Capacity development beyond aid

Heinz Greijn, Volker Hauck, Anthony Land and Jan Ubels, eds.
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation; European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)
Year of publication: 
2015 was launched in 1999 in response to a growing interesti n capacity development as a key driver of sustainable development. Although by no means a new concept, much needed to be learned on how to apply good capacity development practice. Over the course of 15 years and the publication of 47 issues of its magazine, sought to do precisely that: engage on a wide range of issues related to the concept and practice of capacity development in development cooperation.

During’s 15-year existence, the context of international development cooperation has changed dramatically, however. The simple dichotomiesthat once defined the aid relationship – rich and poor countries, donors and recipients, the global North and South, foreign expertise and local knowledge, to name a few – have been rendered obsolete. The global flow of knowledge and expertise is changing. New players have appeared on the stage of development cooperation, including non-DAC countries, impact investors, philanthropic organisations and private sector companies.

With‘beyond aid’we refer to sources that lie outside the traditional aid sector and that increasingly fuel capacity development with knowledge and financing. They may not refer explicitly to capacity development in the work they do, nor are they necessarily familiar with the body of knowledge on capacity development that has emerged over the years. But they are becoming increasingly significant players that influence the way people, organisations and societies change and develop their capacities.

What does this mean for the body of knowledge and praxis that has been built up in the aid sector in support of capacity development over the past decades? Is there indeed a role for capacity development beyond aid? How can good practice be harnessed and further developed by those actors and stakeholders who are becoming less aid dependent, but who continue to face capacity challenges? In view of the universal applicability of the sustainable development agenda in all countries, will the capacity constraints of rich countries also become explicitly recognised and addressed through more international cooperation? And what contribution can capacity development play in the difficult circumstances of fragility and instability, where the role of the international community will remain important for the foreseeable future?

To mark its 15th year of publication, and in recognition of these significant developments, is publishing this special edition to explore these questions. It does so in the firm belief that capacity development is as relevant today as it has ever been and that it already plays a critical role in transforming societies beyond aid.