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Canada contributes additional US$309 million to Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has announced a new CA$375 million (US$309 million) commitment to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A).

This commitment adds to the CA$940 million (US$775 million) commitment made to ACT-A by Canada in May 2020. Canada's total contribution to ACT-A now totals over CA$1.3 billion (US$1.1 billion).

Press release - Global Affairs Canada 

Canada's Minister of International Trade is open to intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Canada's Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng, recently announced that while Canada recognizes the "importance of protecting" intellectual property IP, her team is "ready to discuss" proposals under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to remove intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Ng also acknowledged that there is a wide range of barriers that limit vaccine access, intellectual property being just one of them. Therefore, Canada is taking a holistic approach to increasing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

UK hosts G7 meeting, agrees to uphold democracy, support equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution, provide financial support to countries facing famine

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, chaired a meeting of the G7’s foreign and development ministers last week on May 3-4, 2021, in London. The UK government also invited government representatives from India, Australia, South Korea, and the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reflecting the UK’s foreign policy goal of leaning in more to the Indo-Pacific region's growing strategic importance. Representatives from South Africa were also guests.

The G7 ministers agreed to defend democracy, increase funding to the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, provide funding for countries facing famine, and step up their efforts to help partner countries become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis.

On upholding democracy and human rights, the G7 foreign and development ministers agreed to:

  • Uphold media freedom around the world, including by increasing funding to the Global Media Defence Fund;
  • Bolster their response to threats to democracy, including through a new North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership aimed specifically at tackling threats such as vaccine disinformation; and
  • Support the new Canadian-driven action plan on tackling arbitrary detention.

On ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the ministers:

  • Endorsed the COVAX Facility as a primary way for countries to share vaccines globally;
  • Agreed to increase funding to the Facility, though no specific pledges of increased funding were announced; and
  • Committed to working toward expanding manufacturing for affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

On addressing famines, the ministers:

  • Agreed to provide £5.0 billion (US$6.7 billion) in humanitarian assistance to those countries facing famine, including Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria; and
  • Committed their support for the World Bank and UN on preparedness and early action to prevent famines.

On addressing the climate crisis, the ministers:

  • Agreed to do more to help low-income countries build resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve planning and response to climate-related disasters; and
  • Welcomed the role of the private sector in supporting climate resilience.

These agreements came in addition to the ministers' commitments to enhance girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment.

Press release - UK government

Statement - European External Action Service

G7 foreign and development ministers' agenda focuses on gender equality through education, ending gender-based violence

The UK hosted a G7 meeting in London on May 4-5, 2021, that put women and girls at the center of the agenda with a focus on the three E’s: education, empowerment, and ending gender-based violence.

Foreign and development ministers from the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, and the UK, plus the EU) met for their first in-person meeting in two years. The foreign ministers from Australia, India, South Africa, South Korea, as well as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), were invited to some of the talks as guests.

The G7 foreign and development ministers agreed to a new goal of sending 40 million more girls from low-and middle-income countries to school over the next five years and helping 200 million more girls read by the age of 10. 

They also agreed to provide a US$15.0 billion two-year package to help women in low-income countries build resilient businesses and respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The funding will be provided through the 2X Challenge, a partnership between G7 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) that was originally launched in 2018. The 2X Challenge focuses on providing finance and support to female-owned and staffed businesses or to businesses that provide products or services that particularly benefit women.

The G7 ministers also called for women’s rights organizations at local, national, and international levels to be actively included in decision-making on the COVID-19 recovery, and the ministers committed to working to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence through increased support to programs aimed at addressing this issue.

Press release - UK government

News article - BCC

News article - The Guardian

Canada commits US$8 million in humanitarian assistance to India

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced CA$10 million (US$8 million) in humanitarian assistance funding to support India's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, following infection numbers drastically spiking in the country.

This funding will go to the Canadian Red Cross, which will help India's Red Cross procure medicines and supplies, including oxygen cylinders for health centers and ambulances.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

UK launches International Pandemic Preparedness Partnership, provides additional US$21 million to CEPI

The UK government has formed a new International Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP) tasked with advising the UK G7 Presidency on how the global community can better protect lives in future pandemics.

The public-private partnership brings together 20 members representing industry, international organizations, and leading experts, and it will be chaired by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance.

The PPP will deliver a roadmap to G7 leaders at their June 2021 summit in Cornwall, UK for how to protect people against future pandemics, with a particular focus on how to reduce the time for developing and distributing new vaccines from 300 days to 100 days. 

The UK will provide additional funding of £16 million (US$21 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the development and supply of vaccines globally.

Press release - UK government

Canada commits to reduce emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030

On April 22, 2021, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in the US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate and announced that Canada will "enhance" its emissions reduction target by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This commitment falls under Canada's participation in the Paris Agreement and exceeds previous targets set by Canada. 

Trudeau's announcement aligns with Canada’s commitment to establish a "green recovery for the COVID-19 pandemic" and Canada’s investment in a Net Zero Accelerator to encourage the development of technologies that help reach the goal of net-zero emissions.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada 

Canada among 29 countries to condemn human rights violations against LGBTI people in Chechen Republic

Canada, among 29 co-signatories, has called on the Russian Federation "to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators."

A report published in 2018 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found strong evidence that Chechnya was engaging in "successive purges against LGBTI persons". LGBTI people in Chechnya face "systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings". Since the release of the report, Russia has failed to implement changes or respond to these human rights violations, and new human rights violations against LGBTI people and opponents of Chechen leadership continue to be discovered, said the joint statement.

The following countries also signed this statement: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada's 2021 budget commits US$14.1 billion to climate action

Canada's newly released budget for 2021 commits CA$17.6 billion (US$14.1 billion) to establishing a green recovery following the COVID-19 crisis and to tackle and protect against the climate crisis.

Specifically, the budget proposes: 

  • CA$4.4 billion to help homeowners reduce their properties' environmental footprints and energy bills;
  • CA$5.0 billion over seven years to Canada's Net Zero Accelerator;
  • CA$319 million over seven years to research and develop commercially-viable carbon capture technologies;
  • CA$2.3 billion over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans;
  • CA$200 million over three years to Infrastructure Canada to establish a Natural Infrastructure Fund to mitigate and prevent the impacts of climate change;
  • CA$977 million over five years to address the loss of marine habitats and biodiversity;
  • CA$647 million over five years to preserve wild Pacific salmon;
  • CA$1.4 billion over 12 years for projects such as "wildfire mitigation activities, rehabilitation of storm water systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines";
  • CA$12 million over five years to the Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program to help communities to plan and build climate-resilient infrastructure, including roads and buildings;
  • CA$64 million over three years to complete flood maps in high-risk regions; and
  • CA$17 million over two years to support climate-resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Humanitarian organizations call for increased international assistance in Canada's new budget

Ahead of Canada releasing its new budget on April 19, 2021, Canadian humanitarian organizations urged Trudeau's government "to increase spending on international assistance in line with its increased spending on tackling the pandemic at home".

Specifically, 'Save the Children Canada' and 'Cooperation Canada' called on the federal government to meet the increasing need for international assistance especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

These groups argued that Canada's ratio of official development assistance (ODA) to gross national income (GNI) "is at the lowest point in 50 years". 

News article - Radio Canada International

UK announces members of newly formed Gender Equality Advisory Council for G7

The UK government, which holds the Presidency of the G7 (Group of Seven) this year, has published the full list of members for its newly created Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC). 

The GEAC was created in order to ensure that the G7 puts women at the center of their "build back better" agenda following the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Council is comprised of 19 members selected from each of the G7 countries and beyond. Members reflect a commitment to democracy and women’s empowerment, and many are drawn from the realm of science, technology, engineering, and medicine. 

The Council will publish an independent report with recommendations for how the G7 can ensure that women are at the heart of recovery efforts.

Press release - UK government

Pandemic spending brought global foreign assistance to all-time high in 2020, but "much greater effort" needed, says OECD

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) released the preliminary data on its official development assistance (ODA) flows for 2020. Spending on COVID-19 relief pushed foreign assistance to an all-time high in 2020 (US$161.2 billion, +3.5% from 2019), but the OECD says funds are still insufficient.

Although governments internationally have provided the equivalent of US$16.00 trillion in COVID-19 stimulus measures, just 1% of that spending has been mobilized to help low-income countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. A "much greater effort" is needed to support vaccine distribution and health services and to support the income and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, he said.

The data showed that in 2020, 22% of bilateral ODA was provided as "non-grants" (loans or equity investments), an increase of 17% from previous years and a 39% increase from 2019 levels. By income group, flows to low-income countries decreased by 4% compared to 2019 while ODA to lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries increased by 7% and 36%, respectively. These trends imply that part of the ODA increase in 2020 is due to loans to middle-income countries at a time when debt relief is increasingly discussed, with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund recently calling for greater assistance to middle-income countries for tackling debt and the climate crisis.

Some of the donor-specific information includes the following:

  • Australia's ODA decreased by 11% due to cuts to bilateral assistance;
  • Canada's ODA increased by 8% due to heightened climate financing and in-country refugee costs;
  • EU Institutions saw a 25% increase in ODA due to a significant amount of additional funds for COVID-19 related activities and with sovereign lending increasing by 136% in real terms over 2019;
  • France's ODA increased by 11% due to an increase in its bilateral assistance and funding for COVID-19, including through lending;
  • Germany's ODA increased by 14% due primarily to the mobilization of additional ODA resources to fight the pandemic;
  • Italy's ODA decreased by 7% due to a drop in bilateral grants as well as in-country refugee costs;
  • Japan's ODA increased by 1% due to heightened bilateral lending;
  • The Netherlands' ODA decreased by 3% due to a loss of gross national income (GNI), as ODA levels were set based on maintaining the previous year's ODA-to-GNI ratio (0.59%);
  • Norway's ODA increased by 8% due to a rise in health-related ODA and contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • South Korea's ODA decreased by 9% due to cuts in its overall assistance program;
  • Spain's ODA decreased by 2% due to decreases in bilateral assistance;
  • Sweden's ODA increased by 17% due to heightened contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • The UK's ODA decreased by 10%, driven by the decrease in GNI while meeting the ODA to GNI ratio of 0.7%; and
  • The US' ODA increased by 5% due to increased contributions to multilateral organizations.

Press release - OECD

ODA 2020 detailed summary - OECD

More information - OECD

To prevent "vaccine apartheid", former UK Prime Minister calls for G7 to temporarily waiver COVID-19 vaccine patents and endorse international vaccine levy to raise US$30.0 billion per year

Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, has called on the G7 (Group of Seven) to take action to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Brown argued that wealthy countries, which make up only 18% of the world’s population, have bought up 60% of all confirmed vaccine orders (4.6 billion doses) and that this is leading to "vaccine apartheid" that threatens to leave COVID-19 spreading, mutating, and impacting everyone for years to come.

Brown stated that an additional US$30.0 billion is required each year to help countries to pay for COVID-19 vaccine doses and distribution. He recommended that the G7 undertake three key actions in order to bring down costs down and raise new funds:

  1. Set a temporary waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents to enable low- and lower-middle-income countries to build up their manufacturing capacity at a lower cost;
  2. Set an international levy to raise funds based on a country's fair share similar to the levy that the UN agreed on in the 1960s to fund smallpox eradication—countries pay according to their abilities, measured by their national incomes, debts owed, and levels of wealth and poverty; and
  3. Provide an additional US$2.0 billion to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) in the form of guarantees from rich countries, along with a fraction of that amount in grants—this would enable IFFIm to raise four times as much for a special vaccination facility which would be managed by the multilateral development banks.  

News article - The Guardian

Canada commits US$159 million over seven years to global health innovations

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced a renewed commitment of CA$200 million (US$159 million) over seven years to Grand Challenges Canada to continue promoting innovation in "global health in low- and middle-income countries."

This commitment is particularly important in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Global Affairs Canada, the governmental department that manages development assistance, has been a partner of Grand Challenges Canada, a non-profit organization, since 2010. This partnership aims to "improve the health, human rights and well-being of women, adolescent girls and children" in low-income countries and areas affected by conflict.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Ford Foundation contributes US$12 million to Canada's Equality Fund

The Ford Foundation announced a commitment of CA$15 million (US$12 million) to Canada's Equality Fund at the recent Mexico-hosted Generation Equality Forum (GEF). The GEF highlighted the importance of feminist movements, organizations, and funds in achieving gender equality and human rights.

The Fund, launched in 2019, is an initiative aimed at harnessing "the power of investment, philanthropy and grant-making to build a gender-equal world".

The next part of the Generation Equality Forum will be hosted by France in June 2021.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada commits US$35 million to peace and stabilization projects in Iraq and Syria

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau has announced CA$44 million (US$35 million) for projects in Iraq and Syria working to combat Daesh, also known as ISIS. This funding was announced at the 'Foreign Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group' meeting.

The funding will go toward eleven projects that are a part of the 'Stabilization Operations Program in Iraq and Syria' and is a demonstration of Canada's dedication to "advance stability in Iraq, Syria and the region". These projects specifically focus on providing essential services to citizens, strengthening public infrastructure, and supporting internally displaced peoples.

Currently, Canada contributes to all five aspects of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh campaign: 

  1. Military campaign against Daesh;
  2. Stop influx of foreign terrorist fighters;
  3. Target Daesh financing and economic infrastructure;
  4. Stabilize liberated areas; and
  5. Counter propaganda.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada pledges US$40 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, pledged CA$50 million (US$40 million) in humanitarian assistance funding to Syria at the fifth Brussels Conference on 'Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region'.

The funding is directed toward supporting the acute and essential needs (nutrition, clean water, sanitation, primary health care, and sexual and reproductive health) of civilians in the region and sustainably stopping the Syrian war.

Including this recent pledge, Canada has committed over CA$330 million ($US263 million) in support to Syria in 2021. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canadian experts evaluate Canada's role in global health, ending tuberculosis

Canadian academics outlined in an op-ed how the global focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused progress on other infectious disease responses to suffer, specifically tuberculosis (TB).

The authors, Lena Faust and Alexandra Zimmer argued for the need for "a committed and co-ordinated Canadian response specific to tuberculosis".

To date, Canada has not met funding targets to globally eradicate TB, and domestically, there are high TB rates within Indigenous communities. Faust and Zimmer called on Canada to put forward a significant financial investment and to play a role in holding other countries responsible for working to eliminate TB.

Op-ed - Policy Options

Canada imposes sanctions on Russia and China following continued human rights violations

Canada has placed sanctions on four Chinese and nine Russian officials under the Special Economic Measures Regulations. The sanctions are part of Canada's response to the "gross and systemic" human rights violations occurring in both countries.

Specifically, Canada is concerned with the loss of civil society and free speech in Russia, the involvement of Russia’s administration in the attempted murder of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, and the violent methods used against protesters. 

Canada's sanctions against China are in response to the mounting criticism of human rights violations of its Uyghur population and other minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Both sets of sanctions have been put in place by the US and the EU.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada (Sanctions on Russia) 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada (Sanctions on China)

G7 Finance Ministers agree to new financial support package for low-income countries

The G7 Finance Ministers, led by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, have announced that they will back a new allocation of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF’s) special draw rights (SDRs) to boost member reserves and enable much-needed liquidity to vulnerable countries. The deal still needs a stamp of approval from G20 and the IMF’s Financing Committee.

As part of the deal, the G7 will work with the IMF to improve the transparency and accountability around the usage of SDRs. They will also explore how richer countries can recycle their SDR holdings to further help low-income countries and come up with some options for how to do this.

Press release - UK government