human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

International cooperation

Helping everyone to live a dignified life





Everyone has the right to live a dignified life and to fully enjoy their human rights, regardless of their place of birth or residence.

However, nearly 800 million people still struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day, in conditions of exclusion and extreme poverty. Inequalities between and inside countries are also increasing.

Others have to abandon their communities and countries because of conflict, insufficient economic opportunities or the impacts of climate change.

Many others suffer from discrimination and persecution because of their religion, sex, ethnicity, political opinion or social origin.

Attacks against civil society human rights defenders and community leaders are multiplying everywhere, from Colombia to the Philippines, because of their actions in defence of indigenous groups, against environmental degradation or to denounce injustice.

We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.

Pope Francis
Laudato Sí, 139


The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to bring together efforts to eradicate poverty and tackle inequalities, promote peace, improve the well-being of all people and reverse environmental degradation and global warming. They advocate putting the focus primarily on the poorest and most excluded, in recognition of their rights.

The problem

SDG 17 calls for a stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

This requires new, coherent policies that create an enabling environment for sustainable development. Adequate international public finance is also vital to ensure that these policies become reality, especially in the poorest countries with limited domestic resources.

However, development cooperation and external action is increasingly challenged by donor-countries’ self-interests. Unfortunately, the current trend in Europe is to spend aid on migration control, on addressing security threats or on promoting commercial and economic interests, rather than directing it to those who need it most.

Likewise, many European countries are still far from fulfilling their commitment to spend 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) on development aid and, when they do, a pro-poor approach is not always ensured.

Countries are also failing to rethink their policies in line with the transformative principles of the 2030 Agenda and failing to foster synergies between economic, social and environmental policies. It is equally important that there is policy coherence so that decisions made in the EU do not undermine development possibilities in countries outside Europe.

Our solutions

We work to encourage policy makers to:

  • Ensure that human rights and human dignity remain at the forefront of all efforts to achieve the SDGs.
  • Analyse global challenges through the longer-term lens of sustainable development, looking at the structural changes that are needed in areas such as trade, energy, migration and global governance to achieve the SDGs and leave no-one behind.
  • Fully operationalise mechanisms to make policy coherence for sustainable development a reality to avoid undermining the development efforts of developing countries.
  • Enforce the 0.7% of GNI commitment in a timely manner, with quality resources focused on tackling the root causes of poverty and inequality in all countries and realising people’s human rights.
  • Restore the integrity of development aid, ending any type of conditionality. Official development aid should only serve to support the capacity and interest of developing countries and not donor-countries’ own interests in the areas of migration, security or commercial expansion.
  • Ensure that any instrument to promote private sector engagement in development brings extra value for the developing country in question, is transparent and is carried out through a meaningful participatory process in which the local community’s right to free, prior and fully informed consent is safeguarded.
  • Create an enabling environment for civil society engagement in development through sufficient political space and adequate funding.