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Japan to increase financial assistance to and strengthen partnership with ASEAN

During the twenty-second Asean-Japan Summit, prime minister Shinzo Abe pledged to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its effort to strengthen regional cooperation and to tackle the region’s challenges. Among the key issues raised during the meeting were the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Mekong-Japan strategic partnership.

Abe and Thailand’s prime minister, Gen Prayut welcomed the November 2, 2019 signing of six memorandums of understanding between Thai and Japanese private firms to promote small-medium enterprises (SMEs), startups, and related innovations. To support connectivity, Japan will also launch an initiative for loans and investment for ASEAN in areas of quality infrastructure, financial access for women, and green-field investment. 

Press release – Bangkok Post

Global Japan

Japan provides US$3 million in food assistance to Zimbabwe

The Japanese government has announced ¥300 million (US$3 million) for Zimbabwe through the World Food Programme. About 5 million people in Zimbabwe are said to be facing serious food shortages as a result of severe weather events affecting agricultural production. 

These funds will provide approximately 4,300 tons of food assistance to Zimbabwe to improve food security and nutrition. This cooperation is an example of Japan's 'contribution to the creation of a strong and sustainable society' which was reaffirmed at the seventh TICAD Conference in Africa (TICAD7) in August 2019. 

Press release – MOFA (in Japanese)

Global Japan Agriculture Nutrition

Global Fund releases table showing total pledges by country

At its sixth replenishment conference in Lyon, France, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria raised a record-breaking US$14 billion in commitments from public and private donors, the largest amount of funding ever raised for a multilateral health organization. The Global Fund has since released a table showing the amounts pledged by each attendant.

Pledges at Global Fund Sixth Replenishment Conference - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Innovative financing mechanisms needed to deliver on SDGs

Japan hosted a meeting of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development in New York on September 26, 2019, as part of its presidency. The Japanese minister for foreign affairs, Motegi Toshimutsu, reiterated the need for innovative financing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) given an estimated funding gap of US$2.5 trillion annually. There was a discussion on how to better share initiatives between countries and how to cooperate towards the scaling-up of financing.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and other groups provided examples of innovative financing mechanisms by governments and institutions including blended finance and social impact investment.

Press release – MOFA

Global Japan

ONE develops scorecard system to measure donor performance on commitment to eradicating poverty

ONE, an international movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, has developed a scorecard system to rank the 20 largest OECD DAC donors and European Institutions according to how much official development assistance (ODA) they spend in the fight against extreme poverty.

The new system, titled 'ONE Data Scorecards', provides performance comparable information on the donors, and tackles key questions regarding donor contribution including funding volume(how much ODA is spent); aid targeting (to what extent is the spent ODA focused on poverty reduction); and aid quality (how effectively is ODA spent).

The scorecards aim to compare the efforts of donor countries and to highlight room for improvement, in order to encourage countries to deliver on their commitments to reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty. The most recent finding of the scorecards highlighted that if all governments had delivered on the historical commitment to providing 0.7% of their gross national income in development funding, an additional US$196 billion in funding would have been available in 2018: a 228% increase from current amounts.

Report - ONE

Global

Controversial bill criminalizing dutch presence in terrorist controlled areas passes in parliament

In an attempt to reduce the risk of Dutch citizens traveling to terrorist-controlled areas to join militias or armed groups, the Dutch parliament passed a new law criminalizing the presence of Dutch citizens in those areas. 

The bill instigated fierce criticism among media outlets and civil society organizations, given that it also applies to journalists covering war zones or impartial humanitarian organizations delivering life-saving support. As a result, political parties Groen Links and D66 presented a motion in parliament to grant exceptions to journalists and humanitarian organizations. 

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article -NRC newspaper (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands

Dutch development cooperation budget published for 2020

On september 17, 2019, the Dutch celebrated 'Prinsjesdag' (Prince's day), which marks the start of the parliamentary year. The minister of finance Wopke Hoekstra presented to the king, the queen, and the cabinet, the overall national budget for 2020, including the budget controlled by the foreign trade and development ministry.  The so-called Homogenious Group for Development Cooperation (HGIS) document was also publishedconsolidating all the funding categorized as Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the development and the other ministries. 

The development budget, which is linked to the gross national income (GNI), remains largely at the same level than in 2019, at €3.1 billion (US$3.5 billion) despite  economic growth. This represents 0.53% of the GNI, the lowest percentage since 1973, and marks the seventh year since the Netherlands left the 1% club of donors. 

There are, however, some changes among the five development budget lines. Budget lines 1 and 2 will increase from 2019 to 2020: sustainable economic development and trade and investments, and sustainable development, food security, water and climate will be allocated €35 million and €30 million (US$39 million and US$34 million) more respectively. Those that have been reduced are lines 3 (social issues), 4 (peace, security and sustainable development) and 5 (multilateral collaborations and other areas), decreasing €3 million, €10 million and €51 million (US$3 million, US$11 million and US$51 million) respectively. 

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands

Dutch parliament passes motion to return to 0.7% of GNI to ODA target

Following the publication of the foreign trade and development cooperation budget of the Netherlands on September 17, 2019, the Dutch parliament approved a motion to allocate 0.7% of the Gross National Income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA).

The motion that was submitted by the Party for the Animals and co-submitted by Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA, labor party), Lilian Marijnissen (Socialist Party), Jesse Klaver (Green Party), Kuzu (DENK), Kees van der Staaij (SGP and Henk Krol), which jointly hold 51 seats in parliament.

Additionally, three out of the four government coalition parties, namely Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Christian Union, and D66, also voted in favor of the motion, which led to a majority of 95 votes.

Motion letter - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands

Civil society organizations respond to Netherlands' 2020 development budget

Oxfam and NGO umbrella organization Partos responded with criticism to the publication on September 17, 2019, of the Dutch foreign trade and development cooperation budget for 2020.

The Dutch government's decision to lower the percentage of gross domestic income (GNI) allocated to development spending despite steady economic growth, the organizations say, has resulted in a flatlining development budget. Partos and Oxfam also criticized dependency on private funding to fight climate change as well as the decreased budget for civil society organizations, especially in times of increased political repression and the closing of civic spaces. Partos and Oxfam praised the increased attention given to fighting tax avoidance by large multinationals, however.

Press release - Oxfam (in Dutch)

Press release - Partos (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands

Dutch governments informs parliament about European and international climate policy

The Dutch government sent a letter to parliament with details about its EU and international policy and other relevant developments around climate change, in response to a parliamentary request in September of 2018 to obtain regular information on international affairs regarding climate change policy. 

The letter, signed by the development minister, Sigrid Kaag, and the minister of economic affairs and climate change, Eric Wiebes, outlines the ambitions of the European Commission to reduce CO2 emissions in the EU, information around bilateral diplomacy of the Netherlands, and information on EU and Dutch climate-related funding to developing countries.

The letter also incorporates the recommendations of the report on climate change of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), an independent body which advises government and parliament on foreign policy. 

Letter to parliament - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Global Netherlands Agriculture