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Sweden's right-wing shift creates uncertainty around 1% ODA/GNI commitment

The right-wing bloc won Sweden’s general elections on September 11, 2022 narrowly defeating Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s progressive center-left coalition by three seats.

Negotiations are underway to form a center-right government headed by the Moderate Party, in coalition with the Sweden Democrats, Liberals, and Christian Democrats. The Sweden Democrats are also poised to hold greater sway in shaping the future of Swedish politics, given the party’s popularity during the elections.

Since 1975, the Swedish government has exceeded the UN’s 0.7% ODA/GNI target with a commitment to spending at least 1% of its GNI on ODA. While foreign affairs and development policy only featured tangentially in the election campaign, the election outcome could have a major impact on Sweden’s future ODA priorities and budgets.

The two largest parties in the right-wing bloc – the Sweden Democrats and Moderates - both challenged Sweden’s 1% ODA/GNI commitment, proposing cuts in ODA to 0.7% of GNI while promising a more nationalist approach to international cooperation.

While the 1% target retains strong support from the Social Democrats, the Green, Centre, Liberal, Christian Democratic, and Left parties, the strong combined showing of the Sweden Democrats and Moderates casts doubt on the target's future.

News article - CNBC

Sweden approves additional US$50 million in development assistance for Ukraine

Sweden announced a new development assistance package of US$100 million for Ukraine on September 29, 2022. The package includes military assistance worth SEK500 million (US$50 million) and SEK500 million (US$50 million) for reconstruction efforts.

Non-military funds will be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine, focusing on the sustainable management of destroyed infrastructure and humanitarian procurements. In addition, Sweden will assist with the delivery of Ukrainian wheat to countries most at risk of widespread starvation. As part of these efforts, Sweden will cover the costs for at least 30,000 tons of wheat to be transported by sea from Ukraine.

Sweden will also be responsible for coordinating waste management and recycling during reconstruction – a request made by President Zelenskyy when Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson visited Kyiv in July 2022.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, Swedish support to Ukraine has more than doubled through a number of decisions amounting to an additional SEK5.2 billion (US$519 million) thus far for military, humanitarian, and reconstruction support, in addition to financial guarantees and civilian operations.

Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden partially restores development assistance cuts

Sweden has announced it intends to restore SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) of the SEK9.1 billion (US$850 million) it initially diverted from its international development budget in 2022 - roughly 18% of its annual development assistance spending - to cover the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees in-country.

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans said that the latest decision followed a lower forecast from the country’s migration agency last month on Ukrainian refugee numbers this year. 

The move - which follows an earlier reinstatement of SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) in June 2022 for climate, democracy, and human rights assistance - was met by relief by development advocates. They have criticized Sweden’s proposed development budget cuts, highlighting the government's hasty decision to freeze substantial parts of development spending before the full impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was clear.

Currently, SEK6.1 billion (US$570 million) of the SEK57.4 billion (US $5.3 billion) in development spending for 2022 - roughly 11% - will go to in-donor refugee costs. This represents a lower share than the period from 2015-2017 when Sweden took in large numbers of Syrian refugees, though higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.

Press Release – Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

20 countries launch global coalition to stop plastic pollution by 2040

The 'High Ambition Coalition to Stop Plastic Pollution,' a group of like-minded countries that have taken the initiative to form a coalition committed to developing a legally binding global agreement against plastic pollution, launched on August 22, 2022; the coalition aims to end oceanic plastic pollution by 2040.

Every year, between 5 -12 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the oceans, contributing to environmental degradation and increasing microplastics in water. Without effective measures, oceanic plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2040.

The coalition, chaired by Norway and Rwanda, currently has 20 members including Canada, Peru, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, South Korea, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland, Ecuador, France, and the Dominican Republic.

The US, China, and India - the world's largest plastic producers - and other large producers are noticeably absent from the coalition. 

Members of the coalition will meet in New York at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2022, followed by a formal meeting in Uruguay on November 28, 2022.

Website - High Ambition to End Plastic Pollution

Government of Sweden - Press Release (in Swedish)

News article - Argus

Sweden increases sustainable development strategy budget by US$42 million

The Swedish government recently approved a new strategy for promoting socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development conditions in Sweden's global development cooperation between 2022–2026.

The strategy – targeting people living in poverty and under oppression – amounts to SEK4.3 billion (US$42 million), a SEK250 million (US$25 million) increase compared to the previous strategy period.

Press Release – Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden launches new global gender equality strategy with US$130 million for 2022-2026

Sweden has pledged to continue strengthening its feminist foreign policy through a new gender equality strategy for 2022-2026, amounting to SEK1.3 billion (US$130 million), an increase of SEK300 million (US$29 million) from the previous strategy period (2018-2022).

The new strategy, which will be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), aims to strengthen efforts to promote global gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls. The strategy highlights the importance of countering discrimination and gender norms as well as all forms of gender-related violence. The government has tasked Sida with promoting women's rights organizations and feminist movements' opportunities to conduct activities.

Press Release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden increases support to World Food Programme by US$7 million

Sweden announced it will increase its non-earmarked support to the World Food Programme (WFP) with SEK67 million (US$7 million). With this contribution, Sweden will provide SEK1 billion (US$100 million) in core support to the WFP in 2022.

Sweden’s support is planned to address food shortages resulting from conflicts, climate change, and rising food prices resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Sweden is one of the largest donors to WFP and is the organization’s largest core donor.

Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides record financial support to Global Fund for 2023-2025

On July 13, 2022, Sweden announced its plan to increase its financial support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) to SEK3 billion (US$286 million) over the next three-year period 2023-2025. Sweden’s support is intended to contribute to the fund’s goal of saving 20 million lives and reducing mortality from HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria by two-thirds.

Swedish funding to the Global Fund will amount to SEK1 billion (US$95 million) per year from 2023 to 2025. This represents a more than 5% increase in Sweden’s financial support for the organization.

Sweden has provided extensive development assistance for health, focusing on creating societies that promote health, improve access to quality health services for all, and respond to health threats and crises. Sweden’s work against poverty, for equality and gender equality, and to address the climate crisis are also important cornerstones of its global health priorities. 

Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Publish What You Fund releases 2022 Aid Transparency Index

Publish What You Fund released its 2022 Aid Transparency Index, which measures the transparency of key bilateral and multilateral international development organizations. Overall, the project found that donors maintained transparency near pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels; 31 of the 50 evaluated organizations scored in the ‘good’ or ‘very good’ categories, meaning they consistently publish high-quality data on development assistance disbursements. 50 donors were evaluated out of 100 points and ranked accordingly.  

Australia: The index showed that Australia's ODA transparency has continued to deteriorate. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) ranked 41 of the 50 donor organizations, a continuance of their declining trend. The agency remained in the ‘fair’ category but lost 10 points on the transparency index. DFAT was 34 of 47 in 2020 and 23 of 45 in 2018. This decline in transparency occurred under the previous Australian government. The recently elected Labor government has committed to improving accountability and transparency in the development sector. 

Canada: Global Affairs Canada (GAC) dropped from the ‘very good’ category in 2020 to ‘good’ in 2022, losing nearly 10 points in Publish What You Fund’s ranking system and ranking 17th overall in 2022, showing a concerning decrease in transparency amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  

EU: The report evaluated the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), European Investment Bank (EIB), Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR), and the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INTPA; formerly DEVCO).  

The European Commission’s (EC) ECHO scored ‘good’ overall and ranked 13th among evaluated donors, improving by nearly nine points compared to the 2020 index. The EC’s INTPA scored 15th among evaluated donors and ranked in the ‘good’ category, but declined by 4 points in transparency from 2020. The EBRD’s sovereign portfolio ranked 24th among donors and scored in the ‘good’ category, declining by 3 points since 2020. The non-sovereign portfolio was also placed in the ‘good' category, but ranked 31st among donors. The EC’s NEAR ranked in the ‘good’ category, as it did in 2020, but declined significantly in transparency, dropping nearly 15 points. The EIB’s sovereign portfolio ranked 33rd among donors and remained in the ‘fair’ category, as it was in 2020; the portfolio also lost 3 points in transparency compared to 2020. The EIB’s non-sovereign portfolio also stood in the ‘fair’ category, ranking 37th among donors.  

France: The French Development Agency (AFD) ranked 28th among donors and sat in the ‘good’ category. The agency improved by five points compared to 2020 and jumped up from ‘fair.’  

Germany: Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) scored ‘good’ overall and ranked 11th among evaluated donors, improving by seven points compared to the 2020 index. Germany’s Federal Foreign Office (FFO), on the other hand, ranked 43rd among donors with only 37 of 100 transparency points. 

Italy: The Italian Development Cooperation Agency (AICS) has gradually improved its performance since 2017. In 2020, AICS was placed in the ‘fair’ category, but the agency improved by 5 points, ranking 34th overall in 2022.   

Japan: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) dropped the most out of the evaluated agencies – by 26 points – sliding from ‘fair’ to ‘poor’ in 2022 and ranking just 47th out of 50 donors evaluated.  

Netherlands: The Netherlands’ Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) declined by 4 points from 2020, but remained in the ‘good’ category, ranking 23rd overall.  

Norway: Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) dropped from ‘fair’ in 2020 to ‘poor’ in 2022, losing seven points.  

South Korea: South Korea’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) scored ‘good’ overall and ranked 14th among evaluated donors, improving by seven points compared to the 2020 index. 

Spain: The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) ranked 42nd among donors, losing nearly 17 points since 2020 and remaining in the ‘fair’ category.  

Sweden: The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) ranked 21st among donors, improving by 4 points since 2022 and sitting in the ‘good’ category. 

United Kingdom: The report found the transparency of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has declined.  According to the index’s ranking, the FCDO fell from 9th place in 2020 to 16th in 2022; no UK agency scored in the 'very good' category for the first time since the Index was launched in 2012. The FCDO and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) sat in the ‘good’ category. The FCDO has underperformed compared to the former Department for International Development (2020) across all five Index components; this is largely the result of a lack of organizational and country strategies and inconsistent release of results, evaluations, and objectives.

United States: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ranked 25th among donors and was placed in the ‘good’ category; however, the agency lost nearly 12 points and declined significantly in transparency since 2020. The US State Department ranked 32nd among donors, losing 5 points since 2020 and dropping out of the ‘good’ category to ‘fair.’  

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent US government agency, scored in the ‘very good’ category and ranked 5th among donors. The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) jumped from ‘fair’ to ‘good’ in 2022, improving by nearly 9 points and ranking 20th among donors.  

Recommendations for all donors included:  

  • Publishing more project budgets to facilitate planning and coordination;  
  • Implementing government entity references and developing referencing approaches for the private sector to track assistance flows;  
  • For Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), improving non-sovereign portfolio data;  
  • Publishing comprehensive data on project impact metrics; and 
  • Publishing budget documents, project procurement information, and impact appraisals.  

Report - Publish What You Fund 

News article – BOND  

News article - The Telegraph 

News article - National Tribune 

CSOs criticize proposed Swedish Global Fund contribution cuts

The Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN), a group of 245 civil society and community organizations, published a letter addressed to Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans (Social Democratic Party), expressing concern for the proposed diversion of Swedish ODA budgets towards funding in-country costs associated with the reception of Ukrainian refugees. The letter explicitly outlined concerns for the proposed 30% cut in Swedish contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund).

GFAN urged the Swedish Government to continue its strong partnership with the Global Fund by honoring its pledge to the sixth Replenishment by paying its 2022 contribution in full. The network also called upon Sweden, which has been one of the Fund’s most consistent donors, to pledge over SEK3.7 billion (US$373 million) for the seventh Replenishment to realize the Global Fund's investment case, which aims for a 30% increase in funding at minimum.

Letter – Global Fund Advocates Network

Sweden increases support for Afghanistan by US$20 million

Sweden decided to increase its funding to the United Nations Special Trust Fund For Afghanistan by an additional SEK200 million (US$20 million) with the country’s total support in 2022 amounting to SEK300 million (US$30 million). The fund – administered by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) – was launched in December 2021 to mobilize support for humanitarian and development assistance and peacekeeping operations in the country.

Sweden’s total development assistance for Afghanistan in 2021 amounted to SEK976 million (US$98 million). The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) highlighted that Sweden's increased support in 2022 is needed in light of Afghanistan's ongoing drought, food insecurity, protracted conflicts, displacement, and the COVID-19 pandemic, in combination with the Taliban regime's government takeover in 2021.

Press Release - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates US$37 million in emergency support to counter global food shortage

On June 16, 2022, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) announced that Sweden is allocating an additional SEK345M (US$37 million) in humanitarian assistance to counter the acute global food crisis. Sida emphasized that global food shortages – affecting 193 million people in 52 countries - have been intensified by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, rising food prices, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden's financial support will be channeled through the following organizations: Action Against Hunger (AAH), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), as well as UN humanitarian country funds.

Press Release - Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden presents new foreign policy statement; ODA to remain at 1% GNI

On June 10, 2022, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde (Social Democratic Party) presented a new foreign policy statement to Sweden’s Parliament, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Sweden’s application to join NATO on May 18, 2022.

Development assistance: The foreign policy statement highlighted that Sweden’s development assistance will continue to equate to 1% of gross national income (GNI), with the ambition of leading in terms of scale and quality of ODA globally. This announcement was made in response to recent criticism from CSOs against the government for using Sweden’s international development budget to cover costs associated with the domestic reception of Ukrainian refugees in-country.

Climate action: The government announced that Sweden will step up its climate and environmental action by doubling climate assistance, referencing commitments made by the international community during the recently completed Stockholm+50 conference to focus on financing models to speed up climate adaptation in low- and middle-income countries. 

The statement highlighted that climate change and environmental degradation can contribute to increased global tensions and conflicts. In response to these developments, Sweden has appointed an ambassador for climate and security. Sweden is also helping to strengthen the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Secretariat to enable a greater focus on security challenges posed by climate change. 

Intense negotiations are currently underway in the EU on the comprehensive package of legislative proposals called ‘Fit for 55’. Sweden is pushing for ambitious solutions to reduce the EU’s net emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. 

Statement – Government of Sweden

Despite falling short of expectations, Second Global COVID-19 Summit mobilizes US$3.2 billion in new pledges, establishes new World Bank fund

Global leaders pledged an additional US$3.2 billion in new and additional funding during the second Global COVID-19 Summit, which took place virtually on May 12, 2022. The meeting included commitments related to COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in addition to licensing, reducing the price of oral antiretrovirals, and the creation of a fund to prevent future pandemics to be housed within the World Bank.

A country-by-country breakdown can be found in our recent Commentary

Canada contributes up to US$25 million to UN-affiliated BUILD Fund

Canada has committed up to CA$32 million (US$25 million) for the BUILD Fund, a blended impact investment vehicle to finance small and medium-sized businesses in low-income countries to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Fund was established in partnership with the US, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the Nordic states through the Nordic Development Fund, and was announced at the UN Financing for Development Forum. The 6 member states have commited over US$60 million thus far.

Press release - UN Capital Development Fund

US$10.1 billion in new funding committed in 'Stand Up for Ukraine' campaign

Global Citizen, along with the European Commission and the Canadian government, launched a 'Stand Up for Ukraine' global social media rally on April 8, 2022. US$10.1 billion in funding - US$4.6 billion in grants and US$5.5 billion in loans) have been committed during the campaign, and 20,277 actions have been taken to support those fleeing their homes in Ukraine. 

The campaign culminated in a pledging event in Warsaw on April 9, 2022, to recognize Poland's essential role in supporting refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Global Citizen called on donors to recognize the importance of utilizing this funding as both new and additional; specifically, the use of the funds should not undermine other development priorities, nor should it pit crises against each other. 

Canada: As a co-host of the campaign, Canada committed an additional CAD$100 million (US$79 million) in humanitarian support to Ukraine and neighboring countries with a particular focus on trauma care. Canada has provided CAD 245 million (US$194 million) since January of 2022 for the crisis. 

EU: The European Commission, a co-host of the campaign, committed €600 million (US$660 million) for Ukraine and €400 million (US$440 million) for refugees hosted in the EU.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) committed €4 billion (US$4.4 billion) for 2022-2023 to support EU member states hosting Ukrainian refugees and to develop social infrastructure. This contribution is a part of the EIB’s Ukraine Solidarity Package, under which the EIB has already provided a €668 million (US$755 million) financial aid package to Ukraine to help Ukrainian authorities meet the country’s “most urgent financial needs”, such as buying food, medical supplies, and fuel.

The Council of Europe Development committed €1 billion (US1.1 billion) in loans to member states to support countries hosting refugees. 

Italy: Italy pledged an additional €360 million (US$396 million) in humanitarian assistance for refugees in Europe. 

Sweden: Sweden committed €300 million (US$330 million) to in-country refugee hosts, specifying that the funding would not come out of the official development assistance (ODA) budget. 

Additional donors: Additional countries expressed their support for the campaign and reiterated existing funding promises. 

The Donor Tracker was included as one of the 77 signatories in the open letter to world leaders. 

Report - Global Citizen

News article - Global Citizen

Press release - European Commission

Press release - EIB

Female Foreign Ministers call on Taliban to let girls go to school

Liz Truss, the UK Foreign Minister issued a joint statement along with other 18 other female foreign Ministers from around the world, calling on the Taliban to live up to their commitment and allow girls in Afghanistan to go to secondary school.  

The statement which was co-signed by the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Tonga, highlighted the Ministers' deep concerns that girls in Afghanistan were denied their right to attend secondary school this spring. The statement urged the Taliban to adhere to international conventions and to stop denying girls their right to education.

Joint Statement – UK government

Sweden’s new Minister for International Development Cooperation visits Rwanda, talks COVID-19 vaccines, climate

To follow up on Sweden’s recent COVID-19 vaccine donation to Rwanda, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Matilda Ernkrans, traveled to Kigali from February 20-23, 2022. During her visit, she met with Rwanda’s Minister of Health to also discuss the country’s efforts to initiate vaccine production.

Sweden donated one million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Rwanda in December of 2021. This was the first time Sweden made a direct vaccine contribution to another country, outside of COVAX. In addition, the donation included syringes.

During her visit, Minister Ernkrans also discussed Sweden's long-term development cooperation with Rwanda. In particular, she met with the Minister for the Environment to talk about Sweden’s support to Rwanda for climate and environment, including the production of climate-smart solutions. While in Kigali, Minister Ernkrans also visited the Swedish foundation Norrsken's business hub.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new regional strategy for development cooperation with Africa

On February 18, 2022, Sweden approved a new five-year regional strategy for Sweden's development cooperation with Africa, covering 2022 to 2026. The strategy focuses on cross-border challenges and attempts to strengthen regional cooperation and integration in environment and climate, democracy and human rights, migration and development, economic integration, and peaceful and inclusive societies.

In addition, Sweden expects to help strengthen regional initiatives, including the African Union and will focus heavily on climate-related development efforts.

The new strategy, which will be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) as well as the Folke Bernadotte Academy, covers SEK 4.7 billion (US$514 million) in total, equivalent to SEK934 million (US$103 million) annually.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden tops up contribution for UN’s Climate and Security Mechanism

With the objective of strengthening the UN's ability to analyze and manage climate-related security risks in low-income countries, Sweden announced it would increase its support for the UN’s Climate and Security mechanism (CSM) by up to SEK15 million (US$2 million) for the year on February 4, 2022. Specifically, the increased support will focus on reducing risks related to prolonged droughts, recurring floods, and forest fires, which often heighten the risk of conflict in climate-exposed and vulnerable low-income countries.

CSM has made significant contributions in Somalia, West Africa, and the Sahel region recently. The CSM, which is a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Department for Political and PeaceBuilding (DPPA), was initiated by Sweden in 2018. The Mechanism is currently funded by Sweden, Germany, Norway, the UK, and Ireland.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)