Recently, Clingendael welcomed 8 senior officials from key Afghan ministries for a course in ‘Strategic Policy Planning’. Policy planning is a challenging task and requires a lot of know-how, expertise and skills. At the same time, strategic policy-making is at the core of a functioning central government. During this two-week course, the officials acquired skills to apply strategic policy planning techniques, which aim to help strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government.
Paving the road to 2029
A substantial part of the programme was dedicated to scenario building: how will Afghanistan develop until 2029, and what are the key uncertainties to deal with? Four scenario’s were worked out ranging from optimistic to more pessimistic. Potential future developments were described of how committed the international community and donors will be on the one hand, and on the other hand how stable the neighbouring countries will remain or become in the next ten years. During the scenario writing process of two weeks, more and more skills and tools were included in the training, such as stakeholder analysis, strategic communication, leadership competences and monitoring and evaluation.
The delegation paid a visit to the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. CPB plays an important role in Dutch economic policy analysis, for example by providing forecasts. Forecasting, like strategic policy planning, requires a lot of tools, including good data, macro-economic models and expert judgement. The group furthermore discussed the Netherlands’ experience with cost-benefit analysis of projects ranging from flood risk investments to expansion of main ports Schiphol and Rotterdam. A visit to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided the opportunity for the officials to meet with their counterparts and discussed the challenges of policy planning and the daily work of a civil servant at the ministry. The visits, as well as the entire programme, provided the group with new insights, which will benefit them in their work back home in Afghanistan.