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French Development Agency celebrates 80th anniversary

The French Development Agency (AFD) will host a virtual and physical event celebrating its 80th anniversary on December 2, 2021, which will highlight the agency's history, evolution, and impact.

The event will give the floor to Rémy Rioux, its General Director, African intellectual and academic, Achille Mbembe, Nobel Prize Laureate, Esther Duflo, and additional poets, historians, scientists, philosophers, business owners and activists. 

A dedicated session will showcase emblematic projects of AFD's work from several world regions world.

The event will conclude with the lessons from the first year of the Fund for Innovation in Development (FID), chaired by Esther Duflo, which supports innovations to tackle global poverty.

Event - French Development Agency

Spain provides WHO, MPP with first transparent, non-exclusive license for COVID-19 technology

On November 23, 2021, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) announced an innovative licensing agreement to provide the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) with COVID-19 serological antibody technologies. This move represents the first transparent, global, non-exclusive license for a COVID-19 health tool, and the first test license signed by MPP which is included in the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The aim of this license is to facilitate the rapid manufacture and commercialization of CSIC’s COVID-19 serological tests worldwide. CSIC will not receive any patent compensation when the tests are addressed to low- and middle-income countries.

The Spanish Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, underlined CSIC as the first public body worldwide to reach a licensing agreement with MPP and C-TAP in a public initiative-launch event held in Madrid, Spain. Morant made the case for increasing the Spanish government's strong commitment to employing science and innovation.   

Press release – CSIC (in Spanish) 

Italy appoints first Special Envoy for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ people

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio announced the appointment of Fabrizio Petri as Italy's first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ people in the world. 

Petri currently serves as the Chair of the Interministerial Committee for Human Rights (CIDU). 

The Special Envoy will coordinate Ministry of Foreign Affairs action for protection against discrimination and promotion of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons and communities and promote broader decriminalization worldwide.

News article - Agenzia Italiana

Dutch report on Product Development Partnerships Fund III finds program effective

On November 22, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation reacted in parliament to the evaluation report of Product Development Partnerships (PDP) Fund III. According to Minister De Bruijn, the activities of the six PDPs are relevant and can be considered cost-effective to the development and marketing of products to prevent and combat poverty and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) related disorders and diseases. The evaluation report estimated that 2.4 billion people around the world have benefited from work done by the PDPs.

The PDP III grant was awarded for a period of 5 years, from 2015 to 2020, whereby the Dutch government invested €84 million (US$96 million) into six PDPs. In 2020, the grant period was extended by one year with €17 million (US$20 million) to cover 2021 as well. De Bruijn declared that the evaluation report forms the basis for the funding framework of PDP IV, which is expected to start in July 2022.

80% of Italians believe high-income countries must take responsibility for COVID-19 immunization in Africa

Amref, the international non-governmental organization, launched an opinion survey conducted by Ipsos to analyze Italians' thoughts about assistance for low- and middle-income countries in the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 virus.

The opinion poll showed that one in four individuals believe that Africa is the continent in which additional variants of the virus are most likely to develop. However, four in ten think that variants of COVID-19 will develop elsewhere with the same probability. As many as seven in ten believe that rich countries should contribute more to solving global health problems and protecting health services in low-income countries. Specifically, eight in ten think rich countries should take responsibility for immunization in African countries.

Only 36% of respondents believe a more significant contribution from Italy is necessary for the global response to the COVID-19 crisis; 37% think that enough is already being addressed, and 27% believe that too much is being done, taking resources away from Italian citizens on a domestic level. 67% believed responsibility should be shifted to Europe. According to the poll, seven in ten Italians think patents limit the production of vaccines. However, six in ten argue that patents are necessary to avoid the uncontrolled production of vaccines and, therefore, potential risks to public health.

Press release - Amref

Canada’s International Development Research Centre funds COVID-19 research projects on risk factors, artificial intelligence

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is funding two new research projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the projects focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and its possible role in pandemic public health decision-making in several countries across Africa, while the other project focuses on investigating risk factors contributing to COVID-19 infections. 

IDRC is funding AI for decision-making projects and working with research teams in Botswana, Nigeria, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa to develop data-powered official dashboards, which are viewed by more than 20,000 people daily. Researchers use the findings to inform COVID-19 policies and vaccine roll-out strategies, often working directly with policymakers on the ground. They also use findings to support communication strategies that address misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, prevention, and treatments to improve the public's knowledge about the pandemic. The project is co-funded by Sweden and is part of the Global South AI4COVID Program, which funds and facilitates multidisciplinary research focused on evidence-based AI approaches to support COVID-19 responses in low- and middle-income countries. 

Furthermore, the IDRC is funding a project through McMaster University’s Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) to study the causes of COVID-19 infections. To date, the team has collected information from 30,000 adults in 19 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe) on five continents. Early results of the study are showing that obesity is one of the most important risk factors contributing to a COVID-19 infection and that the pandemic had the greatest financial impact on people in low-income countries. The study is projected to continue for an additional year at least, depending on the course of the pandemic.

Press release - IDRC

Press release - IDRC

Canada delivers 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 6 partner countries in November

Canada is taking steps towards donating at least 200 million doses to the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine distribution program by the end of 2022. In November of 2021, Canada has contributed roughly 5 million doses to six different countries:

  • Jamaica - 369,600 doses
  • Angola - 326,400 doses
  • Nicaragua - 326,400 doses
  • Uganda - 1,904,140 doses
  • Nepal - 368,000 doses
  • Rwanda - 1,602,160 doses. 

Over 8.3 million surplus vaccine doses have been delivered by Canada through COVAX thus far. Canada has also shared 762,080 doses through direct, bilateral arrangements with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - UNICEF

Twitter - UNICEF Supply Division

US to increase COVID-19 vaccine production for domestic and global use

The White House announced that it will partner with US industry to produce an additional one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the second half of 2022.  The vaccines will be produced for use both in the United States and overseas. The plan, estimated to cost several billion US dollars, will also invest in antiviral medications and rapid testing. 

The focus for vaccine manufacturing is on those companies that have the mRNA vaccine capabilities to increase capacity against future coronavirus variants and also to expand manufacturing capacity for the next pandemic. The cost of the plan is not yet final, but funding will come from the US$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden earlier in 2021.

News report - The New York Times

Australia to begin providing mRNA vaccines to Indo-Pacific region partner countries

Australia’s COVID-19 taskforce commander, Lieutenant General John Frewen, indicated Australia will donate Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia has a surplus of mRNA vaccines and will begin providing Pfizer vaccines in the next few months. It expects to donate up to 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the beginning of 2023. 7 million doses have already been donated, including 1 million to Fiji and almost 3.5 million to Indonesia.

Media report - ABC News

Norway shows continued support for Afghanistan, announces new funding channeled through UN

Experts are worried that Afghanistan is in danger of undergoing both a humanitarian crisis and an economic collapse as a result of cessation of funding to the Afghan government. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, announced that Norway will continue its funding to Afghanistan through the UN and other non-state actors. 

More specifically, Huitfeldt underlines that Norwegian funding will provide support services to civilians in Afghanistan and will be funneled through the Afghanistan Special Trust Fund, managed by the UN Development Program (UNDP). 

This year, Norway has provided NOK275 million (US$32 million) in humanitarian funding to Afghanistan. With the new announcement, Norway will increase the funding by NOK 50 million (US$5 million). New funding will be distributed to partners in the field who support the most vulnerable Afghan citizens, especially young girls and women. As a result, some Norwegian funding will go to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide protection and assistance to Afghan women. UNFPA`s work includes both efforts related to reducing sexualized and gender-based violence and supporting reproductive health.  

Norway`s total funding to Afghanistan this year will be NOK325 million (US$38 million). In addition, Norway will continue to support its longstanding relationships with international and Norwegian organizations operating in Afghanistan.  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korean government holds ODA policy dialogue with civil society

The Office of the Prime Minister of South Korea held its third dialogue with representatives of civil society organizations on South Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) and international development cooperation.

This meeting followed the formulation of the government-civil society partnership implementation plan in 2019. The government explained its priorities, which included enhancing transparency, accountability, and public participation with ODA while increasing humanitarian assistance to respond to global needs. Civil society expressed the need to strengthen the government-civil society partnership, transparency and accountability, and public awareness on ODA while increasing support for vulnerable groups.

Press release – Office of Prime Minister (in Korean)

EU 2022 budget increases funding for research, global pandemic response; falls short of European Parliament’s call for extra US$1.2 billion for global vaccinations

The Council and the European Parliament (EP) reached a provisional agreement on the 2022 EU budget on November 15, 2021, with €169.5 billion (US$199.5 billion) in overall budget commitments. The deal is expected to be formally endorsed by both institutions by the end of the month. 

The EP helped negotiate €479 million (US$564 million) for its priorities in addition to those in the proposed draft budget from the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament helped obtain an additional €100 million (US$118 million) above proposed funding for Horizon Europe.

Prior to reaching the agreement, the EP's position on the budget included a €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) earmak from the 'emerging challenges and priorities cushion' of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI - Global Europe). Instead, the EP-Council agreement topped up NDICI - Global Europe by €190 million (US$224 million) for COVID-19 pandemic response, including vaccinations. The provisional budget agreement also includes financing for 200 million vaccination doses through the COVAX mechanism.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - European Parliament

FCDO pledges to restore gender equality development assistance funding, launches new global campaign to stop sexual violence in conflicts

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development (FCDO), Liz Truss, announced on November 16, 2021, that she will restore UK gender equality funding to pre-cut ODA levels as part of her vision to put women and girls at the heart of the UK’s new international development assistance strategy. She backed the announcement with new funding pledges:

  • £18 million (US$24 million) in new funding to end child marriage. The funding will be provided via UNICEF and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund);
  • £3 million (US$4 million) in additional funding to help tackle violence against women and girls; and
  • £1.4 million (US$1.9 million) in new funding for the Global Survivors Fund, which helps support survivors of sexual violence, including through financial support and education.

The announcement followed an internal assessment by the FCDO, which warned that cuts to the UK’s official development impact would have a negative impact on programming for women and girls.

Truss, who is also the UK’s Women and Equalities Minister, made the announcement at the UK G7's Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) reception, set up by the UK government to ensure the G7 takes action on gender equality. Truss highlighted three core priorities for UK development assistance on gender equality moving forward: girls’ education, tackling female genital mutilation, and stopping sexual violence in war. 

Truss also used the reception as an opportunity to launch a major global campaign aimed at stopping the culture of impunity surrounding the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war. The campaign aims to ‘red line’ sexual violence in war, equating it with the use of chemical weapons, as recommended by the GEAC’s final report to the G7. Truss noted that the campaign will consider all options, including creating a new international convention to end such acts; Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, and Liberia all officially joined the campaign.

The UK will host a global conference in 2022 to bring foreign ministers from around the world together to support the campaign.

Press Release - UK Government

Press Release - UK Government

Speech - UK Government 

News article - Devex

Australia to launch Healthy Environments and Lives Network to build resilience to environmental change

Greg Hunt, Australia's Minister for Health and Aged Care, announced that Australia will provide A$10 million (US$7 million) to establish the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) Network, a national multidisciplinary research network to build resilience to environmental change. The HEAL network will work with multiple partner organizations, which will contribute additional funds, to provide international and national leadership in health research and environmental change.

The network will involve 28 participating institutions and will be led by Professor of Global Health, Dr. Sotiris Vardoulakis, at the Australian National University in Canberra. 

Press release - Minister for Health and Aged Care

Norway increases funding to Palestinian refugees through UNRAW

During a high-level conference in Brussels, the State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Norway will increase funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRAW).  

UNRAW provides assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees. The agency supports approximately 6 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined UNRAW`s important work in protecting the rights and needs of Palestinians, as well as stability in the region in addition to highlighting that the agency is critically underfunded.

In addition to increasing Norway`s core contribution to UNRAW this year and next year, the government decided to increase humanitarian support for UNRAW in Lebanon by NOK17 million (US$2 million). Currently, Norway`s core contribution to UNRAW is NOK217 million (US$25 million).  

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

NGOs call on Australian government to increase ODA budget, highlight shortcomings in development programs

Humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are calling on the Australian government to permanently raise its official development assistance (ODA) levels. A temporary ODA increase of A$300 million (US$220 million) to address the COVID-19 crisis is due to expire in June 2022, prompting the intensified call from the civil society sector. 

The coalition of humanitarian agencies has warned that development achievements will be jeopardized if higher funding levels are not sustained and has requested that the government commit extra funding in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), which will be delivered in mid-December.

A publication by the Lowy Institute highlights a mismatch between Australia’s announced global development ambitions and funding levels for its programs. An increase in Australian assistance volume would allow Australia to be more actively involved in shaping major international achievements, including building community resilience and reducing violence against women in the Pacific region, according to the report.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Report - The Lowy Institute

South Korea to provide US$100 million concessional loan to support Bangladesh’s economic recovery in multilateral development finance partnership

The Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of South Korea, which implements concessional loans, announced that it will provide US$100 million to Bangladesh. The funding will be used to support Bangladesh's economic recovery, including enhancing marginalized groups’ access to finance.

The concessional loan will be part of the joint program among the EDCF, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), and the OPEC Fund for International Development. The loan marks the first joint financial action between EDCF and AIIB. Bangladesh is a priority partner country of both South Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) and its New Southern Policy.

Press release - MOEF (in Korean)

Civil society concerns grow over dissolution of German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development during coalition talks

After federal elections in September 2021, the Social Democratic Party, the Greens, and the Liberal Democratic Party are negotiating the formation of a new governing coalition. Experts, civil society, and politicians are now discussing the possibility of closing or outsourcing the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Because climate action will be a top priority for Germany in the future, some stakeholders argue that the upcoming government should consider the development ministry’s budget, which is approximately double that of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), as a source to finance climate protection measures. Supporters of the move claim that merging the development ministry with the BMU to form a “super-Ministry for the Environment” would augment financing for the environment and climate protection in Germany. Critics of the plan argue that such a move could place the focus of the ministry on Germany, rather than supporting low- and middle-income countries. Others also suggested merging the development ministry with the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Another approach, suggested by the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, intends to integrate the development ministry into the Federal Foreign Office. Ischinger claimed that German development cooperation needs to incorporate political conditions within partner countries, such as combating corruption and ensuring good governance policies, and that merging the two ministries would increase the coherence, efficiency, and effectiveness of German security policy.

German civil society organizations and the outgoing German Development Minister Gerd Müller, criticize these propositions and argue that Germany’s ongoing efforts in development cooperation, e.g., in the fight against hunger and poverty, are at risk. At the 60th anniversary of the BMZ, Müller called for heightened German development cooperation and strengthening of the ministry to effectively address global challenges.

A group of 13 civil society organizations (CSOs) in Germany published a statement highlighting the need for a strong and independent development ministry with special consideration given to global challenges like the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. CSOs also claimed that Germany has an international responsibility to address global challenges, necessitating the need for an independent development ministry.

Coalition negotiations are ongoing and decisions have not been finalized regarding the continuance of the German development ministry.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

Press release – Plan International (in German)

New article – Tagesschau (in German)

UK centers international science and innovation partnerships in climate change response

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s Chief Science Advisor, spoke at Science & Innovation day at COP26 on November 9, 2021, highlighting the critical role of science in helping countries reduce emissions in line with international targets and adapting to the effects of climate change. Vallance emphasized the UK's involvement in several international science partnerships to further progress.

The UK's partnership commitments included working with:

  • Mission Innovation - Mission Innovation brings together a coalition of 22 governments and the European Union around a series of 'innovation missions' aimed at accelerating the development of clean technologies across key sectors responsible for global emissions. At the COP26, four new innovation missions were announced focusing on urban transitions, industry, carbon dioxide removal, and the production of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials. 
  • Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) - This multistakeholder network with over 90 organizations across 30 economies brings together governments, research institutions, and communities to collaborate in building up the resilience of vulnerable communities experiencing the impacts of climate change.  As part of the UK's engagement in ARA, it announced a further £48 million (US$64 million) of development assistance funding for ARA's Climate Adaptation and Resilience research program (CLARE). This announcement brings the UK's total funding to CLARE to £100 million (US$134 million). CLARE is also funded by the Canadian government.
  • COP26 Health Programme  - This program involves the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), and the UNFCCC Climate Champions. The program is focused in part on developing sustainable low-carbon health systems. 47 countries representing one-third of global health care missions are participating in the project.

News article - Science Business

News article - World University News

Press release - UK Government

Sweden provides UNICEF guarantee for low- and middle-income countries' procurement of medical equipment

In collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has provided a public guarantee to UNICEF that will accelerate procurement processes for essential health care products and equipment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The guarantee is expected to strengthen UNICEF’s ability to respond to disease outbreaks and other unpredictable global health challenges.

Sida will guarantee up to SEK456 million (US$53 million) until 2026 for medical equipment purchases. With the support of the guarantee, eligible countries will be able to purchase medical products through UNICEF when they are required and pay for them later. Sida has allocated close to SEK14 million (US$1.6 million) to cover potential losses, equivalent to expected catalytic financing of 30x Sida's inputs. Sida’s public guarantee framework totaled SEK17.0 billion (US$2.0 billion) in 2021.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)