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

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UK Conservative Party divided on future of UK development assistance

The UK Conservative Party is divided on the future of UK development assistance. While some factions support a radical rethink, including the dismantling of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), others fear this will harm the UK’s global reputation as an international donor. Former Secretary of State for International Development under a Conservative government, Andrew Mitchell, along with Stephen Twigg, an MP for the Labour Party and Chair of the UK’s International Development Select Committee, have written an article in the UK Times newspaper arguing that merging DFID with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) would harm the UK’s high-quality foreign assistance and should be resisted. 

Op-ed - The Times

United Kingdom

In blow to UK NGOs, EU closes loophole that enabled it to fund non-EU humanitarian NGOs

The EU, on the basis of an in-depth legal review, has decided stop funding humanitarian NGOs outside of the EU. The EU’s Convention 124 of the Council of Europe appeared to allow the EU to fund non-EU NGOs, but a recent legal review found the basis for funding non-EU NGOs was insufficient. The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has already written to 10 Swiss NGOs in December 2018 informing them that their humanitarian funding would be cut. The move applies to NGOs who have agreements with ECHO but does not affect funding through the commission’s development arm, DEVCO, which has different eligibility rules and procedures.

The decision will impact UK NGOs and is seen as in part motivated by the forthcoming UK exit from the European Union.

News article - Devex

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UK Minister for Africa visits South Africa and Mozambique to promote development, trade, and investment

UK Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin visited South Africa and Mozambique at the end of January as part of the UK’s push to strengthen its strategic relations with Africa.  In South Africa she visited a school to see implementation of investment from the UK's development finance institute, CDC. In Mozambique, she visited mobile health clinics that are helping young women to get access to vital family planning services. She also announced the creation of three new 'Honorary Consuls for Prosperity' who will support the growth of economic and commercial ties between the UK and Mozambique for the cities of Pemba, Beira, and Tete.

Press release - Department for International Development 

United Kingdom Global health

Center for Global Development Europe explores how UK could engage with EU post-Brexit

Mikaela Gavas, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development Europe, has submitted evidence to an inquiry being held by the UK House of Lords’ EU External Affairs Select Committee on International Development Cooperation after Brexit.  Her submission explores the potential mechanisms available to the UK to continue contributing funds to the EU once it has exited the Union. The UK has stated that it wants to remain a committed development partner of the EU post-Brexit, focusing on migration, humanitarian assistance, and security. According to Gavas, the UK contributes around £1.5 billion (US$2 billion) to EU development programs every year, amounting to 8% of the EU's total development-cooperation budget.  

Written evidence for inquiry - Center for Global Development Europe

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ONE Campaign's new 'Real Aid Index' assesses quality of UK development spending

ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization, has released its new 'Real Aid Index' assessing the quality of official development assistance (ODA) across different UK government departments. In recent years, a growing proportion of UK development assistance has been spent outside of the Department for International Development (DFID) in a drive toward a more whole-of-government approach to delivery. 

The Index is highly critical of the UK’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department (BEIS) for allocating only 5% of the £765 million (US$1 billion) of UK ODA under its charge to countries most at need. The Index, however, praises DFID for its strong poverty focus, effectiveness, and transparency of its spending. The Index was launched ahead of the forthcoming UK Comprehensive Review, where the Government will set out the budget envelopes of all Departments for the next two-five years. 

ONE Campaign - Real Aid Index

News article - The Guardian

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European donors solidify financial and political commitments to SRH/FP

A trend analysis of European donor financing for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and family planning (FP) reports strengthened financial and political commitments in the past year. SRH/FP funding was largely protected, even where cuts to official development assistance (ODA) were made. 10 of 12 European countries either increased or maintained funding to SRH/FP. They also featured it strongly as a component of humanitarian and long-term development policies. Denmark showed the most significant increase in percentage growth in funding for SRH/FP, and together the 12 European donor countries in the analysis increased funding by 17% over 2016. The UK, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden remain the largest donors.

Report – Countdown 2030 Europe

UK launches AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London

The UK held the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London on January 30. The Forum brought together politicians, medical experts, and civil society from six participating cities (Kiev, Delhi, Atlanta, Maputo, Nairobi, and London) as part of the broader campaign focused on achieving the UN’s '90-90-90' targets aiming to inform at least 90 percent of people with HIV of their status, get 90 percent of them on treatment, and achieve suppression of the virus for 90 percent of those receiving treatment.

The Forum is a partnership between the UK newspapers the Independent and the Evening Standard, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development. 

News article - The Independent 

United Kingdom Global health

UK development minister reportedly suggests using private sector funding as ODA

Penny Mordaunt, a conservative member of parliament who leads the UK's Department for International Development, has reportedly told her fellow cabinet ministers that she wants to explore how the UK can draw more on private-sector investment and philanthropic resources to fund its commitment to the international target of providing 0.7% of gross national income on development assistance. She is reported as arguing to her colleagues that the current budget is unsustainable in the long-run.

Under OECD rules only public government funds are allowed to be counted towards the target. However, the UK government is set on loosening those rules. Concerns over Mordaunt’s reported comments have been raised in the UK Parliament. Dan Carden, the new shadow international development secretary for the Labour Party, was highly critical of the proposal. 

News article - The Guardian

United Kingdom

Head of EU humanitarian agency ECHO warns UK NGOs to prepare for worst in case of no-deal Brexit

Monique Pariat, head of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, warned at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos that a no-deal 'Brexit' would result in UK NGOs' losing their direct access to funds; however, she noted that there were other options available, including NGOs' relocating inside the EU or partnering with EU-based NGOs.

News article Devex

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