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In lead up to COP26, Sweden doubles climate finance ODA

In preparation for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the Swedish government announced its intention to double official development assistance (ODA) for climate finance to reach SEK15.0 billion (US$1.7 billion) by 2025.

Sweden made the announcement before the Summit in hopes that it would increase pressure on other high-income countries to increase global support for climate finance.

Swedish ODA for climate finance primarily seeks to reduce emissions and develop more resilient societies in low-income countries. Through the additional provision of capital, Sweden hopes to persuade recipients to adopt more ambitious action plans to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new development cooperation strategy in Western Balkans, Turkey

On October 7, 2021, Sweden adopted a new development cooperation strategy for Turkey and the Western Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The strategy, which will be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Swedish Institute, Folke Bernadotte Academy, and Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul, covers the period between 2021 and 2027 and comprises a total of SEK 5.6 billion (US$645 million). Through the program's implementation, Sweden primarily seeks to strengthen conditions for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, as protection of the environment.

As one of the largest bilateral development partners in the Western Balkans, Sweden’s support complements that of the EU, which includes supporting countries' reform efforts and their EU rapprochement.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish environmental minister leads discussions on climate finance at pre-COP26 meeting

At a ministerial meeting held in Milan in late September of 2021, Sweden’s Minister for the Environment, Per Bolund, led preparatory discussions on climate finance before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

COP26 will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 30 - November 12, 2021. At the pre-COP Milan meeting, ministers focused on general issues concerning the COP26 agenda, such as climate adaptation, change, and finance, as well as specific issues such as meeting the 1.5°C target limit for global warming and finalizing the Paris Agreement Rulebook.

Regarding climate finance, the objective - set at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 - is to mobilize US$100.0 billion per year for the period 2020-2025; deliberations on a new target for the post-2025 period will be initiated during COP26.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

New UNICEF global innovation hub in Sweden announced

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently agreed to establish its new headquarters for innovation in Stockholm, Sweden.

In cooperation with Swedish businesses, academia, and civil society organizations, the center, which will employ approximately 100 people, is expected to contribute to innovative solutions promoting children’s rights and wellbeing. The center will collaborate with smaller UNICEF thematic innovation hubs in regional offices.

UNICEF is expected to benefit from Sweden’s position as an innovative development partner as well as the country’s reputable private sector innovation ecosystem.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden takes first place in Center for Global Development's ranking of high-income countries' committment to development

The Center for Global Development, an independent thinktank, published their Commitment to Development Index, (CDI) which measures development policy engagement in 40 major economies. The report consolidates key findings in development finance, investment, migration, trade, environment, health, security, and technology.

The CDI, rooted in "genuine policy effort" relative to country size, added health as a new component this year, taking into account pandemic preparedness as well as other health issues like pollutant concentration and prevention of medication resistance. 

Key findings included:

  • Sweden ranked first in overall development efforts, with top spots in both environmental and migration policies;
  • The UK slipped back to fifth place overall, suggesting a general decline in its development superpower status;
  • China ranked 36th and struggled with migration, security, and a lack of transparency;
  • The US dropped from 18th to 22nd in overall development commitments, indicating fallout from Trump-era policies;
  • France ranked second overall, the highest of the G7 countries;
  • Norway placed third overall with strong performances in development finance and migration; and
  • Australia moved up to fourth place following the introduction of health measurement indicators.

The CDI celebrated successful development policies and made recommendations for improvement for each of the countries it evaluated.

Commitment to Development Index - Center for Global Development

Sweden draft budget bill proposes US$7.0 billion in ODA

On September 20, 2021, the Swedish government presented its draft Budget Bill for 2022 to Parliament; the bill includes a SEK5.0 billion (US$576 million) increase in official development assistance (ODA), totaling SEK 57.4 billion (US$7.0 billion), in line with Sweden’s commitment to providing ODA at one percent of gross national income (GNI). 

Due to its minority position, there is uncertainty about the government's ability to confirm the draft Budget Bill as is. However, most budget proposals within the ODA envelope remain broadly in line with previous years’ allocations and the ODA budget is predicted to remain largely unchanged.

To expand its strategic assignments and strengthen its peace- and state-building efforts, Sweden's Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) will see a notable increase from SEK189 million (US$22 million) to SEK213 million (US$25 million). 

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Sweden earmarks US$242 million in 2022 ODA for COVID-19 vaccines

The Swedish government allocated SEK 2.1 billion (US$242 million) in its official development assistance (ODA) budget for 2022 to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries.

Because inequitable global vaccine access continues to afflict low-income countries, the funds are primarily intended to support the procurement of vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative. Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, Per Olssen Fridh, said the funds will promote vaccine access for all and decrease the development of new and harmful mutations of COVID-19.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden reallocates US$36 million for humanitarian support in Afghanistan

On September 2, 2021, Sweden decided to reallocate SEK 300 million (US$37 million) from its official development assistance (ODA) in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

To ensure that the Taliban regime does not benefit from Swedish ODA, Sweden stopped support for all state actors. The reallocated funds, which were previously channeled through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and managed by the World Bank, will now benefit humanitarian operations.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

Sweden suspends all ODA to Afghanistan, will channel increased humanitarian assistance through UN

On August 23, 2021, a week after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) submitted its situation analysis to the Swedish Government. All Swedish support for Afghanistan has already been suspended and, as per the report recommendations, Sweden will channel increased resources for humanitarian assistance through the United Nations (UN) going forward.

"We are suspending all Swedish support or part of the support that has gone to strengthening the Afghan state and which may involve resources for the new government in Kabul, directly or through other actors. No such new decisions are made either," said Maria Lundberg, Head of the Afghanistan Unit at Sida.

Nevertheless, activities focusing on impact, accountability, and peace-building may still be implemented even if directed to or delivered in cooperation with state actors, within the framework of the goals set by the Swedish Government for its development cooperation with Afghanistan.

In the analysis, Sida concluded that most of its partners in Afghanistan will be able to continue providing support to the Afghan people in areas such as health, education, and safety of the civilian population.

Lundberg continued: "Sida works intensively and in dialogue with our partners to continue working for the good of the civilian population in Afghanistan and to protect the progress made over the last 20 years. Now many organizations need increased resources to ensure the safety of their employees. Our assessment is that more support needs to go through the UN and that parts of development aid in 2021 will be distributed to humanitarian aid."

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

Sweden pledges US$91 million to Tanzanian education sector

Sweden initiated a project using a results-based approach to support the education sector in Tanzania amounting to SEK 760 million (US$91 million).

The project continues previous support, which amounts to approximately SEK 1.2 billion (US$143 million) since 2015. The renewed funding will span five years and corresponds to approximately 2% of Tanzania's total budget for basic education over the project period.

Evaluations demonstrate that Swedish official development assistance (ODA) during the previous project period contributed to improved resource allocation within the education system as well as ensuring that girls spend additional years in school.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is implementing the World Bank's Program-for-Results Financing (PforR) system for the first time for this project. The project is being carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and DFID.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

Sweden provides emergency assistance for food and water supply in Haiti

In the aftermath of the recent earthquake, on August 20, 2021, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) approved an immediate allocation of humanitarian support for Haiti.

SEK3 million (US$393,000) will be channeled through Action Against Hunger and will cover water supply and food for up to 2,000 households in need, including 1,200 acutely malnourished boys and girls in the affected area and 500 pregnant women. At the time of the decision, Sida was still awaiting the so-called 'flash appeal' from the UN, which would include an assessment of the risk of long-term consequences in Haiti from the earthquake.

"[Action Against Hunger] will make a special effort in water, sanitation and hygiene, and in nutrition and psychosocial support in the affected part of the country," said Jakob Wernerman, Deputy Director at Sida’s Humanitarian Assistance Unit. "There is always a risk in these types of situations and environments for waterborne diseases, especially in flood disasters, therefore ensuring clean water and proper hygiene solutions is incredibly important."

In addition, as part of the EU rapid reaction team, Sida has provided Haiti with support from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Former Swedish Ambassador to Austria appointed Foreign Affairs Council for International Development Cooperation in Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

On July 22, 2021, Sweden appointed Helen Eduards as Foreign Affairs Council for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Eduards previously held the position of Head of the European Union within the same ministry and has previously served as Sweden’s Ambassador to Austria. Eduards has also held positions as Head of the Development Cooperation Management Unit and Deputy Head of the Africa Unit within the MFA. In addition, she has served at the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in New York as well as at the Swedish Cabinet Committee.

Helen Eduards will assume her new position on August 15, 2021.

Press release - Government of Sweden

Sweden appoints new Ambassador to Bolivia, marking change to on-site Ambassador at Bolivian Embassy

On July 22, 2021, Sweden appointed Nicolas Weeks as its Ambassador to Bolivia, meaning that the Bolivian Embassy will be led by an Ambassador on site in La Paz, Bolivia, whereas previously, the Embassy has been led by a chargé d'affaires in Bogotá, Colombia.

Weeks currently serves as a Ministerial Counsel at the Swedish Embassy in Thailand. He has also held positions at the:

  • Swedish Embassy in Beijing, China;
  • Swedish Consulate in New York, US; and
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden.

Weeks will assume his new position on August 15.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation meets with USAID Administrator

On July 22, 2021, Per Olsson Fridh, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, held talks with Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.

The meeting focused on issues related to democracy, gender equality, climate action, food safety, and refugees. In addition, regional topics related to the situations in Afghanistan, Cuba, and Ethiopia were discussed.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides additional US$6 million to WHO Regional Office for Africa

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden has decided to increase its support to the World Health Organization (WHO) by SEK50 million (US$6 million) in 2021. The additional funding will be earmarked for the WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), supplementing the previous contribution of the same amount in 2020.

The funding is specifically aimed at strengthening the WHO's work in African countries, based on country-specific needs and analyses.

Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation, emphasized that funding provided to contribute to the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines must not overshadow other critical development efforts. Fridh said that the support should improve WHO AFRO’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic now as well as strengthen health systems for the future.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden invests additional US$22 million in primary health care for women and children in Somalia

Sweden will allocate an additional SEK195 million (US$22 million) to improve primary health care and counteract malnutrition in Somalia by 2024.

The support will be administered by Save the Children and is a continuation of a project initiated in 2017, through which more than 780,000 pregnant women and children under five have received basic healthcare support.

The new project aims to continue strengthening health care systems at the local and regional levels by improving the capacity and ownership of local authorities. It will specifically focus on the provision of maternal and child health care, including water and electricity supply at health centers; contraception and support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence; and efforts to counteract malnutrition.

Through Save the Children and co-funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Sida supports the development of basic health services in 13 different Somali districts.

Sida also provides support for midwife training in Somalia through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

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)

Sweden develops basis for new development cooperation strategy for Iraq for 2022-2026

On July 15, 2021, the Swedish government authorized the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) together with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA—the Swedish government agency for peace, security, and development) to develop a basis for Sweden’s new development cooperation strategy with Iraq for 2022-2026.

The new strategy will focus on supporting peaceful and inclusive societies in Iraq, including human rights, gender equality, democracy and the rule of law, climate and environment, sustainable development, as well as the sustainable use of natural resources. In addition, Sida and FBA have been requested to particularly consider interventions to address consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today's decision demonstrates our continued commitment and broad cooperation with Iraq," said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "When the current strategy was adopted, Iraq was in an immediate post-conflict phase and was in dire need of support for stabilization and reconstruction. These needs remain central to the future strategy, but we also hope to put an even greater focus on democratic development, gender equality, and the environment and climate."

The new strategy will replace the existing one, which expires at the end of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides US$12 million to UNDP for climate work in LMICs

Sweden will provide United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with SEK 100 million (US$11 million) in operational support for 100 low- and middle-income countries aspiring to implement national plans for climate and environmental goals of the Agenda 2030.

The commitment was made in the run-up to the UN high-level meeting Stockholm+50 to be held in June of 2022, commemorating the first UN environment meeting held in Stockholm in 1972 and seeking to accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has also been tasked with developing a proposal for how Sida can support the Stockholm+50 preparations from three different perspectives of sustainability (namely economic, social, and environmental) as well as investigating options for increasing international funding for sustainable development in low-income countries with a focus on the climate and environment.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides US$6 million for World Food Programme in response to UN Secretary-General's famine alert

To combat the current global hunger crisis and provide immediate relief, on July 15, 2021, Sweden decided to provide an additional SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the UN, the world is likely facing the worst famine since World War II, primarily as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. By the end of this year, the UN expects 270 million people to suffer from acute hunger and more than 41 million people to be at risk of starvation.

"We are facing a hunger pandemic and we are in danger of witnessing several major famines at the same time in the world," warned Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The UN Secretary-General calls on us to take strong action to prevent this."

The UN said that 41 million people in 41 countries are at risk of starvation. The countries that are especially at risk are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Yemen, Madagascar, and Nigeria.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)