The Belgian international development policy is undergoing a complete transformation. Under the impulse of the Sustainable Development Goals we opt in many different fields for a new approach and for international leadership. Innovation is the key word in this context.
Belgium is one of the pioneers in the field of digitalisation and development. Encouraged by Belgium, the European Union decided to give a much more significant role to digital technology in the European development policy. Belgium became a member of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, an alliance of countries, companies and NGOs using data to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In September we adopted in Belgium the strategy note Digital for Development that opens up new digital horizons for our development policy. Besides, in November the prize Digital for Development was awarded for the first time to promising digital development projects.
Moreover the link between the private sector and the developing world was strengthened in 2016. This is an important fact as the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is comprehensive to such an extent that the involvement of the private sector is a critical success factor. In July the Chamber of Representatives adopted the draft law opening up the capital of BIO to private investors, enabling them to join forces and support the investments of BIO aimed as always at stimulating sustainable local economic growth and at creating important social added value in developing countries.
In the autumn more than 80 partners signed the Belgian SDG Charter. It is worth noting that private companies, government organisations and civil society find each other in embracing the Sustainable Development Goals. In the following years we need to make this partnership concrete in areas such as digitalisation, healthcare and sustainable entrepreneurship.
In the course of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Belgium and the International Committee of the Red Cross worked together to develop an innovative financing tool, namely the very first Humanitarian Impact Bond (HIB) bringing together classic donors and private investors for the construction of centres for physical rehabilitation in regions affected by conflicts and violence.
Also the non-governmental cooperation was innovated. The new law on the Belgian Development Cooperation that entered into force by the end of June 2016, has a much sharper geographical focus, aims for a better cooperation and engages in administrative simplification. This innovation must act as a lever in order to gain more impact in the field and to achieve better results.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower, as Steve Jobs once said. It is clear that Belgium is determined more than ever to show that leadership. The only way to be effective in meeting this objective is to continue innovation in the following years.
Alexander De Croo
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation