The Hon. Dr. Jan Pronk

Former Minister for Development Cooperation and the Environment of the Netherlands; Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)


The Hon. Dr. Jan Pronk’s political career began in 1971 when he was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives as a member of the PvdA, where he initially served as Shadow Minister for Development Cooperation. After his re-election the following year, and the election victory of the Den Uyl Cabinet in 1973, Mr. Pronk was appointed Minister of Development Cooperation, and subsequently became Deputy Governor of the World Bank, a role which he held until 1977. In 1977 Mr. Pronk returned to Parliament, while also taking on a variety of other development cooperation roles: in addition to becoming Professor of International Development at the Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Hague, he became a member of the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems of UNESCO, and in the Netherlands he served as a member of the Council for Government and Social Affairs of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1980, Mr. Pronk left Parliament to become the Assistant Secretary-General of the UNCTAD, and in 1985 he became the Assistant UN Secretary-General. After his re-election to the Dutch Parliament in 1986, Mr. Pronk served as vice-chair of the PvdA, and in 1989 took on a role as a professor at the University of Amsterdam. In the same year he again became Minister for Development Cooperation, in the process returning to his post as Deputy Governor of the World Bank. In 1998 Mr. Pronk became Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, and in 2000 he served as chairman of the UN Climate Conference. In June 2004, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Mr. Pronk as UN Special Representative for Sudan. Mr. Pronk returned to the Netherlands in 2007 and resumed his position with the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

Mr. Pronk undertook his studies at the School of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam (formerly the Nederlandse Economische hogeschool), graduating in 1964. In 1965 he was the Research Assistant of the Dutch economist Professor Jan Tinbergen.

Since 2008 Mr. Pronk has served as President of the Society for International Development and is also Chairman of the Interchurch Peace Council in the Netherlands. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from San Marcos University, Peru, and the Institute of Social Studies, where he is also an Honorary Fellow. He is also a member of five Chivalric orders, including the Order of the Netherlands Lion and the Order of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands, and the Légion d’honneur in France.

Mr. Pronk is the author of several publications, including: Catalyzing Development? A Debate on Aid; and De Kritische Grens. Beschouwingen over Tweespalt en Orde.

"From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals"

A lecture by Jan Pronk, Former Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands
The 2012 International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy & International Economics
"Political & Economic Inequalities: Bridging the Gap between Civil Society and the Public & Private Sectors"
(Berlin, June 20th - 22nd, 2012)