Displaying 1 - 20 of 650

Australia commits further 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses at G7 meeting

At the G7 summit held on June 11-13, 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will provide at least 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of the global G7 push to boost access to vaccines in low-income countries.

These doses will be provided by mid-2022 and will be a mix of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

This is in addition to 15 million doses being provided by Australia to the Pacific region in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Australia's contributions to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, and a A$100 million (US$78 million) commitment to support vaccinations in the Indo-Pacific region under an agreement with the other 'Quad' members—India, Japan, and the US.

Australia has procurement arrangements for its citizens that will potentially provide 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Australia emphasizes leadership role in recent HIV/AIDS high-level meeting and provides US$9 million against discrimination

On June 9, 2021, with respect to the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne emphasized Australia’s active role in new global HIV/AIDS commitments.

Australia and Namibia co-facilitated a 'Political Declaration' adopted at the meeting, which included commitments by member countries to address factors driving the AIDS epidemic—particularly stigma and discrimination towards those affected by or living with HIV.

Australia will also invest A$12 million (US$9 million) in conjunction with UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS). This will support Indo-Pacific community-based organizations in addressing inequality and stigma faced by key populations affected by HIV.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund reports committing US$24 million for global health over two years

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has reported on its research grants from 2018 to 2020.

In that period, the MRFF committed over A$31 million (US$24 million) to research global health threats. The grants initially focused on antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant tuberculosis. 

The Fund was established primarily to focus on domestic health threats. It has provided A$96 million (US$74 million) for research into COVID-19.

News article - Mirage News

Australia not yet decided on supporting temporarily waiving patents on COVID-19 vaccines

In Senate budget hearings, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne stated the  Australian government had yet to take a position to publicly support proposals for patent waivers for COVID-19 vaccines.

The USA and New Zealand have already publicly supported India and South Africa’s proposal to allow such temporary waivers, proposed to promote better access and vaccine equity for poorer countries.

An open letter signed by 150 legal experts and lawyers had urged Australia's Prime Minister to support waving these patents. Some 50,000 people have also signed a petition presented to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

News article - SBS

At Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, Australia commits further US$39 million

During the virtual Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit, Australia committed a further A$50 million (US$39 million) to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, bringing its total funding to A$130 million (US$101 million).

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has reiterated that Australia would also provide A$623 million (US$483 million) in assistance via a regional vaccine access and health security initiative. This would be delivered through bilateral assistance in the Pacific and in Southeast Asia.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Public donations to Australian NGOs reach decade high

The 2021 Survey of Public Awareness and Support of Leading Charities by the firm McNair yellowSquares has indicated that average donations to charities in Australia have risen to A$603 (US$465) per person, compared to A$523 a year ago.

In addition, there was a decrease from 40% to 35% in the number of Australians who did not donate at all to NGOs.

News article - FP Magazine

Australian and New Zealand’s Prime Ministers recommit to vaccine coverage for Pacific, Timor Leste

In a joint media statement, Prime Ministers Jacinta Ardern of New Zealand and Scott Morrison of Australia reaffirmed their cooperation on vaccine research and development. 

They confirmed that their countries would provide comprehensive vaccine coverage for the Pacific and Timor Leste, complementing vaccines provided by France, the USA, and COVAX.

Assistance will be provided through a variety of means including direct bilateral vaccine donations to countries, working through multilateral agencies such as UNICEF, and bilateral donations to COVAX.

In addition, Australia and New Zealand would provide support for consumables, medical supplies, cold storage, and communications.

Press release - Australian Prime Minister

Australia must increase contributions to COVAX, say fair-share advocates

With the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit to be held in Tokyo on June 2, 2021, Reverend Tim Costello, the spokesman for the Australian 'End COVID For All' campaign, has urged Australia to contribute further to COVAX.

The Australian government should contribute an additional A$200 million (US$155 million) to meet its burden share, Costello said. At present Australians contribute approximately US$3 per capita to COVAX. Australia had started well with an early A$80 million (US$62 million) COVAX AMC commitment, but its contribution is now seen as low compared to the US$18 per capita and US$14 per capita contributions from German and the UK, respectively.

News article - Mirage News

World Organisation for Animal Health introduces Wildlife Health Framework

Mirage News reported on Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Mark Schipp completing his term as President of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). 

The 88th Annual General Session of the World Assembly of the OIE was held virtually from May 24-28, 2021.  

The organization agreed on new standards across governments on animal health and welfare and developed a Wildlife Health Framework. In part, these efforts responded to the continuing emergence of zoonotic diseases including COVID-19. The OIE has also introduced an OIE Observatory to collect data and provide information to support animal health challenges. 

News article - Mirage News

Australia commits US$12 million to regional climate change and resilience programs in Pacific

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, has reaffirmed a 10-year partnership by Australia with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Australia will provide A$16 million (US$12 million) to assist Pacific countries' climate change adaptation and resilience. It will also support SPREP’s Pacific Ocean Litter Project.

Press release - Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Australia announces US$53 million in further COVID-19 support for South Asia and Papua New Guinea

Zed Seselja, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, has announced an additional A$52 million (US$40 million) to support Papua New Guinea’s education and essential health services. Faith-based organizations will be assisted to provide primary health care, and Australia will assist the Papua New Guinea government’s financing of tuition for primary school children.

Australia will also provide A$17 million (US$13 million) to Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh in responding to COVID-19. Australia will provide assistance through the UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) in Sri Lanka to assist the Ministry of Health. In Bangladesh and Nepal, Australia will work with national NGOs and UN agencies to provide equipment and training for health systems improvement.

Press release - Foreign Affairs Minister

News article - Live Mint

Survey shows shifting public views on Australian assistance spending

Terence Wood and Ryan Edwards of Australia’s Development Policy Centre in Canberra suggest that government assistance cuts are not in line with public attitudes.

They report this following their regular survey of views on foreign assistance. For the first time, they found fewer Australians believed Australia gives too much assistance than those who believed it gives too little.

COVID-19 is probably one reason for this shift, they said. Their other recent work suggested that concern for people’s welfare in lower-income countries is a stronger driver than the motivation to protect Australia.

Report - Development Policy Centre, Australian National University

First global COVID-19 anti-viral therapy developed by Australian and US institutes; human clinical trials needed

Professor Nigel McMillan, from the Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, announced that researchers have developed a therapy that appears to stop the COVID-19 virus from replicating in the body. In mouse trials, it reduced the viral load by 99.9%. Human trials were yet to be undertaken.

The drug was created through a collaboration between the US research institute, City of Hope, and the Menzies Health Institute in Queensland, Australia. Funding was provided by the Australian Medical Research Future Fund.

If human trials were to be successful, the drug would be useful for treating severely infected patients. It would also be more effective for low-income countries, requiring storage at only 4°C and lasting for up to 12 months.

News article - ABC News

Australian agricultural research advocacy conference will resume in 2021

The Crawford Fund has announced that its 2021 annual conference will cover “Food & Nutrition Security – The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus”.

The conference will be held in Parliament House, Canberra, on August 23-24, 2021, and will focus on food systems and their interaction with human health and zoonotic diseases. Specific topics for the annual conference will be risks to human, plant, and animal health, and the implications for global nutrition and food security. The Fund is an advocate for strong Australian support for international agricultural research.

Scholarships for young scientists are available as part of the conference. Presentations by local speakers will be in person at the Parliament House venue, with international speakers participating online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Press release - The Crawford Fund

UK Prime Minister calls for more investment in girls’ education, commits US$73 million for new education initiative and launches global action plan

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the G7 to invest in girls’ education, noting that it is one of the smartest investments to be made post-pandemic in order to avoid a lost generation.

Johnson announced this during his visit to a Country Durham school on May 14, 2021, along with Julia Gillard (Chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GEP) and former Prime Minister of Australia). The Prime Minister of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, also partook in the event virtually.

The UK and Kenya will co-host the Global Education Summit in July 2021 with the aim of raising £3.7 billion (US$5.0 billion) for GEP over the next five years to fund its work on ensuring access to education in 90 countries.

The UK has yet to announce its contribution to GPE, though historically it is the largest donor to the organization. UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, has stated that the UK will be more generous than in previous years. In 2018, the UK provided £225 million (US$302 million) over a three-year period.

Johnson did, however, use his visit to the County Durham school to announce £55 million (US$73 million) to establish 'What Works Hub for Global Education'. The Hub will seek to share knowledge on "what works" to improve girls’ education, with a special focus on Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Pakistan.  

The UK government also unveiled a new five-year (2021-2026) global action plan on girls' education that commits the UK government to:

  • Shape a renewed international effort to ensure the world is on track to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal on 'Quality Education' (SDG 4);
  • Use its network of British Ambassadors and High Commissioners to support committed national governments in enhancing their efforts to improve girls’ education; and
  • Establish global public goods for education, in part through the creation of the new What Works Hub for Global Education, to support evidence-based and bold reforms.

News article - The Telegraph

News article - BBC

Press release - UK government

Policy paper - UK government

Australian 2021-2022 ODA budget criticized for cuts during pandemic, set to fall by 3% to US$3.3 billion

Commentators have been critical of Australia’s new official development assistance (ODA) budget for the 2021-2022 financial year, announced on May 11, 2021. According to the budget, Australian assistance is set to fall by 3% in 2021-2022 to A$4.3 billion (US$3.3 billion).

Stephen Howes, Professor at the Australian National University's Development Studies Centre, has predicted that Australia will be pressured by its international partners to do more than has been provided for in the 2021-2022 assistance budget.

He questioned why one of the world’s most successful economies remained one of the least generous donors, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

Similarly, Jonathan Pike of the Lowy Institute has commented Australia should do much better and that the 2021-2022 budget was a poor reflection on Australia as a nation. In 2012, Australia had provided over 4% of total ODA from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members. This would fall by 2022 to only 1.6%.

However, the global development media platform, Devex, reported that some areas had received increased funding in the new budget. In particular, Bangladesh had a major increase of A$78 million (US$61 million), including for supporting the Rohingya crisis. Additional funds were also provided for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme.

News article - Australian National University Development Studies Centre

News article - The Lowy Institute

News article - Devex

2021-2022 Australian assistance budget shows no underlying ODA increase, provides US$29 million in sustained COVID-19 support to India

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne released details of the official development assistance (ODA) budget for 2021-2022, as part of Australia’s federal budget released on May 11, 2021.

Payne indicated the ODA budget would remain at A$4.0 billion (US$3.1 billion) and focus on economic recovery, health security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The government also confirmed temporary measures to supplement the ODA budget to address the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This involved an estimated A$319 million (US$250 million) in 2021-2022 to support access to vaccines and address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The one major new ODA announcement was Australia’s provision of A$37 million (US$29 million) over two years to assist India, including through providing ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

Separately, the Australian government noted an allocation from domestic resources to establish an Australian mRNA vaccine production facility. No funding is shown allocated to this due to commercial considerations.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

News article - AuManufacturing

Australia supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Australia’s Trade Minister, Dan Tehan, announced that Australia would support waiving patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines.

The process would take some months and the proposal needs to work through the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) procedures.

Media reports indicated the WTO’s next ministerial conference, which is on November 30, 2021, could be a potential timeframe by which to complete an agreement.

News article - ABC News

Australia supports six million dose vaccine rollout in Pacific and Timor-Leste

Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, and Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, announced that Australia would partner with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to procure vaccine doses for the Pacific in 2021.

This was in addition to Australia’s previous support of A$80 million (US$63 million) to the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) for low-income countries to access vaccines.

Australia has provided more than 56 tonnes of medical, personal protective equipment (PPE), and humanitarian supplies to Timor Leste. Six Australian specialists are also working in Timor-Leste's capital city of Dili to assist the local health authorities' COVID-19 response.

Australia has previously provided 275,000 vaccine doses for other Pacific island countries.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

UK hosts G7 meeting, agrees to uphold democracy, support equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution, provide financial support to countries facing famine

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, chaired a meeting of the G7’s foreign and development ministers last week on May 3-4, 2021, in London. The UK government also invited government representatives from India, Australia, South Korea, and the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reflecting the UK’s foreign policy goal of leaning in more to the Indo-Pacific region's growing strategic importance. Representatives from South Africa were also guests.

The G7 ministers agreed to defend democracy, increase funding to the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, provide funding for countries facing famine, and step up their efforts to help partner countries become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis.

On upholding democracy and human rights, the G7 foreign and development ministers agreed to:

  • Uphold media freedom around the world, including by increasing funding to the Global Media Defence Fund;
  • Bolster their response to threats to democracy, including through a new North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership aimed specifically at tackling threats such as vaccine disinformation; and
  • Support the new Canadian-driven action plan on tackling arbitrary detention.

On ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the ministers:

  • Endorsed the COVAX Facility as a primary way for countries to share vaccines globally;
  • Agreed to increase funding to the Facility, though no specific pledges of increased funding were announced; and
  • Committed to working toward expanding manufacturing for affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

On addressing famines, the ministers:

  • Agreed to provide £5.0 billion (US$6.7 billion) in humanitarian assistance to those countries facing famine, including Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria; and
  • Committed their support for the World Bank and UN on preparedness and early action to prevent famines.

On addressing the climate crisis, the ministers:

  • Agreed to do more to help low-income countries build resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve planning and response to climate-related disasters; and
  • Welcomed the role of the private sector in supporting climate resilience.

These agreements came in addition to the ministers' commitments to enhance girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment.

Press release - UK government

Statement - European External Action Service