Oxfam Netherlands publishes report on global inequality ahead of World Economic Forum

Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dutch NGO Oxfam Novib published a report on the world's extreme wealth inequality. The report, titled 'Time to Care', puts economic disparities in stark terms, noting that "in 2019, the world’s billionaires, only 2,153 people, had more wealth than 4.6 billion people", and that the total wealth of the world's 22 richest men is equivalent to the wealth of all African women combined.

The report focuses on gendered economic inequality and dives, as well, into the issue of taxation systems. In particular, Oxfam observes that the Netherlands remains a tax heaven, costing developing countries 100 billion annually: money that could be invested in health and education. 

Time to Care - Oxfam Novib

Press Release -Oxfam Novib (in Dutch)

European Commission adopts 2020 humanitarian assistance budget of US$1 billion to support 80+ countries

The European Commission has adopted its initial humanitarian budget of €900 million (US$1 billion) for 2020, to help people in over 80 countries across the Africa continent, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. This amount is a significant decrease from 2019 when the Commission adopted a record humanitarian assistance budget of €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion). Within the 2020 budget, €400 million (US$444 million) will fund programs in Africa, including to support those affected by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel. €345 million (US$383 million) will be directed to the Middle East to address the crises in Yemen and Syria. €111 million (US$123 million) will go to Asia and Latin America to assist those impacted by the crisis in Venezuela and to support conflicted affected regions in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Funding for humanitarian assistance is a strong priority of the EU development assistance budget, accounting for 11% of the EU’s bilateral spending. 
Press release - European Commission

EU Nutrition

German civil society calls on Merkel to pledge €700 million to Gavi for upcoming replenishment

Nine German civil society organizations (CSOs) joined forces to call on Chancellor Angela Merkel to announce an early pledge of €700 million (US$778 million) to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, taking place January 21-24, 2020.

Gavi will hold a pledging conference in June 2020 to mobilize resources for its upcoming five-year strategic period (2021-2025). As part of their campaign, the CSOs (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, Aktionsbündnis gegen Aids, Global Citizen, Kindernothilfe, ONE, Plan International, Save the Children, and World Vision) submitted a mock-up of a newspaper from the future titled ‘Good News 2025’ to the Chancellery and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The paper 'reported' on a world in 2025 where more children have been immunized due to Germany's increased contribution to Gavi.

Gavi has vaccinated 760 million children since it was founded at the World Economic Forum in 2000. Germany has been a major financial contributor supporting Gavi with €600 million (US$667 million) in 2015.

Position paper – Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (in German)

Germany Global health

UK government announces US$1.9 billion in initiatives at first UK-Africa Investment Summit

The UK government announced £1.5 billion (US$1.9 billion) worth of initiatives to boost trade and investment, create jobs and mobilize an additional £2.4 billion in private investment during the first UK-Africa Investment Summit. £400 million (US$523 million) of initiatives relate to the UK's international development assistance budget. 

The summit was opened by the UK Prime Minister and attended by high-level representatives from 21 African countries, UK businesses representatives and government ministries, and members of the UK royal family. The summit was publicized as the start of a new, post-Brexit partnership with Africa based on trade, investment, shared values, and mutual interests.

Development assistance programs announced include:

  • A new facility to develop local currency bonds in Africa with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC);
  • £200 million to support basic trade infrastructure in southern Africa;
  • £38 million for a Climate Compatible Growth Fund to help African governments access UK expertise to enable a shift to more sustainable power sources; 
  • £45 million to improve digital access and skills and support female employment; and
  • New funding to boost the flow of private financing into African projects supporting girls’ education, healthcare and climate resilience.

The summit was criticized by some for its focus on the UK's trade opportunities, for lack of transparency, and for insufficient involvement of civil society. Critics also questioned whether it was appropriate for Department for International Development (DFID) to have invested a reported £15 million (US$20 million) in hosting the summit, given its focus on trade. 

The Labour party’s shadow international development secretary, Dan Carden, wrote a highly critical piece in the New Internationalist magazine, noting that the summit indicates UK development assistance policy will not be driven by evidence of how to best fight global poverty, but by "naked free-market ideology and the interests of British business".

News article - Devex

Op-ed - The New Internationalist

Press release - UK government

Press Release - DFID

United Kingdom

UK bans use of international development assistance for coal projects

During his speech at the UK-Africa Investment summit Prime Minister Boris Johnson commited to stop using UK development assistance and export credits for coal-related projects in partner countries. Environmental groups have welcomed the announcement while also calling for the government to go further and commit to not funding oil and gas related projects.   

News article - Inews

United Kingdom

To understand ramifications of potential UK development assistance merger, look to Australia's history, warns former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister

Alexander Downer, former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, argued against the amalgamation of the Department of International Development (DFID) with the UK Foreign Office, a move currently being considered by UK government officials.  He reccomended that DFID, if placed under the Foreign Secretary, should remain a separate institution.

Downer drew a parallel between the UK's possible restructuring of its development assistance mechanisms and the 2013 merge of Australia's development assistance agency, AusAID, and its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This move, Downer says, did not improve Australia’s foreign policy or its delivery of development assistance, as proponents claimed it would. Instead, it involved substantial disturbance and the loss of many talented development officials. Downer was Minister for Foreign Affairs for 12 years. In that role, he was responsible for Australia's development assistance program.

Letter to the editor - The Times

Australia United Kingdom

Canada announces US$33 million for seven development projects in Sudan and Mozambique

Canada has announced CA$44 million (US$33 million) in funding for seven projects on women’s economic empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, access to education, trade, and mitigation of the impacts of the 2019 cyclones Idai and Kenneth. These projects in Sudan and Mozambique were announced after Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, concluded a seven-day trip to the region.

The projects include: 

  1. Mozambican rural women’s and girls’ participatory economic empowerment, CAD$18 million (US$14 million) over 5 years: This project will foster economic empowerment for rural women in Mozambique and stimulate agri-food production through experimental agroforestry and climate-smart agriculture training;
  2. Combat absenteeism and barriers to education, CAD$15 million (US$11 million) over 5 years: This project will work to combat absenteeism and barriers to education for girls in Mozambique;
  3. Action for girls and young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Mozambique, CAD$10 million (US$8 million) over 5 years: This project aims to improve gender equality in Mozambique by promoting adolescent girls' sexual and reproductive health and rights;
  4. Advancing sexual and reproductive health in Cabo Delgado, CAD$250,000 (US$190,000): This project focuses on sexual and reproductive health in Cabo Delgado and will assist the Government of Mozambique in providing better services in areas affected by Cyclone Kenneth;
  5. Mozambique recovery facility, CAD$250,000 (US$190,000): Through this project, the Government of Mozambique will be provided with assistance for planning and coordinating necessary reconstruction after Cyclone Idai;
  6. Reducing Mozambique’s high trade costs, CAD$250,000 (US$190,000): This project will focus on the unfavourable trade environment in Mozambique, working to identify key interventions that could reduce in-country trade costs and trade-related inefficiencies along the Beira and Nacala corridors; and
  7. Supporting gender integration into policy planning at the Sudanese Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, CAD$50,000 (US$38,000): This project will support gender integration in policy planning at the Sudanese Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada Education Global health

Spanish think tank analyses prioritization of 2030 Agenda in new Spanish government

An op-ed from the Spanish foreign affairs think tank 'Elcano Royal Institute' has analyzed the implications of Spain's institutional changes on the 2030 Agenda.

The op-ed suggests that the Spanish administration under the new government seems to be prioritizing sustainable development affairs. Increased references to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in official addresses along with the recent creation of a 'Deputy-Prime Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda' post seem to signify a growing prioritization of the 2030 Agenda. The op-ed also notes that successful management of the Agenda 2030 will require increased coordination and cohesion among different ministries. 

Op-ed – El Pais (in Spanish)


German supermarkets sign voluntary commitment to fair supply chains

Following a campaign on fair supply chains led by Gerd Müller, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, big German supermarket franchises such as Aldi, Rewe, and Edeka signed a voluntary commitment to fair pricing for mangos, coffee, and bananas. The franchises committed to this initiative at Berlin's 'Green Week', an international exhibition of food, agriculture, and gardening industries from January 17- 26, 2020.

Müller has criticized Germany's cheap food prices, among the lowest in Europe due to fierce competition,  and advocates for a new German law on fair and sustainable supply chains.

News article – Morgenpost

Germany Agriculture