Article published on Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
The Netherlands is to take a leading role at the World Bank in tackling severe hunger. Because of the prominent position of Dutch businesses and knowledge institutes in the area of efficient and sustainable food production, the Netherlands has been asked to advise the Bank on food projects in developing countries. Development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen will be signing an agreement this Thursday with the World Bank at a summit conference in Rotterdam.
‘Everyone should have access to a sufficient supply of healthy and safe food,’ Ms Ploumen said. ‘The Dutch agriculture and horticulture sector has the know-how to boost crop yields and cut costs, while lightening the burden on the environment. Together with the World Bank, we can deploy our solutions worldwide.’ Much of the partnership will focus on knowledge-sharing by the business community, knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and government. Dutch experts will also be enlisted in an array of projects and the Netherlands will provide training courses and workshops on topics like safe food chains and sustainable farming.
Food security is not the only area in which the Netherlands will be playing a significant role at the World Bank. In 2014 the Dutch embarked on a similar partnership in water management. ‘Of course, I am delighted that the international community recognises that we can make a difference in these areas, both of which are priorities of the current government’s development policy,’ Ms Ploumen commented.
This week, Ms Ploumen is hosting the 2015 Development Finance Forum in Rotterdam. This World Bank summit conference will focus on generating sufficient funding for the new Sustainable Development Goals – the successors to the well-known Millennium Development Goals, which will expire at the end of this year.
The Netherlands wants developing countries to make a greater contribution to the post-2015 development agenda by putting their government finances in order. ‘The Netherlands is supporting their efforts to do this,’ Ms Ploumen said. ‘For example, we are helping them improve their tax collection so that they can spend more money on education and health care. In addition, we are working hard to review over 20 tax treaties with developing countries, to stop companies from squirreling away revenue on which they should pay tax.’
In addition, new and innovative forms of funding will be a hot topic at the summit. They are in great demand, which creates scope for the business community, philanthropic institutions and civil society organisations to play a key role. Ms Ploumen cites the example of successful Dutch cooperation within the Health Insurance Fund. ‘Jointly with businesses and civil society organisations, we ensure that small private health institutions, which provide most of Africa’s health care, have better access to credit and can be helped to improve the quality of the care they deliver,’ the minister explained. ‘At the same time, we are setting up insurance systems with local communities, so that the costs and risks of care are more evenly spread and care becomes more accessible for the poor. These forms of public-private partnership could be developed much more effectively,’ she added. To this end, the Rotterdam summit will not only bring many nations to the table, but also partners such as Philips, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Triodos.
The Development Finance Forum is being held on 21 and 22 May in the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam. The event is a preparation for the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa this July, where definitive agreements will be made.