Policy Context

Climate protection is a priority for the Netherlands. The development strategy Doing What the Netherlands is Good At lays out a plan to increase the share of ODA targeting climate change and its consequences. The Netherlands seeks to reduce the climate vulnerability of people and ecosystems and to increase their adaptive capacity and climate resilience.

The 2019 National Climate Agreement gives a detailed domestic policy framework for the Dutch government’s plans to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2030 goals, namely to reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 49% compared to 1990 levels.

The Netherlands published its International Climate Strategy in October 2022. This strategy focuses on mitigation, adaptation, and financing, and consists of the following elements:

  • Strengthening multilateral and bilateral climate diplomacy;
  • Increasing climate finance, phasing out assistance to international fossil fuel extraction, 'greener' trade missions, and economic; services provided by embassies; and
  • A focus on public infrastructure in low-income countries.

The strategy highlights water and land use and food systems as priority sectors within climate adaptation. From March 22-24, 2023, the Netherlands co-hosted the UN Water Conference with Tajikistan. The two co-hosting countries presented a Water Action Agenda with bold commitments to accelerate progress towards water-related goals.

In line with the 2022 Development Strategy, the Netherlands launched its first national Raw Materials Strategy in December 2022. The strategy aims to ensure sufficient availability of critical minerals and metals for a sustainable energy transition, and to reduce EU-dependency on raw materials and semifinished products. The strategy focuses on five ‘perspectives for action’:

  • Circularity and innovation;
  • Sustainable European mining and refinement;
  • Diversification;
  • Sustainability of international chains; and
  • Knowledge building and monitoring.

This strategy will form the basis of the Dutch commitment to the EU to the forthcoming European Critical Raw Materials Act.

Similarly, the third action plan of the Netherlands’ development policy coherence, published on November 25, 2022, recognizes that the Netherlands is the European country with the largest ecological footprint. This is due largely to negative effects of trade and direct emissions of transport, as well as the economic effects of Dutch tax havens and illegal money flows. The action plan presents new goals on these topics and commits the Dutch government to discussing the aim of reducing its footprint in the upcoming 2023 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. While recognizing existing data limitations, the government committed to inform the House of Representatives annually in a letter about interest, royalty, and dividend flows from LMICs to the Netherlands and from the Netherlands to low-tax jurisdictions.

ODA Spending

How much ODA does the Netherlands allocate to climate projects?

In 2021, the Netherlands committed US$1.1 billion to projects which targeted action against climate change as a principal or significant objective, making it the 6th-largest DAC donor to the issue in absolute terms.

How is Netherlands's climate ODA changing?

Netherlands’ ODA targeting climate steadily increased from 2017-2020, reaching an all-time high of US$1.8 billion in 2020, when 41% of bilateral allocable ODA was tagged with the Rio markers. However, in 2021, these figures dipped dramatically and stood at just US$1.1 billion, with 39% of bilateral allocable ODA tagged. The Netherlands was the 4th-largest donor to climate-related projects in 2021 in relative terms.

How does Netherlands allocate climate ODA?

The Netherlands’ policy focus is on climate adaptation and somewhat on agriculture.

The Netherlands’ climate-related ODA focuses primarily on adaptation ( US$1.1 billion) in 2021. Interventions aimed at climate change mitigation accounted for US$516 million of the Netherlands’ commitments to climate. US$443 million of this climate funding was channeled toward projects tagged with both markers.

In 2021, 29% of the Netherlands’ bilateral allocable ODA was committed to projects with a significant climate change component, well above the DAC average of 15%.

10% of bilateral allocable ODA went to projects addressing climate change as a principal goal in 2021, on par with the DAC average of 9%. This marks a decrease from 14% of funding dedicated to climate as a principal goal in 2020.

Still, a large proportion (61%) of Dutch bilateral allocable ODA did not target climate change or was not screened against the Rio markers in 2021, though this sits below the DAC average of 76%.

Netherlands’ bilateral ODA to climate adaptation increased by 15% between 2017 and 2021. The increase in funding was driven by increases in both significant and principal funding, with a peak in funding in 2020. The increase until 2020 was reflected in multiple sectors, including WASH, government and civil society, and environmental protection. In 2021 the funding level dropped to below 2019 and 2020 levels. This can be attributed to a slash in funding in certain sectors and regions, notably the agriculture as well as government and civil society sectors.

In 2021, agriculture received the largest share of Dutch climate adaptation funding, representing 27% of the total funding. WASH received the 2nd-largest share in 2021; however, a significantly smaller amount of principal funding compared to other priority sectors. The government and civil society sector was the sector that received the largest slice of adaptation funding in 2021, but funding to the sector had been cut by more than 60% compared to 2020.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Dutch climate finance supports multilaterals working to transition to clean energy and protect biodiversity. The Netherlands also contributes climate financing through multilaterals, though not all this funding is ODA-eligible. This includes contributions to the following multilaterals:

At the 2021 UNFCCC COP26, the Netherlands also committed to discontinuing financing fossil fuel projects abroad.

Funding Outlook

What is the current government's outlook on climate ODA?

The Netherlands uses the Paris Agreement as a basis for climate policy and continues to increase ODA spending. Despite a funding target of at least US$1.9 billion by 2025 and increasing attention to climate policy, civil society has critiqued that the government's focus on mobilizing private climate finance cannot be considered development cooperation. Additionally, they have criticized the Netherlands’ unwillingness to commit to compensating LMICs for climate damage and loss at COP27.

On November 15, 2022, the Dutch government also rejected a national motion to increase funds for climate damage compensation for LMICs. While not issuing a policy response to this critique, on March 1, 2023, the Netherlands did support Vanuatu's request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on countries’ international obligations regarding climate change. Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Rob Jetten stated that as more countries deal with climate lawsuits, the Netherlands supports efforts to clarify which obligations countries have under international law to address climate change.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher pledged US$53 million for the new Water at the heart of climate action initiative to support Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda in managing the consequences of water-related disasters and to strengthen the resilience of their most vulnerable populations. Minister Schreinemacher pledged another US$5 million to the NDC Partnership, which provides technical assistance to enhance partner countries’ water-climate nexus approach. Minister of IenW Mark Harbers launched a new collaboration initiative, the International Panel for Deltas and Coastal Areas, where countries and other stakeholders can exchange knowledge on how to best respond to climate change. In addition, Harbers vouched to scale up the Dutch initiative Water as Leverage to support local partners in generating solutions to water or climate-related issues.

Key Bodies

Related Publications

Climate Finance Commitment Tracker

COP28: Key takeaways and opportunities for advocates

The New Collective Quantified Goal: What advocates need to know

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Learn more about SEEK's work on climate

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