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France launches new fund to spur innovation in global development practices and policies

France created 'Le Fonds d'innovation pour le développement' (The Innovation Fund for Development) to support innovation in the field of global development on technical, social, financial, environmental, and governance-related approaches. The fund launched its first call for proposals and has a budget of €15 million (US$18 million) for its first year. 

The fund is headed by Esther Duflo, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and the call for proposals is open to governments, research centers, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Priority will be given to projects that spur innovation in low-income countries, especially France's 19 priority partner countries, most of which are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The fund is part of a larger effort to modernize French development policies in the framework of a new law on "solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities" being currently discussed at Parliament whose rapporteur is Member of Parliament Hervé Berville.

Press release - French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (in French)

France announces priorities for Generation Equality Forum and protection of women's rights

In a statement given during the opening ceremony of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), French President Emmanuel Macron gave a statement detailing the goals of the Forum and France's priorities. The GEF is an initiative organized by UN Women and co-hosted by Mexico and France, aiming to accelerate progress to achieve gender equality through tangible measures during 2021-2026.

Macron pointed out the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women, including through an uptick of violence, the deepening of economic and social inequalities which exacerbate poverty and hunger, and attacks on women's rights and access to family planning. On top of this, women have been overrepresented among frontline workers taking responding to the pandemic, putting them at higher risk for infection. 

There is no excuse for the curtailing of women's rights, Macron said. As the Forum kicks off, he announced, France will focus its attention on supporting girls' education, bodily autonomy, and organizations that protect women's rights.

Video - French government (in French)

World leaders join European Council President and WHO Director-General in calling for international pandemic treaty

World leaders joined European Council President Charles Michel and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in signing an op-ed calling for a new international pandemic treaty to ensure improved global pandemic preparedness and response for future potential health crises. 

The op-ed acknowledged that no country or multilateral agency could address the COVID-19 pandemic—or future pandemics—alone and that the current crisis serves as a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The treaty would encourage an “all-of-government and all-of-society approach” at all levels to enhance cooperation on a variety of preparedness and response measures. It would fortify mutual accountability and use a 'One Health' approach that looks at human health not as an isolated entity, but rather as intertwined with the health of animals and our planet. 

The heads of states highlighted the role that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) has played in fighting the pandemic, as well as the lessons it has provided, including the need for stronger partnerships for equitable access to treatment and vaccines globally.

Leaders from the following countries signed the treaty: Fiji, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Romania, the UK, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - WHO

News article - Euractiv

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

Former European leaders in WHO expert advisory group call for "rethink" of policy to prevent future pandemics

Former European leaders on the independent Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a call to action for policy reform to prevent future pandemics. 

In their report, the members of the expert advisory group called for using lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to fundamentally rethink policy priorities to implement a ‘One Health’ approach, address issues that have caused so many people to be vulnerable to the pandemic, make changes to the global financial system, promote global public goods for health, strengthen existing global health institutions, and support innovation in health systems. 

The group was chaired by Mario Monti—the President of Bocconi University and former Prime Minister of Italy—and included former presidents, prime ministers, ministers, CEOs, leaders of multilateral organizations, and other eminent leaders.

Report - WHO

Approximately 70% of surveyed Europeans support making COVID-19 vaccine technology public

YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, conducted a survey for the People's Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition of organizations fighting for human rights including Amnesty International and Oxfam.

82% of Italians interviewed think that the government should ask pharmaceutical companies to make public the formulation and technology to produce COVID-19 vaccines. 68% of Italians interviewed believe that the Italian government should do more to ensure that everyone receives the vaccine by 2021.

The poll was also conducted in the US, France, Germany, and the UK, and it found that on average across those countries, 69% of people thought "that governments should ensure vaccine science and know-how is shared with qualified manufacturers around the world rather than remaining the exclusive property of a handful of pharmaceutical giants and that vaccine developers should be adequately compensated for this" (69% in the US, 63% in France, 70% in Germany, and 74% in the UK). 

Presentation - YouGov (in Italian)

Press release - Oxfam International

UK to set up new independent Gender Equality Advisory Council for G7

The UK government has announced that it will be setting up a new independent Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) to feed into the G7 Leaders’ Summit that it is hosting in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 11-13, 2021. The GEAC is aimed at bringing fresh ideas and new voices to G7 discussions on gender equality and will have a strong focus on science and technology.

The UK Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, is responsible for establishing the Council. Sarah Sands, a former editor of the London Evening Standard (a UK newspaper) and of the BBC Radio 4's Today news program, has been appointed as the Chair of the Council. Other members will include Sarah Gilbert, who led the work on the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

Canada established the first G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council in 2018 when it hosted the G7 and France continued the initiative.

Press release - UK government

News article - Government Computing

UK civil society calls on G7 world leaders to deliver transformative agenda; civil society C7 Summit to be held in April 2021

Bond, the UK network of development non-governmental organizations, has called for G7 world leaders to deliver a transformative agenda at the G7 Summit this year focused on protecting the most marginalized and building an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future for everyone. The UK is hosting the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2021 in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

In a recently published briefing, Bond set out seven key policy asks for G7 world leaders, calling on them to address the following topics:

  1. Health – Invest at home and abroad in stronger healthcare systems to ensure access to quality healthcare for all, redress health inequalities, and ensure that nations are resilient for future pandemics;
  2. Climate and environment – End all investment in fossil fuels, decarbonize the global economy, prioritize climate finance for vulnerable countries, and sign the Leaders' Pledge for Nature to stop biodiversity loss;
  3. Sustainable economic recovery – Ensure the private sector will be supported in any future international debt cancellations, as they are also needed to support decent work, social protection, and protect the livelihoods of marginalized people;
  4. Open societies and civic space – Be active champions of democracy and civil and human rights;
  5. Education – Ensure quality, inclusive, and equitable education for every child, with a special focus on addressing girls’ education;
  6. Food security and nutrition – Build sustainable and climate-resilient food systems and increase financial contributions for famine prevention and relief; and
  7. Conflict and atrocity prevention – De-escalate current conflicts, commit to action to address some of the most pressing crises, and support building peaceful societies.

Bond will be hosting a virtual Civil Society 7 Summit on April 19-20, 2021. The 'C7 Summit' will bring together civil society leaders from around the world and provide them with the opportunity to talk to the UK government and provide ideas for the joint communiqué of the G7 leaders’ summit.

Registration for the C7 Summit is open at the Bond website.

Report - Bond

Donor Tracker webinar will focus on donor governments' funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights; accompanying publication available now

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Donor Tracker webinar to host webinar on donor finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

EU releases new humanitarian assistance strategy to tackle growing needs from COVID-19, climate crises

The European Commission released a new strategy on EU humanitarian assistance with a series of proposed key actions to expedite the provision of assistance and tackle the growing humanitarian impact from the COVID-19 and climate crises.

The strategy recognized that global humanitarian needs are at an all-time high but that there is a growing funding gap. To help address this, the EU will set up a new European Humanitarian Response Capacity, which will help member states and partners to rapidly deliver assistance. 

The strategy calls for stepping up the EU’s leadership role, promoting respect for international humanitarian law, increasing the speed and efficiency of vaccine delivery including through innovative digital tools, promoting flexible and efficient funding mechanisms, and mobilizing more resources by engaging with other donors and the private sector. It also seeks to tackle the root causes of crises through coherent humanitarian, development, and peace policies on education, health, food security, disaster preparedness, and climate resilience. 

The EU and its member states together provide the most humanitarian assistance globally. The largest single donors are the United States, Germany, and then the European Commission, the latter of which provides 12% of global humanitarian assistance. The top humanitarian donors within the EU are Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France, in descending order.

Press release - European Commission 

Policy communication - European Commission

Speech - European Commission

Q&A - European Commission 

News article - Euractiv 

France to host Generation Equality Forum from June 30 to July 2, 2021

On International Women's Day, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, announced the date of the segment of the Generation Equality Forum that will take place in Paris, France, from June 30 to July 2, 2021.

The Forum will gather governments, corporations, and philanthropies, as well as youth-led, civil society, and international organizations, around six thematic Action Coalitions, and the goal is to adopt a series of political and financial commitments for the next five years. The six themes of the Generation Equality Action Coalitions:

  1. Gender-based violence (GBV);
  2. Economic justice and rights;
  3. Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR);
  4. Feminist action for climate justice;
  5. Technology and innovation for gender equality; and
  6. Feminist movements and leadership.

The Forum will start in Mexico City, Mexico from March 29 to 31, 2021. 

Press release - French Presidency (in French)

65% of global survey respondents say government action is needed to combat gender inequalities

The Generation Equality Forum, a global gathering to promote gender equality organized by UN Women and convened by Mexico and France, will kick off in Mexico City on March 29, 2021 and culminate with a meeting of heads of state in Paris on June 30-July 2, 2021.

Ahead of the Forum, Focus 2030 and Women Deliver launched a comparative study entitled 'Citizens call for a gender-equal world: A roadmap for action', analyzing citizens' attitudes toward and expectations for tackling gender inequality.

The opinion survey, administered by Deltapoll Institute with the support of the Development Engagement Lab project hosted at UCL and Birmingham University, covered 17 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the US.

Published in English, French, and Spanish, the survey gathers opinions and experiences on gender equality to capture citizens' perceptions of, attitudes toward, and willingness to act in favor of gender equality, and it explores the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A dedicated webpage offers access to open data through a data visualization tool.

The report notably reveals that the global public overwhelmingly supports gender equality. Key findings include:

  • 80% of respondents said gender equality is important to them personally;
  • 65% said they expect more from their government; and
  • 58% said their government should increase funding to international programs to tackle global gender inequalities in recognition of the Generation Equality Forum. 

Report - Focus 2030

Mexico kickoff event - Generation Equality Forum

France aims to reach target of 0.7% GNI to ODA by 2025

During a debate on a new development bill, the lower chamber of the French Parliament, the National Assembly, adopted at the first reading of a bill aiming to reach the target of 0.7% gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA) by 2025.

This bill was proposed by Member of Parliament (MP) Hervé Berville, rapporteur of the law. France's ODA reached 0.44% of GNI in 2019 and should reach 0.55% of GNI in 2022, according to the financial trajectory confirmed by the bill.

According to ONE, a non-profit organization tackling poverty and health globally, French MPs will have to adopt a detailed financial trajectory for 2023-2025 to reach the 0.7% objective on time. ONE also criticizes the bill for not using strong language to commit to the goal.

The bill under debate also plans to create an independent commission to evaluate French development assistance, align French policies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and prioritize its thematic and geographic interventions on the continent of Africa its Sahel region, as well as addressing health, education, and the climate crisis.

News article - Devex 

Press release - ONE (in French)

At UK-led G7 meeting, "collective G7 support" to ACT-A totals US$7.5 billion, but experts criticize UK for retaining surplus doses until citizens are fully vaccinated

The UK hosted its first virtual G7 leaders' meeting on February 19, 2021, after which "collective G7 support" totaled US$7.5 billion for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), an increase of over US$4.0 billion.

ACT-A's vaccine pillar, COVAX, is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and it aims to ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines, including to low-income countries.

At the meeting, the US under the new Biden administration pledged to provide US$4.0 billion in development assistance to COVAX over the next three years, Germany pledged an additional US$1.8 billion, and the EU pledged an additional US$608 million.

These commitments were welcomed by the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, but he noted that more needs to be done. At present, only 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations worldwide, with 130 countries not yet receiving a single dose.

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for greater action to address the imbalance, with a drive to get Europe and the US to provide 5% of their own supplies to low-income nations. The UK has ruled out doing this and has committed only to providing its surplus vaccines after its entire population has been vaccinated. This decision has been criticized by some UK global health experts, who have questioned the ethics of such a decision, whereby young people in the UK will receive the vaccine ahead of health workers and elderly in other countries.  

News article - BBC

News article - Devex

With additional G7 pledges of US$4.3 billion, ACT-A commitments to date stand at US$10.3 billion; funding gap of US$22.9 billion remains

On February 19, 2021, at the virtual G7 leaders' meeting, US$4.3 billion in new commitments were made to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its vaccine pillar, COVAX, to contribute to closing the funding gap in global COVID-19 response and ensure equitable vaccine distribution. 

The contributions included the following:

  • Canada committed US$59 million to ACT-A;
  • Japan committed US$79 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a COVAX funding mechanism to support access to vaccines for lower-income countries, as well as to Unitaid;
  • Germany committed US$1.8 billion to ACT-A, covering all of ACT-A's pillars and including "tests, treatments, vaccines, and health systems strengthening";
  • US committed US$4.0 billion to COVAX AMC (US$2.0 billion in already appropriated funds and an additional US$2.0 billion over the next two years); and
  • The EU committed US$363 million to COVAX AMC, along with a US$242 million loan from the European Investment Bank backed by guarantees through the European Fund for Sustainable Development.

ACT-A initially needed US$38.1 billion for 2020-2021; following an early February Facilitation Council meeting, ACT-A announced that the remaining funding gap was US$27.2 billion.

Following the new contributions announced at the G7 meeting, the total committed to ACT-A to date was US$10.3 billion and the funding gap was brought down to US$22.9 billion, according to the WHO press release.

Press release - WHO

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

At Munich Security Conference, France's Macron calls for delivery of vaccines to African continent immediately

On February 19, 2021, at the annual Munich Security Conference, French President Emmanuel Macron presented two main priorities that he sees for the transatlantic partnership.

First, Macron advocated for effective multilateralism on tackling the climate crisis, lessening inequalities, and preserving democracies (especially, he said, when it comes to preserving freedom of speech and avoiding "the return of hate" in our democracies). He mentioned that action should be undertaken to reallocate Special Drawing Rights and consider debt restructuring to help fund health priorities in the African continent.

He explained that while rich countries have managed to give their populations effective COVID-19 vaccine doses, it is important to ensure doses are also available for countries in Africa—an effort which is at the heart of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), led by the World Health Organization.

He pointed out that there are 6.5 million health workers in Africa, meaning that 13 million doses are needed immediately for them. The 13 million doses represent only 0.43% of the vaccines currently available to the G7 countries. Macron called for delivering vaccine doses quickly in the African continent rather than in the planned six months because, otherwise, many of the African countries will buy vaccines at a more expensive price. 

The second part of his remarks focused on building a security agenda (including a refreshed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) security architecture), fixing solutions to regional issues in the Sahel region, Syria, and Libya, as well as maintaining "freedom of sovereignty" in terms of space, cyberspace, and maritime space.

Speech - French Presidency (in French)

Under Spain’s leadership, Sahel Alliance General Assembly adopts resolution to foster regional sustainable development

On February 16, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), Arancha González Laya, chaired the second General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance that took place in N’Djamena, Chad, to review the current situation of the region and advance coordination to effectively address the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of this meeting, the Sahel Alliance adopted a joint statement aimed at improving the living conditions of populations in the Sahel in a sustainable manner and guaranteeing equal access to essential services. Among other measures, it underlines the need to strengthen actions addressing the COVID-19 crisis, rural development, food security, climate change adaptation, and gender equality in the Sahel region.  

González Laya stated that the Sahel Alliance is committed to working towards post-COVID-19 recovery, strengthening public health services, as well as achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Created in July 2017, the Sahel Alliance is a regional organization that gathers the G5 Sahel member states—Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad—in addition to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions. Since June 2020, Spain holds the presidency of the Sahel Alliance for a one-year period.

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Joint statement – General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance

UK hosts first G7 finance ministers’ meeting, centering green recovery, support to vulnerable countries, jobs protections, taxes on digital economy

The UK hosted its first virtual G7 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting on February 12, 2021. The UK Chancellor for the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, led the meeting by calling upon his counterparts – the Finance Ministers and Central Governors from France, Italy, Germany, Canada, the US, and Japan – to ensure a green recovery post-COVID-19 by putting the climate and nature at the center of all economic and financial decision-making in 2021.

Sunak also called for G7 countries to work with international institutions to enable vulnerable countries to manage the pandemic. This included supporting a rapid and fair vaccine distribution, and supporting debt relief, with a call for private-sector creditors to help ensure sustainable debt treatment to the poorest countries and ensure access to credit and grants for low-income countries.

Sunak also called for the G7 finance ministers to focus in the year ahead on protecting jobs and reaching a global solution to the tax challenges created by the digitalization of the economy.

The meeting comes ahead of the UK’s first G7 virtual leaders meeting on February 19, 2021.

Press release - UK government

News article - Devex

France's Macron calls for increased funding to ACT-A, emphasizing health systems strengthening in low-income nations

In a statement given on February 12, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated the need for the international community to provide equal access to vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and to reinforce health systems to tackle the COVID-19 crisis through the World Health Organization-led initiative, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A).

Macron reminded listeners that France took part in the launch of ACT-A and that France's contribution to the global response to COVID-19 amounted to 500 million (US$600 million) to date. (This amount includes financial resources that are not only directed to ACT-A.) 

After detailing each of the four pillars of ACT-A (vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and health systems strengthening), Macron emphasized the need to focus on supporting health systems in low-income countries, a direction undertaken by the French Development Agency, which has already provided 1.2 billion (US$1.4 billion) on this front.

Press release - French Presidency (in French)