A Good Climate for Development

Periodic review of international climate policy 2016-2022

Vrouw kijkt uit het raam van haar woning in Bangladesh, dat onder water is komen te staan door overstromingen
Image: ©Carel de Groot

Results – Periodic review of international climate policy

Global warming is an increasingly urgent issue. Weather conditions are becoming more extreme, and the likelihood of natural disasters is increasing. The poorest people in the least-developed countries have the fewest resources to cope with these threats. They are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. That is why the Netherlands has made climate change a priority in its development cooperation. This periodic review (PR) evaluates the international climate policy of the Netherlands.


Compass to indicate the introduction or background of the evaluation

This PR focuses primarily on the period 2016-2021, with some updates for 2022. The main question is: How has the Dutch international climate policy supported developing countries?

To answer this question, we looked at three evaluations previously conducted by IOB. These are the evaluations of climate finance (2021), climate diplomacy (2023) and climate change adaptation (2023). We conducted additional research on climate change mitigation, interdepartmental coordination and deforestation. Finally, this report also uses data collected from ongoing research for the periodic review of policy coherence on water, food security and climate change.

Collage, van links naar rechts: ontbossing, aanplant mangrovegebied en aanplant bomen tegen verwoestijning
Image: ©Rich Carey / UNEP / Canva


Magnifying glass to indicate research findings

The main findings of the evaluation are briefly described below. A distinction is made between key findings and other findings. The key findings stem from the research conducted for this PR on the effectiveness and efficiency of climate finance, climate diplomacy and climate adaptation. The other findings relate to policy coherence.

Key findings

The climate diplomacy strategy was effective.
The diplomacy strategy, in which the Netherlands urged other countries to set higher targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was effective. The policy department engaged embassies and other stakeholders. Cooperation with companies, experts, organisations and countries with the same goals was effective and helped to promote higher climate ambitions.

Four key funding targets were met.
In most years, four key policy objectives and targets were met:

  1. About €1.25 billion a year was spent as planned in recent years.
  2. More than 50% of this was allocated to climate adaptation.
  3. More than 50% was allocated to low-income countries.
  4. About 50% of Dutch climate finance came from private sources.

IOB adds an important caveat here: the funding was not new and additional to the existing development budget, despite agreements made under the UN Climate Convention.

Poor and vulnerable groups were not sufficiently involved or reached.

  • The climate adaptation projects reviewed did not focus sufficiently on vulnerable groups and the risks they face from climate change. Good analyses and strategies were also lacking at times.
  • In addition, little is known about the number of people and target groups reached, partly because of a lack of monitoring and evaluation.
  • There is also a lack of involvement and ownership of activities.
  • More generally, the funds and programmes examined do not focus sufficiently on disadvantaged groups and a ‘just’ transition to sustainable and climate-friendly (energy) systems.

Private sector investment can add value.
Using public funds to leverage additional investment from the private sector frees up additional resources for climate action. It is sometimes unclear whether the activities supported by private funds really added value to development. It is also often unclear whether the public funds offered the private investor something that was not already available in the financial market.

Other findings

Policy coherence refers to the consistency between different policy areas and their alignment with different sectors. This was good at times, but sometimes less so. Acting based on long-term strategies worked well.

  • Short-term thinking can lead to interventions that are effective in the short term but are unsustainable in the long term. For example, they may not take into account future climate change and decreasing water availability. It is therefore important to support existing long-term climate, water and food security strategies, and to develop new ones if necessary and implement them consistently.
  • To be effective in the long term, climate-smart strategies for food systems need to be developed at the national level. Here, the ministry can take an example from the water management sector, where such strategies have been in place at the national level for some time.

National and international climate policies are not aligned.

  • Internationally, the Netherlands is highly ambitious and urges other countries to do more to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Nationally, however, climate policy is falling short of its promises.
  • The level of ambition is therefore inconsistent.
Collage, van links naar rechts: antarctisch gebied, vrouw in kas in Afghanistan, en boten in de Comoren waar vervuild water de kustgebieden bedreigt
Image: ©Ruzdi Ekenheim / UNDP Afghanistan / IWRM AIO SIDS


The recommendations from the evaluation are listed and briefly explained below.