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Lowy Institute launches map of development assistance in the Pacific

The Lowy Institute has launched a major database of development activities in the Pacific. Co-funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the map provides information for the interactive analysis of over 12,500 activities by 62 donors since 2011 . The data demonstrates the major role of Australia as the largest provider of development assistance to the region, as well as the recent rise of China to become the second largest donor in the region in 2017.

Website - The Lowy Institute

Norway's foreign ministry presents new humanitarian assistance strategy

Norway's foreign ministry has presented a new strategy for humanitarian assistance focused on 1) the protection of women, children, and youth, 2) innovation, and 3) promoting a multilateral and normative system that respects international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.

To meet these goals, Norway has increased its humanitarian budget by more than 50% since the start of the previous parliamentary term. According to the foreign ministry, the budget will be maintained at high levels for years to come and will be 'adapting to the changes in the world'. 

News article - Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

Save the Children evaluates Norway’s development assistance efforts

For the fifth time, Save the Children Norway has assessed the government's policies for children both in Norway and internationally over the last year. The organization assigned the government the best possible grade (a 'green card') for its efforts on health, education, and taxation. However, they gave a 'yellow card' (defined as 'good, but far from good enough') to the government's climate change policy. According to Save the Children Norway, the policy should be doing more to protect the world's poor, particularly children in vulnerable countries.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway Education

Foreign affairs minister announces review of Australia’s soft power

Julie Bishop, Australia's foreign affairs minster, has announced the government will conduct a review of Australia's soft power, with the goal of advancing Australia's reputation in the Indo-Pacific region. Bishop's statement highlights that soft power includes the nation's development program as well as educational institutions, which provide education to huge numbers of students from other countries every year. The minister encouraged business, academia, and non-governmental organizatinos (NGOs) to contribute to the review.

Media release - DFAT

Australia

Swedish Social Democrats want to maintain feminist foreign policy

In the lead-up to elections in Sweden on September 9, 2018, the political parties are presenting their positions and priorities on official development assistance (ODA). Development cooperation to Palestine and the focus of the feminist foreign policy are the main points of difference between the center-conservative and the center-left parties. For the Social Democratic Party (currently in power), the main priorities include the following: 

  • continued ODA levels at 1 percent of gross national income 
  • continuation of the feminist foreign policy  
  • employment, labor rights, and income distribution policies as important components to fight poverty
  • recognition of the state of Western Sahara, but more as a long-term priority 
  • ODA support to both poor countries and poor people in middle-income countries.

Article - Omvarlden (in Swedish)

Sweden

Coordination SUD argues for more NGO funding in new 'Nouvelles du Sud' publication

French NGO umbrella organization Coordination SUD has released the summer issue of its publication 'Nouvelles du Sud' ('Southern News'). The issue focuses on Europe and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as on 'youth actors' in international solidarity. It focuses on the issue of insufficient funding to NGOs and includes a study on good governance.

Publication - Coordination SUD (in French)
 

France

Norwegian development minister participates in the UN Secretary-General's high-level panel on digital cooperation

Norwegian development Nikolai Astrup has been invited by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres to participate in a high level panel on digital cooperation. The panel was launched by Guterres in New York and is focused on digital technology's potential to contribute to reaching Agenda 2030.

The panel maps trends in development and the use of digital technology, identifies knowledge gaps, promotes interdisciplinary cooperation, and presents concrete proposals for how international cooperation can be strengthened in the digital field. 

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway

Think tank urges Norway's development minister to address the root causes of poverty

Norway’s leading think tank, Agenda, has urged Norway's development minister to take further steps to address the root causes of poverty through development policy. These include:

  • Set up an international convention for economic openness
  • Establish an international regulatory framework for responsible lending and borrowing
  • Blow new life into the World Trade Organization's Doha Round
  • Increase Norwegian contributions to peaceful solutions
  • Make the world's largest fund, the Norwegian government’s Pension Fund Global, more ethical in its investments
  • Give more support to civil society to protect activists
  • Make a bigger cut to emissions at home and allocate more money for climate change adaptation.

News article - Dagbladet (in Norwegian)

Norway

German political parties criticize DEG development bank over ties to tax havens

German political parties have criticized the KfW subsidiary DEG ('Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft'), a development bank dedicated to the support of private companies in developing countries, after reports found that nearly US$900m of German development funding by flows through so-called offshore financial centers like Mauritius and the Cayman Islands. Since 2008, DEG increased the share of funds passing through tax havens by an eightfold. According to Germany's left-wing and green political parties, this practice means that development cooperation inadvertently supports shadow financial institutions.

However, DEG insisted that due to the high costs of keeping the funds in Germany, the use of tax havens is a necessary condition to maintain assistance to developing countries.

News article – Tagesspiegel (in German)

Germany

Economist editor argues UK should spend more on diplomacy than development in Africa

The editor-at-large of the Economist, Xan Smiley, has written an article for The Spectator, a current affairs magazine, arguing that the UK should increase its spending on diplomacy rather than development assistance to Africa in order to improve the UK’s influence over the continent.

Smiley, critical of the UK’s approach in the recent elections in Zimbabwe, laments the decline of effective UK diplomacy on the continent, citing the Foreign Office’s shrinking budget as a main factor. She notes that the Foreign Office's budget of £1.4 billion (US$1.9 billion) has shrunk more than 40 per cent since 2010, while Britain’s development budget stands at £13.4 billion (US$18.1 billion). Smiley calls for the Department for International Development (DFID) to be put more firmly under Foreign Office control in the future and makes the case for redirecting some of its budget to the Foreign office, noting that if just a tenth of the its budget was redirected toward diplomacy, it would double the Foreign Office’s budget.

Article - The Spectator 

United Kingdom