding to CSOs. AECID also advises MAUC on allocation issues.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Function (Ministry of Finance) finalizes the budget and channels official development assistance (ODA) to EU institutions. The Ministry of Economy and Business (MINECO) is engaged in debt-relief operations, in the management of Spain’s Development Promotion Fund (FONPRODE) jointly with MAUC, and in disbursements to regional development banks and financial institutions. FONPRODE is the main financial instrument for voluntary multilateral funding, loans, and equity investments. While AECID manages day-to-day FONPRODE operations, MAUC (together with MINECO and other ministries) defines its funding priorities.
Spain programs its bilateral funding based on the strategic, regional, and thematic priorities established in the four-year ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ (Master Plan). Cooperation with upper- and lower-middle-income countries is focused on fostering triangular partnerships, facilitating global health research and development, and the provision of global public goods. The governing council of AECID, which includes representatives from MAUC, decides on allocations by region and country.
To increase ODA predictability, Spain uses multi-annual country partnership frameworks (MAPs) for its priority countries. MAPs specify sector priorities and provide estimated annual budget allocations. These are developed jointly by AECID, the partner countries, and local civil society organizations (CSOs). In addition to MAPs, Spain plans to develop New Generation Partnerships (ANG) with some of its traditional ODA recipients that have progressed to upper-middle-income status, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Panama, Uruguay, and Tunisia.
The Spanish Parliament is composed of two chambers, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, each with a development committee. Within the parliament, the two most important bodies working in development affairs are the Congress of Deputies’ Development Committee and the 2030 Agenda Committee. Members of Parliament debate and vote on commitments related to development and can request information on all development matters, as well as compel development leaders to give testimony in parliamentary hearings. Spain has had minority governments since its June 2016 elections, which have resulted in a greater influence of the Parliament over development policy and the ODA budget.
Spanish civil society, which includes secular and Catholic NGOs and think tanks, plays a key role in development cooperation. Although NGOs have lost some of their influence in recent years, the level of NGOs’ inclusion in policy dialogue remains high, both through bilateral platforms and MAUC’s Council for Development Cooperation. Prominent organizations include Spain’s main civil society umbrella organization for development cooperation, Coordinadora de ONGD España (CONGDE), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (IS Global), Oxfam Intermón, and the Elcano Royal Institute.
Spain is a highly decentralized country; sub-national state actors (autonomous regions, local administrations, and universities) also provide ODA.
The Finance Ministry provides the largest share of ODA
Due to a long-standing political deadlock, the Spanish government was unable to secure parliamentary support for its budget in 2019 and 2020. After several years of political instability, in December of 2020, Prime Minister Sanchez’s minority coalition government passed the annual general state budget for 2021. According to it, Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) will amount to €3.1 billion (US$3.5 billion) or 0.25% of its gross national income (GNI).
In Spain, several ministries provide ODA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAUC) used to be Spain’s primary ODA provider, but its share has decreased due to budget cuts. The Ministry of Finance and Public Function (MINHAFP) now manages the largest share of Spain’s ODA (37% in 2021), as it channels the country’s mandatory contributions to the EU.
MAUC’s budget for 2021 stood at €788 million (US$882 million). This budget envelope provides little information on funding channels, recipients, and spending for specific sectors. MAUC’s ODA budget includes funding envelopes for the following administrative bodies in charge of Spain’s development policy:
- The Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation’s ODA budget amounts to €293 million (US$328 million), which includes €199 million (US$223 million) for the Development Promotion Fund FONPRODE (to be disbursed as loans and equitable investments), €15 million (US$17 million) to the WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) Fund (for management purposes only), and €62 million (US$69 million) to be disbursed as voluntary contributions to multilateral instruments.
- The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation’s (AECID’s) ODA budget amounts to €256 million (US$287 million) to be disbursed through bilateral development programs, humanitarian assistance, and NGOs.
- The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Ibero-America’s ODA budget amounts to €165 million (US$185 million) to be mostly disbursed as multilateral contributions.
The third-largest ODA provider is the Ministry of Economy and Digitalization, which manages Spain’s ODA contributions to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and regional development banks, and manages Spain's foreign debt operations. This ministry’s ODA budget accounts for €430 million (US$481 million).
Spain’s funding for refugees and asylum seekers in-country is counted as ODA and is managed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security, and Migration The budget for this ministry amounts to €341 million (US$382 million). Other ministries of the Spanish government account for a 2021 ODA budget of €51 million (US$57 million) in total.
Proposed general state budget for 2021
|Ministry of Finance and Public Function (MINHAFP)||1,157||1,295|
|Contributions to the European Union||1,134||1,269|
|Contributions to multilateral institutions||22||25|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAUC)||788||882|
|Ministry, Sub secretariat, and general services||145||162|
|State Secretariat for International Cooperation (SECI)||293||328|
|ii. Water and Sanitation Fund||(15)||(17)|
|iii. Strategic voluntary contributions to multilaterals||(62)||(69)|
|iv. International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFim)||(9)||(10)|
|v. Development Cooperation Programmes SECIPI (except FONPRODE, IFFim)||(364)||(407)|
|vi. Other interventions||(341)||(382)|
|State Secretariat for Foreign Affairs and Ibero-America||165||185|
|State Secretariat for Global Spain||5||6|
|Resilience and recovery mechanism||943||1056|
|Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)||256||287|
|Ministry of Economy and Digitalization (MINECO)||430||481|
|International Financial Institutions||424||475|
|Autonomous and local cooperation and Universities||348||390|
|Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security, and Migration||341||382|
ODA levels and main funding lines are typically decided between March and July
The typical budgetary cycle and timeframe are depicted below.
The government suggests overall official development assistance (ODA) volume: In March, the government sets guidelines for overall spending by ministry, including overall ODA volume, as well as funding lines for Spain’s Development Promotion Fund (FONPRODE) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). Key stakeholders in this period include the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAUC) and the Ministry of Finance and Public Function (MINHAFP).
Ministries develop their budget requests: Between May and June, each ministry, including MAUC and MINHAFP, develop their budget requests in accordance with overall spending levels set in the government’s guidelines to each ministry. Around June or July, ministries present their requests to MINHAFP.
The government decides on ministerial spending caps: Once budget requests are sent to the MINHAFP, negotiations start between the ministries. In July, the government decides on caps for ministerial budgets and the government’s overall spending ceiling is approved, including the budget of the Foreign Ministry. Key decision-makers regarding ODA levels are the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, and the Foreign Minister.
Negotiations take place among ministries: From August to September, MAUC continues to negotiate with the Ministry of Finance for specific funding items such as the share of loans or grants in the FONPRODE budget. Both ministries are key stakeholders during this period.
Parliament discusses, amends, and votes on the budget bill: From October to November, Parliament discusses and amends the ministries’ draft budgets. The Development Committee provides recommendations on budget amendments, and the Budget Committee makes the final decision. Members of Parliament may present amendments to the overall budget and specific ODA budget lines in this period. The lack of a clear majority in Parliament since 2016 reinforces the influence of individual members regarding budget allocations, including for ODA.
Further allocations are decided upon during the implementation phase of the annual budget. MAUC decides on spending for partner countries and other multilateral organizations throughout the year. Allocations from FONPRODE are made by the ‘FONPRODE Executive Board’. The Board (which includes representatives from MAUC, the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness, MINHAFP, and other ministries) usually meets three to four times per year. Its funding proposals must be approved by the Prime Minister’s weekly Cabinet meeting (Consejo de Ministros).