In order to strengthen the coherence and co-ordination of Portuguese co-operation, along with the relationship between the various entities involved, two clusters have been introduced, one in the area of Security and Defence and the other relating to Energy and the Environment. The definition and operation of these clusters are part of the Permanent Secretariat of the Inter-ministerial Commission for Co-operation.

Taking into account the decentralised nature of Portuguese co-operation, the main logic behind the clusters, besides being a concentration of institutions and other public and private entities for collaboration in carrying out complementary activities, is to establish a value chain and competitive advantages in areas/strategic sectors for improved innovation and increased specialisation. It is an investment based on knowledge and specific tools for institutions to manage their affairs in a flexible manner. Clusters create timely and effective responses to opportunities as and when they arise.

Clusters are based on the following principles:

  • A holistic perspective that links all aspects related to governance, development and transfer of technology, capacity development, research and innovation with the aim of reducing poverty and ensuring an integrated view of these components;
  • A cross-sector approach through strengthening collaboration between the different entities involved in Portuguese co-operation with other bilateral and multilateral interventions through the use of various tools to implement short- and medium-term activities;
  • Preserving the functional integrity of the entities involved, along with their mandates, responsibilities and interests using existing capacities and avoiding the creation of new structures or administrative processes.

The Security and Defence Cluster resulted from the prioritising of the sector in terms of development to produce synergies and clearer gains in the creation of a concerted response for uniting the Portuguese entities relating to the needs expressed in that area by development partners. Portuguese co-operation focuses on fragile states that are weak in terms of rule and sovereignty and seeks to have an impact on people’s rights, freedom, security, poverty, transparency and equity in managing resources, as well as providing access to power and establishing good governance, rule of law, democracy and human rights by supporting the creation of adequate legal and institutional contexts adapted to national strategies regarding capacity building. Its intervention is also linked to the promotion of human security and therefore to the defence of human rights and the protection of individuals against threats such as hunger, disease, poverty and all forms of violence, including sexual violence, trafficking drugs and people. The National Strategy for Security and Development advocates the promotion of greater coherence, co-ordination and complementarity of Portugal's intervention in response to these challenges.

Regarding the Energy and Environment Cluster, the emphasis is on creating a global response and concerted campaign of action based on the kind of experience and expertise that Portugal has gained in recent years, setting out the country’s performance guidelines in terms of energy and the environment and the identification of national and international partnerships.

In societies that are heavily dependent on natural resources, as are the vast majority of developing countries, the responsibility of sustainably managing these resources is much greater. The current international framework comprising the Agenda for Financing for Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement for Climate Change has strengthened environmental development and increased synergies in connection with the social entities and guidelines. Requiring full collaboration and strong partnerships, this change of direction seeks to develop more sustainable and resilient societies. Developing partnerships and interventions in this and other areas requires a more strategic approach with the intervention of the agencies involved in development co-operation in order to provide support in terms of policies, plans and programmes. Also, it is necessary to engage with the private sector and other civil society organisations for the adoption of better practices and technologies in order to make a difference in the communities and societies of the countries with which they are collaborating.