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)

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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

UK international development minister confirms commitment to human development

The UK secretary for state for international development, Alok Sharma, has confirmed the UK’s continued commitment to supporting human development through its development assistance. In a letter to the chair of the UK Parliament's International Development Select Committee, Stephen Twigg MP, Sharma highlighted the UK's global leadership in three key areas:

  1. Health: the UK has been a long-standing champion of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 3 related to health and has been leading on the United Nation’s forthcoming  High-Level Meeting on ensuring Universal Health Care to be held on September 23, 2019;
  2. Nutrition: the UK has exceeded its own 2015 commitment to improve the nutrition of 50 million people by 2020; and, 
  3. Social Protection: the UK has a strong portfolio of programs supporting social protection

Sharma also noted the UK prime minister Boris Johnson's commitment to education, particularly for girls, as another priority area for UK development assistance.

UK government - letter from UK Secretary for State for Development

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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) 

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2020 Australasian AID Conference is open for registration and presenters

Australia’s major development conference, the Australasian AID Conference, will be held from February 17 - 19, 2020, in Canberra.

The conference involves researchers and practitioners particularly from Australia, the Pacific, and Asia. Held at the Australian National University, it covers assistance and international development policy. The call is now open for proposals from speakers and panels.

Submission call - Australian National University

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UK announces funding for Green Climate Fund and Education Cannot Wait

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, used the occasion of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France (August 24-26, 2019), to announce £1.44 billion (US$1.9 billion) in new UK development assistance funding to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This represents a doubling of UK funding to the GCF. The GCF is responsible for US$18.7 billion when co-financing mechanisms are considered and has projects that are located across 99 countries. The GCF is established within the framework of the UNFCCC.

Johnson also announced that the UK will contribute £90 million (US$115 million) to Education Cannot Wait, a global fund set up to provide schooling for children in conflict zones. The fund, based in UNICEF and overseen by a steering group chaired by Gordon Brown, a former Labour Party UK prime minister, aims to raise US$1.8 billion from governments and donors by 2021 to support education projects in 18 countries, including Somalia and Afghanistan.

Press release - UK Government

News article - The Guardian

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Dutch government releases information on education work in developing countries

The Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs published an update about its work on education in developing countries. The press release highlighted progress in three particular areas: 

  1. The promotion of primary and vocational education: through Dutch support to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which helped provide 72 million children with primary education in 2002-2015, and the Orange Knowledge Programme which works in 53 developing countries providing study grants and training in technical and occupational fields;
  2. Improvements in the business climate: through the use of information technology resources and investments in young people, especially women, who want to start their own business, and in businesses with growth potential; and
  3. Strengthening and modernizing agriculture: by supporting organizations that train and advise farmers and provide them with more and better-quality seeds.

Press release - Government of the Netherlands

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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

Report calls for better targeted EU financing to end extreme poverty in Africa

The European Think Tanks Group published a briefing note on pathways for the EU to end extreme poverty across the African continent. The briefing recommended methods for better targeting funding for human development sectors including education, health, and social protection.

According to the report, extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa could be eliminated by 2030 if all of the OECD development assistance committee donors met the UN target to spend 0.7% of their gross national income on official development assistance (ODA), and if half of ODA was channeled to the least developed countries (LDCs). The report urges the EU to increase the proportion of their ODA allocated to LDGs from 27% of total ODA 

The report urges EU to better focus its funding on human development in the least developed countries (LDCs) by increasing the proportion of ODA to LDCs (currently at 27% of total ODA) and by increasing the proportion of ODA to human development (currently at 20% of total ODA).
Report - European Think Tanks Group

Australia to increase assistance for education and healthcare in Papua New Guinea

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that Australia will provide Papua New Guinea (PNG) with A$54 million (US$40 million) for rural primary health services and A$10 million (US$7 million) for accelerated childhood immunization. Up to A$15 million (US$11 million) per year will help control drug-resistant tuberculosis and A$10 million (US$7 million) will be disbursed over three years to build education leadership skills and infrastructure.

The announcement was made at the Papua New Guinea–Australian leaders' dialogue with PNG's Prime Minister, James Marape.

News article - The Mandarin