Swedish government criticizes UNDP's handling of pressure from China on human rights exhibition

The Swedish minister for development cooperation, Peter Ericsson, has criticized the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for cancelling a human rights event in response to pressure from China.

On May 13, 2019, UNDP was scheduled to host an event in Stockholm to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration for Human Rights. As part of the event, a photography exhibition portraying images of human rights profiles, including the Dalai Lama and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, was to be shown. Hours before the opening, UNDP canceled the event following reported pressure from the Chinese government.

The UNDP Nordic office stated that the decision to cancel was made by the Nordic office itself, and motivated by the fact that the exhibition would distract the conversation from the important work that has been done for human rights globally. 

The Swedish government and parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs have called the cancellation unacceptable and criticized the UNDP Nordic office for poor management of the situation. The minister for development cooperation has written to the head of UNDP, Achim Steiner.

News article - Aftonbladet (in Swedish)


Sweden iniatiates bilateral development cooperation with Armenia

The Swedish government has approved the initiation of bilateral development cooperation with Armenia in response to the reform efforts of the current administration, which took office following the 2018 Velvet Revolution. 

The bilateral cooperation will not be guided by a separate strategy; rather, it will be included in a revision of the current regional strategy for Sweden's 2014-2020 cooperation with Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Turkey. The agreement will prioritize cooperation on democracy, human rights and rule of law, sustainable economic development, and environment and climate.

The revision is effective immediately and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has been tasked to start building a cooperation portfolio. 

Press release- Swedish government (in Swedish)


Sweden announces new strategy for 2020-2024 development cooperation with Palestine

The Swedish government has issued instructions to the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) to initiate the development of a new strategy for the cooperation with Palestine for the years 2020-2024. 

Sida will continue to prioritize human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, environment and climate, and inclusive economic development in the newest strategy iteration. FBA will focus on how Swedish development cooperation can contribute to a fair, peaceful, and sustainable solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The instructions from the government also include a focus on Hebron, following the discontinuation of the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) by Israel. 

The five year portfolio is funded at SEK 1,5 billion (US$158 million) up to maximum SEK2 billion (US$211 million). Sida and FBA should present their proposal for the new strategy to the government by September 2019. 

Press release - Swedish government (in Swedish)


OECD DAC launches peer review report on Sweden's development cooperation

On June 12, 2019, Swedish development minister Peter Ericsson presented the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) peer review of Swedish development cooperation in Stockholm. The report commends Sweden for its consistently high levels of official development assistance (ODA) and leadership on peace and conflict prevention, environmental sustainability and climate change, and gender equality. Notably, 87% of Swedish ODA is geared towards contributing towards gender quality goals. The review also points to set of few recommendations where further improvements can be made, including stronger alignment between Swedfund, the Swedish development bank, and Sida, its development agency.

DAC peer reviews are conducted every five years. 

Report - OECD DAC

Press release - Government of Sweden


Global Partnership for Education board meeting to be held in Stockholm

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) will hold its annual board meeting in Stockholm on June 12, 2019, gathering over 130 participants from all of the world.

The minister for education, Anna Ekström, will open the meeting speaking about the importance of education for democracy, equality and sustainable development. Sweden is one of the top contributors to the GPE; at the 2018 pledging conference in Senegal, Sweden pledged a contribution of SEK1 billion (US$106 million) for the period 2018-2020.  

Press release- Swedish government (in Swedish)

Sweden Education

Sweden prepares 2020 strategy for development cooperation with Afghanistan

The Swedish government has instructed the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) to start preparations for a new strategy governing Swedish development cooperation with Afghanistan.

Sida has been given a broad mandate to explore cooperation options within the areas of peaceful and inclusive society, human rights, democratic governance, rule of law, education, health, gender equality, inclusive economic development, environment, climate, and sustainable natural resource management. FBA was asked specifically to propose priorities on the topic of peaceful and inclusive society.

Afghanistan is the largest recipient of Swedish bilateral ODA funds, and Sweden is the fifth largest donor to the country. The indicated funding for the next strategy is SEK3.6 to 5.2 billion (US$381.6 million to US$551.2 million) and will cover the period 2020 to 2024. The indicated allocation for FBA is SEK50 million (US$5.3 million). 

Swedish government - Press release (in Swedish)


Sweden prepares 2020 strategy for development cooperation with Cambodia

The Swedish government has instructed the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to start preparations for a new strategy governing Swedish development cooperation with Cambodia. Priorities in the current strategy focus on strengthening democratic governance and human rights observance, as well as support to the education sector, inclusive labour market, and environmental efforts to combat climate change.

All these focus areas will remain central to the new strategy documents, however Sida is asked to place particular attention on opportunities to further strengthen cooperation in democratic governance. The new plan will outline goals to be met in the years 2020 to 2024. 

Swedish government - Press release (in Swedish) 


Sweden prepares 2020 strategy for development cooperation with Rwanda

The Swedish government has instructed the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to start preparations for a new strategy governing Swedish development cooperation with Rwanda.

Sida will specifically search out opportunities to collaborate for improved democratic governance and environmental practices. The current strategy documents expire in December 2019. The new plan will outline goals to be met in the years 2020 to 2024. 

Swedish government  - Press release (in Swedish) 


Swedish State Audit Office report criticises Sida's management of development cooperation

The Swedish State Audit Office (SAO) has released a report on Swedish development cooperation highlighting significant inefficiency and ineffectiveness in how the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has managed development funds in the nexus between long term development cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

The review, which covers the years 2015 to 2017, claims that Sida staff often lack the competence and/or time to effectively manage development programs. SAO also criticizes the steering documents which guide Sida's work in this area for being overly vague. Planning, analysis and financing that could be done jointly, according to the report, is frequently done separately, leading to inefficient and ineffective management.

Sida has responded to the SAO, stating that the findings of the report are misleading and that many improvements have been made since 2017. 

Report - Omni Digital (in Swedish)

Response - Dagens Arena news (in Swedish)


2019 U20 Tokyo communique focuses on climate action, social inclusion, and sustainable growth

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government hosted the Urban 20 (U20) Tokyo Meyers Summit. The communique from the summit focuses on three policy areas:

  1. Climate Action
  2. Social Inclusion and Integration
  3. Sustainable Economic Growth

The U20 group meets in the sidelines of the group of 20 (G20) events to discuss common problems and solutions relating to cities and the goal of achieving a sustainable and inclusive world. U20 participating cities are: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Durban, Hamburg, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Montreal, New York City, Osaka City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, São Paulo City, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo, Tshwane.

Communiqué - 2019 Urban 20 Tokyo Mayors Summit

Website - U20 The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (in Japanese)