Focus of development cooperation of Flanders

Flanders has its own funds for development cooperation and finances projects that fall within its regional competencies such as local development, skills development, education and employment services. Flanders is a generous donor to the ILO’s technical cooperation programme.

Flemish development cooperation makes an active contribution to poverty reduction in the Southern African region. Bilateral Flemish development programmes are concentrated on three partner countries: Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. 

In 2022, the Flemish Government decided to fund the ILO Global Programme on Skills and Lifelong Learning, which aims to give women, men, enterprises and communities access to market-relevant, inclusive and high-quality lifelong learning. ILO-Brussels interviewed Julie Bynens, Secretary-General of the Flemish Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs, and David Maenaut, General Representative of Flanders to the UN in Geneva, about this decision.

Flanders as ILO donor

Flanders, through its Department of Foreign Affairs, and the ILO have cooperated since 1991. In an initial phase, Flanders collaborated mainly with the ILO International Training Centre in Turin (ITCILO).

In 1997, a first cooperation agreement was signed between Flanders and the ILO. In March 2011, an agreement was signed by the ILO and Flanders, setting out the common parameters for development cooperation and providing a basis for policy dialogue between the Flemish government, Flemish workers’ and employers’ organizations and the ILO. It also covers the promotion of decent work within Flanders, taking into account Flemish competencies.

The principal funding modality used by Flanders is the ILO-Flanders trust fund, created in December 2001. Initially, the trust fund was set up for the period 2001-2005 but it has been extended. Through this fund, yearly allocations are made to ILO technical cooperation projects, half of them implemented by the ITCILO.

With the agreement signed in 2016, the government of Flanders refocussed its collaboration with the ILO on improving the position of women and young persons in the labour market. 

Recent projects

With the support of the Government of Flanders, the ILO is implementing several projects. View Flanders’ portfolio of programmes in the Development Cooperation Dashboard

Recent projects include: