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Australia’s opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs commits to continuing support for Asia-Pacific, health, should Labor win the election

Senator Penny Wong, Australia's opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs, spoke at the University of Queensland on 'Rebuilding Australia’s international development program for a time of disruption.' She outlined her party's priorities for development policy, should the Labor Party win the upcoming May 2019 federal election. 

She committed to continuing Australia's development engagement with middle-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Health, education, climate change, infrastructure, and gender equality and inclusion would  be Labor's central themes. Her speech also included a new funding commitment to tackle cataract blindness in the region and the announcement that Labor would appoint a Global Human Rights Ambassador. Although she reiterated plans to rebuild the development budget, she would  not re-establish a separate development agency.  

Speech - Senator Wong's  website

Norway highlights World Bank's essential role in multilateral cooperation during recent meetings in Iceland

Norwegian Minister of Development Dag-Inge Ulstein met Nordic and Baltic counterparts and World Bank President Kristalina Georgieva in Iceland.

One of the topics discussed was the upcoming replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank. Norway emphasized that the World Bank is a key driver of multilateral cooperation and one of Norway's most important partners in eliminating poverty and contributing to inclusive and sustainable growth. 

News update - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Japan announces ¥850 million support for Laos

Japan has announced it will contribute ¥850 million (US$8 million) for Laos through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and UN-Habitat.

The funding will support activities related to access to water, improved hygiene, education, agricultural support, and community building.

Press release - MOFA (in Japanese)

Japan Agriculture Education

Official development assistant reform in Norway still on hold after 10 months

10 months after the former Norwegian Minister of Development, Nikolai Astrup, launched a development assistance reform, there is still no further clarification on the division of roles and responsibilities between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norad, Norway's development agency. One month into his tenure as the Norwegian Minister of Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, met with colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norad and confirmed that he needs more time to decide on the way forward, although the government's platform will guide their work.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Australia to evaluate development activities in 2019 including health support to the Pacific and ending gender-based violence

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced its evaluation program for development cooperation for 2019. Evaluation topics have a strong education and health focus.

High-level strategic evaluations will focus on health support to the Pacific, ending violence against women and girls, multilateral organisations, and technical and vocational education and training. Specific program evaluations will include the Tonga Health Systems Support Program, a Cambodia Agriculture Value Chain Program, and a Basic Education Sector Transformation Program in the Philippines.

Aid Evaluation Plan - DFAT

2019 Australasian Aid Conference to be live-streamed

The Australasian Aid Conference is Australia's biggest development conference, held in partnership with the Asia Foundation. Hosted in Canberra at the Australian National University on February 19 and 20, 2019, the event covers development research and international development policy issues. Sessions will be broadcast live over the internet, and will include discussions of financing, advocacy for Australian development assistance, and the government's move to provide infrastructure loans in the Pacific.

Event website - ANU Development Policy Centre

Norway gives US$15 million to fill UNRWA funding gap left by US

Following the US' decision to cut funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Norway has stepped up to meet the funding gap by providing its core contribution of NOK 125 million (US$15 million) in full at the beginning of the year.  According to Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, ensuring that UNRWA-supported schools and services remain open is crucial for stability in the region. Norway is a significant donor to UNRWA, providing humanitarian funding in addition to core contributions. 

Press release - Government of Norway

Norway Education

Lowy Institute commentator urges Australia to ensure infrastructure loans to the Pacific target poverty alleviation

Writing for the Lowy Institute, Tim Watkin argues that Australia’s new A$2 billion (US$1.4 billion) loans program for infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific should be designed from the outset to serve poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Risk ratings by the IMF and the Asian Development Bank indicate that 10 countries in the Pacific are already in high or moderate debt distress. He points to the Papua New Guinea electrification partnership, a collaboration between Japan, New Zealand, the US, and Australia, as an example of planning that is focused on training for local communities and employment generation.

Blog - The Lowy Institute  

Australia Education

UK to co-fund new global education data dashboard

The UK Department for International Development (DFID), in partnership with the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is supporting  the launch of new data dashboard to give low and middle income governments a better sense of the quality of their education systems. The dashboard will look at teaching, school management, inputs and infrastructure, as well as systemic drivers.  It is intended to contribute to informed, evidence-based policy making in the education sector.

News article Devex

United Kingdom Education

Norway's government platform continues to focus development cooperation on health and increases attention towards food security

The Norwegian Conservative Party, Liberal Party, Christian Democratic Party, and the Progress have agreed on the 'Granavolden Platform', to be presented to Parliament on January 29, 2019. The platform commits that 1% of gross national income (GNI) will be spent on official development assistance (ODA).

Norway will continue to strengthen its efforts within global health, especially vaccination, child health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Norway will increase its efforts related to food security and climate smart agriculture. 

Government's political platform  - Liberal Party (in Norwegian)