Skip to content


Danish development cooperation in Asia is aimed at reducing poverty and inequality, conflict and expulsions, irregular migration and fragility.

Danish development cooperation is also influenced by Denmark's desire to be a frontrunner in the fight against climate change and ensuring an Earth in balance. Denmark also supports private sector development as we wish to contribute to growth and employment and help Danish businesses gain a foothold in Asia. 

Large growth - and large economic inequality

Asia is without comparison the region in the world where most poor people live. Despite massive progress, the range of difference is still large, with some of the world’s poorest and most fragile states.

The number of people in Asia living under the poverty line has fallen significantly since the 1990s, due to the economic growth that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. However, in spite of the impressive results in the growth economies – in particular China, India and the high-growth countries in Southeast Asia – great inequality between rich and poor persist in the region.

A crucial challenge is distributing the benefits from Asia’s growth more equally. In order to overcome this challenge, it is important to promote good governance, so growth and rising incomes will contribute to lifting more people out of poverty. Another priority is to continue the development of the private sector, including agriculture, which is still the sector where the majority of the poor are employed.

An equally crucial challenge is climate change. It is essential to strengthen the countries’ ability to withstand the effects of climate change, as well as keeping up a high Danish engagement in the fields of nature, the environment and the green transition, which can contribute to reducing the emissions of climate gasses.

Denmark's Development cooperation with Asia

The Asia region is home to three of the current Danish “priority-countries” for development aid: Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Denmark’s presence in these countries are in the long-term, with financial weight and often a physical presence. The classification of priority-countries also entails the creation of perennial strategic frameworks, that picks out the sectors and efforts that Denmark is primarily engaged with. The military coup in Myanmar in 2021 however has led to a re-evaluation of the Danish efforts in the country.

Denmark’s development cooperation in Asia also contains a wide variety of instruments. These include the cooperation through Danish civil-society organisations, cooperation with local authorities, efforts through the instruments focused on the private sector as well as climate- and migration-efforts. These efforts both happen in the three priority-countries, as well as in a host of other Asian countries, such as India, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. The embassies in New Delhi, Beijing, Jakarta and Hanoi have been appointed as climate-front-posts, and a list of embassies in Asia have been appointed as technology-front-posts.  Furthermore, Denmark also supports regional development through a bilateral contribution to the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) as well as multilateral aid to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the EU.

Danish development cooperation and engagements in Asia

The Danish civil-society engagement has several goals, including supporting local civil-society, promote human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and more, but the engagement also includes a range of efforts that are related to the refugee response in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The cooperation takes place, for the most part, through strategic partnership agreements with Danish civil-society organisations.

Through cooperation with local authorities, Danish authorities can share their experiences and knowledge to secure sustainable development, strengthen bilateral relations and open the door for private companies. This can ensure the creation of good conditions for societal development where Denmark and Danish companies can contribute with knowledge and technology, while sector counsellors at our representations abroad build knowledge and relations and contribute to opening new doors for Danish businesses. Cooperation with local authorities is taking place in Bangladesh (work-environment and safety, primarily in the textile sector), Indonesia (energy, environment and circular economic, foodstuffs), Myanmar (work-environment), Vietnam (energy, health, food-security and education), China (green shipping, energy, food, environment and water, primary health and medicine and sustainable cities) and India (water technology, energy and copyright-law). Click here for relevant information about Danida’s partnerships with local authorities and growth councillors.

With several of the countries that Denmark is present in experiencing economic development, the demand for business instruments can be expected to grow in the coming years. An example of this is Danida Substainable Infrastructure Finance, and through partnerships with the private sector in development-cooperation. These instruments can help support synergies between investment- and export-pushes and the strategic sector cooperation.

The Danish Climate Envelope (Klimapulje) finances contributions to activities that assist developing countries with finalising their emission reductions and their adaptation to climate change. There are currently efforts underway in many Asian countries to reduce emissions and shift towards sustainable energy. Such efforts are seen in Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. Furthermore, several adaptation efforts are made, for example in Myanmar.

The humanitarian funds - in the form of strategic partnerships as well as acute emergency responses to sudden crises – contribute to mitigate the effects of humanitarian crises and conflicts, which include migration, refugees and local-area efforts. For example, Bangladesh hosts more than one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, in the world’s largest refugee camp Cox Bazar. Since the Rohingya refugee crisis broke out in 2017, Denmark has contributed with more than 600 million DKK in humanitarian funds to the countries affected by the crisis. In Afghanistan Danish aid are helping reduce the effects of the humanitarian criss that has been created after the Taliban took over power in 2021.

Danish development cooperation is adapted gradually according to the level of development of the country in question; allowing the cooperation to stay relevant for all parties, and contribute to development in the region in the best possible way. The experience from one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Vietnam, where Denmark has been a major donor, has shown that a gradual transition from traditional development assistance to a political and commercial partnership is possible through a long-lasting and trusting relationship. The same development is possible in Indonesia and Bangladesh, where commercial cooperation is becoming increasingly important.