Pacific Update announces 2020 development conference dates

Pacific Update, an annual development conference focusing on the Pacific, has been scheduled for June 24 to 26, 2020. At this important conference, researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners will discuss economic, social, political, and environmental issues facing the region.

The conference will be held at the University of South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji. It is organized by the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University and the USP's School of Economics. Calls for papers and panel proposals are now open.

Event website - Development Policy Centre, ANU

EU mandate for Brexit calls for establishing terms for UK participation in development and research

EU and UK have negotiated a mandate that outlines arrangements pertaining to the upcoming UK withdrawal from EU ("Brexit").

The mandate states that UK participation in EU programs and in areas of shared interest such as development cooperation and research should be based on general principles, terms, and conditions that are subject to the conditions set out in the specific instruments. The mandate calls for enabling the UK to contribute to the EU’s development instruments fully respecting the EU’s autonomy to programs based on its development priorities. According to the mandate, such cooperation should be based on promoting sustainable development and eradicating poverty and should be in alignment with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Consensus on Development. 

The mandate also calls for cooperation in health security via the EU’s current arrangements for cooperation with third countries. 

EU mandate - Council of the EU

EU Global health Global health R&D

Australia’s Minister for International Development reveals priorities for new international development policy

Speaking at the 2020 Australasian Aid Conference, Australia's Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, indicated that the country's development priorities are moving in new directions. He made these remarks despite the fact that the consultation process intended to guide the creation of Australia's new development policy is still underway.

Hawke emphasized the importance of Pacific regional security, infrastructure, and the provision of funding beyond official development assistance (ODA). He highlighted the value of remittances flowing to the Pacific islands as a result of Australia’s seasonal work programs, arguing for the importance of such non-ODA approaches for quickly and directly channeling money into Pacific nations. Hawke suggested that Australia will pursue partnerships with Southeast Asian countries through strategic and economic cooperation.

News report - Devex


Spanish foreign minister outlines strategic priorities at parliament

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Arancha González Laya outlined her strategic priorities in a parliamentary hearing at the congress of deputies’ foreign affairs committee. González Laya stated that Spain will actively work against nationalist approaches on international relations and stressed the importance of multilateralism, human rights and the Agenda 2030.

Based on her remarks, Spain’s foreign priorities for the current term of office will include:

  • democratic governance, human rights, and gender equality;
  • multilateralism and regional integration;
  • the global economy and socioeconomic progress;
  • climate change and sustainable development; and
  • Spain’s foreign service. 

Spain is expected to focus development efforts on

  • the European Union,
  • Latin America,
  • Northern Africa,
  • and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Minister González also reiterated the Spanish foreign ministry's commitment to increasing Spain’s development assistance to 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2023. She stated that Spain will adopt a feminist foreign policy, and announced that a new law for international development cooperation will be discussed in 2020.

Press release – Congress of Deputies (in Spanish)

Transcription of minister González hearing – MAEUEC (in Spanish)


Parliament expresses opposition to latest long-term EU budget draft

The European Parliament (Parliament) expressed its opposition to the latest proposal for the long-term EU budget, despite welcoming increased engagement with Parliament negotiators. Negotiations have been ongoing since the European Commission published its proposal for 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) in May 2018. European Council President Charles Michel presented a new MFF ‘negotiating box’, or draft budget, to be the basis for the discussions at a special budget summit on Feb. 20-21. However, the budget summit failed to produce an agreement among EU leaders who broadly opposed Michel’s proposal. 

The Finnish Presidency of the Council had presented the previous version of the negotiating box in December 2019 that called for a budget that represents 1.07% of the EU’s GNI, much lower than the Commission’s proposal of 1.114% or the Parliament’s position of 1.3%. Michel’s draft budget would represent 1.074% of EU GNI, a slight increase on the Finnish proposal but still well below the Commission or the Parliament’s positions. The draft budget includes even deeper cuts to the Commission’s proposal for research and external action than the Finnish draft. 

The Parliament has noted cuts in many areas, including research, and calls for increased investments to deliver the Green Deal, the digital transition and a stronger Europe. 

Press release - European Parliament

EU Global health R&D

Transparency review of Australian development spending suggests basic project information has become less available

The recently released 2019 Devpolicy transparency audit suggests that Australia's development spending has become less transparent in recent years. Building on evidence gathered in similar audits in 2013 and 2016, researchers from the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University found that since 2013, transparency has "deteriorated substantially" especially in the early stages of project cycles.

While the availability of basic project information has declined significantly, access to review and evaluation documents has improved. The study's authors suggest that efforts by DFAT’s Office of Development Effectiveness, which is working to improve the evaluation of Australia's development programs, can likely account for increased availability of program reviews.

Blog - Development Policy Centre, ANU


Spanish ministry of foreign affairs meets development NGOs

The Spanish Minister of Foreign affairs, European Union and Cooperation - Arancha González Laya, and the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation - Ángeles Moreno met with representatives of the Spanish development NGO umbrella organization 'CONGDE' in Madrid. During the meeting, González Laya reiterated the current Spanish government’s engagement on Agenda 2030 and underlined the vital and unique role that NGOs could play in fostering sustainable development worldwide. González Laya also invited CONGDE to undertake an active role in achieving the 2030 Agenda, particularly with regards to supporting the creation of new alliances and the incorporation of new actors within the Agenda framework.

Following the meeting, CONGDE and the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation (MAEUEC) are expected to formalize a new strategic framework governing their collabroative relations. 

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)


Australia cuts health funding to Pacific despite persistent health crises

Figures released by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) reveal that funding for health programs in the Pacific has been cut significantly over the past five years. While overall development assistance to the region has increased, budgets for health have been reduced in favor of infrastructure investments.

These cuts to health spending have been made despite the range of serious health outbreaks in Pacific island nations in recent years: The region has faced a deadly measles epidemic in Samoa, the reemergence of polio in Papua New Guinea, and struggles with drug-resistant tuberculosis across the Pacific. The Australian Council for International Development — an organization that represents the sector to the government — has criticized the government for abandoning its position as a leader on preventive health.

News report - The Guardian

Australia Global health

Canada partners with Caribbean Community to tackle climate change

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, met with leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Barbados on February 17 and 18, 2020 to discuss strategies for managing the impacts of climate change while promoting inclusive economic growth. New funding from Canada is supporting the work of CARICOM, specifically in dealing with the ramifications of climate change.

Canada is funding programs aimed at improving emergency response and preparedness and promoting climate-smart agriculture and the blue economy. Canada has committed to increasing the number of experts — in particular, technical assistance experts — assisting CARICOM nations. It has also agreed to include climate-change fields of study in international educational exchange agreements.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada Agriculture

Canada announces support for heavy fuel oil ban in Arctic

Canada's Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, have announced the government's support for a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters. Canada has been working with the International Maritime Organization to address the environmental and economic impacts that shipping has on the Arctic and northern, Indigenous, and Inuit communities. In an impact assessment released in December 2019, Transport Canada's Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response concluded that a ban on HFOs would be good for the environment, but would also have economic implications for northern communities and industry. Transport Canada is holding meetings with relevant stakeholders including Indigenous and Inuit communities, industry, environmental groups, and provincial/territorial and federal governments to put forth the best plan for the ban.

HFOs are lower-cost fuels often used by bulk carriers serving mines, cargo vessels, and tankers servicing northern communities. They pose a threat to the environment because they have a high viscosity and density and do not evaporate as quickly as other fuels. Therefore, they are more likely to get trapped in ice, making them extremely difficult to clean up.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada