Since the 1940s, the Kingdom of Denmark has played an active and valuable role in global efforts to eliminate poverty, promote democratic governance and build resilience through sustainable development. In the 1950s, most of the country’s development assistance was channeled through the United Nations. In 1963, the Danish International Development Agency, DANIDA was born, and the country began also supporting developing countries directly through its bilateral development assistance programme.
Today, most Danish development assistance, both direct and that channeled through international organizations like UNDP, supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through the country’s official strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action. The strategy, known as The World 2030 was adopted in January 2017 by a broad political majority in the Danish Parliament. Denmark is one of the top donors to Official Development Assistance, and in 2019 contributed U.S. $2.55 billion, making it the 15th biggest donors in terms of contribution amount. When you translate that into a per capita basis its contribution in 2019 was $447 per person – putting it in 4th place behind Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg. These four countries, along with the United Kingdom, were the only ones that year to reach or surpass the promises of developed (OECD/DAC) countries to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national incomes to international aid.
Denmark also is an engaged, active, and vital partner to UNDP in countries around the world. Thanks to the generosity of Denmark, millions of people around the world have improved living conditions, live in democratic societies where their human rights are respected, and are better able to recover from crises. Danish support to UNDP totaled more than $86 million in 2020, with roughly 2/3 of that ($62 million) going to specific projects enables us to help nearly 170 countries to implement the 2030 Agenda and reach the SDGs. In addition to funding, Danish leaders in government, business and academia regularly volunteer their time and expertise to fulfil the promise of a more prosperous and fairer world.
In the words of our administrator, Achim Steiner, “We greatly value (Denmark’s) commitment to strengthen democratic governance and resilience building, climate action and addressing the root causes of conflicts to build sustainable peace.”
In Denmark’s Strategic Partnership Agreement for 2020-2022 for engaging with UNDP, Denmark says it supports the organization because:
· it has a unique mandate in efforts to build sustainable peace and resilience, including through conflict prevention;
· it helps rebuild or strengthen critical democratic governance structures; and because
· it’s programming and mandate addresses key Danish priorities and interests relating to curbing violent extremism, irregular migration, human rights, empowerment of women and addressing extreme poverty.
Denmark’s commitment to Ukraine
In the eastern part of the country, Denmark has been an important partner in helping the crisis-torn communities of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts recover and build forward better from conflicts there – a challenge that has been particularly difficult in recent years as the violence continues. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Denmark has been there by our side as our teams in the region work tirelessly to ensure the area does not fall back from the development gains it has made in recent years.
Youth engagement and empowerment is another key and important area of Danish cooperation with UNDP in Ukraine. It also is a high priority for the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod, who in August 2021 said: “Ukraine is …a country with an enormous potential and a people struggling for a free, democratic and peaceful future. Denmark resolutely supports this. We must recognize the importance of youth engagement in the development of our societies…” Ole Egberg Mikkelsen, the Danish Ambassador to Ukraine, acknowledges that his country and Ukraine have long been close friends and partners. “Denmark is a strong supporter of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty,” he has said. “If you’re not safe we’re not safe: we need to be safe together.”
Mikkelsen has said Denmark is committed to supporting Ukraine’s development in a number of key areas, including strengthening civil society, empowering youth, protecting human rights, creating conditions for attracting investment, improving energy efficiency, maintaining environmental balance, ensuring cyber resilience, and more.
Furthermore, Denmark very much views Ukraine as a neighbour, and its current engagement with UNDP in the country is based on its Danish Neighbourhood Programme (DANEP), which contributes to the support of democratic development and reform through support for projects under two thematic objectives: 1) Promoting human rights and democracy; 2) Strengthening sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The ethos of DANEP is based on the understanding that a peaceful and stable Europe with freedom and progress for its citizens depends heavily on attaining the goals of building democratic societies, with accountable governments, vibrant civil societies, free media, well-functioning markets, and sustainable economic growth.
The overall budget for the Danish Neighbourhood Programme 2017-2021 is EUR 115 million, of which approximately 70 percent goes to Ukraine – making the country one of the biggest in the Danish development portfolio.