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

Climate change denial may be hindering financing of agricultural adaptation research

Colin Chartres, the head of the Crawford Fund for International Agricultural Research — a leading advocacy group — has expressed concern that climate change denial may be limiting agricultural research funding in Australia. More research is needed to facilitate the necessary climate-related transformation of agriculture and food production, both in Australia and globally. More research is particularly important in the push to improve climate-smart land management practices and to build greater food security in vulnerable low-income countries.

Chartres claims that without adequate funding for research, Australia will miss an opportunity to be a world leader in sustainable agriculture. The country is well-positioned to lead the charge toward low-carbon farming, as methods and technologies developed in Australia could be used in similar semi-arid, humid environments around the world.

News article - Devex

Australia Agriculture Nutrition

Australia partners with 6 East African countries in launch of research program on bean varieties

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has announced a program to improve bean varieties to increase micronutrients and reduce cooking time. Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Kenya are partner countries in the program. 

Shorter cooking times can reduce environmental impacts and the adverse health effects of exposure to cooking fire emissions.

Press release - ACIAR

Australia Agriculture Nutrition

Australian think tank proposes three potential areas for joint development cooperation with China

An opinion piece from the Lowy Institute has suggested that there are three areas in which China and Australia could work cooperatively in the Pacific: namely on debt sustainability,  donor coordination improvement (to the extent China wishes to join such mechanisms), and through joint projects.

A current example is the cooperative malaria project between Australia, China, and Papua New Guinea. Further trilateral cooperation would be most sensible in the health sector or possibly in the field of agriculture and food security.

Op-ed - Lowy Institute

Japanese activist physician and peace prize winning colleague are dead in targeted killing in Afghanistan

On December 4, 2019, six people, including a prominent Japanese physician were shot in a targeted killing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Dr. Namakura Tetsu headed the Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS), and with his college, Kazuyo Ito, worked on improving irrigation in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. He was a recipient of the Philippine’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and Understanding.

On December 8, the body of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura arrived home to Fukuoka. The Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed his grief and heartfelt condolences to Dr. Nakamura’s family. He condemned the attack and expressed hoped that the Afghan authorities would promptly advance the investigation. In addition, he expressed Japan’s intention to continue supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan in cooperation with the international community.

News article - The New York Times

Press release - MOFA (in Japanese)

Japan Agriculture Global health

Australia to cease bilateral development assistance to Pakistan in favor of Pacific recipients

The Australian government plans to cease all bilateral development assistance to Pakistan in 2020- 2021. The resources will instead be used for support to the Pacific. Australia will continue assistance to Pakistan through its regional and global programs, including in-Australia scholarships.

The cessation of bilateral development assistance was flagged in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Aid Program Performance Report on Pakistan for 2018- 2019.  The current bilateral program includes support for poor women and girls, reproductive health services, and gender-based anti-violence assistance. In addition, the program focused on improved water, food, and economic security,  and supporting stabilization and resilience. Australia provided US$27 million (A$39 million) in bilateral funding to Pakistan in 2018- 2019.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Aid Program Performance Report on Pakistan - DFAT

Australia Agriculture Nutrition

Finnish Council presidency proposes compromise draft deal on next long-term EU budget

The Finnish presidency of the Council of the EU proposed a compromise draft deal on the next long-term EU budget ahead of the December European Council meeting, where EU heads of state will provide guidance for the ongoing Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations. The proposal, or ‘negotiating box’, includes budget figures for the 2021- 2027 MFF that represent 1.07% of EU gross national income (GNI). The Finnish proposal reduces the overall budget size while safeguarding the proportion of funding for cohesion and common agricultural policy. By contrast, it cuts the proportion of the budget going to development and increases it for research. 
The Finnish Council presidency proposal requests €103.2 billion in 2018 prices (USD $114.6 billion) for Heading 6, the budget area for all EU external action, and €75.5 billion in 2018 prices (US$83.8 billion) for the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), the primary development instrument proposed for the 2021-2027 MFF that includes the currently off-budget European Development Fund (EDF).
The negotiating box acknowledges that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” EU insiders suspect a final MFF deal will not be reached until the latter half of 2020 during the Germany presidency of the Council. 
News article - Euractiv
MFF Negotiating box - Finnish Council presidency

EU Agriculture Global health R&D

New European Commission takes office, following election by Parliament

After a month-long delay, the new European Commission began its five-year term on December 1, 2019. The European Parliament approved Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s college of commissioners on November 27 with a stronger margin of support than former President Jean-Claude Juncker received in 2014. The Commission was largely backed by the three largest groups, the conservatives (EPP), liberals (Renew Europe), and social democrats (S&D). The official party line of the Greens was to abstain from the vote, although some did support von der Leyen’s Commission. EU heads of state then formally appointed the Commission.
The first female Commission President’s Commission also has the highest female representation in EU history. Von der Leyen had aimed for gender balance amongst the Commissioners but fell short by one. This is due to the MEPs rejecting three Commissioner candidates from Romania, Hungary, and France -- the most ever rejected -- which meant new nominees had to be selected. 
In her confirmation speech during the Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, Von der Leyen called for the EU to take a global leadership role as a responsible power, a champion for multilateralism, and a true partner to all countries. She highlighted the importance of climate action and the need for 'massive investment' in innovation and research. She called for a modernised long-term EU budget for the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework. She mentioned the need for the EU to rediscover its 'competitive sustainability', including in its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 
Press release - European Parliament
Who’s who infographic - European Parliament

EU Agriculture Global health R&D

Program for 2020 Australasian Aid Conference is now available

The annual Australasian Aid Conference will be held on February 17- 19, 2020, organized by the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre in partnership with the Asia Foundation.   

The program covers a wide range of sectors. Keynote speakers include Lant Pritchett of the Blavatnik School of Government and Oxford University on the difficult dynamics of deals, and Radhika Coomaraswamy, human rights activist, on women, peace, and security.

Conference site - ANU Development Policy Centre

Sweden extends cooperation strategies with Asian Development Bank and International Agricultural Development Fund

On November 21, 2019, the Swedish government announced that it will extend its development cooperation strategies with both the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Fund for Agricultural and Development (IFAD). Both organizations are considered important partners of Sweden and, through their operations, make important contributions toward the achievement of the sustainable development goals within the framework of Agenda 2030.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden Agriculture