German Institute for Development Evaluation

Trilateral cooperation in German development cooperation


Increasing participation by emerging economies in development cooperation (DC) is opening the way for new forms of development policy partnerships. Resources from emerging economies and industrialised nations can complement each other in these partnerships and thus potentially be used to better effect.

The evaluation looks at triangular cooperation as a form of cooperation in German DC. Triangular cooperation usually involves three countries at differing stages of development (a traditional OECD/DAC donor – in this case Germany, an emerging economy and a recipient country), which agree on a partnership to implement development measures together. Triangular cooperation has been attracting an increasing amount of international attention for several years now and is included in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 on the ‘global partnership for sustainable development’, as set out in the Agenda, triangular cooperation is explicitly mentioned as a further DC modality that should be supported to a greater extent. This type of partnership is also deemed eligible for support in the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (2015). Back in 2013, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) published a position paper on triangular cooperation in which it set itself the goal of making greater use of this modality. In addition to pursuing its objective of making projects more effective, BMZ also uses this type of DC in an effort to create a joint understanding of development policy with emerging economies and to conduct a dialogue about standards, criteria and values. This is now reflected in the fact that Germany devotes the third largest amount of funding to this type of cooperation of all DAC donors, after Japan and the United Nations.

Geographically, the triangular cooperation in which Germany is involved focuses on Latin America, followed by Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. BMZ's portfolio so far contains a total of around 80 completed and 30 ongoing measures.

The aim of the evaluation is to be able to make evidence-based statements about the effectiveness, appropriateness, potential and limits of the modality. The evaluation looks at the extent to which triangular cooperation has been effective to date, and the extent to which particular value is generated through interaction between the various stakeholders in general. Topics such as complementarity, particular advantages and disadvantages, participation, ownership and the exchange of lessons learnt and experience all play a role in this context, as do transaction costs and joint accountability. In addition, the evaluation examines the different framework conditions in the international context and in the countries involved with a view to identifying factors that have a conducive or obstructive impact on effective triangular cooperation.


The specific subject of the evaluation, the evaluation questions and the methodological approach will be decided on in consultation with the evaluation stakeholders by early 2018. Data will be collected as part of case studies up to the first quarter of 2019. Finally, the data will be evaluated and the report drawn up by the first quarter of 2020.

As at: April 2019