On 19 January 2022, the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy, convened for a meeting chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica. The Board evaluated what had been achieved in Latvia’s development cooperation policy in 2021 and discussed activities planned for 2022 and 2023.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica informed the Board members about the work done in 2021 and noted an increased number of development cooperation projects to which international co-financing had been attracted. She also pointed out that the implementers of Latvia’s development cooperation projects have earned appreciation from both bilateral and multilateral partners.
27 development cooperation projects were implemented in 2021. Latvia’s civil society organisations carried out 72% of activities funded under the grant project competition, which is by 20% more than in 2020, exceeding already at this point the 50% target set in the Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for 2023–2027. Support offered by Latvian civil society to Belarus deserves a special mention. Despite inhumane conditions in Belarus, our non-governmental organisations continued providing support for Belarusian civil society, the Parliamentary Secretary underlined.
The number of projects with co-financing from the USA, the European Commission, Sweden, Great Britain and partner countries themselves has increased. In terms of thematic coverage, the greatest number the projects – 40% – have been implemented in the sectors of good governance and the rule of law. The expertise and knowledge of our civil sector and public authorities are much in demand and appreciated in partner countries, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted, adding that Latvia continues to receive acknowledgements for its contribution to the development of those countries and societies.
The Board approved, at the concept level, the breakdown of funding proposed by the Foreign Ministry and the submission of respective amendments to the Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2022–2023 to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. In comparison to 583 813 EUR made available for development cooperation in 2021, the implementation of bilateral development cooperation has been assigned funding of 1 363 813 EUR in 2022.
In line with its priorities, Latvia will continue providing support for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Central Asian Countries, and the Belarusian civil society and independent media. The Parliamentary Secretary underlined that higher amounts of financing were making it possible to build capacity and extend the scale of development cooperation. Pursuant to Latvia’s Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines, an increase in budgets is planned to go along with expanding the geographical scope of development cooperation activities, which would, for the first time, cover new regions including African countries.
Representatives from the Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation and the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments expressed their appreciation of cooperation in 2021, and they welcomed support planned for capacity building among the implementers of Latvia’s development cooperation, and for public awareness raising measures.
At the meeting, besides welcoming an increase in financing also related to preparations for Latvia standing as a candidate for the seat of a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, it was noted that funding for bilateral development cooperation allocated by Latvia, namely, support for less developed countries, is considerably lower in comparison to support provided by Estonia and Lithuania.
The meeting also addressed current issues concerning the European Union’s development cooperation budget. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively engaged in the processes of planning EU support, thereby influencing the priorities of the EU’s development cooperation policy and reaffirming Latvia’s interest to get involved in the provision of support. Following amendments to the Law on International Assistance, the Central Financial and Contract Agency will be developed into a coordinating institution that provides centralised advisory and administrative support to Latvian project implementers in attracting funds from the EU and other international organisations.
The Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy is an advisory institution established to promote an active and responsible involvement of Latvia in the formulation and implementation of the European Union’s development cooperation policy, enhance the role of Latvia as a bilateral donor, raise awareness among the general public of the goals and policy of development cooperation, and offer assistance in its implementation. In accordance with its Statute, public administration institutions and civil society organisations are represented on the Consultative Board.