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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

Norway quadruples grant to World Bank for tax and customs reform in vulnerable states

Norway will increase its contribution to the World Bank’s Global Tax Program (GTP) with NOK88 million (US$10 million) to promote taxation and customs reform in vulnerable states. Having previously granted NOK21.5 million (US$2 million), the move represents an increase of more than 400%. The World Bank intends to use the funds to facilitate customs reform in Niger, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The decision also reflects the Norwegian government’s greater effort to prioritize taxation-centered efforts in its development work. Norway plans to contribute a total of NOK300 million (US$ 34 million) in tax-related development assistance in 2019. 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway Agriculture Education Global health Global health R&D Nutrition

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen announces new team and Commission structure

On September 10, 2019, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented the new structure of her college of commissioners and the distribution of portfolios to her commissioners-designate, still to be vetted by the European Parliament. The college has been revamped to focus more on policy themes rather than mirroring the directorate-generals, the administrative divisions within the Commission. 
 
Josep Borrell (Spain), the designate for high-representative of the union for foreign policy and security policy will also be in charge of ‘a stronger Europe in the world’ as one of the eight vice-presidents. Three executive vice-presidents will hold dual roles as commissioners in addition to their responsibilities to the core topics of the president-elect’s agenda, including the European Green Deal, making ‘Europe fit for the digital age’, and creating an ‘economy that works for the people’. 
 
Other commissioners-designate include: 

  • Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) - Innovation and youth (including research and development)
  • Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus) - Health
  • Jutta Urpilainen (Finland) - International partnerships (including development cooperation)
  • László Trócsányi (Hungary) - Neighborhood and enlargement
  • Janusz Wojciechowski (Poland) - Agriculture

Commissioners-designate will next participate in hearings in relevant parliamentary committees. The European Parliament must then give its consent to the entire college, including the president and the High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Finally, the European Council (made up of heads of government of EU member states) will formally appoint the European Commission. The new Commission’s mandate will begin November 1, 2019. 
 
Press release - European Commission

Norway's key priorities at the United Nations General Assembly: UN Security Council, international cooperation, sustainable development

The Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs has announced Norway’s key priorities for the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA). In addition to securing a Norwegian spot on the UN Security Council for 2021-2022, Norway’s priorities contain a common thread of revamping international cooperation and scaling up efforts to promote sustainable development. 

Norway is concerned that multilateral organizations are being less frequently utilized to solve common challenges. Three of Norway’s six priorities, therefore, center around the promotion of international cooperation and the multilateral system, the strengthening of the UN’s ability to prevent and solve conflicts, and the increase of the UN's ability to deal with humanitarian crises. Norway sees these priorities as paramount for achieving peaceful sustainable development.  Norway also emphasizes achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a priority of its own and will place additional weight on efforts related to climate, ocean preservation, education, gender equality, healthcare, and national resource mobilization.  

Press release - Government of Norway (in Norwegian) 

Norway Agriculture Education Global health Global health R&D Nutrition

Australia provides A$500 million to Pacific Islands for climate-related investments

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced a A$500-million (US$339 million) investment in climate change and disaster resilience, as well as renewable energy, in the Pacific region. The funding was announced at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in Tuvalu. 

The funding will be re-appropriated from other areas of Australia’s development assistance budget.

News article - Devex

Australia Agriculture

Japan announces priorities for 'ASEAN+3' cooperation

At a meeting of the 'ASEAN+3' (APT) foreign ministers, Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono highlighted Japan's priorities for APT cooperation, including a free and open Indo-Pacific, disaster prevention, food security, health and sanitation, and education and cross-country exchange. 

Kono also commended APT for its progress so far in promoting cooperation and development in the region. The APT includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) as well as China, Japan, and South Korea.

Press release -Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

South Korea strengthens ties with ASEAN member states

The foreign minister of South Korea met with representatives of ASEAN member states including Brunei, Laos, and Thailand to discuss expanding partnerships. All participants agreed that South Korea’s increase in development cooperation to ASEAN member states has been substantially helpful for the sustainable development of the region. Support for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, participation in ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and support to small-medium enterprises in ASEAN countries were highlighted as beneficial initiatives. 

South Korea and Laos have agreed to continue cooperation in areas of water resource control, agriculture and rural development, and health and medical care. The South Korean government will hold the ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-ROK Summit in November this year and will consult closely with ASEAN to generate tangible outcomes and build sustainable partnership mechanism along the way.

Press release – MOFA (in Korean)

Australia's Monash University reports on health challenges from climate change

Monash University in Melbourne, together with Global health Alliance Australia, has issued a report titled 'From Townsville to Tuvalu', which examines some 120 peer-reviewed journal articles on health-related impacts of climate change in Australia and the Pacific region.

The report predicts the development of climate-related stunting, malnutrition and lower IQ in children. The expanding habitat of mosquitos would expose more people to diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus. Higher CO2 concentration is also expected to decrease the nutritional value of staple crops within the next two decades.

Report - Global health Alliance Australia

News article - The Guardian

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister announces intentions to wean off Australian asistance within 10 years

Prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, has said that he intends to end reliance on Australian assistance within a decade. Speaking in Sydney at a sold-out Lowy Institute event, Marape discussed his plans for revitalizing Papua New Guinea's economy overall, which include an overhaul of the natural resource and agricultural industries. Specifically, he plans to enter into the coffee and rice industries; he believes Papua New Guinea could position itself as the "food basket of Asia".

Australia will provide an estimated US$608 million to Papua New Guinea in development assistance this financial year; a decade from now Marape envisions his nation working with Australia as an economic peer, " looking after smaller island nations".

News article - The Guardian

Australia Agriculture

Conference on international agricultural research to be held at Australia's Parliament House

The Crawford Fund for International Agricultural Research will examine the agriculture, energy, water, and climate change nexus on August 12-13, 2019.  The Fund’s annual conference is held at Australia's Parliament House and attracts many members of parliament. This major event promotes Australian development assistance for agricultural research and food security, including the role of the CGIAR centers.

Conference information - The Crawford Fund