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Sweden becomes largest donor to UNESCO

Sweden has become the largest donor to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s core programs, after signing a cooperation agreement that voluntarily allocates SEK430 million (US$48 million) to the organization over a four-year period. This funding comes in addition to Sweden's regular contributions to UNESCO's budget.

Focus areas of the new cooperation agreement include education, freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, promoting fundamental freedoms and diversity of cultural expressions, and data collection. In total, Sweden has pledged close to US$100 million in voluntary contributions to UNESCO's programs. 

Press release - UNESCO 

Global Sweden Education

Swedish government approves new strategy for Sweden's global development cooperation for sustainable social development

The Swedish government has approved a new strategy for Sweden's global development cooperation in sustainable social development for the period 2018-2022. The strategy will contribute to sustainable social development through improved gender equality, education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. Approximately SEK1.4 billion (US$160 million) per year over a five-year period is foreseen for this strategy. The strategy is implemented through the Swedish International Development Agency, Sida, in Stockholm.

Press release - Swedish government (in Swedish)

Norway to strengthen development cooperation with 16 countries

To more effectively use Norway's development assistance, Norway’s Development Minister, Nikolai Astrup, has announced a re-grouping of Norway's development partner countries into two categories:

  1. Long-term development partnerships, which encompass support on economic growth, job creation, and tax-system advisory. This group includes Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
  2. Stabilization partnerships, which comprise conflict-resolution assistance. This group includes Afghanistan, Mali, Niger, Palestine, Somalia and South Sudan.

According to Astrup, this grouping will better support knowledge sharing and resource management in partner countries, as well as progress towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Press release - Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Policy document - Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

DFAT review raises concerns about Australia's development program in two PNG sectors

Ben Packham has written that the Australian government has concerns about the quality of its development program in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Components in the governance and human development sectors were rated poorly against their objectives in an annual review conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

Australia's FY2018-19 development assistance budget includes A$541 million (US$402 million) for PNG.

News article - The Australian

G7 countries commit US$3 billion to education for women and girls in crises

At the G7 Summit held in Charlevoix, Quebec from June 8-9, 2018, Canada, the UK, the EU, Germany, Japan, and the World Bank committed US$3 billion to invest in women and girls’ education in crisis and conflict situations. This commitment will, among other things, support innovative methods to provide education to vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups, including refugees and displaced people, and support developing countries to provide opportunities for girls to complete at least 12 years of quality education.

With a commitment of US$2 billion (over five years), the World Bank is the largest contributor, followed by Canada (US$350 million) and the United Kingdom (US$250 million). The money raised exceeds the US$1.3 billion a global coalition of 30 humanitarian and development organizations has been calling for. The Canadian government said the commitments represented "the single largest investment in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations", and that the proposed investment could help to educate more than eight million children and teenagers.  

Press release – Prime Minister of Canada’s Office

France and Canada sign joint action plan for international development

French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have signed a joint action plan for cooperation in international development activities. The action plan determines that both countries will develop joint projects and instate an annual dialogue between both Ministries of Foreign Affairs, as well as the French Development Agency (AFD). They will also pursue common positions within multilateral organizations and meetings, such as the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Francophonie, the G7, and the G20.

The plan prioritizes the following issues: climate change, education (with a focus on girls' education and in crisis contexts), innovation (in projects and financing mechanisms), and gender equality, including women's economic empowerment, peace and security, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, noting that France will host the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria replenishment conference in 2019. 

Action plan - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in French)

Norwegian Development Agency to provide NOK1.8 billion in support to civil society organizations

The Norwegian Development Agency (Norad) will provide large-scale support to seven Norwegian civil organizations with NOK1.8 billion (US$222 million) over the next five years. Norad is responsible for around 40% of Norway’s civil society assistance and is soon launching its new set of benchmark principles for development initiatives and partners. These principles are sustainability, inclusion, partnerships, legitimacy, accountability, cost effectiveness, and context sensitivity.

This time, recipients of Norad’s support include Caritas, the Rainforest Fund, the Students and Academics’ International Aid Fund, Digni, the LHL International Tuberculosis Foundation, Hello World, and Capacare. 

News article - Bistands Aktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway's revised budget allocates funding to human rights and humanitarian assistance

The Norwegian government has presented its revised national budget for 2018. Parliament will now review it and make a decision by the end of June. The revised budget estimates a growth in the economy of 2.5% in 2018 and 2.6% in 2019. The government proposes the following in the revised budget: 

  • To increase support for civil society's international efforts to promote human rights by NOK10 million (US$1 million) to NOK370 million (US$44 million) in 2018. The increase will go to efforts in support of freedom of expression, freedom of belief, and freedom of life. 
  • To increase the humanitarian budget by NOK116 million (US$13 million) that will primarily go to the crises in Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  • Reduce refugee costs in Norway with further NOK398 million (US$47 million). 
  • Support the Farm to Market Alliance with NOK10 million (US$1 million). 

State budget - Det Kongelige Finansdepartement (in Norwegian) 

Indonesian terrorism and reduced Australian development assistance

The Australian Financial Review has reported on the importance of Australia’s development assistance to Indonesia at a time when the Australian government is reducing its support to the country. Although Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have recently signed a cooperation agreement with Australia to receive technical assistance for anti-terror activities, the development assistance budget to Indonesia has been reduced by 10%. The article notes that the Australian government has argued that Indonesia's relationship with Australia was changing due to recent strong economic growth.

News article - Australian Financial Review

Australia Education

Dutch NGOs concerned about strength of business interests in new Dutch development cooperation policy

Partos, the Dutch umbrella organization for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has published a reaction to the country's new development policy, released by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag.

While generally positive, Partos raises concerns that the interests of the Dutch business community seem to trump the interests of civil society. While the policy document recognizes the shrinking space of civil society organizations (CSOs), it fails to articulate in detail the importance of CSOs to development in the coming years. Partos is also critical that the goal of achieving 0.7% official development assistance (ODA) to gross national income (GNI) target is relegated to 2030, the year by which all sustainable development goals (SDGs) must be achieved. 

News article - Partos (in Dutch)

Policy document - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)