Assessing Sustainability Dutch Embassies’ Multi-annual Strategic Plans

The Netherlands embassies have developed Multi-Annual Strategic Plans (MASPs) showing how in focus countries the new Dutch development cooperation policy will be shaped over the coming 5 years. These plans outline new programs for thematic areas, such as water and food security. There are concerns, however, as to whether these plans sufficiently address sustainability issues. Aidenvironment assessed a number of MASPs and advised on how to strengthen sustainability with respect to climate change and environmental related issues.


The Ferrier Motion adopted by the Dutch parliament demands integration and reporting on climate change and environment-related issues in thematic programs. To assist embassies in complying with this, Aidenvironment helped develop a Sustainability Assessment is used to reveal the main sustainability issues in a thematic area (such as water and food security) in a given country, and to advise on possible solutions.


The SA adopts a broad approach to sustainability. A range of criteria, falling under the umbrella of sustainability, was identified, as reflected in the assessment framework. The framework embroiders on earlier work of the OECD, EuropeAid, GIZ, SIDA and World Bank.


Sustainability assessments have been carried out of the MASPs for the water and food security programs of Benin, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda. The SA gives no score or judgment, but gives options for strengthening sustainability for each criterion. Options have been submitted to the embassies, and discussed with embassy staff to establish which will be elaborated or followed up. Some options with lower priority will be taken up by other parties or at a later stage. The initial feed-back has been positive.


The advantage of this approach is that it is comprehensive (embracing a wide spectrum of sustainability issues), systematic and transparent, and, since it is neither compulsory nor binding, it forms a starting point for a discussion between experts and the embassy on sustainability issues. Experience with strategic environmental assessment has shown that compulsory measures are less effective than an interactive approach that leads to insights and own decision-making.


For more information contact Jan Joost Kessler.