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Sweden guarantees pension fund investments in sustainable development

For the first time, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has provided a public guarantee of SEK 1.5 billion (US$180 million) for a private bond focusing on health and social development in low- and middle-income countries, through a guarantee instrument, 'Financing For Healthier Lives'.

The guarantee instrument has been developed in collaboration with a Swiss fund manager, 'responsAbility', and Danske Bank. The funds will be lent to companies in low- and middle-income countries through Alecta (a Swedish occupational pension plan manager) and Afa Försäkring (a Swedish insurance company).

Sida’s public guarantee aims to lower the risk on investment so that, in addition to regular official development assistance (ODA), private institutional capital can be mobilized for development projects that support poverty reduction. On the international capital market, the new bond will be classified as a Social Bond, which refers to bonds that fund "new and existing projects with positive social outcomes".

Kalle Hellman, Sida's Deputy Head of Unit for Guarantees and Catalytic Financing for Development, explained that by using approximately SEK50 million (US$6 million) from Sweden's ODA, SEK 1.5 billion (US$180 million) from private funds can be invested in line with the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs), with a focus on health and social development. This will provide a good exchange for Sweden's currency, said Hellman, and Sweden could "show the market that this type of investment is both possible and interesting". In the long term, Hellman hopes that market players can make direct investments without a guarantee agreement.

Op-ed – Sida (in Swedish)

Generation Equality Forum concludes with major financial and political commitments for gender equality

The Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, kicked off in Mexico City on March 29-31, 2021, and culminated in Paris on June 30-July 2. The Forum brought together high-level stakeholders including heads of government, corporations, and NGOs to accelerate major financial and political commitments to achieving gender equality by 2026. 

Country donors announced the following commitments:

  • Canada committed CA$180 million (US$146 million) to address the root causes of gender inequality around the world, including unpaid and paid care work in low- and middle-income countries. Canada also announced that it will commit CA$100 million (US$81 million) in new funding for stand-alone international assistance directed to inequality in unpaid and paid care work;
  • The EU committed at least €4.0 billion (US$4.9 billion) in the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget to be specifically dedicated to women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment. The EU also pledged to propose new legislation by the end of 2021 to combat violence against women and hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people, as well as adding all forms of hate crimes to the list of crimes in the EU treaties;
  • France committed an additional €100 million (US$122 million) in this sector for the next five years. It also announced that €250 million (US$304 million) will be mobilized by the French Development Agency (AFD) through the bilateral channel for sexual reproductive and health rights (SRHR);
  • Germany increased its commitment to women's economic empowerment initiatives by €140 million (US$166 million), bringing Germany's total commitment to the GEF to US$285 million (€240 million). US$30 million (€25 million) of that will go to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative;
  • The Netherlands pledged US$620 million to feminist organizations and movements, including supporting the Action Coalition on economic justice, the Action Coalition on bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the Action Coalition on climate justice;
  • Sweden pledged to support the implementation of the Common Agenda for Comprehensive Abortion Care and increase resources and support for existing funding mechanisms through the Action Coalition on feminist movements and leadership;
  • The UK recommitted to providing £68 million (US$91 million) to support its seven-year-long Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention program; and
  • The US pledged US$175 million to support programs against gender-based violence and to mobilize US$12.0 billion through 2025 in investments by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in businesses that advance gender equity in emerging markets through the 2X Women's Initiative.

Newsletter - Donor Tracker

News article - Forbes

News article - UN News

At Generation Equality Forum, Sweden commits to championing comprehensive abortion care, Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, in addition to previously committing US$206 million for ending gender-based violence (US$44 million), financing women's rights organizations (US$60 million), and supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)—including comprehensive abortion care (US$102 million)—Sweden pledged to support the implementation of the Common Agenda for Comprehensive Abortion Care, established in April 2021 with the following priorities:

  • Intersectional and inclusive movements from the local to the international;
  • Responsive funding;
  • Person-centered quality abortion care;
  • More and greater coordination across and beyond the movement, supporting risk, creativity, advocacy, and accountability;
  • Action addressing the opposition to abortion and SRHR; and
  • Improved access to comprehensive abortion care in humanitarian settings.

Sweden, along with the other new signatories, also committed to creating platforms for continued dialogue and collaboration, including at least one more Global Safe Abortion Dialogue in the coming five years, and platforms to increase resources and support existing funding mechanisms, programs, and funds that provide direct, flexible, progressive, and sustainable funding to feminist organizations, movements, and activists, including those that are often hard to reach and/or who have been historically marginalized.

This increase of resources will be done through a collective funding commitment for the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will participate in the Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements and continue to contribute to joint learning and advocacy for improved methods to support feminist movements and youth-led organizations with flexible funding. 

Sweden, as an organizer of the Stockholm Gender Equality Forum in 2018 and a supporting entity of the Tunis Forum 2019, has been actively engaged in the work leading up to the GEF. Sida has provided funding to UN Women for their work relating to Beijing +25 and GEF to ensure an inclusive process with participation from civil society at the center. In addition to being one of the co-leads for the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights together with, among others, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and PayPal, Sweden is also an Action Coalition Commitment Maker for the Action Coalitions on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender-Based Violence, and Feminist Movements and Leadership, as well as the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA Compact).

Work in the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights has revolved around four sub-areas: home and care work, a level playing field, access to resources such as land, ownership and financial services, and the macroeconomic perspective and gender budgeting.

Sweden's priorities have included "economic and social reforms such as individual taxation, childcare, care for the elderly, the labor market, and various welfare reforms," said Ulrika Grandin, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "We have also put extra pressure on the feminist trade policy, which we think is well reflected in the action plan."

Sweden has a long-standing status as a global leader for gender equality. In 2014, Sweden became the first country in the world to adopt a feminist foreign policy, allowing it to use all its foreign policy tools (including development cooperation) to address gender equality globally.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Sweden releases report on official development assistance for global health in 2020

On June 22, 2021, the Swedish government released its annual report on Sweden’s official development assistance (ODA) for global health in 2020, summarizing statistics from Sweden's Government Offices and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) on ODA for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Sweden's ODA for global health reached its highest level ever in 2020, amounting to SEK 6.2 billion (US$743 million), of which 58% was channeled through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the remaining 42% through Sida. Primarily, the support has been allocated toward combatting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, investments in sustainable health care systems, and support for protecting SRHR.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden pledges up to US$25 million for Asian Development Fund replenishment

On June 17, 2021, Sweden agreed to support the 12th replenishment of the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Development Fund (ADF) for supporting low-income countries between 2021 and 2024 with a maximum of SEK 211 million (US$25 million). The replenishment resulted in a total of US$4.0 billion in contributions, equivalent to a 7% increase compared to the previous round of replenishments.

“Poor people in Asia's populous low-income countries are being hit hard by increased poverty, inequality, and climate change – global challenges exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. “Through ADF, we can effectively invest in sustainable, green, and inclusive economic development."

The ADF currently supports low-income countries in Asia in their efforts to manage effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Other priority areas include the climate emergency, gender equality, good governance, and conflict prevention, which are strategic areas that have been specifically promoted by Sweden.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden appoints Chargé d'Affaires at Swedish Embassy of Burkina Faso as new Ambassador to Guinea

On June 17, 2021, Sweden appointed Mia Rimby as the new Ambassador to Guinea, based in Stockholm.

Rimby is currently Chargé d'Affaires at the Swedish Embassy of Burkina Faso and has previously worked for the UN in the US, Kyrgyzstan, and China, the Embassy of Sweden’s Section Office in Honduras, as well as in the Africa Unit at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Rimby will assume her new position during the fall of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden appoints current Ambassador to North Korea as new Ambassador to Malaysia for autumn 2021

On June 10, 2021, Sweden appointed Joachim Bergström as the new Ambassador to Malaysia.

Bergström is currently Ambassador to North Korea and has previously served in the Ministry for Foreign Affair’s Middle East and North Africa Unit as well as in the Swedish Embassies in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Bergström will assume his new position during the fall of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden freezes official development assistance to Mali following military coup

Following the military coup in Mali on May 25, 2021, Sweden has—for the second time in ten months—decided to freeze parts of its official development assistance (ODA) to the country. Ongoing projects worth SEK 93 million (US$11 million) have now been suspended and a new project supporting a census worth SEK 20 million (US$2 million) has been postponed. Similarly, in August 2020, projects equivalent to SEK 73 million (US$9 million) were suspended following another military coup.

"Sida, in consultation with the Embassy, has obviously slowed down ongoing development cooperation involving the state in Mali,” said Ulf Källstig, Head of the Africa Department at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). “In the current uncertain situation, the Embassy in Bamako does not enter into any new agreements with state actors either."

Following the installation of a transitional civilian government, Sweden’s support for Mali resumed in November 2020, and, as a result, Sweden provided more than SEK 300 million (US$35 million) in ODA to Mali in 2020.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation appoints international advisory group on environment, climate, biodiversity

In recognition of World Environment Day, Per Olsson Fridh, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation appointed an international advisory group tasked with strengthening Sweden's global leadership in response to environmental, climate, and biodiversity-related issues, including conflict prevention and potential pandemics.

The group consists of international experts and will be led by Per Olsson Fridh. A first meeting is scheduled for the fall of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides US$350,000 in humanitarian assistance to Democratic Republic of Congo following earthquakes, volcanic eruptions

On June 2, 2021, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), allocated SEK 3 million (US$350,000) to Action Against Hunger for a rapid response in support of people being evacuated from Goma in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Over 400,000 Congolese have fled the area following the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that started on May 21. The support is primarily aimed at preventing cholera outbreaks through delivery of clean water. In addition, Action Against Hunger will provide the most seriously affected with psychosocial support.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

In 2021 QuODA analysis, Center for Global Development ranks Sweden highest amongst bilateral donors for ODA effectiveness

In the Center for Global Development's 2021 Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) analysis, Sweden ranked sixth among all 49 donors examined, and first amongst the individual donor countries, up from a 14th and seventh place respectively in 2018.

Sweden ranked behind the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), African Development Fund (AfDF), International Development Association (IDA), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Sweden's scored very highly in evaluation and transparency, as well as untied ODA, ranking first and sixth across the two metrics, respectively. However, Sweden scored quite low on prioritization and ownership, ranking only 18th and 23rd respectively, and leaving considerable room for improvement, for example in terms of contributions to under-supported countries and in integrating partner feedback.

QuODA was developed in 2010 by the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institute, and compares various dimensions of development assistance quality across 49 of the largest bilateral and multilateral agencies.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Analysis - QuODA 2021

Sweden increases humanitarian assistance to Palestine

In response to the recent escalation in the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has decided to allocate an additional SEK 53 million (US$6 million) in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank.

This support, which will benefit Palestinian civilians, comes in addition to the SEK 75 million (US$9 million) already disbursed for humanitarian assistance to Palestine in 2021. The new support will be administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Swedish Red Cross through Palestinian Red Crescent, Islamic Relief, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Norwegian Refugee Council for humanitarian operations including medical care, shelter, food vouchers, and cash grants.

Since a ceasefire on May 21, 2021, humanitarian organizations have been able to enter Gaza and make a needs assessment. "The civilian population needs help quickly now,” said Jakob Wernerman, Head of Sida's Humanitarian Unit. “Many were injured during the 11-day fighting, which has led to overcrowded hospitals where there is a shortage of both medicine and trauma care... Many people have lost both their livelihoods and access to food, as agricultural areas have been destroyed in the bombings."

The deteriorating humanitarian conditions have compounded the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, with a low proportion of vaccinations per capita, and an unemployment rate of about 25 percent.

In addition to humanitarian assistance, Sweden also supports the long-term development of Palestine, toward a sustainable and peaceful two-state solution based on international law.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

As conflict in Tigray continues, Sweden increases humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia

In response to the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has decided to allocate an additional SEK 40 (US$5 million) in humanitarian assistance to the country.

This support, which will benefit the many vulnerable and displaced in Tigray, comes in addition to the SEK 178 million (US$21 million) already allocated by Sweden for humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia in 2021. The new support will be administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Children's Fund UNICEF for humanitarian operations based in Ethiopia.

Sweden’s long-term development cooperation with Ethiopia is aimed at strengthening respect for human rights, increasing resilience to climate change, and improving living conditions in the country. Sida’s humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia primarily focuses on life-saving efforts in the geographical areas most affected as well as alleviating distress in emergency situations.

Press release - Swedish government

Sweden will donate 3+ million doses to EU's COVAX cooperation

In response to a request from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), the EU has committed to donating at least 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries in 2021. Sweden had previously said it would donate one million doses to COVAX toward this objective, but on May 25, 2021, the government announced it would increase its donation to at least three million doses.

Relative to its population, Sweden is already the world's largest donor to the COVAX vaccine cooperation, financing its contributions from the official development assistance (ODA) budget.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates US$2 million to support low-income countries' in climate efforts

On May 20, 2021, Sweden allocated SEK 20 million (US$2 million) to support low-income countries in their efforts to integrate Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 commitments into their respective national climate plans. The support will be implemented by the NDC Partnership.

“The green transition must take place globally. Developing countries are most affected by climate change and, at the same time, are worst placed to change” said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. “We have a duty both to them and to ourselves to support their efforts to comply with the Paris Agreement.”

The NDC Partnership has over 100 members and was established in 2016. The Partnership provides technical assistance and capacity building in over 50 countries, supporting low-income countries in developing and implementing national climate commitments.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates US$4 million for Blue Action Fund and additional US$3 million for Global Center on Adaptation

In an effort to preserve biodiversity and promote the sustainable management of marine areas in low-income countries, Sweden contributed SEK 30 million (US$4 million) to the Blue Action Fund, of which Sweden has been a Board Member since 2018.

The Fund is a leading international financial instrument in the field of safeguarding marine biodiversity and promoting sustainable livelihoods for coastal populations in partner countries.

"Every second breath we take comes from the oceans, yet for far too long we have seen oceans as waste sites with endless resources. But they are not,” said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation, urging countries to better treat coastal environments and the populations, including humans, who depend on oceans. 

The Swedish government also continued supporting the Global Center on Adaptation with SEK 25 million (US$3 million). The Center focuses specifically on climate adaptation in the African continent and seeks to increase the involvement of the younger generation in these efforts. The Swedish support is primarily directed at rural development and increased water supply in growing cities. In June 2021, Fridh became a member of the Center’s Advisory Board, chaired by Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden revises development cooperation strategy with Burkina Faso, provides additional US$19 million following increased violence

Following the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso—which has internally displaced more than one million people in the last two years—and the recent news of a massacre in the village of Solhan, Sweden has decided to revise and strengthen its development cooperation strategy with the country for 2018-2022.

In addition to the existing objectives concerning human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, resilience, environment, climate, and energy, Sweden has therefore added conflict prevention.

“The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso is very worrying. It is important that Sweden contributes to reversing the trend. Efforts to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts in Burkina Faso are also part of efforts to promote security in the Sahel region," said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation.

The revised strategy has also received additional funding of SEK 160 million (US$19 million), now encompassing a total of SEK 1,660 million (US$195 million).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new strategy for cooperation with WHO, increasing emphasis on SRHR and health care digitalization

On May 20, 2021, Sweden adopted a new strategy for its cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), incorporating four main themes: universal access to care, management of global health threats, promotion of health and well-being, and the effective functioning of the WHO as an organization.

Under the new strategy, increasing emphasis has been put on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) while anti-microbial resistance (AMR), non-communicable diseases, cross-border health threats, and the International Health Regulations have also remained priorities. Following the Convention on the Rights of the Child becoming incorporated into Swedish law in 2020, a new priority area on strengthening children’s rights has also been added to the strategy. Another new area under the strategy is health care digitalization.

"A strong and effective WHO is good for both Sweden and the world," said Lena Hallengren, Minister for Health and Social Affairs. "The pandemic has illustrated the need for better health security at the global level and increased preparedness for cross-border health threats. The government has long pursued these issues in the WHO and will continue with this work."

The strategy governs work both within Sweden and abroad. As such, the strategy is expected to contribute not only to strengthening Swedish healthcare policies but also Sweden’s international development policy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"Through our cooperation with the WHO, we will, among other things, continue to contribute to preventing and managing health threats and strengthening health systems in low- and middle-income countries, promoting healthier lives to achieve good health, and counteracting the effects of the climate crisis on human health," added Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation.

The strategy was agreed by the Swedish Government and the Center and Liberal Parties.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new development cooperation strategy for Latin America, including specific strategies for Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala

On May 6, 2021, Sweden adopted new development cooperation strategies for Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, as well as an overall strategy for Latin America, covering 2021-2025.

For the Latin America region, the new five-year strategy comprises SEK 1.0 billion (US$118 million). Under the strategy, Sweden will seek to address common and cross-border challenges such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality as well as access to and respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights, migration, and environmental and climate action.

For all the individual strategies, Sweden likewise seeks to promote democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, and environmental and climate action.

For Bolivia, the new five-year strategy covers SEK 930 million (US$109 million).

For Colombia, the new five-year strategy comprises a total of SEK 1,155 million (US$136 million), out of which SEK 1,110 million (US$130 million) will be allocated to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and SEK 45 million (US$5 million) to the Folke Bernadotte Academy, a Swedish government development agency for peace and security.

For Cuba, the new five-year strategy covers SEK 175 million (US$21 million). The strategy has a special focus on promoting transparency and reducing corruption in Cuba.

For Guatemala, the new five-year strategy covers SEK 1150 million (US$135 million).

Press release - Swedish government

Sweden donates 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX

On May 4, 2021, the Swedish government announced that in order to meet the global urgent need for vaccines against COVID-19, it will donate one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access), the global vaccine initiative.

Sweden's contribution will be financed through its official development assistance (ODA) and allocated primarily to donor-dependent COVAX countries experiencing delays in vaccine deliveries.

Minister for International Development Cooperation, Per Olsson Fridh, emphasized that the world is “at a critical stage in the pandemic" and it is important that Sweden could respond to COVAX's and the World Health Organization’s appeal for vaccine donations from wealthy countries. Fridh assured that the donation will not affect Sweden’s national vaccination efforts.

Press release - Swedish government