Policy Context

Climate action is a longstanding 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 LICs.

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. Additionally, on December 1, 2023, the Netherlands committed US$163 million to IFAD's 13th replenishment to support small-scale farmers with adapting to the impacts of climate change. On November 2023, Minister Schreinemacher announced that of the additional US$76 million approved for the 2023 development budget, US$22 million was committed to climate adaptation, with US$11 million towards FMO’s Access to Energy Fund and the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.

The Dutch government's Global Health Strategy for 2023–2030 aims to establish strategic partnerships with large health funds to reduce their footprint, to make health systems more climate-resilient, and to tackle health impacts that are a result of climate change.

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 footprint 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 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 2024. 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.

Overall, Dutch ODA for climate protection is at risk. The four political parties negotiating to form the new coalition government ( PVV, VVD, NSC, BBB) have not been strong supporters of climate action. The PVV mentioned in its manifesto that it would put climate agreements and measures “through the shredder” and immediately stop development cooperation to redirect resources to Dutch citizens.

ODA Spending

How much ODA does the Netherlands allocate to climate projects?

In 2022, the Netherlands committed US$1.9 billion to projects which targeted action against climate change as a principal or significant objective, making it the 8th-largest DAC donor to the issue in absolute terms.

How is Netherlands's climate ODA changing?

Netherlands’ ODA targeting climate steadily increased from 2018-2020. However, in 2021, these figures dipped dramatically. Climate-related ODA bounced back in 2022, in line with the Netherlands' plan to increase the share of ODA targeting climate change as laid out in its development strategy.

How does Netherlands allocate climate ODA?

The Netherlands’ policy focus on climate adaptation and agriculture is reflected in funding trends.

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. The increase 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, due funding cuts in certain sectors and regions, notably agriculture, and government and civil society.

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, though with 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.

The Netherlands' 2022 climate finance included contributions to FMO's Access to Energy Fund, the Central African Forest Initiative, GCF, GEF, Least Developed Countries Fund, and the ADB's climate adaptation program.

The Netherlands is a member of the Champions Group on Adaptation Finance. At COP27 in November 2022, the Netherlands responded to a call by African leaders to invest more in climate adaptation with a contribution of EUR100 million ( US$105 million) to the AFD's Africa Adaptation Acceleration programme. On October 5, 2023, the Netherlands committed US$152 million to the GCF for climate action in the most climate-vulnerable countries over 2024-2027, a 16% increase from the previous Dutch replenishment.

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 argued that the government's focus on mobilizing private climate finance cannot be considered development cooperation. CSOs also criticized Netherlands’ unwillingness to commit to compensating LMICs for L&D at COP27. At COP28, Netherlands committed an amount of EUR15 million US$16 million to help establish the Loss and Damage Fund. At the same COP28, the Dutch government launched an international coalition comprising 13 countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

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.

Based on the International Climate Strategy, the outgoing government aims to target climate adaptation efforts in vulnerable areas and ‘climate hotspots’ in Asia, the MENA region, and especially Africa. The Netherlands will also aim to use an integrated approach to development cooperation in the poorest countries and work with local partners to build greater climate resilience through innovation and investment in MICs.

From April 2023 to April 2025, the Netherlands co-chairs the CMFCA together with Indonesia. The coalition aims to promote climate action by bridging the green investment gap, sharing information and experiences in the field of climate policy.

Key Bodies

Related Publications

A new era of development assistance: Key takeaways from the G7 summit

Transforming global health financing: Key outcomes from WHA 2024

Donor Updates in Brief: 2023 OECD Preliminary Data

Looking for a cross donor perspective?

Learn more about SEEK's work on climate

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Jacob Sarfo

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