Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

DAC Guidelines and Reference Series


The OECD Development Assistance Committee develops a) guidelines and b) reference documents, all hosted by the DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, to inform and assist members in the conduct of their development co-operation programmes.

You can download many of these publications from this page. Alternatively, hard copies can be purchased from the OECD Bookshop.


List of DAC Reference Documents

Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Policy Guidance for Donors
This book pays special attention to the role of private sector development, agriculture and infrastructure in pro-poor growth – areas that were neglected by many donors during the 1990s but are currently receiving renewed attention in the international development agenda.  It also presents a methodology for conducing ex ante poverty impact assessment, a valuable tool for improving the poverty reducing impacts of development interventions. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.


The Challenge of Capacity Development: Working Towards Good Practice  (2006)
draws on four decades of documented experience to help policy makers
and practitioners think through effective approaches to capacity development and what challenges remain in the drive to boost country capacity. Write to for a free copy of this report.


Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment: Good Practice Guidance for Development Co-operation  (2006)

This report explains the benefits of using SEA in development co-operation and sets out key steps for its application, based on recent experiences. Twelve different entry points are identified for the practical application of SEA in development co-operation. For each entry point a guidance note, a checklist of questions and hands-on case studies are provided. Evaluation and capacity development for SEA processes are also addressed. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.


Promoting Private Investment for Development: The Role of ODA (2006)
This report provides guidance on using official development assistance (ODA) more effectively to mobilise private investment for development. It focuses on how development agencies can help influence the conditions that lead to increased levels of private investment and on how investment can better contribute to the achievement of broader societal goals, including poverty reduction. A fundamental objective is to help staff in development agencies, both in headquarters and the field, to pursue a more strategic and co-ordinated approach when they design and deliver investment-enhancing ODA.



Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid DeliveryVolume 2: Budget Support, Sector Wide Approaches and Capacity Development in Public Financial Management (2006)
Following the first volume of good practices published in 2003, this second volume focuses more specifically on good practice in providing budget support (Chapter 2) and support to sector-wide approaches (Chapter 3). In doing so, it acknowledges the special relevance of public financial management issues for both of these modalities of aid delivery. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.



Managing Aid: Practices of DAC Member Countries (2005)
The members of OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) give almost USD 70 billion in foreign aid (development co-operation) annually. How to manage that aid for the best results is the subject of this study, based on the organisational structures and practices of 22 of the world’s main donor countries. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.


Environmental Fiscal Reform for Poverty Reduction (2005)
This DAC Policy Reference Paper outlines key issues to be faced when designing Environmental Fiscal Reform (EFR). EFR refers to a range of taxation and pricing measures which can raise fiscal revenues while furthering environmental goals. The objective is to provide insights and “Good Practice” on how development co-operation agencies can help developing countries’ take advantage of EFR approaches in their development and poverty reduction strategies. This publication can also be purchased from the Online Bookshop.


Security System Reform and Governance  (2005)
This Reference Document reviews good practices on Security System Reform to help developing countries address their public security systems overall, including the functioning of police and justice systems, civilian control of the armed forces, and protection of human rights. This publication can also be purchased from the Online Bookshop.




A Development Co-operation Lens on Terrorism Prevention: Key Entry Points for Action (2003)
This Reference Document looks at how aid can be delivered more effectively through simplifying and harmonising donor procedures.


Conflict and fragility  


Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid Delivery (2003)
This publication provides a set of good practice papers on how donors can enhance their operational procedures with a view to strengthening partner country ownership.




Poverty and Health (2003)
In developing counties, breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and ill health is an essential condition for economic development. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.



List of DAC Guidelines

Integrating the Rio Conventions into Development Co-operation (2002)
This publication aims to clarify the linkages between the Rio Conventions and sustainable development, and provide insights as to how development co-operation agencies can help developing countries respond to global environmental threats. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.



DAC Guidelines on Poverty Reduction (2001)
Developing countries, with the support of multilateral institutions, the bilateral development assistance community and civil society organisations, are focusing as never before on the development priority of reducing poverty by half by 2015. Country-led and country-owned poverty reduction strategies focusing on local needs and priorities as determined by stakeholders are now the focus of all development assistance efforts. The DAC Guidelines on Poverty Reduction provide practical information about the nature of poverty and best practice approaches, policies, instruments and channels for tackling it. They also break new ground in setting out the parameters for building effective partnerships with governments, civil society, and other development actors, and in describing how institutional change and development within bilateral agencies themselves could be undertaken for mainstreaming poverty reduction, partnership and policy coherence. This publication can be purchased from the Online Bookshop.



Strategies for Sustainable Development: Practical Guidance for Development Co-operation (2001)
This publication provides policy guidance on good practice in developing and implementing strategies for sustainable development. While it focuses on the experience of developing countries, many of the issues covered and lessons drawn are of equal relevance to developed countries. It draws from international experience over the past two decades in both developed and developing countries as well as from a process of multi-stakeholders dialogue in Bolivia, Burkina-Faso, Ghana, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania and Thailand, to assess their experience of country-level strategies for sustainable development. The DAC Guidelines on Strategies for Sustainable Development aim to provide guidance for development co-operation agencies in their efforts to assist developing countries towards sustainable development. They should also be of value to policy-makers, planners and development practitioners, as well as to academics, students and development analysts in all countries.



Strengthening Trade Capacity for Development (2001)
Developing countries want to join in the globalisation process. However, the increasing complexity of global markets, the new challenges of the multilateral trading system and the competing demands of regional, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements confront developing countries with an expanding array of competitiveness and policy challenges. And, in many cases, they lack the institutional and human resource capacity to meet these challenges. The DAC Guidelines on Strengthening Trade Capacity for Development have been prepared on the basis of an emerging international consensus and understanding of how the international community can work together more effectively. They intend to help developing countries enhance their capacity to trade and participate more effectively in the international rule-making and institutional mechanisms that shape the global trading system. They also provide a common reference point for the trade, aid and finance communities, putting trade capacity building in the context of comprehensive approaches to development and poverty reduction.



Helping Prevent Violent Conflict (2001)
These Guidelines provide ways for donor governments to honour their commitment to conflict prevention as an integral part of the quest to reduce poverty. They cover key issues such as: security, development and dealing with small arms; regional co-operation; peace processes, justice and reconciliation; engaging in partnerships for peace; working with business; and grappling with the political economy of war - situations where powerful groups acquire a vested interest in sparking or perpetuating violent conflict. They identify concrete opportunities for donor assistance in support of peace that include: democratisation; inter-community relations; education and cross-cultural training; human rights training; freedom and access to information; the reintegration of uprooted populations; the demobilisation of former combatants; landmine clearing; and the restoration of a capacity for economic management. This full set of guidance on conflict prevention to date from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) includes the 2001 Supplement and the ground-breaking 1997 Guidelines. This work marks a reaffirmation of the international community's commitment to work together across government systems to improve their analyses of violent conflicts and establish more coherent policies.


DAC Guidelines on Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment in Development Co-operation (1998)
A set of practical guidance for advancing the goals identified by the DAC and by Beijing with respect to gender equality, drawing on the lessons of experience and incorporating illustrations of improved efficiency, effectiveness and coherence in development co-operation.

Shaping the 21st Century (1996)
Approved by the DAC High Level Meeting of 1996, Shaping the 21st Century sets forth strategic orientations for development co-operation into the 21st century. The report recalls the importance of development for people everywhere and the impressive record of human progress during the past 50 years. It suggests a set of basic goals based on UN Conference outcomes -- for economic well-being, social development and environmental sustainability -- as a vision for the future, and proposes strategies for attaining that vision through partnership in support of self-help efforts, improved co-ordination and consistent policies. These goals, and the partnership approach, have since then widely adopted in the international development system. In this context, DAC Members have developed a series of guidelines for attaining the ambitious goals set out in Shaping the 21st Century.

Donor Assistance to Capacity Development in Environment (1995)
These guidelines are intended to articulate a set of basis orientations which can act as a point of reference for aid donors in forming approaches to aid programming aimed at contributing to the enhancement in developing countries of capacities to address environmental issues in a sustainable manner.

Guidelines on Environment and Aid (1992-1995)
Designed to help policy-makers as well as practitioners in donor agencies and developing countries devise strategies to address serious national, regional and international environmental concerns. They are aimed at assisting DAC Members to improve and co-ordinate policies which will integrate development and environment imperatives.

Orientations for Development Co-operation in Support of Private Sector Development (1995)

These orientations address the fundamentals of privatisation, financial sector reform and enterprise development. They also consider a host of related issues such as the importance of appropriate economic policies and an enabling environment that encourages private initiative, promoting dialogue and co-operation between the public and private sectors, and supporting environmentally sustainable methods and technologies.

Participatory Development and Good Governance (1995)

These guidelines affirm and help to explain the contributions to sustainable development of participation, democratisiation, good governance and respect for human rights. They offer practical insights about four dimensions of good governance believed to be of particular importance for sustainable development - the rule of law, public sector management, controlling corruption and reducing excessive military expenditures. For each of these themes the guidelines suggest possible areas for action in development co-operation, including examples.