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New report by conservative think tank calls for radical rethink of UK development assistance

A new report endorsed by former UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson sets out a new vision for UK foreign policy and a radical rethink of its development cooperation. 'Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st century', written by Conservative MP Bob Steely and James Rogers, a strategist at the Henry Jackson Society think tank, calls for the UK’s foreign policy to refocus on three areas: freedom of trade, freedom from oppression, and freedom of thought. It proposes a unified national strategy for the UK’s foreign policy and a new strategy council that would help develop and oversee delivery. 

The report has been published to influence an ongoing review by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the future of UK soft power post-Brexit. Among its other recommendations is integrating the Department for International Development (DFID) within FCO and rejecting OECD rules on what counts as official development assistance. 

News article The Guardian

Report –  Henry Jackson Society

United Kingdom

Lowy Institute commentator urges Australia to ensure infrastructure loans to the Pacific target poverty alleviation

Writing for the Lowy Institute, Tim Watkin argues that Australia’s new A$2 billion (US$1.4 billion) loans program for infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific should be designed from the outset to serve poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Risk ratings by the IMF and the Asian Development Bank indicate that 10 countries in the Pacific are already in high or moderate debt distress. He points to the Papua New Guinea electrification partnership, a collaboration between Japan, New Zealand, the US, and Australia, as an example of planning that is focused on training for local communities and employment generation.

Blog - The Lowy Institute  

Australia Education

German African Business Summit opens in Ghana

The Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Thomas Bareiß, has opened the third German African Business Summit (GABS) in Accra, a three-day event from February 11-13. The Summit is Germany’s signature business event, held every two years in Africa, and brings together business and government leaders from Germany and sub-Saharan Africa to discuss and promote economic relations between Europe and Africa.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CDU) is participating in the summit and announced a vocational training and employment initiative aiming to create 25,500 new apprenticeships and 15,000 jobs in Ghana.

Press release – BMWI (in German)

Press release – epo (in German)

Germany

Germany’s governing party organizes workshop to discuss migration policies

The new party leader of Germany’s governing CDU party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, organized a workshop on migration policies guided by the question of what Germany has learned since the refugee crisis in 2015 and if that is enough to prevent something like it in the future. Participants where members of the CDU and its sister CSU party, scientists, legal experts, social workers, etc. They discussed migration policies and developed recommendations on how to address issues.

Some of the recommendations are already integrated in the current coalition treaty, such as fighting the root cause of migration, more consistent deportations, and faster asylum procedures. But participants also developed new policy guidelines, such as the shortening of legal procedures and the withdrawing of social benefits or introduction of preventive detention for deported asylum seekers. Kramp-Karrenbauer will now engage in policy dialogue to discuss how to implement recommendations.

Newspaper article – Zeit Online (in German) 

Germany

EIB invests record US$3.7 billion in African private sector and infrastructure

In 2018, the European Investment Bank (EIB) provided US$3.7 billion in new financing for the private sector and infrastructure in 20 African countries. This represents the largest annual support for investment across Africa by the EIB in 54 years. Bank resources also sought to enhance financing available for female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia and back dedicated lending for climate-related investment. Students in Morocco will benefit from improved teaching and student facilities, and a pioneering medical-financing initiative will support investment by providers of healthcare to communities with limited services at present.

In the coming months the EIB is expected to confirm significant new financing for projects across Africa, including support for sustainable transport, urban development, water infrastructure, microfinance, and private-sector investment.

Press release – EIB

EU

Dutch foreign ministry and CSOs discuss strategic partnerships on development framework

Around 150 civil society partners and staff from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation came together for the third 'Linking and Learning' event, which takes place within the Dutch development framework of 'Dialogue and Dissent'. This framework provides funding to 25 strategic partnerships among Dutch and local NGOs, with a primary focus on advocacy. The event aimed at discussing and reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the current framework. Outcomes will feed into the next policy framework that is currently being prepared in the Ministry.

Twitter account - TogetherWeSpeak 

Netherlands

Dutch students invited to meet with prime minister following protests on climate inaction

On February 7, thousands of Dutch students took the streets in the Hague to put pressure on their government to do more on climate change.  The students were supported by a letter signed by 350 scientists. In response to the protest, Prime Minister Mark Rutte invited the representatives of Youth For The Climate, the organization behind the march, for a meeting in-person with his cabinet. However, he forewarned that they "cannot really ask for more".

The protest followed different debates in Parliament in January about the implementation of the climate measures in the Climate Agreement, which was signed in December in the Conference of Parties in Poland. It contains measures which are intended to help the Netherlands achieve its goal of halving its CO2 emissions in 2030 compared to 1990. However, the leader of the ruling People's Party, Klaas Dijkhoff, has said that he does not want "ordinary people" to carry the bill and that he is not "going to do it".

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands

Sweden's new development minister to prioritize democratic governance

Sweden's new Minister for Development Cooperation, Peter Ericsson, has given an outline of what he sees will be Sweden's priorities for development cooperation under his leadership. Official development assistance (ODA) levels will remain at 1% of Gross National Income (GNI) throughout this mandate period. Under Ericsson's watch, a more significant focus will be put on promoting and supporting democratic governance, especially in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Balkans, and Russia. No amounts have yet been decided.

In addition, climate change, biodiversity, and women's and girls rights will continue to be priority areas. The ODA budget will continue to be a primary vehicle for implementing Sweden's Feminist Foreign Policy.   

News article - Dagens Nyheter 

Sweden

EU boosts regional cooperation with 25 African countries

The European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, has approved US$249 million in new support to regional programs for 25 countries in Eastern, Southern, and Indian Ocean African countries. The funding will support economic integration and job creation, as well as strengthen the nexus between development and security. Three concrete new actions are planned, aiming at job creation and prosperity in Eastern and Southern Africa (US$138 million), as well as urban coastal development (US$88 million) and maritime security in the Red Sea area (US$27 million). Mimica also authorized an additional US$7.7 million in bilateral funding for São Tomé and Príncipe.

Press release – EU

EU

Italy pledges €1 million to UNICEF for WASH project in Lebanon

Italy has pledged €1 million to a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) targeting the most vulnerable children in Lebanon. The new contribution will support the health of children and their families living in informal settlements, and continues Italy's aim to put "people at the centre" of its humanitarian assistance policy.

Website - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (in Italian) 

Italy Global health