Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid of Belgium
In 2002, as part of the modernisation of the federal administration, the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) was integrated into the Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The FPS was made specifically responsible for organising and creating development cooperation in accordance with the legal and regulatory framework.
The priority objective of Belgian Development Cooperation is sustainable human development. It must achieve this objective whilst reducing poverty, within a context of partnerships, and respecting criteria of relevance to development. It must also generate and increase the Belgian public's support for North-South solidarity and our cooperation policy.
The DGD creates a collective vision of development cooperation through dialogue with all the public stakeholders that influence development policy, the development stakeholders involved in Belgian development cooperation and the European and international institutions. The DGD translates this vision into strategic and operational priorities for the central administration and for the field.
Priorities as a partner of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
The Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) of the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation will invest in the tools and policies needed to use real-time (big) data to produce actionable insights for development actors, and thus to increase their impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Equal attention will be given to ‘open data’, freely accessible to the public, to promote good governance and facilitate humanitarian relief and development, natural resource management and disaster risk reduction.
For its interventions, the Belgian development cooperation will determine what data are needed in function of the development challenges to be tackled, what rules are required to protect private data without impeding access, and what systems and infrastructure are required to ensure data quality. Quality data will be driven by common standards, efficient collection tools, robust communications networks, and mechanisms to share and assess data. This can, for example, result in support to national statistical offices in partnership with private sector companies, whereby existing traditional data are better exploited using digital tools and new digital data sources, such as big data, are added to provide better information.
The Belgian development cooperation will invest in making those data that are important for the SDGs more ‘open’ and accessible to the national and local actors and stakeholders in its partner countries. This involves brokering partnerships to access data sources, promoting the development of systems and applications that bring those data to the users, building skills and capacities to manage open data as well as assisting governments to define policies for open data. Open data will also be promoted to enable academic collaboration and joint research with local universities from its partner countries.
Starting in 2016, the above commitment will primarily be implemented in fourteen priority partner countries using a bottom-up approach in close collaboration with the development actors present. A first intervention has started in Uganda, using big data from telecom providers for a range of applications related to urban mobility planning, financial inclusion, tracking SDG indicators, etc. In these fourteen countries the Belgian development cooperation will participate in the data roadmap processes when they take place (such as in Tanzania) or contribute to their organization using the “GPSDD’s Data Revolution SDG toolbox” at national or sub-national level through bilateral governance programs (implemented by the Belgian Development Agency) or the bilateral “Fund for Studies and Expertise”.
The DGD has also committed to the IATI-standard (International Aid Transparency Initiative) and will ensure by 2017 that the information on its development assistance is made available in a timely and transparent manner to all stakeholders according to this standard.
Internally, the Inter-federal Institute for Statistics has been recently established in Belgium, bringing together all statistical data available from national and regional authorities. This institute will play a crucial role in, inter alia, monitoring of Belgian SDG implementation.
At the European level, Belgium will continue its efforts to make data for sustainable development a political priority in the EU’s development cooperation. Notably, Belgium will further emphasize the importance of digital mainstreaming as a tool to increase the impact of development interventions, will point to the potential of digital technologies to achieve more gender equality, and will stress the link between digital technologies and the efficient use of sustainable energy resources.
At the global level, the Belgian development cooperation will continue to participate in, and co-organize, events promoting the use of big data to inform public policies. This commitment is clearly illustrated through the participation or co-hosting by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and other representatives of the Belgian development cooperation of a number of events at the 71th UN General Assembly, including high-level events on ‘Using data to better understand migration’, ‘Harnessing the data revolution for climate resilience’, and on E-governance as a tool for implementing the 2030 Agenda.