Displaying 1 - 20 of 848

UK ODA budget cuts will undermine long-term COVID-19 response, according to independent review

The UK's Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) published a new review concerning the UK government's use of its international development assistance to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The review praises the UK government for its initial response to the pandemic, which resulted in the rapid allocation of £773 million (US$1.0 billion) in UK official development assistance (ODA) for COVID-19 response by mid-April 2020. This swift response made the UK one of the largest international donors in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review highlights, that despite the lack of an official COVID-19 development assistance strategy, the UK government focused on three core strategic areas: 

  • providing direct support to the most affected low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs); 
  • supporting the development of vaccines, tests, and treatments; and, 
  • addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic.

However, the review argues that the government’s recent decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5% negatively impacted the UK government's ability to continue to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The review found, for example, that many ODA programs linked to addressing the pandemic were impacted by large budget cuts. The review cites the significant reduction in key sexual and reproductive health investments as examples of detrimental cuts; previous global health crises have established the importance of maintaining women's access to sexual health, making program cuts in these areas more concerning. 

The report made three recommendations to the UK government moving forward:

  1. Build upon investments in vaccine development to increase supply and equitable roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines to address continuing inequitable global vaccine access;
  2. Ensure that program leaders are given the discretion to adapt and repurpose programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling an efficient and effective response; and,
  3. Review the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's (FCDO) strategy to repatriate staff during crises to enable a more refined approach based on risk and individual preference. This recommendation was made following the UK's blanket approach to repatriating staff, which contrasts the selective approaches adopted by other donors.

Report - ICAI

UK Foreign Minister seeks development partnerships with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, supports infrastructure financing projects on African and Asian continents

The UK’s new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development, Liz Truss, used her first visit to the Persian Gulf region to seek new development partnerships with Qatar and Saudi Arabia to improve infrastructure and financing projects for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the African and Asian continents. 

The initiative, part of a push led by Truss, aims to engage in more bilateral investment partnerships to further the G7 Leader’s Build Back Better World Initiative, a commitment to provide financing for infrastructure needs in LMICs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Truss believes the deals will be win-win-win scenarios for the UK, the Gulf region, and countries across the African and Asian continents because they will boost jobs and livelihoods and bolster business operations.

News article – Devex

Press release – UK Government

UK to count US$1.1 billion in Sudanese debt as ODA, further reducing UK ODA budget

New evidence obtained by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, an NGO, reveals that the UK government will count the full amount of debt it is owed from Sudan as official development assistance (ODA).

Sudan owes the UK government £861 million (US$1.1 billion) in debt, and the UK has confirmed that it will count £580 million (US$779 million) of the remaining debt as ODA in 2022 because Sudan has reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative Decision Point. The remaining debt will be counted as UK ODA when the country reaches the Completion Point under the HIPC initiative, which is currently unknown.

While the UK government is entitled to count the debt as ODA under international rules, many civil society groups and UK parliamentarians are highly critical of the decision. Andrew Mitchell, a Conservative Party Member of Parliament and former Development Minister, noted on record that counting the outstanding debt as ODA is morally wrong, highlighting that the move will reduce the overall volume of UK ODA resources available to partner countries in 2022 and beyond. The UK ODA budget has been slashed as a result of the government’s decision to reduce the ODA budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% from 2021 onwards.  

The Jubilee Debt Campaign also highlights that the original loan to Sudan amounted to just £173 million (US$232 million) in 1984; the 11% interest charges levied by the UK bring the total amount owed to a far more drastic US$1.1 billion. The organization argues that the debt should have been written off already and should not be counted as ODA.

News article - Devex

NGOs call on Canada to fulfill COVID-19 vaccine donation promises, suspend intellectual property rights

Canada has taken over 970,000 doses from COVAX, the World Health Organization's vaccine alliance, for its own use, while delivering only 3.2 million – or 8% – of the 40 million doses it promised.

The US has delivered the largest quantity of donated doses - nearly 177 million - and yet, this number is merely 16% of the 1.1 billion promised. Meanwhile, the EU and countries including Germany and the UK, have refused to support the proposal by over 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID-19 - related technologies.

Preceding the G20 summit in Rome this week, the People’s Vaccine alliance – which consists of 77 members including ActionAid, the African Alliance, Oxfam, and UNAIDS – is calling on rich countries to:

  • Deliver on promises to donate COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries;
  • Immediately redistribute existing vaccines equitably across all nations; and,
  • Suspend intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines, tests, and treatments by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organization.

​​​​Op-ed - Oxfam Canada 

Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and development advocate, dies at 84 with COVID-19 complications

Colin Powell, former United States Secretary of State, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and steadfast supporter of US international development programs, died at age 84 of complications from COVID-19.

Although best known for his military and diplomacy roles - which often put him in a controversial spotlight - Powell also served for 15 years as the National Chair of the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a coalition of business, military, and civic organizations which advocates for the elevation of development alongside diplomacy and defense.

Powell frequently claimed that military might is not the only way to keep the United States safe. In a New York Times op-ed, the former military leader said “Throughout my career, I learned plenty about war on the battlefield, but I learned even more about the importance of finding peace. And that is what the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. do: prevent the wars that we can avoid, so that we fight only the ones we must.”

News report - The Washington Post

Statement - USGLC

Each US$1.3 billion in UK recycled IMF Special Drawing Rights to LMICs will result in US$416 million net loss, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a leading international development think-tank, published a new report criticizing the UK’s proposal to count some of its recycled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as official development assistance (ODA).

CGD calculated that for every £1.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) of SDRs that the UK recycles, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will experience a £310 million (US$416 million) net loss in development assistance. The UK will count 31% of its recycled SDRs as part of its commitment to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) as ODA, reducing resources from the UK ODA budget that are available to LMICs. CGD has described the UK’s decision to count its recycled SDRs as ODA as "giving with one hand while taking with the other."

Other donor countries that have also decided to recycle their SDRs to LMICs have chosen not to count them as ODA; this decision will ensure that the full amount of SDRs is available to target countries in addition to planned ODA budgets.

The report is heavily critical of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules which enable the UK to count IMF lending, via its Poverty, Growth and Reduction Trust, as ODA, arguing that rules do not appropriately reflect the low-level risk of the loans.

The report recommends that:

  • In the short term, the new UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, push the UK Treasury to ensure all of its recycled SDRs are additional to the UK’s 0.5% of GNI ODA budget. If this is not possible, the report recommends that the IMF actively draw on other countries' flows that are not counted as ODA; the funding only counts as ODA when it is drawn down by the IMF and released to countries. It is not counted as ODA when it is merely committed.
  • In the long-term, if a new fund at the IMF is used to channel the additional SDRs to LMICs, it should ensure that any funding that is counted as reserves and subsides by other donors should not be counted as ODA.

Report – Center for Global Development

UK government calls on World Bank to support strong, sustainable, inclusive economic growth

The UK government called upon the World Bank Group to do more to support strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth in low- and middle-income countries.

In its statement to the 104th Meeting of the World Bank Group’s Development Committee on October 15, 2021, the UK government identified six key policy areas for action: economic development, infrastructure and financial development assistance, gender equity, pandemic response, climate change, and crisis response. 

The UK government also called upon the World Bank to ensure its International Development Association (IDA) – the low-income country financing window within the Bank - makes better use of its balance sheet to meet IDA countries' financing needs.

The UK government specifically called for World Bank Group to:

  • Trade: Strengthen supply chains, improve low-and middle-income countries' (LMICs) capacity to meet global standards, and mobilize greater investment in most-vulnerable countries;
  • Build Back Better: Work with additional multilateral development banks to provide financing at scale for target countries’ national climate, development, and poverty plans;
  • Gender equality: Help LMICs achieve 40 million more girls in school by 2026 and increase access to social protection systems that help women. The UK also called upon the World Bank to do more to address gender-based violence in its programs.
  • COVID-19: Implement its US$20.0 billion COVID-19 support package and enhance co-operation with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Initiative, COVAX, and the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Climate and Nature: Develop a plan to mobilize greater amounts of private climate finance, work with additional multilateral development banks to mainstream nature into all operations, and develop a new methodology to track and report on nature financing; and
  • Crisis preparedness: Improve LMICs' pandemic and crisis preparedness by providing more flexible financing and increasing investment.

The UK also called upon the World Bank to ensure its IDA 20 replenishment process makes better use of the IDA’s existing balance sheet to address the financing needs of partner countries. The UK indicates financing should be provided in ways that enable the IDA to scale up its financing capacity while protecting financial sustainability.

Press release - UK Government

Failure to to uphold US$100.0 billion climate finance agreement will lead to deteriorating trust between development partners, UK warns

A new UK parliament report acknowledged that the UK is unlikely to meet one of its key goals for its Presidency of the COP26 international climate conference - confirming high-income countries' commitment to providing $100.0 billion in climate finance for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report notes that the failure to achieve this goal will damage the level of trust between negotiating parties, making it harder to make progress on key UK goals for the upcoming COP26.

The UK government set out four key goals for its Presidency of COP26:

  • Have all participating countries submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that commit to further cuts in carbon emissions by 2030;
  • Have all countries commit to reaching net-zero emissions as soon as possible;
  • Ensure that high-income countries honor their commitment to providing US$100.0 billion dollars a year in climate finance for LMICs and climate-vunlerable countries; and,
  • Agree on a package that furthers the Paris Agreement.

Progress is observable for most goals, but the UK parliament acknowledged that the government is likely to miss its goal of having all high-income countries honor their commitment to provide US$100.0 billion dollars per year in climate finance for LMICs.

The original commitment to provide US$100.0 billion in climate finance to LMICs was made by high-income countries in 2009 and has been reiterated at key meetings following its initial proposal and ratification. While final figures will not be available on climate finance until 2022, it is generally accepted that the 2020 goal has not been met. The most recent figures available are dated to 2019 and show that only US$79.6 billion has been raised in climate finance so far. The UK has committed to increasing its commitments to £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) in the next four years, and recent pledges by the US, Germany, and Canada mean that total pledges may currently hover around US$10.0 billion short of the target.

The report is clear that this shortcoming will have a negative impact on the level of trust between countries and is likely to make it difficult to make ambitious progress on other key UK goals at COP26. LMICs are being asked to cut their own future emissions while being most-vulnerable to climate change as a result of high-income countries’ historic emissions.

The report also highlights tensions in the type of financing that high-income countries are providing to LMICs as climate finance. Target countries have indicated a clear preference for climate finance to be provided in the form of grants, not loans. However, most public climate finance to date has been provided as loans. In 2019, around 79% of the US$79.6 billion in climate finance provided to LMICs was from governments, and loans comprised 71% of this funding. The UK, to its credit, has provided most of its climate finance as grants. 87% of UK climate finance between 2014 and 2021 was delivered as grants, totalling £4.9 billion (US$6.6 billion).

Report – UK Parliament

 

Further reducing discretionary development spending, UK Treasury may include US$5.0 billion of IMF Special Drawing Rights as ODA

The Guardian is reporting that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is highly likely to recycle some of the US$27.4 billion of its allocation of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) special drawing rights (SDRs) to low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) by counting the funds as official development assistance (ODA).

This move could result in US$4.0 - 5.0 billion of the UK’s ODA budget funneling to the IMF over the coming years, reducing the amount of funding available for other life-saving ODA programs.

The IMF agreed to release US$650.0 billion of its SDRs as a global fighting fund to help countries with the economic and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDRs are an international reserve asset belonging to the IMF that can be exchanged for one of five international currencies (USD, Euro, Japanese Yen, Chinese Yuan, and British pound). The share of SDRs a country receives is based on its contributions to the IMF, which is ultimately determined by the country’s economic size. As a result, high-income countries receive the largest portion of SDRs. The UK’s share of the fund amounts to US$27.4 billion and the UK is likely to recycle around 75% of its allocation, passing it to LMICs who are most vulnerable using IMF concessional financing. 

Under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules, 30% of IMF concessional lending is permitted to count toward ODA; it is reported that the UK will count the maximum of 30% of the lending as ODA this year. According to ONE UK, the development NGO, the recycled funding could amount to as much as US$4.0 - 5.0 billion in UK ODA in the coming years. Former Conservative Development Minister Andrew Mitchel is highly critical of the potential move, noting that many other IMF member states will provide these finances to low-income countries in addition to their ODA budgets.

Given the significant cuts to the UK's ODA in 2021 as a result of the government’s decision to reduce the budget to 0.5% from 0.7% of the UK’s gross national income (GNI), the move could further reduce discretionary ODA spending.

News article - The Guardian

Independent watchdog outlines steps to ensure UK development assistance fully aligns with Paris Agreement

The UK’s development assistance watchdog, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), published findings of a rapid review concerning the alignment of UK development assistance with the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty aimed at limiting climate change and supporting low- and middle-income countries' climate change adaptation and response capacities. The UK government committed to comprehensively aligning its development assistance with Paris Agreements in 2019. While the rapid review commends the government for making this commitment, it calls for a greater level of ambition in meeting its goal and urges the government to ensure alignment is a focal point in its forthcoming International Development Strategy.

ICAI praises the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for developing four tools to support alignment, which are mandatory for all new programs as of April 2021. These tools, ICAI finds, reflect emerging best practices and involve: a climate risk assessment; shadow carbon pricing; a fossil fuel policy; and alignment with partner countries' climate mitigation and adaptation plans. However, ICAI notes that while the tools are important in addressing climate change, they are not enough to comprehensively align with the Paris Agreement. ICAI also calls for the UK government to scale up its focus on selecting and investing in programs that will expedite the transition to low-emission climate-resilient development.

ICAI highlights that the tools are not mandatory for a large proportion of the official development assistance (ODA) budget, which is exempt from their application and reduces their effectiveness. ICAI additionally questions whether the FCDO has sufficient capacity to apply these tools across an expanding proportion of its ODA budget, given the UK government’s commitment to double its International Climate Finance budget over the next five years.

Finally, ICAI criticizes the UK's reporting process for assessing the alignment of UK development assistance to the Paris Agreement, noting that the procedure is unclear and lacks transparency. The report suggests that the government should confirm key metrics for assessing its progress to alignment and commit to publishing these on a regular basis to improve accountability.

Review - ICAI

UK parliamentary report estimates ODA budget will drop by US$4.8 billion in 2021 to total US$14.6 billion

The UK parliament released a new report - ‘Reducing the UK’s aid spending in 2021’ - which estimates that the total official development assistance (ODA) budget for the UK will be £10.9 billion (US$14.6 billion) in 2021 compared to £14.5 billion (US$19.5 billion) in 2020.

The budget has been reduced as a result of the government’s decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of UK gross national income to 0.5%. The estimate is based on the UK government’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s March 2021 economic forecasts and is larger than the £10.0 billion (US$13.8 billion) amount set out by the UK Chancellor in his 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review.

The report notes also that in April 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) announced how it would spend its £8.1 billion (US$ 10.9 billion) ODA budget in 2020 - 2021. The funding is allocated around seven key policy priorities; it includes £1.3 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) to address the COVID-19 pandemic and support global health resilience and £0.9 billion (US$1.2 billion) for humanitarian preparedness and response. 

The report also notes that in September of 2021, the FCDO published its annual report, which included the plans for country-level ODA spending in 2021 - 2022. This report shows that the FCDO will allocate ODA to 39 countries and territories in 2021 - 2022. In 2019, the UK funded bilateral programs in 136 countries and territories; the former Department for International Development (DFID) funding focused on 46 countries and territories. Of those 46 countries which received bilateral ODA in 2019, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, and Eritrea are currently not listed as receiving ODA from the FCDO in 2021 - 2022.

The report notes that the FCDO emphasizes that funding allocations have not been finalized yet.

Report - UK Parliament Website

UK ODA fell by US$937 million in 2020 in major budget reform

The UK government released its official statistics on international development for 2020 on September 30, 2021; the report shows that the UK spent £14.5 billion (US$19.3 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) in 2020.

While the government kept its commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on ODA, the actual budget decreased by £698 million (US$963 million) - 4.6% - due to the UK's shrinking economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget cuts were made during the middle of 2020, as the government stated it wanted to meet but not exceed its 0.7% GNI ODA target. 

The official statistics reveal:

  • A shift toward multilateral ODA - multilateral ODA rose by 3.6% (£173m); 
  • Bilateral ODA fell by 8.4% (£871 million) compared to 2019, which may indicate that the cuts in the budget predominately fell on the bilateral program. Eight of the 14 top thematic sectors of UK bilateral ODA received a reduced budget; 
  • Health initiatives accounted for 16.7% of UK bilateral ODA, taking the top spot- the health sector as the largest spend area for UK bilateral ODA, increasing by £164 million (US$220 million) in 2020, compared to 2019. Within health, the top three spending areas were: Medical Research (£373 million (US$501 million)), COVID-19 response (£317 million (US$439 million)), and infectious disease control (£169 million (US$227 million)).
  • The largest cut was to the education sector with spending reduced by 31%. 
  • The African continent continues to receive the majority of UK region-specific ODA – It received over half (52%) of all UK region-specific bilateral ODA in 2020, but the amount of bilateral ODA provided to the region decreased by £375 million (US$503 million) in 2020. The top three recipients of UK bilateral country-specific ODA were Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Somalia.
  • In 2020, the UK estimates that it spent £1.6 billion (US$2.2 billion) of its bilateral ODA on COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • The EU remains the largest recipient of UK multilateral ODA, accounting for 31% of all UK Multilateral core ODA, followed by the World Bank’s IDA (19%) and then the Global Fund (10%).
  • NGOs have criticized the UK government's lack of transparency and are requesting access to the original 2020 ODA budget spending plans in order to adequately assess cuts. 

Report – UK Final Statistics on International Development 2020

News article – BOND

New parliamentary report calls for UK to bolster WHO reforms, support COVAX, and develop comprehensive global health strategy

The UK House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee released its Global Heath, Global Britain report on September 30, 2021.

The report argues that "health security cannot be separated from foreign policy" and notes that the government’s cuts to its global health development assistance are ‘ill-considered" and risk "endangering Global Britain’s reputation as a science superpower and force for good.’’

The report recommendations include a call for the UK government to:

  • Prioritize driving reform at the World Health Organisation (WHO) to bolster its independence and power. It also recommends that the UK support the recommendations made by the WHO’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) for the organization to be given greater powers to independently investigate outbreaks. It calls for the UK to encourage other countries to increase their core funding to the WHO to give it more independence and power moving forward;   
  • Speed up and increase the number of vaccines it donates through COVAX as both a moral imperative and a crucial aspect of UK security. Importantly, it calls for a clear strategy to guide the UK’s bilateral donations that enable predictable and sustained support in a timely manner to vulnerable people;  
  • Put in place mechanisms for ongoing cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and assess the impact of maintaining UK access to the ECDC’s Early Warning Response System on the UK’s ability to access key data and enhance global health security;  
  • Help enable greater manufacturing capacity of key vaccines and drugs in lower-income countries via transfer of knowledge and technical support;   
  • Ensure global health spending is maintained post-COVID-19 crisis, including for vital health system strengthening;
  • Publicly commit to allocating previous levels of funding to development assisted health research programs when the fiscal situation allows; and,
  • Publish a new global health strategy by the end of 2021. 

Report - Global Health Global Britain

UK NGOs raise concerns over additional cuts to UK development assistance budget

UK NGOs raised concerns over the UK Treasury's plan to make further cuts to the UK’s development assistance budget as a result of so-called ‘accounting tricks.’ 

The UK government announced that it will only spend 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) from 2021 onwards. However, UK NGOs are concerned that in addition to this cut, the Treasury will count the following spending items in its ODA budget, further reducing the discretionary funds available to the UK in 2021-2022:

  • Cancellation of a multi-million-pound debt owed by Sudan to the UK, despite the debt having been written off years ago;
  • 30% of Special Drawing Rights given by the IMF, which the UK has agreed to recycle and hand on to low- and lower-middle-income countries in order to help with the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, despite this funding providing additional new resources to the UK budget; and,
  • The cost of giving COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries as official ODA, which could amount to £1 billion (US$1.4 billion).

While these spending items are all allowed under the international rules for measuring ODA set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, UK NGOs argue that they either don’t represent current real flows of money (Sudan’s historic debt relief) or should be given in addition to the UK’s ODA budget as they come from an additional budget or are responding to exceptional circumstances.   

NGOs note that if the Treasury decides to count these items as part of its ODA spending, the discretionary spending of the UK’s development assistance budget will be significantly reduced. The budget has already been cut by £4 billion (US$5.4 billion) due to the government’s decision to reduce the volume of ODA to 0.5% of UK's GNI in 2021/22. However, these additional costs could cut the UK’s discretionary spending by a further £2 billion (US$2.7 billion), leaving the UK with only £8 billion (US$10.7 billion) for its discretionary ODA budget in 2021/22.

News article – DEVEX

UK reports on achievements of 2011-2021 international climate finance investments; commits US$15.6 billion for next five years

The UK's recently released Corporate Report, '2021 UK Climate Finance Results' provides an overview of achievements from the UK's portfolio of International Climate Finance (ICF) investments between April 2011 and March 2021. According to the report, during this period the UK provided £9.6 billion (US$12.9 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) focused on helping low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) to:

  • Adapt to the current and future effects of climate change; 
  • Follow low-carbon economic growth; 
  • Assist with sustainable management of natural resources; 
  • Improve access to clean energy; and, 
  • Reduce deforestation.

The report estimates that the UK's ICF programs have:

  • Provided direct support to 88 million people to help them with the impacts of climate change; 
  • Improved 41 million individuals’ access to clean energy; 
  • Helped to reduce or avoid 180 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; and, 
  • Mobilized £5.2 billion (US$7.2 billion) in public and £3.3 billion (US$4.6 billion) in private finance for climate change purposes in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs).

The UK has committed to increasing its ICF to £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) between April 2021 and March 2026 — a doubling compared to its previous five-year commitment. 

Report - 2021 International Climate Finance Results

FCDO’s annual report reveals striking ODA cuts to UK bilateral country programs

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and, Development Office's (FCDO) newly published '2020-2021 Annual Report and Accounts' reveals some of the impacts of the UK's cuts to official development assistance (ODA) in fiscal year (FY) 2021/22. 

The report indicates decreases in ODA allocations to the FCDO central programs. Expenditures of the global health central program departments will fall 27% to US$1.2 billion (GBP£916 million). ODA spending on education, gender, and equality will also fall by more than half to £124 million (US$167 million).

The report also reveals that the FCDO plans to spend £1.8 billion (US$2.4 billion) in direct country bilateral ODA in FY2021/22. This entails a concerning 45% cut compared to FY2020/21, mainly driven by reductions in funding to the poorest countries.

While some partners on the Asian continent will receive large cuts, analysis by Devex shows some evidence of an Indo-Pacific tilt: 

  • £32 million (US$43 million) will be allocated to the FCDO’s newly established South East Asia & Pacific Department; 
  • ODA to Indonesia will increase by 22% to £14 million (US$18.8 million); 
  • India’s ODA will also increase by 33% to £55 million (US$74 million); however, 
  • ODA to Bangladesh will fall by 62%; and
  • Pakistan, historically the largest recipient of UK bilateral ODA, will see a funding cut of 40%, from £160 million (US$215 million) to £97 million (US$130 million).

The Devex analysis also shows that fragile states and countries on the African continent are scheduled to receive large cuts.

  • Lebanon’s ODA is set to fall by 85%, from £85 million (US$114 million) to £13 million (US$18 million);
  • ODA to Somalia is set to fall by 41%, from £121 million (US$163 million) to £71 million (US$94 million); 
  • ODA to Nigeria is set to fall from £209 million (US$281 million) to £95 million (US$128 million); 
  • Ethiopia's ODA is set to fall from £240 million (US$322 million) to £107 million (US$144 million); and
  • ODA to Kenya, a primary UK development and security partner, is falling by 39%, from £67 million (US$90 million) to £41 million (US$55 million).

News article - Devex

Report - FCDO 2020-2021 Annual Report and Accounts

Global Citizen to host 24-hour worldwide concert to prompt pledges toward SDGs

On September 25, Global Citizen will broadcast a 24-hour global event on TV and multiple social networks, which will feature artists, celebrities, and world leaders focusing on defending the planet and defeating poverty.

Global Citizen Live aims to support a "Recovery Plan for the World," targeting five key sectors: COVID-19 global response, hunger, education, climate change, and equity. The event will provide a platform for decision-makers to make new pledges, which contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The event will feature performances from different cities around the globe including Lagos, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, and Sydney. Artists such as Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Måneskin, DJ Snake, H.E.R., Lizzo, Christine and the Queens, Angélique Kidjo, Charlie Puth, and Fatma Said will participate.

Website - Global Citizen

UK should cease ODA to DRC due to deforestation concerns, according to NGOs

Over 40 NGOs have demanded that the UK and other donors — the EU, Germany, France, Norway, South Korea, and the Netherlands — pause funding for the protection of the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo until the government extends its logging ban. The 19-year moratorium on new industrial logging is set to end, and the global coalition of NGOs, including Greenpeace Africa, Global Witness, and Congolese indigenous groups, have called on the UK and other donor countries to ensure that ODA is tied to the reinstatement of the moratorium. The Congo Basin is the second-largest rainforest in the world and a vast carbon sink.

News article - SkyNews

NGO letter - DRC

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

UK Prime Minister calls on high-income countries to uphold US$100 billion climate finance commitment

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20, 2021, to convey frustration over high-income nations' failure to adhere to their US$100 billion climate finance commitment to assist low-income and climate-vulnerable nations. 

The original commitment to climate finance was established in 2009 at the UN COP16 and full delivery of the funds was intended by 2020.  

The UK holds the Presidency of the UN COP26, which will be held in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. With its presidency, the UK is keen to fulfill the funding promise, but lacks support from other high-income nations.

Johnson highlighted in his speech that high-income nations are causing detrimental climate change damage and low-income and climate-vulnerable nations suffer the consequences. He reiterated that while some progress has been made to mitigate climate crisis impacts globally, unfulfilled promises of funding and policy change indicate the need for far more action. 

The UK government provided £5.8 billion (US$ 8.0 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) to International Climate Finance for low-income countries between 2015 and 2021 and has committed to doubling funding to £11.6 billion (US$16.0 billion) between 2021-2025.

Press release – UK government