5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

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Public expertise and capacity transfer for deeper impact

Public expertise and capacity transfer for deeper impact

How to enhance peer learning, mobilising civil servants know-how, for better public service delivery ?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 18:00 to 19:15

Key points

  • Peer-to-peer public sector expertise programmes offer the chance for a transition from aid to partnership.
  • A demand-driven and flexible approach without predefined frameworks creates the most benefits for both sides.
  • Changed realities in third countries demand the adaptation of practices and programmes.
  • Peer-to-peer cooperation enables a shared feeling of belonging to an international community of public sector professionals. 


Four examples of public expertise and capacity-transfer programmes were introduced and discussed. Two of them are managed by Spanish agencies, indicating the leading role Spain is playing in this relatively new field of development policy.

The first one, conducted by the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAP) and funded by the European Union, is an extensive programme of public sector cooperation and reform with the Cuban government. The three-year programme started in January 2014 and involved two Cuban ministries – Economy and Planning, and External Trade and Foreign Investment – but also several federal agencies.

A Cuban embassy official participating in the session enthusiastically confirmed the claim by FIIAP’s representative on the panel that the programme, with its openness towards the reform demands of Cuba and its flexible approach, constituted a transition from a donor-recipient situation to a true partnership. Progress on a much-needed tax reform for Cuba was mentioned as a particular success.

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) presented its public expertise programme, Intercoonecta. It is the result of a survey the agency carried out with Latin American and Caribbean partners, to reflect the new reality of the region, with many countries having moved into middle-income country territory. Intercoonecta, established in 2106, takes advantage of the Spanish legal provision for its civil servants to be able to participate in substantial missions abroad. It has helped to ‘internationalise’ the country’s civil service as well as helping partner countries make their public institutions stronger and more resilient.

The Belgian Development Agency successfully introduced e-learning and information and communication technologies (ICT) into 288 Palestinian schools during a four-year programme between 2011 and 2015 using peer-to-peer collaboration. The ‘triangulation’ of technical expertise and pedagogical experience was key to success.

Expertise France, the French agency for international technical assistance, presented its programme of public service cooperation with the government of Lebanon. Set up together with Italy, and as part of the European Commission’s Twinning instrument for institutional cooperation between public administrations, it was aimed at developing a new strategy for public finance reform for Lebanon.

An ‘ambitious, expansive and sensitive’ project, it perhaps illustrates best the added value of peer-to-peer collaboration. In the absence of a budget that is subject to parliamentary scrutiny or external auditing, it is particularly important for the ‘small and short-staffed’ units of the Lebanese finance ministry to feel part of an international professional community, and to be able to develop a strategy that would deliver a national budget of international repute.


During the discussion, representatives of consultancy firms questioned the ‘magic’ qualities of peer-to-peer capacity transfer and pointed to their industry’s professionalism and expertise. The panel responded – unanimously – by claiming that it was not an ‘either/or’ question whether consultants or peers were better capacity builders but that they could very well, and in practice often do, work together.

Organised by

    Monika Hoegen
    Media trainer
    Communication for Development
    Cecilia Castillo
    Head of Brussels Office
    Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas
    Thierry Foubert
    International Sector Expert in TVET
    Belgian Development Agency
    Jean-Pierre Péry
    Project manager, Public Finance Unit
    French Ministry of Economy and Finance
    Laura Oroz
    Head of Unit Regional cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean
    Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation
Photo gallery

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