South Korea launches new initiative to support political participation of marginalized women and girls

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) launched a new initiative to support the political participation and voice of marginalized women and girls and support them to become agents of change. KOICA announced that it will invest US$100 million in the gender initiative between 2020 and 2026 and implement it in partnership with various domestic and international partners.

Examples of KOICA's work in promoting gender equality include collaboration with the World Bank to improve the gender-sensitivity of KOICA’s projects and implement official development assistance (ODA) projects that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. KOICA held a workshop on gender mainstreaming in infrastructure projects and is currently discussing the application of the World Bank Gender Innovation Lab’s gender impact assessment to KOICA’s ODA projects. In addition, KOICA and the World Bank are currently co-designing a project on preventing and responding to gender-based violence in Timor-Leste.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

South Korea

Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs presents 2020 foreign policy declaration

On February 12, 2020, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs presented the government’s 2020 Statement of Foreign Policy to parliament.

The declaration summarizes Sweden’s priorities for its foreign policy in 2020 and captures new areas such as strengthening Sweden’s work against organized crime, implementation of Sweden’s new ‘Drive for Democracy’, as well as a stronger focus on strengthening security in Europe in light of Sweden’s upcoming 2021 presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)


Canada to host Lima Group meeting on Venezuelan crisis

Members of the Lima Group will gather on February 20, 2020, in Gatineau, Québec to discuss the current political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

The Lima Group was established on August 8, 2017, when the coalition of Western Hemisphere countries first met in Lima, Peru "to address the critical situation in Venezuela and explore ways to contribute to the restoration of democracy in that country through a peaceful and negotiated solution". After their last meeting in Canada in February 2019, the group released a declaration, signed by all members except Guyana, Mexico, and St. Lucia, reiterating their "recognition and support for Juan Guaidó as the Interim President" of Venezuela.

February's gathering will mark the third Lima Group Meeting to be hosted by Canada.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada


US Development Finance Coporation names new Chief Development Officer

The board of the newly established United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has named its first Chief Development Officer (CDO). Andy Herscowitz, formerly of Power Africa, was formally named just weeks after the DFC opened its doors. The position was one that the US development community pushed hard for in the authorizing legislation and is a role that did not exist in DFC's predecessor agency.  

The BUILD Act, which established the DFC, set forth the CDO's reach and "enumerates a range of responsibilities, including advising the board and managing relations with other agencies, relations with USAID on joint projects and monitoring and evaluation of projects, transfer of funds to and from other agencies, and the all-important performance measurement system."

The CDO will report directly to the board, not to the Chief Executive Officer.

Opinion article - Brookings 

United States

Australian parliamentary committee to review status of human rights for Pacific women and girls

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade will review how Australia can best enhance opportunities for women and girls in the Pacific. Its Human Rights Sub-Committee will specifically examine the role of civil society groups in addressing gender-based violence and other human rights issues.

The committee will also consider the entities that could improve the human rights of women and girls, and the effectiveness of current Australian development assistance in this area. Submissions to the inquiry must be lodged by May 18, 2020.

Press release - Parliament of Australia


As Ghana transitions to middle-income status, UK must plan transition carefully or endanger decades of progress, warns ICAI

The UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report examining the effectiveness of UK development assistance in Ghana as the country transitions to middle-income status. The UK provided £2.8 billion (US$3.7 billion) in bilateral ODA to Ghana between 1998 and 2017 but annual volumes have fallen since 2011 when the country officially became a lower-middle-income country.

The ICAI report praised the UK's support to the poorest and most vulnerable in Ghana, however, it rated the sustainability of the UK development assistance portfolio as 'amber-red'. It raised concerns about the UK’s transition planning, arguing that greater care needs to be taken to ensure that results delivered through ODA programs were sustainable when ODA flows stop. 

The report makes a number of recommendations for the UK's activities in countries in transition, including that DFID needs to be more cognizant of how funding is to be replaced when scaling back ODA flows. 

Review - ICAI

News article - DEVEX

United Kingdom Global health

Japan provides coronavirus test reagents to Vietnam

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide testing reagents worth a total of  ¥14 million (US$127,000) to strengthen detection capabilities for coronavirus in Vietnam.

The support will be provided through JICA's 'Project for Capacity Development for Medical Laboratory Network on Biosafety and Examination of Highly Hazardous Infectious Pathogens in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia'. As part of the project, JICA officials delivered the first batch of reagents on February 7, 2020, to Vietnam's National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

Vietnam detected its first known case of  coronavirus in January of 2020. Efforts to rapidly detect and treat suspected cases of the virus have been ongoing since this time.

Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

News article - ASEAN Portal (in Japanese)

Japan Global health

Japan commits US$33 million to humanitarian, health, and economic development assistance to Palestine

Japan has committed new humanitarian and development assistance of US$33 million to Palestine through UN agencies and international organizations.

The new package includes: 

  • Assistance for Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);
  • Support for vulnerable populations through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);
  • Funds for medical supplies through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the World Health Organization (WHO); and
  • Economic development assistance through UNDP and The Office of the Quartet.

Japan has been providing financial and technical assistance in preparation for Palestinian statehood as laid out in Palestine’s national development plan. With the addition of this new assistance, Japan has provided approximately US$2 billion in development assistance to Palestine since 1993. 

Press Release - Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

Japan Global health Nutrition

With eye toward expanding strategic partnerships, Norway merges development assistance agency departments

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is merging the Department for Civil Society with the Department for Private Sector Development in order to enable the agency to view various grant programs more holistically. The merge is a part of the wider organizational reform of Norwegian official development assistance which came into effect on February 1, 2020.

In the spring of 2020, Norad will announce a call for strategic partnerships on business development and hopes to encourage cooperation between private sector and civil society actors. Norad, with its newly appointed Director-General Bård Vegar Solhjell, has identified the need for continued growth across the African continent and will, therefore, be focusing efforts on job creation there. Norad is urging Norwegian businesses to enter partnerships with local businesses in various African countries to join in on the efforts.

Press release – Norad (in Norwegian)


Norway appoints first Minster of Sustainability to coordinate government efforts on SDGs

In addition to his duties steering administrative and local government financial policy, Norway's Minister of Local Government and Modernization, Nikolai Astrup, will take on new responsibilities coordinating the government's work on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the country's first-ever Minister of Sustainability. Astrup will begin this work by mapping the status of Norway’s efforts and achievements in relation to the SDGs to date, in order to identify areas for renewed focus moving ahead.

The government has identified some areas that are particularly important to Norway in the coming years; these were highlighted by the Prime Minister in her New Year's speech on January 1, 2020. Specifically, Norway will focus on efforts against climate change and ocean pollution, untreated mental illness, inequality, child poverty, and school dropout rates.

Nikolai Astrup previously held the posts of Minister of International Development and, more recently, Minister of Digitalization.

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway Education