The following paper is a theoretical research of the Dutch development cooperation and the way world-wide tendency for neoliberalism is manifested in the foreign policy of the Netherlands. The interest for this topic was sparked by the Aid for Trade agenda adopted by the Dutch government, which reveals the tensions between the self-interest and moral motivations of the country. Selection of water as the case is not random – the Dutch are famous for their water governance model and water management skills and expertise. The paper discusses how the instalment of water as a key development spearhead in the Dutch development policy, the heritage of water and the fact that it is perceived as a part of the Dutch national identity is affecting the direction the current development policy is heading. It problematises neoliberalisation of the Dutch development cooperation, which uses market logic in providing global public goods such as water in accordance with the issues posed by climate change. Adopting a qualitative methodological perspective, the author analyses key documents in the Dutch development and water policies and conducts a series of interviews with government officials, practitioners, consultants and academics in the sphere of Dutch water governance. The findings reveal that the foreign policy in the Netherlands, in particular in the field of water, is heavily affected by the “deep marketisation”, which has had impact on how the country’s relationship with the recipient countries is forming and the way the private and public sectors operate. In addition, the findings reveal that water has become something much bigger than just water management for the Dutch, they are using it as a strategic tool to solve issues like economic crisis, immigration and climate change while trying to capitalise on their knowledge at the same time.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Netherlands, Dutch, aid, development, development cooperation, development aid, neoliberalism, marketisation, water, private sector
Thesis Advisor Mukhtarov, Farhad
Persistent URL
Series Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
Biriukova, Kseniia. (2019, December 20). NL in NL: Neoliberalism in development cooperation of the Netherlands in the sphere of water. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from