Whilst Denmark does not give much more aid than Australia in terms of dollar amounts, as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI), Denmark’s spending of 0.88% of GNI is almost 3 times that of Australia.[1] Denmark is also one of only five countries to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GNI. The current average spending for OECD member countries is 0.48%.[2]

Australia and Denmark’s aid policies differ significantly in terms of focus. While Australia’s aid program emphasises development and poverty “in line with Australian interests”, Denmark places much more emphasis on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Australia’s increasingly security-oriented approach to aid since 2001 also starkly contrasts with Denmark’s strong poverty-oriented approach.

Denmark’s aid strategy is characterised by a clear, overarching policy objective based on political consensus. Denmark has ensured accountability at all levels: political, official and public. Its aid strategy is credited for being highly inclusive of public input (i.e. through NGOs), and is consensual and transparent. For instance, it has been a great supporter of local NGOs in an effort to increase public awareness on aid. This is essential to sustain high levels of aid spending.  In contrast only $135 million of Australia’s $4.3 billion 2010-11 aid budget is allocated to NGOs and community engagement programs, this amounts to a mere 2.5%.[3]

Unlike Australia, Denmark does not include debt service as aid, a practice that artificially inflates the size of the aid budget. Denmark has also considerably reduced the amount of tied aid (currently running at around 3% of its total ODA) and expressed the determination to eventually untie all its aid. Australian aid, on the other hand, is dogged by claims of “phantom aid” with much of the program lacking a clear poverty alleviation focus.



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Last updated 12 November 2010


[1] http://webnet.oecd.org/oda2009/ (accessed 9 September 2010

[2] OECD Net ODA Assistance Table http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/17/9/44981892.pdf

[3] Australian Council For International Development, Aid Budget Analysis 2010/11, June 2010  p7 http://www.acfid.asn.au//resources/docs_resources/docs_papers/ACFID%20Budget%20Analysis%20revised%20June%202010.pdf , p3

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