2018 Organisation and Management of Aid Analysis

Seeking Balanced Ownership in Changing Development Cooperation Relationships

Niels Keijzer, Stephan Klingebiel, Charlotte Örnemark, Fabian Scholtes

According to the Paris Declaration and the 2030 Agenda, ownership is a prerequisite for effective development cooperation. How can the principle of ownership be promoted in today’s complex development cooperation, in which the numbers of actors have increased?

This is the subject of the Expert Group for Aid Studies report Seeking balanced ownership in changing development cooperation relationships. The report contains two country case studies – on Liberia and Rwanda – as well as interviews with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and studies on documents concerning ownership in a Swedish development cooperation context.

The authors note that ownership remains relevant as a guiding principle in international development cooperation. The trend from country-to-country cooperation to various forms of support through UN bodies and specialised global funds has created new conditions and competing interests for ownership. An understanding of ownership and how it can be promoted in the complex reality of today needs to be thoroughly re-examined.

The study recommends the following:


Starting a discussion within the OECD-DAC on effective development cooperation that has global ownership right up to the end of the process.


Establishing an international code of conduct in accordance with agreed ownership principles concerning development cooperation funding to and via UN bodies and global funds.


Sweden should formulate an explicit policy and approach for how to promote ownership in development cooperation that includes numerous partners.


Niels Keijzer is a researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) in Bonn, Germany.

Stephan Klingebiel is Co-Chair of the DIE’s Programme on Trans- and International Cooperation.

Charlotte Örnemark is an Independent Consultant based in Washington D.C., USA.

Fabian Scholtes is Desk Officer, Evaluation and Quality Management at Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation