German Institute for Development Evaluation
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31.05.2019 - Parliamentary discussion on cooperation with the private sector

Photo: Christian Schneider

On 13 May, DEval took part in an expert meeting in Berlin with the “Alliance 90/The Greens” and “The Left” parliamentary groups on the theme of “Business Case Development – Cooperation with private companies in German development cooperation under scrutiny”. In the first session, Kirsten Vorwerk, Christoph Hartmann and Marcus Kaplan presented the results of DEval’s evaluations of the programme and of “Cooperation with the private sector in agriculture in German development cooperation” to the approximately 90 participants.

The evaluations show that working with companies can contribute to mobilising capital and innovations for development cooperation and to developing common solutions to problems in the development sphere. The potential that exists is far from fully utilised, however, and often the areas of tension and the limitations of cooperation are not sufficiently debated. To enable better use of the potential, clearer goals and strategies for cooperation are needed, along with an improved conceptual design that takes greater account of cooperation partners' different working methods and objectives. Monitoring and evaluation systems should also be improved to create greater transparency and boost the credibility of such cooperation ventures. In conclusion, DEval pointed out weaknesses in the human rights assessment mechanisms in the cooperation between Technical Cooperation and the private sector in agriculture. These are not considered effective enough to uncover any human rights risks or violations. In the second session, a panel consisting of Lucia de Carlo (BMZ), Axel Klaphake (GIZ), Marita Wiggerthale (Oxfam Germany), Uwe Kekeritz (Member of the Bundestag, Greens) and DEval-Director Jörg Faust discussed the results of the evaluations and the resulting implications for German development cooperation.

During the discussion doubts were voiced, especially by many of the civil society representatives present, as to whether cooperation with companies in its current form is an appropriate way of contributing to better living conditions even for the poorest of the poor, in keeping with the 2030 Agenda. In this context there was mention of the “New Wave” of high-volume financing of company activities by German development cooperation, e.g. via structured funds or as part of reform partnerships (DEval is currently conducting an evaluation of the support of structured funds in German development cooperation, and an evaluation of reform partnerships is planned). It was argued that investment programmes of this kind support a development paradigm geared purely towards economic growth. Some sections of the audience also criticized the inadequate assessment of human rights risks by German development cooperation.

The BMZ and GIZ explained why they consider cooperation with companies to be fundamentally important, pointing to inadequate economic structures in the partner countries, for instance. They also clarified how they process the recommendations from evaluations as a basis for improving their cooperation with companies. At this juncture they talked about processes already in operation for better assessment and monitoring of human rights risks.

DEval evaluations on this theme:

- Cooperation with the private sector in agriculture
- – a programme for development partnerships with the private sector
- Structured funds (evaluation in progress)

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