Policy Updates

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Donor Tracker to host webinar on climate finance and role of ODA

Join the Donor Tracker this Thursday, August 6, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), for a webinar addressing the pressing need for international climate finance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In 2015, the latest in a series of global climate change agreements was signed in Paris. The Paris Agreement includes a pledge made by donor countries to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action in LMICs. This upcoming Donor Tracker webinar will examine the role that ODA can and should play in funding for climate action, including the US$100 billion target. It will include an overview of trends in ODA-related climate funding and policies by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors.

This webinar, and our recently published report on climate finance and ODA, complements the recent addition of ‘Climate’ as a sector of analysis across the Donor Tracker Donor Profiles. Climate was added this year in recognition of the importance of climate action to the future of global development efforts.

Registration - Zoom

Donor Tracker to host webinar on gender equality and donor finance for women's economic empowerment

Join Donor Tracker this Friday, July 24 from 15:00-16:00 (CEST) for a webinar exploring donor financing for women’s economic empowerment, featuring analysis from the Donor Tracker team and our partner, the ONE Campaign.

Gender equality, including women's financial inclusion and economic empowerment, has gained increasing attention from the international donor community in recent years; but to what extent can donors' rhetorical commitment to the issue be seen reflected in data on donors' financing for women's economic empowerment? In this Donor Tracker webinar, Kalila Jaeger and Isabela Vera from the Donor Tracker and Ebba Henningsson from ONE will guide participants through an introduction to the OECD’s gender equality policy marker, discuss the current state of donor finance for gender-related development programming, and explore trends in donor countries' spending on economic empowerment initiatives for women.

Registration - Zoom

Sweden increases funding for democracy and human rights by US$4 million

Following an overall decline in global funding for democracy and human rights in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish government has decided to increase its official development assistance (ODA) for actors promoting and protecting human rights and democracy during the pandemic. Sweden plans to increase its funding to this sector by SEK39 million (US$4 million); its total funding for democracy and human rights will now total SEK116 million (US$12 million).

Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, explained: "In this day and age, when we see states using the pandemic as an excuse to curtail democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, we are increasing support for civil society and its capacity to operate, not least in vulnerable environments."

The largest beneficiary — the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — will receive an additional SEK25 million (US$3 million) in core support for its activities. Funding for the OHCHR now totals SEK90 million (US$10 million). Other beneficiaries include the European Endowment for Democracy, Independent Journalism Center in Moldova, Civil Rights Defenders Emergency Fund, and Varieties of Democracy at the University of Gothenburg.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

International leaders urge global community to guarantee equal access to COVID-19 vaccines

Leaders of Canada, Ethiopia, South Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Tunisia published an opinion piece on the Washington Post to highlight the importance of guaranteeing equal access to COVID-19 vaccines globally.

In the piece, the leaders noted that while COVID-19 has affected every part of the world, it has had a more significant impact on vulnerable groups. The op-ed remarks that the development of COVID-19 vaccines will be crucial for achieving the SDGs, including SDG 3, which focuses on healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages. However, the leaders posit this will require global cooperation on not just resources, but also on the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccines. Also, it will be beneficial for all countries if there is a managed flow of vaccines to partner countries.

The leaders also stressed their support for global initiatives and international organizations to secure COVID-19 vaccines such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, the World Health Organisation, Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). Lastly, the leaders urged other global leaders to join the effort of ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines based on the spirit of greater freedom for all.

Op-ed – The Washington Post

As irregularities in cash grant program surface, Sweden recalls ODA funds from Zambia

Following the discovery of irregularities in a cash grant program funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the agency has requested repayment of almost SEK9 million (US$1 million) in development funding from the Zambian government.

The irregularities — first discovered in a 2018 audit — relate to the Zambian Post Office (Zampost), which was involved in providing payment services under the program. The audit found that Zampost had shortcomings with regards to its internal controls and reporting. Upon discovery, the development assistance channeled toward the project was immediately suspended. Subsequently, Sida has requested repayment of the entire grant amount handled by Zampost from the Zambian government. Zambia has agreed to refund the amount.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden provides additional US$12 million to WHO

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), has decided to increase its support for the World Health Organization (WHO) by SEK110 million (US$12 million). Sweden's contributions for 2020-2021 now total SEK430 million (US$46 million).

In addition to Sweden's previously agreed upon core contribution to WHO of SEK320 million for 2020-2021, Sida will provide:

  • SEK30 million (US$3 million) in 2020 to suppDateort WHO’s global COVID-19 response;
  • SEK50 million (US$5 million) for the WHO’s activities related to public health and the links between health and climate change; and
  • SEK30 million (US$3 million) to WHO’s Regional Office for Africa for its efforts to preserve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) during the COVID-19 crisis.

“People living in poverty are the most affected by the pandemic, including in the form of economic consequences affecting health systems. Therefore, it is more important than ever to support the construction of robust health systems, which can ensure the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health for all, with a focus on the most vulnerable," said Carin Jämtin, the Director-General of Sida.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Cuts in Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency's administration have diminished effectiveness, experts argue

Swedish experts argue that because of cuts to its administration, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has merely become a financier that moves and manages funds; its country knowledge and experience now reside with its implementing partners, such as Swedish non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations (UN) agencies, and other Swedish authorities. This has undermined the effectiveness of the country's development assistance.

These experts now are calling on the government to undertake an internal investigation to look into the consequences of Sida having lost much of its previous country knowledge capacity, to determine how knowledge exchange can be strengthened, and to make recommendations on how partner country context can be given greater prominence in staff’s reporting back to Sida headquarters.

News article – Utvecklingsmagasinet (in Swedish)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Swedish development cooperation ranked number one by Center for Global Development

The Commitment Development Index (CDI), an annual survey conducted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), has ranked Sweden first amongst 40 countries providing development assistance to low-income countries.

In addition to levels of development finance, policy areas surveyed included climate, migration, security, technology, trade, and investment. Sweden scored well across six out of the seven components and ranked first in the area of migration, third in development finance, and in the top ten in trade, investment, environment, and security.

"Sweden has a tradition of listening, learning, and improving," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The result of this year's Commitment to Development Index is proof of this constant work. We are now working on further and deepening our work to ensure long-term sustainable green development for poor people where we safeguard climate, biodiversity, gender equality, and democracy."

In previous rankings, only the G-20 and OECD DAC countries were examined, but the 2020 survey was expanded from the original 27 countries.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency updates brief on COVID-19 response

On June 25, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) updated its two-page brief summarizing Sida’s support to address COVID-19 related challenges affecting Sweden’s partner countries.

So far, Sida had allocated SEK797 million (US$82 million) to support existing and new partner countries in their fight against COVID-19. Out of this, SEK147 million (US$15 million) has been allocated for humanitarian support.

Sweden is a supporter of a well-functioning multilateral system and, as such, Sida has directed substantive amounts of its financial support through the UN’s three-pronged response to COVID-19: 1) the health response, 2) the humanitarian response through UN’s global appeal, and 3) the socio-economic response. To ensure flexibility in the COVID-19 response, Sida’s support has often been channeled as core support to its partner organizations.

The Sida brief is complementary to 'Sweden’s global COVID-19 response' published by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Brief  - Sida

Press release - Government Offices of Sweden

Sweden initiates new development cooperation strategies for Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, greater Latin American region

The Swedish government has commissioned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to initiate preparations of new development cooperation strategies with Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, as well as the larger region of Latin America. The strategies will cover the period between 2021 and 2025 and proposals should be submitted by October 30, 2020.

All strategies will focus on areas such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, environment, climate, and biodiversity. In addition, Sida will explore options to strengthen Swedish support for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bolivia and migration in the Latin America region.

The strategy for Colombia will be developed in collaboration with the Folke Bernadotte Academy and emphasis will be also put on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and continuing to support implementation of the FARC peace agreement.

"Latin America is a heterogeneous region marked by widespread inequality. Although developments in Latin America have been positive in many respects in recent decades – democracy has spread, economies have modernized and poverty has been reduced – the challenges remain great," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "A regional strategy for Latin America enables Sweden to contribute to a positive development in the region.”

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Bolivia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Colombia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Cuba strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Latin America regional strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden approves new strategy for development cooperation with Palestine

On June 25, 2020, the Swedish government adopted a new strategy for its development cooperation with Palestine, covering the period between 2020 and 2024. The strategy aims to support poverty reduction, improve conditions for democratic development, and help foster greater respect for human rights in the country. Out of a total funding envelope of SEK 1.5 billion (US$154 million), SEK 1.46 billion (US$150 million) will be managed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) while the remaining SEK 40 million (US$4 million) will be managed by the Folke Bernadotte Academy.

"Through the new strategy, Sweden will contribute to democratic development and increased respect for human rights, as well as to strengthen the conditions for conducting Palestinian elections, including in East Jerusalem," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Majority of Swedes favor maintained or increased levels of development assistance

According to a recent survey from Sifo, a Swedish opinion and social research company, a majority (62%) of Swedes are in favor of maintaining or increasing Sweden's spending on official development assistance (ODA). Only 29% of those who participated in the survey reported wanting to see a reduction in the development assistance budget.

Meanwhile, both the Moderate party and the Sweden Democrats are advocating for a reduction of the ODA budget.

The Sifo survey was carried out on behalf of Diakonia (a Swedish-based non-governmental organization) and the Transmitter newspaper. The results contradict those published by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in late 2019, which showed a decrease in the willingness of Swedes to provide ODA.

"It is gratifying that even in times of COVID-19, such a large proportion of the Swedish people see the need for strong international commitment and support generous assistance," said Diakonia's Secretary-General, Lena Ingelstam. 

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency reports slight decrease in corruption cases

During 2019, 261 new cases of suspected corruption or irregularities in funding were recorded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

With higher levels of official development assistance (ODA) flowing from Sida since 2007, there has been a marked increase over that time in the number of suspected corruption cases. A large number of these cases are reported from fragile and conflict-affected states, where humanitarian crises are prominent, and states are often too weak to fight corruption. In particular, cases in Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen are featured in the report.

Although the number of reported cases may not fully capture the number of instances of corruption, the number of reports did decline slightly from 265 in 2018. The reduction was likely due to increased scrutiny of cases by Sida’s contracting partners.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Sweden contributes US$944 million in concessional funds to World Bank’s International Development Association

On June 17, 2020, the Swedish government approved a grant of SEK 9.2 billion (US$944 million) to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to be paid over a period of nine years.

IDA provides concessional loans or grants to the world's 72 poorest developing countries, with the aim of reducing poverty by boosting economic growth, reducing inequalities, and improving people’s living conditions.

“The contribution to IDA will be crucial for many poor countries as they tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on public health, the economy, and the labor market," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "Sweden is IDA's eighth-largest donor and has played a significant role in shaping the work program, and thus what the money will be spent on, for the next three years.”

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Citing degradation of democracy, Sweden will phase out cooperation with Cambodia

On June 11, 2020, Sweden decided to phase out its bilateral strategy for Cambodia and focus forthcoming development cooperation with the country on promoting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The support will be aligned with a new objective in Sweden's strategy for regional development cooperation with Asia and Oceania.

“The democratic space in Cambodia has been severely restricted in recent years. This has made it difficult for broad and close cooperation," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The [Swedish] government, therefore, chooses to refocus development efforts now in order to better support a change in human rights, the principles of democracy and the rule of law in the country. We will continue to support civil society, human rights defenders, and the voice of democracy in Cambodia. Sweden stands up for the principles of democracy and resigns when they are overridden."

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden commissions new development cooperation strategy with Middle East, North Africa

On June 11, 2020, the Swedish government commissioned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to initiate work on developing a new strategy for Sweden's development cooperation with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Due to the specific problems facing several MENA countries, Sida has been tasked with including strategy proposals related to the promotion of democracy, human rights, gender equality, peaceful societies, inclusive economic development, the environment and sustainable use of natural resources, and the conservation of biodiversity.

The strategy will cover the period between 2021 and 2025 and the draft is due to the Swedish government by October 15, 2020.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden and EU organize humanitarian airlift to Sudan

On June 10, 2020, Sweden, on behalf of the EU and in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, organized an airlift with 100 tons of humanitarian supplies to Sudan. The cargo included medicines and medical equipment and is the first of two private humanitarian aircraft to Sudan organized by Sweden and the EU, as commercial flights are unavailable. The second flight is scheduled to depart later in June and will contain equipment from the UNHCR, UNDP, and the Swedish Red Cross, as well as humanitarian workers.

"Sweden has had a large commitment to Sudan in recent years," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "I am proud that we can help establish air bridges to the country that supplies important medical supplies and bring down personnel to support Sudan's fight against the corona epidemic."

Sweden is a major humanitarian partner to Sudan and co-finances the airlifts through supplies from UNICEF, UNFPA, and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Sweden to analyze impact of COVID-19 on development assistance, propose new initiatives for proactive pandemic measures in partner countries

On May 14, 2020, the Swedish government instructed the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to author a report analyzing the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak for the agency’s support to low-income countries. A first draft of the report is due on July 31 and should be finalized by October 15.  

Sida will also propose how Swedish development assistance initiatives could be reprioritized to enable Sweden to proactively address the pandemic in its partner countries, in the medium and long term.  

“In several developing countries, people are at risk not only of COVID-19 but also of food shortages and of a severe deterioration in the economy as a result of the crisis," said Peter Eriksson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation. "Swedish aid must change in order to respond effectively to both the urgent needs and the risks we see in the long term." 

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)