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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

Publish What You Fund launches 'Women’s Economic Empowerment' project to track and advocate for gender equality funding

Publish What You Fund (PWYF), a nonprofit organization that campaigns for transparency on development assistance, has recently launched its new project, 'Women’s Economic Empowerment: building evidence for better investments'.

The project will track funding to women’s economic empowerment (WEE), women’s empowerment collectives (WECs), and women’s financial inclusion (WFI), and examine what has influenced changes to funding, including the COVID-19 crisis. The project will include case studies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. 

PWYF aims to use the findings to advocate for funding toward women's economic empowerment globally and to ensure that investments in WEE, WECs, and WFI are transparent and effective.

This continues to be important as the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected women and challenged the progress made in global efforts toward gender equality.

Press release - Publish What You Fund

South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture holds round table on rural development implementation

On April 27, 2021, South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Areas (MAFRA) of South Korea held a meeting on the government’s agricultural official development assistance (ODA) and brought together government implementing agencies.

The meeting aimed to establish a partnership system among relevant agencies to strengthen cooperation and to increase food security in partner countries. Each agency shared its annual plan, including MAFRA’s commitment to focus on areas such as rural development, smart farms (which aim to increase efficiency and use of resources), water resource management, and livestock diseases.

News article – Viewers (in Korean)

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

South Korean President calls for global solidarity on carbon neutrality, including supporting partner countries in reducing coal dependency

At the virtual US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate held on April 22-23, 2021, South Korea's President Jae-in Moon called for global efforts on carbon neutrality while highlighting the need to support partner countries in reducing their coal dependency.

Moon also called for high-income countries, including South Korea, to help reduce the number of coal-fired power plants across the globe while simultaneously increasing investments in renewable energy in lower-income countries.

South Korea will host the Partnering for Green Growth & the Global Goals (P4G) Summit on May 30-31, 2021, to accelerate international efforts to combat the climate crisis and meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as to provide a stepping stone to the COP26 climate conference in November 2021. 

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae

News article – Segye Ilbo (in Korean)

Center for Global Development analyzes gendered impacts of COVID-19 crisis on social protection, economic empowerment, health

The Center for Global Development (CGD) recently published an analysis of the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on healthsocial protection, and economic empowerment, analyzing whether international donors are taking enough action to tackle gender inequalities that have been dramatically exacerbated by the pandemic.

Key findings included:

  • Just 39 of 135 health projects reviewed contained a component addressing the indirect health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and only about half of those included gender-specific indicators;
  • Only 27% of social protection projects included intersectional indicators or targets; and
  • Only 25 of 48 economic recovery projects reviewed called for gender parity, i.e., for women to be 50% or more of project beneficiaries.

A video of CGD's most recent panel discussion on gender equality, 'Africa Taking Charge of its Future: Prioritizing Gender Equality in the Path to Recovery', has been uploaded, and upcoming events will address topics such as the climate crisis and accountability in humanitarian and development work.

Press release - CGD

Development Media International to host event on using mass media campaigns to contribute to SRHR and increase modern contraceptive uptake

Development Media International (DMI), a non-profit organization that runs evidence-based behavior change campaigns for improving health in low-income countries, will be hosting an event on April 20, 2021, on using mass media campaigns to contribute to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and increase modern contraceptive uptake.

DMI will present the results of the randomized controlled trial (RCT) that it conducted in Burkina Faso in partnership with the Abdul Jameel Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). The RCT tested the impact of a radio campaign on modern contraceptive uptake, and the results showed that there was a 20% relative increase in intervention zones following the campaign. According to DMI, this was a significant finding, and the radio campaign cost much less than other national family planning investments, making the campaign a highly cost-effective impact accelerator. 

This RTC follows the success of an earlier trial, co-funded by the Wellcome Trust, that used mass media to promote increased child survival and maternal health, by providing parents with information about and encouraging them to seek treatment for children with symptoms of malaria, pneumonia, or diarrhea, as well as by promoting prenatal care and health facility deliveries. DMI’s other projects cover topics including SRHR, nutrition, tuberculosis, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene).

To learn more, sign up for the event here. The event will have simultaneous English-French translation available. 

To read the Donor Tracker’s recent report on donor funding trends for SRHR from the last decade and watch a recording of that report's webinar, click here.

Event website - DMI

Press release - World Health Organization

UK parliament calls for government to raise ambitions for COP26 by setting clear targets, creating new UK environmental diplomacy strategy

The UK Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee has issued a new report calling on the UK government to raise its ambitions as this year's host of COP26, the global climate conference in November 2021, by setting clear targets that the UK Presidency wants to achieve at the conference and creating a new environmental diplomacy strategy to guide its foreign policy in future years.

The UK government has already set out four objectives for COP26:

  1. Encourage countries to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions;
  2. Protect communities and help them adapt to climate change;
  3. Help raise the global US$100.0 billion target of climate finance; and
  4. Close off the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The report, as part of the Committee’s inquiry into environmental diplomacy, notes that while these objectives are welcome, they are too broad and lack measurable indicators for success. The report calls for the UK to set out an ambitious set of indicators in June 2021. The indicators should be established via an inclusive and participatory process, involving the lowest-income countries and those countries most affected by the climate crisis.

The report also calls for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to publish an environmental diplomacy strategy that would set out the Department’s medium-term strategy on the environment beyond COP26. The report calls for a new unit within the Department to be established to support this work. Finally, the report highlights that the UK needs to coordinate and support the COP27 Presidency (an African nation, it is yet to be confirmed which) to ensure ongoing success for next year's climate conference and beyond.

Report - UK Foreign Affairs Report on Environmental Diplomacy

'One World Protected' event hosted by US and Gavi raises US$400 million, launches campaign to raise additional US$2.0 billion for global efforts against COVID-19

On April 15, 2021, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the US hosted 'One World Protected', an event to tackle the COVID-19 crisis globally. The event raised almost US$400 million and marked the beginning of a campaign to raise US$2.0 billion more for the vaccine financing instrument, the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

With the targeted US$2.0 billion, Gavi aims to provide almost two billion vaccine doses for people in 92 low-income countries and accelerate the vaccination rate.

The US$400 million, which contributed to Gavi's 2021 goal, included US$258 million from Sweden and US$47 million from the Netherlands.

The campaign will culminate in June of 2021 when Japan will host the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit.

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

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

Publish What You Fund publishes reports on gender financing in Kenya, Guatemala, and Nepal; webinars to follow

Publish What You Fund (PWYF), a not-for-profit organization that campaigns for transparency on development assistance, has published reports on gender financing in KenyaGuatemala, and Nepal. There will be a webinar on each country: Kenya on April 7, Guatemala on April 14 (with simultaneous English-Spanish interpretation), and Nepal on April 21 (with simultaneous English-Nepali interpretation). 

The research highlights the efforts of international donors and governments to make funding toward gender equality more transparent. PWYF also found that “key gender advocates in Kenya, Guatemala, and Nepal were generally dissatisfied with the quality and/or quantity of the available information”. The reports propose key points for governments, donors, and civil society to help make gender equality efforts more effective.

PWYF published a blog post summarizing the findings (in English, Spanish, and Nepal), and there is also a Spanish version of the Guatemala report and a Nepali version of the Nepal report.

To read the Donor Tracker's reports on development efforts toward increased gender equality—including funding for women’s economic empowerment, efforts to end gender-based violence, and the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights—click here.

Press release - PWYF

South Korea’s major grant assistance agency partners with UNDP to improve firefighting system in Kyrgyzstan

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the key grant assistance agency of South Korea, announced that it will provide US$7 million and work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to improve the firefighting system in Kyrgyzstan until 2022.

The project will include actions such as improving policies and institutions, providing training programs, and supporting the construction of fire stations and the modernization of equipment.

Kyrgyzstan has been newly appointed as South Korea’s priority partner country for 2021-2025, indicating more opportunities for potential partnership between the two governments.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

UK hosts Climate and Development Ministerial meeting, calls for more and better climate finance and debt relief

The UK hosted a virtual Climate and Development Ministerial meeting on March 31, 2021, to address the climate challenges facing the poorest countries in the world, ahead of COP26, the annual UN climate conference which the UK will host this year (November 2021) in Glasgow.

The ministerial meeting brought foreign, development, and climate ministers from around the world together virtually, along with representatives from development banks. The meeting was focused on:

  • Improving  responses to climate impacts, with a focus on coordination and international cooperation to address losses and damages related to climate change;
  • Improving debt relief and alleviating fiscal pressure to enable low-income countries to address the climate crisis; and
  • Enabling more and better climate finance to help countries adapt to and mitigate climate change.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, who attended the meeting, called for a greater volume of climate finance to help vulnerable and poor countries, as well as debt relief to help increase their fiscal space for addressing climate challenges. Raab pointed out that there is an opportunity to ensure that efforts to build up economies after the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis support a green recovery. 

Earlier in the week, Lord Ahmad, a UK Minister for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, spoke at the UN's 'Meeting of Heads of State and Government on the International Debt Architecture and Liquidity'. Ahmad noted that the UK would use both its G7 Presidency and its hosting of COP26 to push for further debt relief action. In particular, he highlighted the need for the G7 to push for a general issuance of Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide financial support to low-income countries, the need to establish a common framework that brings all official and private-sector creditors together to deliver coordinated debt treatments, and the need for increased transparency of sovereign debt.

Transcript - UK government 

Transcript - UK government

News article - Reuters

On call with UK Prime Minister, US President proposes creating infrastructure fund to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

US President Joe Biden is reported to have suggested on a phone call to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that democratic countries should come together to set up an infrastructure fund to rival China’s influential Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  

BRI, launched by China's President Xi Jinping in 2013 has provided trillions of dollars to low-income countries around the world for infrastructure projects, and it has helped to raise China’s global economic and political influence.

Biden reportedly wants to counterbalance China's influence through his proposal of an infrastructure fund. It is yet to be seen whether the idea will gain any ground among the G7 leaders and beyond.

News article - Al Jazeera

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

South Korea’s grant assistance agency invests US$7 million to combat gender-based violence in Laos

South Korea’s major grant assistance agency, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), announced that it will invest US$7 million by 2024 to address gender-based violence in Laos.

This effort is the first project that KOICA has dedicated to women’s empowerment and gender equality in Laos. In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), KOICA will:

  1. Establish a center to prevent and respond to violence;
  2. Develop a medium- to long-term strategy for responding to gender-based violence in Laos; and
  3. Establish an official gender sub-sector working group for effective implementation and monitoring of the project.

News article – KBS World

Press release – KOICA (in Korean)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry commits to greater climate leadership in 2021

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that Yun Hyunsoo—its Deputy Director-General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment, and Scientific Affairs—was elected as the Chair of the Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the next three years.

The main tasks of the CCXG include having dialogues with low-income countries, facilitating mutual understanding, and increasing the impact of climate action.

Foreign Minister Eui-yong Chung also announced that South Korea will host the 2021 Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) Summit on May 30-31, 2021 online. South Korea will also cooperate with the US on the virtual Leaders' Climate Summit hosted by the US on April 22, 2021.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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