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Spanish think tank holds conference pandemic preparedness and response conference

On May 5 and 6, 2022, the global health think tank and research institution Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) organized a conference aimed at discussing global preparation to respond to future environmental and public health crises.

Bringing together researchers, health professionals, practitioners, and decision-makers in the two-day workshop held in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, ISGlobal conducted technical discussions to exchange varying points of view and amalgamate lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic; participants shared ideas geared toward advancing preparedness, response, recovery, and resilience to future pandemics.  

The workshop concluded with a high-level roundtable that gathered different institutions like the Spanish ministries of Health and Science, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, and the African Centre for Disease Control.

Press release - ISGlobal

Spain's Cancela addresses 0.7% ODA/GNI target, other development priorities with parliament

On April 26 and May 3, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation (SECI) Pilar Cancela attended two consecutive parliamentary hearings at the development committees of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, Spain's bicameral parliament.

Cancela took advantage of both hearings to emphasize the current government’s strong engagement with global health and development that has made Spain the world’s seventh-largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines.

Cancela presented the new sustainable development bill, which will be discussed in parliament in the upcoming months. She also addressed the intended plan to increase Spain’s ODA to 0.7% of GNI by 2030 and to modernize Spanish development architecture. She summarized the main findings from the ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’; the new Master Plan for the 2022-2025 period will be released soon.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Spanish development leadership prioritizes gender equality in policy-making

On April 21, 2022, Spain’s State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, outlined gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment as a cross-cutting priority sector for Spanish development policy.

During her intervention at Plan International’s event, ‘The impact of humanitarian crisis on girls and adolescents’, held in Madrid, Spain, Cancela stated that Spain’s development policy seeks to advance real and effective gender equality worldwide. In turn, she underlined the importance of strengthening interventions to protect girls in humanitarian contexts and provided specific examples in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

In February 2021, the Spanish government released the ‘Guidelines for a Feminist Foreign Policy’ to incentivize development cooperation programs aimed at fostering gender equality. To date, however, there is not any specific roadmap detailing how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) plans to implement this strategy, and Spain has not made any relevant financial announcement for women.

The Spanish development NGO, Oxfam Intermón, released the report, ‘Beyond Words: For A Feminist And Transformative Feminist Cooperation’, in February of 2022 with specific recommendations for the Spanish government to increase ODA to gender-related programs.  

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Beyond Words – Oxfam Intermón (in Spanish)

Think tanks based in Spain, Africa gather to advance women's empowerment

On April 8, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) organized a discussion session between think tanks based in Spain and Africa aimed at sharing ideas on how to advance women's empowerment on the African continent.

Earmarked under two recent milestones of Spain’s international development activities, the Guidelines for a ‘Feminist Foreign Policy’ and the ‘Focus Africa 2023’, the meeting served to launch an informal network of African and Spanish think tanks that will work together in order to foster evidence-based, strategic studies around women's empowerment and the women, peace, and security agenda.

The meeting was hosted and facilitated by the Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ángeles Moreno Bau.

Seven think tanks based in Africa participated in the meeting, including the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Timbuktu Institute, the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), the Research and Analysis Group for Development (GRAAD), the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), the Western Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).

Six think tanks based in Spain participated in the meeting, including the Royal Institute Elcano, the Alternativas Foundation, the Barcelona Centre for International Studies (CIDOB), Oxfam Intermón, the African Studies Group, and the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Spain AECID launches ‘Salud COVID’ program to foster health systems strengthening in partner coutries

On April 7, 2022, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) announced the launch of the new ‘Salud Covid’ program, which will aim to support public health systems in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and middle- income partner counties.

With an initial budget of €4 million (US$4 million) that will be entirely disbursed in 2022, the program will start focusing on Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, and Paraguay. Among other interventions, this program will support vaccination campaigns for COVID-19 in partner countries.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain pledges US$7 million to foster nutrition in Sahel, Lake Chad

On April 6, 2022, at a high-level meeting on food and nutrition in the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Spanish government announced a €6 million (US$7 million) pledge to foster nutrition standards given the ongoing food crisis in the region due to drought, regional conflict, rising food costs, and more.

From this larger amount, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) will channel an urgent and extraordinary disbursement of €500,000 (US$551,000) to the World Food Program to help tackle the current food emergency in Mali.  

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spanish development leadership visits Mauritania and Senegal, prioritizes cooperation in Sahel region

On March 27, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation Pilar Cancela concluded her first official visit to the Sahel Region. Cancela met with high-level government appointees from Mauritania and Senegal, two of the priority partner countries for Spain’s development policy, and participated in the 9th Water World Forum, held in Dakar from March 21 - 26, 2022, to advance solutions towards water and sanitation worldwide.

Spain’s development leadership also visited development programs supported by Spanish development cooperation in priority areas, which included rural development, food security, climate change, health systems strengthening, maternal, newborn and child health, women’s health, gender equality, and higher education.

Cancela reaffirmed the Sahel region as a priority for Spain's development cooperation. Both the current Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation (2018-2021) and the new development bill, which is expected to be adopted by June 2022, highlight Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal as key partner countries for bilateral cooperation.

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

Spain's Sánchez announces €23 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine - Spain's largest-ever humanitarian package

On March 18, 2022, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Misotakis met in Rome, Italy, to define a Southern Europe common position regarding increasing energy costs as well as to discuss the Ukrainian crisis ahead of the EU Council, which will be held on March 24 and 25, 2022.

Sánchez took advantage of the meeting to highlight Spain’s full support of Ukrainian refugees. In addition, he announced a €23 million (US$26 million) humanitarian assistance contribution to support Ukraine. According to Sánchez’s office, ‘La Moncloa’, this is the largest humanitarian package Spain has ever sent to a partner country.  

Press release – la Moncloa (in Spanish)

Spain and Mauritania to strengthen bilateral cooperation

On March 18, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, and the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering bilateral cooperation in science, education, and culture.

The signature of this new partnership agreement, which will operate until the end of 2024, preceeded State Secretary Cancela’s upcoming visit to Mauritania and Senegal. The Sahel region is among the geographic priorities of Spain’s development policy.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Spanish government to increase cooperation with development NGOs

On March 14, 2022, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) and the development NGO umbrella organization 'La Coordinadora' signed a partnership agreement to regulate the civil society's involvement in the implementation of Spain's development policy.

With this new partnership agreement, MAEC and 'La Coordinadora' seek to strengthen collaborations on strategic goals, procedures, and division of labor, ensuring harmonization. According to Spanish NGOs, the agreement will also serve to increase interactions with the government as well as to clarify the role that civil society groups should have in promoting sustainable development. 

Press release – La Coordinadora

Press release – MAEC

Spain provides humanitarian assistance, medical supplies to Ukraine in response to conflict

On February 26, 2022, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) announced a 20-ton delivery of humanitarian supplies, including medicine and other health-related equipment to Ukraine.  

As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Spanish central government, as well as several regions, municipalities, and development NGOs, are increasing humanitarian efforts to support Ukrainian refugees. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) is in the process of defining a joint strategy to coordinate efforts and effectively provide a humanitarian response to support the Ukrainian population.   

Notably, on March 7, 2022, the regional government of Catalonia hosted an extraordinary session of the Committee for Humanitarian Emergencies to strengthen coordination ahead of the Ukrainian crisis.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Press release – Catalan Committee for Humanitarian Emergencies

Oxfam Spain launches report advocating for feminist development cooperation

On March 7, 2022, the Spanish development NGO, Oxfam Intermón, released a discussion paper aimed at providing evidence-based and political recommendations to advance a sustainable development model that places gender equality and the feminist agenda as cornerstone interventions.

Entitled, ‘Beyond words: towards a feminist and transformative development policy’, Oxfam Intermón’s report calls for highlighting feminism as part of Spain’s development cooperation identity and for strengthening efforts to foster gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.

Among other measures, Oxfam Intermón recommended that Spain significantly increase official development assistance (ODA) for gender-related programs. 30% of Spain’s ODA should be allocated to programs that include gender equality as the main objective, and 60% of Spain’s ODA should be allocated to programs where gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, according to the NGO.

Press release – Oxfam Intermón (in Spanish)

NGOs call on Sánchez to guarantee equal global access to COVID-19 vaccines, medical technology with Spanish public funding

On February 22, 2022, the Spanish development NGO platform ‘La Coordinadora’ and other organizations, like Salud por Derecho, Médicos del Mundo, and Oxfam Intermón, called on Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to guarantee universal access to COVID-19 vaccines connected to Spain's public funding in an open letter.

NGOs praised Sánchez’s efforts to support the global response to COVID-19, providing middle- and low-income partner countries with equitable biomedical tools, and advocating for a temporary vaccine waiver. In their open letter, however, NGOs urged the government to take action a step further and guarantee that all vaccines and health tools developed with Spanish public funding be globally disbursed under non-license agreements and channeled through the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

Press release – ‘La Coordinadora’ (in Spanish)

Spain should lead global health governance action, says think tank

On February 21, 2022, the Spanish think tanks, Elcano Royal Institute and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), published a policy paper entitled, ‘Global health on the international agenda: lessons from the pandemic for a new role for Spain in the world’, which analyses the challenges and opportunities surrounding Spain’s engagement in global health governance as well as in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper suggested that Spain assume more leadership in global health due to its increasing importance on the world stage. The authors of the paper highlighted that Spain has an excellent opportunity to improve its understanding of the debates around global health governance, to shape competitive advantages compared to other donors, and to become an influential player in the field.

Report – Elcano Institute

Spain calls for equitable vaccine distribution at US-led COVID-19 Global Action Meeting

On February 11, 2022, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation José Manuel Albares participated in the COVID-19 Global Action ministerial meeting organized by the US State Department.

Minister Albares reiterated Spain’s strong commitment towards equitable and universal vaccination campaigns as a key pillar of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Albares offered Spain’s expertise in strengthening public health systems in middle- and low-income partner countries, supporting health professionals, and fighting disinformation. At the same time, he underlined Spain’s comparative advantages in conducting development cooperation programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the Sahel regions.

In addition to Spain, foreign ministers and high-level representatives from Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the African Union, and the European Commission participated in the meeting.  

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

OECD DAC releases peer review on Spain, recommending steps to foster development finance

On February 3, 2022, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) published its Development Co-operation Peer Review on Spain 2022. Conducted by Japan and the Czech Republic, the Peer Review on Spain reviews the strengths and weaknesses of Spanish development policy and it outlines specific recommendations for improving decision-making procedures on official development assistance (ODA).

The review highlighted that Spain has placed the UN's Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of its development cooperation policy, utilizing a unique approach to the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus, supporting efforts in knowledge sharing and mutual learning, and fostering effective and inclusive partnerships with recipient countries, EU institutions, Spanish local administrations, and CSOs.

While the review acknowledged the Spanish development system's current reform process, it called for agencies to rapidly address human resourcing challenges and to simplify laws and regulations that impede the flexibility, predictability, and efficiency of Spanish development policy.

The OECD also recommended that Spain establish a clear roadmap with annual forecasts of ODA budgets to achieve its 0.7% ODA/ gross national income (GNI) goal by 2030. The review also recommended setting a clear policy for Spain’s financial cooperation.

Peer Review on Spain – OECD DAC

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Spain commits US$7.6 million disbursement to UNICEF to support children in LAC region

On February 1, 2022, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) announced a €6.78 million contribution (US$7.6 million) to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aimed at providing humanitarian assistance and sustainable development opportunities to vulnerable children living in the Latin America and  Caribbean (LAC) region.

Spain’s new disbursement to UNICEF will be focused on fostering digital education in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Peru; improving living conditions of indigenous and refugee communities living in Brazil; increasing social services of migrant children living in Colombia; supporting education services of vulnerable children affected by the 2021 earthquake in Haiti; facilitating education in Honduras; and, fostering inclusive and quality education programs in Venezuela.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain could drastically increase impact on EU development policy with strategic focus, says think tank

On January 21, 2022, Spanish think tank Elcano Royal Institute published a policy brief analyzing Spain’s capacity to influence the EU’s development policy. Entitled ‘Presence or influence? Spanish cooperation with the EU’, the brief suggests that despite being the fourth-largest contributor to the EU’s official development assistance (ODA) budget, Spain could have a more impactful influence in setting the EU's development policy agenda.

According to Elcano Royal Institute, Spain could improve by shaping its strategic vision towards EU development policies, proactively addressing EU development issues, increasing the number of personnel involved in global and EU-wide development, and executing a larger development portfolio beyond the EU.

Policy brief – Elcano Royal Institute (in Spanish)

Ahead of Ibero-American Summit, Spanish and Dominican leaders talk vaccination, economic recovery, climate

On January 20, 2022, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the Dominican Republic President Luis Rodolfo Abinader met in Madrid to advance bilateral cooperation and align positions ahead of the upcoming Ibero-American Summit that will take place in the Dominican Republic in the fall of 2022.

Sánchez suggested that the European Union's efforts to foster global immunization should include Latin America and the Caribbean region; he suggested an inclusive economic recovery, public health, and climate change as priority topics for the upcoming Ibero-American Summit. Abinader requested strengthened cooperation and increased exchange experiences from Spain to improve the education sector in the Dominican Republic ahead of the conference.

Press release – la Moncloa (in Spanish)

NGO feedback on new Spanish development cooperation bill largely positive

On January 12, 2022, the Spanish development NGO network ‘La Coordinadora’ launched a briefing note analyzing the new development bill approved by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s cabinet, largely approving the bill's contents, but also making numerous recommendations for improvements. 

Spanish NGOs praised the cabinet's approval of the new development bill that, once approved by the parliament by June of 2022, will replace the current law, which was enacted in 1998. Notably, NGOs supported the new law's plan to increase Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2030 as well as to conduct an important administrative reform of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

However, NGOs also called for some changes to the new law, including the adoption of an ambitious feminist approach to international development cooperation, the advancement of political and development coherence, and the facilitation of civil society participation in development.

Press release – La Coordinadora (in Spanish)