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More than just development cooperation: the Great Coherence Debate

On 18 January, at Nieuwspoort, the Great Coherence Debate took place. This debate was co-organised by Building Change - the partnership consisting of the FMS, Partos and Woord & Daad. It was a great success, with the hall literally bulging with interested parties. Led by our director Kido and table host Danielle Hirsch (Both Ends), top officials from Foreign Affairs (Kitty van der Heijden), Economic Affairs and Climate (Niels Redeker) and Finance (Christiaan Rebergen) as well as Lower House members Jan Klink (VVD), Eva Akerboom (PvdD), Agnes Mulder (CDA) and Joris Thijssen (PvdA) discussed Policy Coherence for Development in various panels.- This plea for fair Dutch policy is the theme that Building Change and the FMS have been championing for years.

From left to right top officials Niels Redeker (EZK), Christiaan Rebergen (FIN), Kitty van der Heijden (BZ), Kido Koenig (FMS) and Danielle Hirsch (Both Ends) in discussion on policy coherence.


As Director-General for International Cooperation Kitty van der Heijden nicely put it, the purpose of policy coherence for development is to ensure that you "don't take away the good you achieve with development cooperation with incoherent policies in other areas". What became clear again this afternoon, the biggest challenge in the Netherlands' role towards developing countries is not in development cooperation policy, but rather in other policy areas. For instance, the top officials talked to each other about the Netherlands' huge footprint, the discussion around extending export credit insurance for the fossil industry, and the harmful aspects of the Dutch way of doing trade.

To thank them for their performance, they were given and voucher for a Cup of Coherence Coffee. They promised to engage with each other on Loss and Damage - compensation of developing countries affected by climate change; on how ministries other than Foreign Affairs/Development Cooperation can work to reach the poorest of the poor; and on the role of international financial institutions on climate. We look forward to seeing how these cups of coffee lead to fairer policies in the Netherlands!

From left to right Danielle Hirsch (Both Ends), Agnes Mulder (CDA), Joris Thijssen (PvdA) and Kido Koenig (FMS) in discussion on policy coherence and circular economy.

Chamber members then engaged in two panels to discuss policy coherence in general, and trade, food and circular economy in particular. For example, Joris Thijssen spoke about the negative consequences that our - often so applauded - transition to a circular economy can have elsewhere. 'We need to be mindful of people who bear the brunt of this transition, and give them a role in the circular economy,' Thijssen said. An important call to which we are also keen to commit.

In our view, the Great Coherence Debate was a great success. Thank you to all participants and attendees! Want to know more about the Great Coherence Debate? Then read Vice Versa's report on it here.