Policy Updates

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Donor Tracker to host webinar on climate finance and role of ODA

Join the Donor Tracker this Thursday, August 6, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), for a webinar addressing the pressing need for international climate finance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In 2015, the latest in a series of global climate change agreements was signed in Paris. The Paris Agreement includes a pledge made by donor countries to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action in LMICs. This upcoming Donor Tracker webinar will examine the role that ODA can and should play in funding for climate action, including the US$100 billion target. It will include an overview of trends in ODA-related climate funding and policies by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors.

This webinar, and our recently published report on climate finance and ODA, complements the recent addition of ‘Climate’ as a sector of analysis across the Donor Tracker Donor Profiles. Climate was added this year in recognition of the importance of climate action to the future of global development efforts.

Registration - Zoom

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes study on recent developments, future focus of reproductive health commodities policy

The Directorate Social Development (DSO) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a study report that charts recent trends and developments regarding reproductive health commodities (RHCs) and outlines the DSO's future priority interventions.

The key themes identified by the DSO are supply chain management issues in last-mile distribution, a decrease in donor funding which requires domestic resource mobilization, and the consensus that private sector involvement is necessary to meet the increasing demand for RHCs. The document also covers details pertaining to the focus countries of the Dutch development policy for RHCs (Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger).

Press release - Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

As COVID-19 cases balloon, Australia continues support to Papua New Guinea

Australia has re-prioritized over US$13 million worth of official development assistance (ODA) to support Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) response to COVID-19. Coronavirus infections in PNG have increased sharply over the past two weeks, with cases concentrated in Port Moresby and now appearing in Lae (PNG’s largest and second-largest urban centers).

Australia has already provided ODA to PNG for the acquisition of protective equipment and COVID-19 testing kits, and to support initiatives aimed at strengthening the capacity of health facilities. Australia is also backing the PNG police force's efforts to assist with the COVID-19 response. Separately Australia has also provided a US$300 million non-ODA loan intended to buffer PNG's economy from the shocks caused by COVID-19.

Blog - ANU Devpolicy Blog

Press release - PNG Government

Thirty-five countries support Italian-led COVID-19 Food Coalition

Thirty-five countries, including Argentina, Egypt, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and the United States joined the COVID-19 Food Coalition, an initiative launched in June by the Italian government and lead by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The alliance is a multi-stakeholder platform focusing on mobilizing political, financial, and technical assistance to support the medium- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems and agriculture.

Article - Onuitalia website (English)

Canada stresses importance of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced Canada's commitment to ensuring poorer countries have access to a COVID-19 vaccine, while also prioritizing domestic needs.

Canada has already joined and contributed US$89 million to the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is currently engaging in discussions on how to further global collaboration in responding to COVID-19.

News article - Politico

European Commission nears deal with pharmaceutical company to reserve 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for European member states

The European Commission wrapped up talks with the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-GSK on a potential contract to reserve future COVID-19 vaccine doses for EU member states’ populations.

Once signed, the agreement would allow EU member states to purchase 300 million doses of Sanofi-GSK’s vaccine candidate, provided it is proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19. In line with its recently released European Vaccines Strategy, the Commission is also in talks with other vaccine manufacturers to ensure Europeans have rapid access to potentially successful vaccine candidates.
 
Press release - European Commission

South Korea’s finance ministry to provide US$5 million for digital infrastructure and green growth projects

South Korea's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that it will provide US$5 million to support digital infrastructure and green growth projects in the context of COVID-19 in six partner countries. Supported partner countries include Vietnam, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, Haiti, and Uganda.

The funding will come from the Korea World Bank Group Partnership Facility and the Korea-International Finance Corporation (IFC) Partnership Program. MOEF plans to continue to fund new digital new deal ODA projects that utilize information and communication technology as well as green technology projects.

News article – KBS World

USAID outlines strategy for COVID-19 response across African continent

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee heard from senior officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) about the agency's strategy and approach for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent.

One of the chief concerns is both the uptick in cases as well as the potential for a rapid acceleration in various African countries. There are also issues with negative effects from China's interventions and the worry that the pandemic could be used to delay elections and otherwise impact democracies. USAID's response is guided by 3 lenses -- health, humanitarian, and second- and third-order impacts. So far, the US has spent about US$470 million on the global COVID response, with 20% for global health, 66% for humanitarian, and 10% for the second- and third-order effects, which will not be sufficient to cover the need.

News article - Devex

German Education and Research Ministry gives grant support to three biotech companies developing promising COVID-19 vaccines

The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has provided funding grants to three biotech companies – Tübingen-based CureVac, BioNTech from Mainz, and IDT Biologika from Dessau – to support accelerating progress on their potential COVID-19 vaccines. In return, Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, noted, the federal government expects that “an appropriate amount of an approved vaccine will be made available for demand-oriented supply in Germany."

The funding is channeled through a €750 million (US$844 million) national vaccine program, announced in May by the BMBF. The program aims to scale up clinical testing and expand production capacities for vaccine development in Germany.

While Karliczek stated that all three supported firms are currently working on promising vaccine candidates, she emphasized that an eventual COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be available before mid-2021.  

Press release – BMBF (in German)

News article – Deutsche Welle

Japanese loan to support construction of Bangladeshi power plant

Bangladesh has signed a loan from Japan to construct a 718-megawatt combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Meghnaghat near Dhaka through the Lead Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP).

The funds include an Asian Development Bank loan of US$100 million and LEAP financing of US$100 million. The project is co-financed by the Japan Bank International Cooperation (JBIC), as well as four commercial banks, and is insured by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI).

The project is expected to increase Bangladesh's power generation capacity by 4%, which will help reduce energy imports and decrease dependency on costly and unsustainable fuel sources, contributing to sustainable industrial and economic growth.

The LEAP Fund targets high-quality private infrastructure projects in the Asia-Oceania region, and JICA approved US$1.5 billion investment in private sector investment financing for the LEAP Fund. Such areas of investment include reducing greenhouse gases, energy efficiency, and the provision of medical devices.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

African Union to receive 1.4 million COVID-19 tests from German Development Ministry

As part of its Emergency COVID-19 Support Program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will provide a total of 1.4 million COVID-19 tests to the African Union to support it in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pointing to the 20,000 new infections currently reported every day on the African continent - twice as much as last month's rate – German Development Minister Gerd Müller underscored Germany’s solidarity with its partners and the importance of a global response to beat COVID-19.  

The first batch of test kits was handed over to the African Union by the BMZ’s Epidemic Preparedness Team on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

Press release - BMZ

EU delivers 1,000+ tons of medical assistance to Africa, Asia, Americas through Team Europe's Humanitarian Air Bridge

The EU has delivered more than 1,000 tons of medical assistance to areas in critical need in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to support their COVID-19 responses.

The supplies were transported through the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, which offers air transport capacity to support humanitarian assistance logistics. The air bridge flights are a part of the ‘Team Europe’ collective effort on behalf of European institutions and EU member states to support partner countries’ COVID-19 responses. 
 
Press release - European Commission

Australia and US reaffirm commitment to collaboration on health security

During the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the United States' Secretary of State and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirmed their joint commitment to global health security and their intention to strengthen their countries' cooperation in this sector. During the consultations, they outlined a number of activities to be part of their joint plan, including:

  • Convening a second Southeast Asia Health Security Donor Coordination Meeting later in 2020;
  • Building biosurveillance and biosecurity capacities in the Indo-Pacific to enhance the region's ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks
  • Improving hygiene conditions, reducing the sale of wildlife, and other measures to lessen the risk of zoonotic disease transmission;
  • Strengthening pandemic preparedness in Indonesia and improving public health emergency response capacity in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar; and
  • Supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with the development and distribution of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to improve vulnerable groups' access to vaccines.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia's defense spending likely to be 16 times greater than ODA by 2030

A recent announcement by Australia's Prime Minister suggests that the country's defense budget will continue to grow until 2030. Meanwhile, Australia's budget for official development assistance (ODA) has been frozen until the fiscal year (FY) 2022/23, after which development spending will be indexed to inflation.

This means that the ratio of Australia’s spending on defense as compared to its spending on development assistance will reach an unprecedented level by 2030. For the last 50 years, Australia's defense funding has exceeded spending on ODA by around 5 to 8 times. It is now projected that by 2030, Australia's defense spending will be 16 times higher than ODA.

Blog - ANU Devpolicy Blog

South Korea contributes US$5 million to Indonesian COVID-19 response

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced that it will provide US$5 million (KRW6 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) to support Indonesia’s comprehensive response to COVID-19.

The funds will be used to meet Indonesia's requests including medicine and quarantine support, capacity building of medical staff, and support for the Red Cross. KOICA will also set up drive-through testing facilities and offer medical and analytical equipment.

Indonesia is a priority partner country of South Korea’s ODA and partner country of South Korea’s New Southern Policy.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

UK Department for International Trade launches new Tech for Growth program to support expanded access to financial services

The UK Department for International Trade (DIT) launched on July 27th a new 'Tech for Growth' program to support technology that can expand access to financial services. The program will be piloted in Africa, with the aim of rolling it out across South East Asia and Latin America. According to a DIT press release, the program aims in its first year to:

  • Establish a UK-Africa community – that will promote partnerships between UK and African technology and financial services companies
  • Support commercial opportunities for enhanced trade in FinTech through research and assistance to overcome key barriers
  • Support the growth of the FinTech market between Africa and the UK

Press release – UK Department for International Trade

 

In latest negotiations, US Senate Republicans aim low in proposed global COVID-19 funding

The US Senate Republicans unveiled their COVID-19 supplemental budget for fiscal year (FY) 2020 with a proposed US$4.4 billion for the global response. This is significantly lower than what development stakeholders had been pushing for -- US$20 billion.

The companion House bill, the US$3 trillion HEROES Act passed in May 2020, contained no funding for the global response, but the House has provided an additional US$10 billion in the FY2021 appropriations for the US global health COVID-19 emergency response.

The US$1 trillion Senate bill, called the HEALS Act, contains US$3 billion for global health. This includes funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, but no additional funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. There is an additional US$1 billion for the International Disaster Assistance account and some other funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department operating funds.

Negotiations are ongoing between the House and the Senate to resolve differences between the two supplemental appropriations. These differences are substantial but are also largely domestic in nature. Once those are resolved, Congress will also need to address the FY2021 appropriations, including funding for US foreign assistance. The fiscal year ends on September 30, 2020. 

News article - Devex

South Korea’s Unification Minister emphasizes need for humanitarian assistance to North Korea

Newly appointed South Korean Minister of Unification and former four-term National Assembly Member Lee In-Young has convened the top officials of the Ministry of Unification to highlight the need for providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea.

As one of his first acts since being appointed on July 27, 2020, Minister Lee urged that South Korea should provide humanitarian assistance for food, health, and medicine to North Korea without hesitation, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis. He emphasized that he plans to play an active role on the issue and also asked that the ministry staff play a more active role and propose concrete plans and ideas on the matter

News article – Seoul Daily (in Korean)

Report from Norwegian development agency raises spectre of post-pandemic cuts to global ODA

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) published a report, entitled 'Development assistance in the aftermath of the corona pandemic', in which Norad experts outline the current situation and highlight their concerns.

Documenting increased inequality, food shortages, and violence against women and children, the report indicates that the COVID-19 crisis has led to greater challenges for the very poor. Furthermore, it suggests that the pandemic has increased opportunities for corruption in many countries. Despite these increased development challenges, Norad director, Bård Vegar Solhjell, fears that many rich countries will cut development assistance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

News article – Bistandsaktuelt

UK government announces US$3.6 billion cut to 2020 ODA budget

The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has confirmed that the UK development assistance budget will be cut by US$3.6 billion (£2.9 billion) in 2020. A package of cuts, devised to protect spending on the 'bottom billion', climate change, and girls' education has been agreed upon by the government. Raab also noted that funding supporting human rights and for research and development will be maintained.

The cuts are a result of the negative economic impact that COVID-19 has had on the UK. The UK is committed to providing 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) as ODA. Given that the UK economy is expected to contract by 10% in 2020, many in the development community were prepared for cuts; however, the depth of the cuts — which will effectively reduce the UK’s ODA budget by 20% — has come as a shock to many. There are concerns that the UK could even fall below its 0.7% commitment in 2020. Raab has defended the cuts as a prudent approach and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to meeting its 0.7% aid target.

News article - Devex

News article - Devex