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Spain’s Sánchez meets with development NGO, Oxfam Intermón, to discuss reducing inequities during COVID-19 crisis

On February 18, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met with General-Director Franc Cortada of the development NGO, Oxfam Intermón, to review Spain’s engagement in tackling global and domestic inequities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sánchez underlined his cabinet’s strong commitment to tackle poverty and reduce inequities through effective public policies with the necessary financial resources.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Under Spain’s leadership, Sahel Alliance General Assembly adopts resolution to foster regional sustainable development

On February 16, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), Arancha González Laya, chaired the second General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance that took place in N’Djamena, Chad, to review the current situation of the region and advance coordination to effectively address the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of this meeting, the Sahel Alliance adopted a joint statement aimed at improving the living conditions of populations in the Sahel in a sustainable manner and guaranteeing equal access to essential services. Among other measures, it underlines the need to strengthen actions addressing the COVID-19 crisis, rural development, food security, climate change adaptation, and gender equality in the Sahel region.  

González Laya stated that the Sahel Alliance is committed to working towards post-COVID-19 recovery, strengthening public health services, as well as achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Created in July 2017, the Sahel Alliance is a regional organization that gathers the G5 Sahel member states—Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad—in addition to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions. Since June 2020, Spain holds the presidency of the Sahel Alliance for a one-year period.

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Joint statement – General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance

ACT-A Facilitation Council announces funding gap of US$27.2 billion, asks countries not to compete with COVAX vaccine contracts

The Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) had its fourth meeting on February 9, 2021, to discuss its 2021 agenda and needs, including closing the funding gap of US$27.2 billion for 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, co-hosted and began his introductory remarks by welcoming the newly-joined US under President Joe Biden to ACT-A. 

Ghebreyesus stressed that more than 90% of countries currently administering COVID-19 vaccines are wealthy, and 75% of all doses given have been given in just ten countries. Nearly 130 countries, he said, have not administered a single dose.

ACT-A and the COVAX Facility were created as part of global efforts coordinated by the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, among others, in order to increase access to vaccines and promote vaccine equity internationally, and these goals are being threatened, said Ghebreyesus.

He called for:

  1. Full financing of ACT-A and COVAX: The financing gap is at more than US$27.2 billion for 2021. He called on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries to commit a proportion of stimulus financing and to unlock capital in multilateral development banks to help close the gap.
  2. Respect for COVAX contracts from all countries and a non-competition commitment: He referred here to countries who continue to sign bilateral vaccine deals while many nations have no vaccine doses at all. Ghebreyesus reiterated WHO's goal that the vaccination of health workers should be in progress in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021, which means that countries with more doses need to share and donate doses before going on to vaccinate their lower-risk populations. He warned that if COVID-19 is not suppressed globally, that variants of the virus could result in the world "back at square one".
  3. An urgent increase in manufacturing to increase the volume of vaccines: This could include "innovative partnerships including tech transfer, licensing and other mechanisms to address production bottlenecks".

Experts have warned that all countries need to take an "internationalist", not nationalist, approach to vaccination rollout and tacking COVID-19, otherwise experts fear that some low-income countries may not receive vaccines until 2024.

Visuals from the 'ACT-A Prioritized Strategy & Budget for 2021' presentation illustrate the contributors of a total of US$6.0 billion to ACT-A, as of February 3, and the breakdown of the US$27.2 billion needed for 2021. According to an update as of February 12, ACT-A has an additional US$4.0 billion in projected funding, so the US$27.2 billion funding gap "will be reduced to US$23.2 billion as projected funds are operationalized."

Transcript - WHO

Event website - WHO

At OECD release, Spanish development leadership calls for equal access to COVID-19 vaccines

In recognition of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s launch event of its annual Development Cooperation Report, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, stated that strengthening multilateralism and global governance were the only ways to overcome the current COVID-19 crisis.

Moreno also underlined Spain’s strong commitment to the global response to COVID-19, outlined the importance of multilateral instruments such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), and urged the international community to guarantee universal access to new COVID-19 vaccines.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Spanish NGOs meet development leadership officials to shape assistance system reform

On February 8, 2021, representatives from the development NGO umbrella organization ‘La Coordinadora’ met with the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and the Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Magdy Solimán. The objective of this meeting was to review the current government’s plans to deeply reform Spain’s development cooperation system.

According to La Coordinadora, Moreno reiterated the government’s intentions to increase Spain’s development assistance to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income by the end of the current term of office and underlined the need to strengthen Spanish cooperation and eliminate existing administrative bottlenecks in order to effectively address such budgetary grow.

La Coordinadora took advantage of the meeting to present its proposal paper to the Spanish government titled ‘A new cooperation system to change the world’, which was launched in January 2021 after gathering input and recommendations from up to 300 people involved in Spain’s development affairs.

Press release - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Proposal paper - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Spain launches new 'e-Duc@' fund to foster digital education in partner countries

As part of its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on February 3, 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) announced the launch of the new ‘e-Duc@’ fund to foster digital education in middle- and low-income partner countries. With a special focus on vulnerable populations, this new instrument will account for a budget of €4 million (US$5 million) in 2021 to support digitalization projects in partner countries.

The AECID also announced that the Spanish Foreign Ministry’s Secretary of State for International Cooperation has created a new working group on education and digitalization aimed at strengthening the government’s coordination in this area and advancing Sustainable Development Goal 4 on inclusive, quality education for all.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain’s new 2021-2024 foreign strategy draft prioritizes strengthening of development cooperation

On January 26, 2021, under the leadership of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved the first draft of the ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’, which outlines Spain’s foreign priorities and goals for the next four years.  

Sustainable development has been outlined as a core instrument to achieve Spain’s foreign goals. The new plan underlines the current administration commitment to increase Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) by 2023, to reform the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and to provide the Spanish development cooperation system with a new and reinforced vision including the following priority interventions.

Vertical axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Tackling extreme poverty by fostering nutrition, water and sanitation, and global health;
  • Addressing the negative effects of climate change;
  • Fostering global education; and
  • Promoting socio-economic development.

Horizontal axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Deploying feminist development cooperation;
  • Protecting human rights;
  • Strengthening humanitarian assistance; and
  • Developing innovative public-private partnerships.

The new ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ draft, which will be ratified in Parliament during the coming weeks, defines four guiding principles for Spain’s foreign policy: more Europe, better multilateralism, strategic bilateralism, and solidarity commitment. In addition to that, it outlines different strategic priorities articulated around four areas of intervention:

  1. Promotion of human rights, human security, democracy, and gender diplomacy;
  2. Economic diplomacy to end inequities and advocate for a new socio-economic model globally;
  3. Climate diplomacy for Spain to champion global efforts against the climate crisis; and
  4. Multilateral diplomacy to strengthen international institutions with a special emphasis on global health governance.

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Emphasizing transformative power of global education, Spain holds meeting on private sector involvement in digital schooling

On January 24, 2021, in acknowledgment of the International Day of Education, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, published an op-ed in the newspaper ‘El Confidencial’, underlying the importance of fostering quality education systems to effectively advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Moreno reiterated Spain's engagement in global education and digitalization, which have been listed among Spain’s priority interventions to help address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in low- and middle-income countries. Moreno mentioned the potential of Spanish private companies in supporting digitalization programs in partner countries.

On January 25, 2021, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation met in Madrid to discuss the private sector engagements in digital education interventions in low-income countries. Participants included the director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) Magdy Martínez Solimán, other government officials, and representatives from Spanish private companies and foundations such as Teléfonica, Microsoft Ibérica, and Fundación Pro-Futuro.

Op-ed - El Confidencial (in Spanish)

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

Spain's Sánchez emphasizes link between country's development assistance and international political priorities

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke at the annual conference of Spanish ambassadors that took place on January 18-19, 2021 in Madrid, Spain, reiterating his government’s strong commitment to multilateralism and EU institutions.

Sánchez made the case for the nexus between development assistance and international politics, emphasizing Spain’s development cooperation as a key instrument to effectively mitigate inequities, tackle the climate crisis, fight extreme poverty, and strengthen public health systems worldwide.

Press release - La Moncloa (in Spanish)

With eye toward refugee and low-income populations, Spain launches plan to support universal access to COVID-19 vaccines

The Spanish Ministry of Health and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation have launched the ‘Universal Access Plan: Sharing Vaccines against COVID-19’, aiming to guarantee that at-risk populations in low- and middle-income countries benefit from and have equal access to new COVID-19 vaccines.   

This operative plan establishes three priority areas through which Spain will help disburse COVID-19 vaccines: refugee populations experiencing humanitarian crises, low-income countries, and Spain's development partner countries. The plan also outlines the following channels through which Spain will disburse the vaccines:

  • The COVAX Facility, a global mechanism for vaccine procurement and equitable distribution;
  • European Union’s direct disbursements;
  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO);
  • Multilateral and regional organizations, such as the Pan-American Health Organization; and
  • Bilateral deals.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

'Universal Access Plan’ - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

Spain approves 2021 budget with ODA set at US$3.7 billion

On December 22, 2020, the Spanish parliament approved the general state budget for 2021. After several years of political instability, in which Spain had to roll over its national budget since 2018, the Socialist-led minority coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has managed to pass the annual budget at the parliament.

According to the recently approved funding bill, Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) will amount to €3.1 billion (US$3.7 billion), or 0.25% of its gross national income (GNI). It represents a 22% increase compared to 2019 net ODA disbursements and a 41% increase compared to the 2018 budget, which remained valid through 2020.

While the Spanish government's primary provider of ODA remains the Ministry of Finance, which manages Spain’s development funding to the EU and accounts for a budget of €1.2 billion (US$1.4 billion), funding packages disbursed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation amount to €788 million (US$928 million).

The Spanish state budget for 2021 also includes the approval of the financial transaction tax for the first time. According to government estimates, taxes are expected to raise up to €850 million (US$1.0 billion) this year in Spain.

Press release - Ministry of Finance (in Spanish)

ODA budget estimates for 2021 - Congress of Deputies (in Spanish)

Oxfam Intermón publishes report on Spanish ODA in light of COVID-19 crisis, gives recommendations

Oxfam Intermón, a Spanish NGO and part of Oxfam’s international confederation of NGOs that aim to combat poverty and injustice globally, recently released its report titled 'Realidad de la ayuda 2020: una refundación inaplazable para el mundo post COVID-19' (Reality of assistance 2020: a re-foundation that cannot be postponed for the post-COVID-19 world).

Given the devastation that the COVID-19 crisis has caused across the health, economic, and social sectors, international cooperation and financing play important roles in helping low-income countries respond to the pandemic and protect the most defenseless. The report emphasizes that 2021 must be the beginning of a rigorous investment plan and drastic institutional reforms in order for Spain to more effectively contribute to global recovery. 

Its five chapters analyze how countries are contending with the COVID-19 crisis, Spain's 2019-2020 transition towards re-establishing the foundation of Spanish cooperation, the debt and financial situation in light of COVID-19, the role of the EU post-pandemic, and an analysis of Spanish official development assistance (ODA) in 2019.

Report - Oxfam Intermón (in Spanish)

Spain disburses additional US$24 million to multilateral instruments for COVID-19 response

Aiming to support the global response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC) announced the disbursement of €20 million (US$24 million) in official development assistance (ODA) voluntary contributions to multilateral organizations.

This new funding, which is on top of Spain’s compulsory contributions to the multilateral system, will be channeled to the World Health Organization, UN Women, the UN Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other organizations.

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Spain's Sánchez calls for strong multilateral cooperation to address COVID-19 recovery

On December 14, 2020, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurría published a joint op-ed in the French newspaper, ‘Le Monde’.

Sánchez and Gurría praised the work done by the OECD in fostering international development and economic cooperation, emphasized the need for strengthening multilateral institutions, and underlined three priority areas to create a strong, resilient, green, and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. These priority interventions included:

  • Tackling COVID-19, strengthening public health systems, and making sure new vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics are accessible to all;
  • Generating the conditions for long-term recovery, with special focus on digitalization; and
  • Incentivizing a green economy worldwide, strengthening the fight against the climate crisis.

Op-ed - Le Monde (in French)

Spanish NGO releases report outlining COVID-19 implications for HIV/AIDS work

On World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, the Spanish global health NGO 'Salud por Derecho' released a report which analyzes the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis on HIV/AIDS.

According to the report, vulnerable populations' access to HIV-related services and essential medicines is being severely limited due to the COVID-19 lockdown and mobility restrictions. The report stresses that girls and women face more obstacles to accessing health services and have a higher chance of suffering gender-based violence or contracting HIV.

Salud por Derecho applauded the work done by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). It also called upon the international community, including Spain, to increase funding to The Global Fund.

Press release - Salud por Derecho (in Spanish)

Report - Salud por Derecho (in Spanish)

Think tank Elcano analyzes Spain’s development assistance narratives

On November 30, 2020, the Spanish foreign affairs think tank, Elcano Royal Institute, published an analysis report examining Spain’s development policy motivations, budgetary trends, and fundamental arguments.

According to Elcano’s report, Spain acts as an “outlier” player in the global development system. While its official development assistance (ODA) was disproportionally reduced as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, Spain was among the most dynamic and disciplined donors at the time taking on global development policies, norms, and initiatives.  

Elcano also called upon the Spanish administration and the largest political parties to conduct a deeper debate around the role Spain should play in the global assistance system, as well as assume a new narrative for development cooperation "that integrates the very different political and ideological perspectives" from which assistance can be approached.

Analysis - Elcano Royal Institute (in Spanish)

Spain attends meeting ahead of Ibero-American Summit; climate and COVID-19 crises to be focus

On November 30, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), Arancha González Laya, participated in a virtual meeting with other foreign ministers from Latin American countries, Portugal, and Andorra to prepare for the Ibero-American Summit that will take place in spring of 2021 in Andorra.

González Laya and her counterparts agreed on reaffirming the importance of Ibero-American cooperation in key areas such as sustainable development, the climate crisis, and the COVID-19 crisis.

The Ibero-American Summit will focus on fostering innovation in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as mobilizing additional funding to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on education in emergencies

Join the Donor Tracker on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at 15:00-16:00 CET for a webinar addressing education in emergencies, featuring experts from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a global fund and partnership to improve education in lower-income countries, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency.

The growth of protracted conflicts and the increasing prevalence of emergencies globally have impacted the educational opportunities of millions of children. Precarious humanitarian situations around the world have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. With just ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), amid a global pandemic, prioritizing the educational needs of the world’s most vulnerable children is more important than ever.

However, are donors dedicating sufficient attention to education in emergencies? Join the webinar for a discussion on financing needs, donor priorities, and policy trends in the sector.

This webinar complements our recently published report, ‘Decades of neglect: Donor financing for education in emergencies’.

Registration - Zoom

Report - Donor Tracker

Spanish foreign minister visits Senegal, signs agreement on migration

With the aim to strengthen bilateral cooperation, Arancha González Laya, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), visited Senegal and met with high-level government representatives including the Senegalese President Macky Sall and Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall.

González Laya reiterated that Senegal is a top priority for Spain’s development cooperation and foreign policy. As a result of these meetings, Spain and Senegal signed an agreement to address legal migration and the voluntary return to Senegal of Senegalese citizens living in Spain.  

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)  

Spanish NGOs propose amendments to government’s 2021 budget bill

The Spanish development NGO umbrella organization ‘La Coordinadora’ published a position paper with proposals and symbolic amendments to increase development spending in the general state budget bill for 2021.

Among other measures, La Coordinadora proposes to increase the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation's (AECID) budget by €230 million (US$271 million) and to reduce that amount from the Ministry of Defense's budget.

Spain’s 2021 budget bill is currently being discussed at the Congress of Deputies. Before its final approval by the beginning of 2021, parliamentary groups can present concrete amendments to influence specific budgetary envelopes such as development spending.

Press release – La Coordinadora (in Spanish)