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Spain and Mexico strengthen cooperation to tackle COVID-19 crisis worldwide

On April 30, 2021, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC), Arancha González Laya, met with the Mexican Secretary for External Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, to review current global challenges and advance bilateral cooperation partnerships.

As a result of the meeting, Spain and Mexico decided to strengthen collaborations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to foster equal and universal access to new vaccines, treatments, and other health goods. González and Ebrard also aligned strongly on other development areas, such as addressing gender equality and the climate emergency.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Spanish Development Council calls for modernizing Spain’s development assistance system

On April 28, 2021, a plenary meeting was held by the Development Cooperation Council, a consultive body that is chaired by the Spanish foreign ministry's (MAUC) State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and is composed of government officials, civil society representatives, and development cooperation experts.

The Council reviewed Spain’s development priorities for 2021 and reiterated the current government’s aim to increase official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% of the gross national income (GNI) by 2023. It also called for a deep reform of Spain’s development infrastructure to adapt it to the "new multilateral order of Sustainable Development" and to develop more effective decision-making procedures.

The Council validated the initiative of a new law for sustainable development, which would be approved by the Spanish parliament by the end of 2021.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Spain to provide 8 million vaccine doses to Latin America and Caribbean

At the 27th Ibero-American Summit on April 21, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a special voluntary contribution of 8 million vaccine doses against COVID-19 to the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region.

The vaccine doses, which will be disbursed through COVAX with the collaboration of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), represent between 5% and 10% of those acquired by Spain in 2021. 

Sánchez reiterated Spain’s strong commitment to contributing to the global COVID-19 response and to guaranteeing universal access to new vaccines.

The Ibero-American Summit, held in Andorra, concluded with the approval of the 'Andorra Declaration: Innovation for Sustainable Development', which calls for strengthening the multilateral response against the pandemic, urges the international community to equally disburse COVID-19 vaccines, and underlines the importance of improving pandemic preparedness for future global health crises. 

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

France and Spain call for new international treaty on pandemic preparedness

France's President Emanuel Macron and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez participated in the high-level event Reforming and strengthening the global health system to better respond to future pandemics’ to discuss the global response to COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness. 

While Macron underlined the importance of international solidarity for guaranteeing equal global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Sánchez highlighted the importance of reinforcing the multilateral system to make sure no one is left behind. Both leaders advocated for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and stated that COVID-19 has shown the need for a new and effective mechanism to prevent and respond to future pandemics.

This high-level meeting was organized alongside the 27th Ibero-American Summit held in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, on April 21, 2021. In addition to Macron and Sánchez, participants included Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado, and the Secretary-General for Ibero-America Rebeca Grynspan.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Canada among 29 countries to condemn human rights violations against LGBTI people in Chechen Republic

Canada, among 29 co-signatories, has called on the Russian Federation "to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators."

A report published in 2018 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found strong evidence that Chechnya was engaging in "successive purges against LGBTI persons". LGBTI people in Chechnya face "systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings". Since the release of the report, Russia has failed to implement changes or respond to these human rights violations, and new human rights violations against LGBTI people and opponents of Chechen leadership continue to be discovered, said the joint statement.

The following countries also signed this statement: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Following OECD data release, Spain's NGO network calls for increases to Spanish ODA

Following the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishing its preliminary data on official development assistance (ODA) disbursements for 2020, the network of Spanish development NGOs, 'La Coordinadora', released an analysis arguing that Spain should contribute more ODA in order to combat the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis globally.

According to the OECD release, Spain’s ODA net disbursements amounted to US$3.0 billion in 2020, making it the 13th-largest OECD donor. In relative terms, Spain’s ODA reached 0.24% of its gross national income (GNI).

The analysis highlighted that, following current trends, Spain would not reach the government’s target of increasing ODA to 0.5% of GNI before 2046.

Press release – La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Press release – OECD

Pandemic spending brought global foreign assistance to all-time high in 2020, but "much greater effort" needed, says OECD

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) released the preliminary data on its official development assistance (ODA) flows for 2020. Spending on COVID-19 relief pushed foreign assistance to an all-time high in 2020 (US$161.2 billion, +3.5% from 2019), but the OECD says funds are still insufficient.

Although governments internationally have provided the equivalent of US$16.00 trillion in COVID-19 stimulus measures, just 1% of that spending has been mobilized to help low-income countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. A "much greater effort" is needed to support vaccine distribution and health services and to support the income and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, he said.

The data showed that in 2020, 22% of bilateral ODA was provided as "non-grants" (loans or equity investments), an increase of 17% from previous years and a 39% increase from 2019 levels. By income group, flows to low-income countries decreased by 4% compared to 2019 while ODA to lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries increased by 7% and 36%, respectively. These trends imply that part of the ODA increase in 2020 is due to loans to middle-income countries at a time when debt relief is increasingly discussed, with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund recently calling for greater assistance to middle-income countries for tackling debt and the climate crisis.

Some of the donor-specific information includes the following:

  • Australia's ODA decreased by 11% due to cuts to bilateral assistance;
  • Canada's ODA increased by 8% due to heightened climate financing and in-country refugee costs;
  • EU Institutions saw a 25% increase in ODA due to a significant amount of additional funds for COVID-19 related activities and with sovereign lending increasing by 136% in real terms over 2019;
  • France's ODA increased by 11% due to an increase in its bilateral assistance and funding for COVID-19, including through lending;
  • Germany's ODA increased by 14% due primarily to the mobilization of additional ODA resources to fight the pandemic;
  • Italy's ODA decreased by 7% due to a drop in bilateral grants as well as in-country refugee costs;
  • Japan's ODA increased by 1% due to heightened bilateral lending;
  • The Netherlands' ODA decreased by 3% due to a loss of gross national income (GNI), as ODA levels were set based on maintaining the previous year's ODA-to-GNI ratio (0.59%);
  • Norway's ODA increased by 8% due to a rise in health-related ODA and contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • South Korea's ODA decreased by 9% due to cuts in its overall assistance program;
  • Spain's ODA decreased by 2% due to decreases in bilateral assistance;
  • Sweden's ODA increased by 17% due to heightened contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • The UK's ODA decreased by 10%, driven by the decrease in GNI while meeting the ODA to GNI ratio of 0.7%; and
  • The US' ODA increased by 5% due to increased contributions to multilateral organizations.

Press release - OECD

ODA 2020 detailed summary - OECD

More information - OECD

Spain to strengthen development cooperation in support of LGBTQ+ rights

Following an April 9, 2021 meeting between Magdy Martínez-Solimán (Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)) and representatives from 'Exterior es Diverso' (a platform created by LGBTQI+ members of the Spanish foreign ministry), Spain’s development leadership decided to strengthen efforts to support LGBTQI+ rights in partner countries.

Among other measures, AECID is evaluating the possibility of launching a specific development cooperation fund related to LGBTQI+ causes. While the new Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation for 2022-2025 as well as the new Law for International Cooperation (which will be released by the end of 2021) will adopt an approach based on LGBTQI+ rights, Spain will elaborate on new guidelines for effective inclusion of sexual and gender diversity in sustainable development policies.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain launches Rapid Recovery Fund for emergency humanitarian assistance

With an overall budget of €10 million (US$12 million) for 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) launched the Rapid Recovery Fund to disburse ad-hoc humanitarian assistance and effectively respond to emergency needs in partner countries.

The Rapid Recovery Fund will focus on supporting vulnerable populations affected by climate disasters and conflict situations. Among other actions, the Fund will provide drinking water, health supplies, and food to affected people.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain's AECID and France's AFD talk global development collaboration

On April 9, 2021, the director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Magdy Martínez-Solimán, and the director of the French Development Agency (AFD), Rémy Rioux, met virtually to discuss the most pressing global challenges and explore potential partnerships between France and Spain in sustainable development.

AECID and AFD committed to strengthen coordination within the EU’s development system and to find a common position towards financial development cooperation in the framework of the Team Europe initiative.

Martínez-Solimán and Rioux also agreed that development cooperation cannot be treated as less important than migration policies, but rather both need to be addressed together.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain’s Prime Minister Sánchez reshuffles his cabinet

On March 30, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a reshuffle of the Spanish coalition government, which is formed by his social-democratic Socialist Party (PSOE) and the left-wing Podemos Party.

Following the resignation of Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) from his role as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda after deciding to run for Madrid regional elections to be held on May 4, 2021, Sánchez appointed people to take his place. The Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz (Podemos), retained that title while also being appointed as the new Deputy Prime Minister. The Secretary of State for the Agenda 2030, Ione Belarra (Podemos), was appointed as the new Minister of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda.

The Spanish coalition cabinet is composed of four Deputy Prime Ministers: Minister of Presidency Carmen Calvo (PSOE), Minister of Economy and Digitalization Nadia Calviño (PSOE), Minister of Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera (PSOE), and the recently appointed Díaz.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Spain reaffirms commitment to women's empowerment at Generation Equality Forum

At the kick-off event of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) held in Mexico City, Mexico, on March 29-31, 2021, high-level representatives of the Spanish government emphasized the importance of accelerating progress for gender equality by 2030.

Convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, the GEF is a global gathering commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+25), designed to further advance progress toward gender equality. The Forum will culminate in Paris, France in June 2021 with an ambitious set of concrete commitments from governments, private companies, and civil society organizations around the world.

Spain is strongly involved in this process and is co-leading the GEF Action Coalition for Economic Justice and Rights together with Germany, South Africa, Sweden, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Care International, and other civil society organizations.

As part of Spain's work on this Action Coalition, it will help raise awareness of and elevate solutions for issues including women's unpaid labor (which has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic) and their (relatedly) low levels of participation in the paid labor market.

Carmen Calvo (Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister), Arancha González Laya (Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation), Irene Montero (Minister of Equality), and Ángeles Moreno (Secretary of State for International Cooperation) participated in the event as well.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Spain launches 'Focus on Africa 2023' strategic plan

On March 29, 2021, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez participated in a high-level event to release ‘Foco África 2023’ (‘Focus on Africa 2023’), the new strategic program of the Spanish government to foster peace, stability, and sustainable development in the continent. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and Arancha González Laya (Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation) also participated in this launch event, which served to reaffirm Spain’s goal to strengthen cooperation with the African continent.

The ‘Foco África 2023’ plan, which is aimed at supporting the implementation of the Spanish government’s ‘Third Africa Plan’ approved in March 2019, outlines Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa as priority partner countries. Specifically for development cooperation, Spain will focus its efforts on Mali, Niger, Senegal, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia, and Egypt.

The new plan outlines seven strategic priorities:

  • Peace and security;
  • Sustainable development;
  • Trade and economic investments;
  • Global public services (with a focus on health, water, and sanitation);
  • Humanitarian assistance (with a focus on nutrition and education);
  • Gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment; and
  • Migration and mobility.

Press release – La Moncloa

'Foco África 2023' – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

World leaders join European Council President and WHO Director-General in calling for international pandemic treaty

World leaders joined European Council President Charles Michel and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in signing an op-ed calling for a new international pandemic treaty to ensure improved global pandemic preparedness and response for future potential health crises. 

The op-ed acknowledged that no country or multilateral agency could address the COVID-19 pandemic—or future pandemics—alone and that the current crisis serves as a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The treaty would encourage an “all-of-government and all-of-society approach” at all levels to enhance cooperation on a variety of preparedness and response measures. It would fortify mutual accountability and use a 'One Health' approach that looks at human health not as an isolated entity, but rather as intertwined with the health of animals and our planet. 

The heads of states highlighted the role that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) has played in fighting the pandemic, as well as the lessons it has provided, including the need for stronger partnerships for equitable access to treatment and vaccines globally.

Leaders from the following countries signed the treaty: Fiji, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Romania, the UK, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - WHO

News article - Euractiv

Ahead of GPE’s replenishment conference, Spanish parliament discusses global education

On March 22, 2021, the Spanish Congress of Deputies’ Development Committee and 2030 Agenda Committee hosted a virtual event to raise awareness on global education and discuss the role Spain should play ahead of the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) 2021-2025 replenishment.

The event was co-organized by GPE and the Global Campaign for Education, a development NGO network which in Spain is formed by Ayuda en Acción, Entreculturas, Educo, and Plan International España. The event included the participation of El Salvador's Minister of Education, Carla Hananía de Varela, and up to eight MPs from different parliamentary groups, including the Deputy Chair of the Congress of Deputies, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, of the governing Socialist party (PSOE), and the President of the Development Committee, Roser Maestro, of the governing left-wing Podemos party.

During this parliamentary hearing, GPE’s Chief Executive Officer, Alice Albright, encouraged Spain to champion global education efforts and launched GPE’s €100 million (US$121 million) ask to the Spanish government for its coming 2021-2025 replenishment period.

Press release – Global Campaign for Education Spain (in Spanish)

Report – GPE (in Spanish)

Former European leaders in WHO expert advisory group call for "rethink" of policy to prevent future pandemics

Former European leaders on the independent Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a call to action for policy reform to prevent future pandemics. 

In their report, the members of the expert advisory group called for using lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to fundamentally rethink policy priorities to implement a ‘One Health’ approach, address issues that have caused so many people to be vulnerable to the pandemic, make changes to the global financial system, promote global public goods for health, strengthen existing global health institutions, and support innovation in health systems. 

The group was chaired by Mario Monti—the President of Bocconi University and former Prime Minister of Italy—and included former presidents, prime ministers, ministers, CEOs, leaders of multilateral organizations, and other eminent leaders.

Report - WHO

Donor Tracker webinar will focus on donor governments' funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights; accompanying publication available now

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Donor Tracker webinar to host webinar on donor finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Spain hosts first meeting for 'Vaccine Solidarity Plan' to foster equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in low-, middle-income countries

On March 11, 2021, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno Bau, hosted the first meeting of the coordination board of the ‘Vaccine Solidarity Plan’, a blueprint strategy approved by Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez’ cabinet to foster universal, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in middle- and low-income countries.  

The coordination board is aimed at accelerating and overviewing the implementation of the Vaccine Solidarity Plan, and the board is made up of senior government officials from the Spanish Prime Minister's office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation (MAUC), Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Products (AEMPS), regional governments, as well as representatives from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Spanish development NGO platform (‘La Coordinadora’).

According to Moreno Bau, the main objective of this plan is to foster rapid access to the COVID-19 vaccines for the most vulnerable populations worldwide.

According to MAUC, the guiding principles of Spain’s Vaccine Solidarity Plan include universal, equitable, and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines (which are seen as a global public good), as well as solidarity, multilateralism, and health systems strengthening.  

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Spain to modernize international cooperation architecture with eye toward Parliamentary development leadership

In a parliamentary hearing at the Congress of Deputies’ Development Committee held on March 2, 2021, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno Bau, outlined the current government’s intentions to reform and modernize Spain’s development cooperation system.

With the objective of strengthening the Spanish cooperation administrative procedures to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a more efficient, strategic, and coordinated way, current measures include the elaboration of a new law for international development cooperation and the reform of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). The new law will be discussed and eventually approved by Parliament by the end of 2021.

According to Moreno Bau, this reform process should be operative by the beginning of 2022 in order to help the government reach the target of increasing Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% of its gross national income by 2023.

In addition to that, Moreno Bau discussed the Spanish cooperation plans to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in middle- and low-income partner countries. She underlined that, together with strengthening public health systems and guaranteeing that vulnerable populations have equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, Spain’s priority areas for an inclusive recovery include: education, water and sanitation, gender equality, digitalization, the climate crisis, migration, and democratic governance.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)