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Germany exploring possibility of dose-sharing, says German Federal President

In a joint press briefing, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier have called for fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Steinmeier, the global community must ensure equitable access to COVID-19 tools both out of moral reasons and out of self-interest. Only if everyone everywhere is safe, can we prevent the virus and mutations from returning, he stated. Given the current scarcity of vaccine doses, providing the funding only, however, would not solve the problem, Steinmeier outlined. Therefore, Germany is currently exploring the possibility of sharing doses with other countries, although the scope and timeline are not clear yet.

Ghebreyesus echoed Steinmeier in stating that providing the funding would be useless if rich countries would at the same time undermine the COVAX initiative by only securing doses for themselves. The numbers of doses available in 2021 must thus be fairly distributed, Ghebreyesus said.

To the question of waiving patents to scale up vaccine production, both Steinmeier's and Ghebreyesus’ reactions were restrained. While Steinmeier called to not simplify the debate, Ghebreyesus stated that every possibility must be considered – even waivers on intellectual property –  to allow for the world’s recovery from this unprecedented health crisis.

Ghebreyesus further announced the plan of establishing a WHO center for public health intelligence and risk analysis in Berlin, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ghebreyesus agreed on last year.

News article – Tagesspiegel (in German)

Press briefing – WHO

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

At G7 meeting, Germany pledges additional US$1.8 billion in funding to ACT-A for global COVID-19 response

At a virtual G7 meeting, hosted by the UK Presidency to discuss the global COVID-19 response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged €1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion) in additional funding to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global alliance to accelerate development, production, and promote fair access to COVID-19 tests, therapies, and immunization.

With this newly announced contribution, Germany is the largest donor to ACT-A. In her speech, Merkel emphasized the importance of international cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which can only succeed if everyone everywhere is vaccinated. However, according to her, the provision of funding will only be one part of the equationtackling the pandemic also requires the timely delivery of vaccines. Therefore, it is pivotal for the COVAX vaccine distribution initiative to conclude contracts with manufacturers to distribute vaccines quickly to its partner countries, she said.

In addition to providing financial support, Germany is currently exploring the possibility to pass on some of the vaccines it has ordered for Germany to “poorer countries”, Merkel stated. However, the timeline and scale for potential dose-sharing are not clear yet. This would not put vaccine appointments at risk in Germany, she assured.

In addition to Germany, the US, the European Commission, Japan, and Canada announced new pledges for ACT-A or its COVAX pillar at the virtual G7 leaders' meeting and at the Munich Security Conference later in the day. In total, the G7 leaders contributed over US$4.3 billion in additional funding to ACT-A that day. With the new contributions made, ACT-A is left with a funding gap of US$22.9 billion to fully fund its work in 2021.

Press release – The Federal Chancellor

Press release – The Federal Chancellor (in German)

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

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

German draft supply chain law would increase companies' accountability to social, environmental standards

The German government has published a draft supply chain law intended to guarantee German companies' compliance with social and ecological standards at all stages of the value chain, including with foreign suppliers.

According to the draft law, if a German company becomes aware of a deficiency in the supply chain, it is legally required to remedy it. Companies would be fined in the event of human rights and environmental breaches and run the risk of being excluded from public tenders for up to three years.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) and Minister for Employment Hubertus Heil (SPD) have long been pushing for legal regulation entailing minimum social end ecological standards for foreign supply chains. Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier (CDU), however, had rejected these plans until now. With the newly published supply chain law, they have now agreed on a compromise. The proposed law would be a “signal for a just globalization”, Müller said.

Business and industry associations criticized the government’s draft law as a solo national effort and called for a comprehensive European supply chain law. While many supporters of the law, such as the development organizations Bread for the World and Misereor, said that the draft law would be an important first step, they criticized the lack of governing liabilities that would enable victims of human rights violations to claim indemnification.

Müller and Heil hope to see the supply chain law adopted in the current legislative period, by June 25, 2021.

News article – Deutschlandfunk (in German)

News article – Deutsche Welle

20+ German NGOs call on BioNTech, CureVac to waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines

In a joint letter, a German alliance of more than 20 NGOs has called on the German pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and CureVac to make the COVID-19 vaccine they developed available globally in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices.

The NGO alliance urged the companies to temporarily waive the patents to make the knowledge and technologies available to other companies during the pandemic – preferably via the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-Tap). The companies should provide transparency regarding clinical test data and manufacturing costs, the alliance posited, and share portions of the COVID-19 vaccine doses they produce with low- and middle-income countries to ensure equitable access and fair distribution globally.

Given that both companies had received federal funding of several hundred million euros for COVID-19 vaccine development, the companies are now responsible for providing people worldwide access to the vaccines, the NGOs argued in the letter, and thus the companies should explain what specific measures they are planning to take regarding the aspects of transparency, affordability, licensing, technology transfer, and fair access to meet this obligation.

Through the €750 million (US$913 million) COVID-19 vaccine development program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, CureVac and BioNTech had received €230 million (US$280 million) and €375 million (US$456 million), respectively, in 2020. The vaccine developed by BioNTech and its US partner company Pfizer is already being used in numerous countries, including Germany, while the CureVac vaccine is not approved yet.

Press release – Ärzte ohne Grenzen (letter to CureVac, in German)

Press release – Ärzte ohne Grenzen (letter to BioNTech, in German)

News article – Tagesschau (in German)

German budget committee to consider additional US$1.8 billion in funding to ACT-A for vaccine access in low-income countries

According to the Reuters news agency, the German government wants to provide an additional €1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion) in funding to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), a global initiative to ensure affordable and equitable access for all to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

While the government has not officially announced the funding provision yet, the information is based on a submission by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) to the German Budget Committee, which is available to Reuters.

According to the submission, of this €1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion), the BMF plans to channel €620 million (US$754 million) to the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines and another €100 million (US$122 million) to the provision of vaccines for humanitarian purposes, among others. Further funding shall be channeled to vaccine research, therapeutics, diagnostics, and the strengthening of health systems.

The Budget Committee has to approve the BMF’s funding request.

News article – Tagesschau (in German)

News article – Tagesspiegel (in German; with paywall)

ACT-A Facilitation Council announces funding gap of US$27.2 billion, asks countries not to compete with COVAX vaccine contracts

The Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) had its fourth meeting on February 9, 2021, to discuss its 2021 agenda and needs, including closing the funding gap of US$27.2 billion for 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, co-hosted and began his introductory remarks by welcoming the newly-joined US under President Joe Biden to ACT-A. 

Ghebreyesus stressed that more than 90% of countries currently administering COVID-19 vaccines are wealthy, and 75% of all doses given have been given in just ten countries. Nearly 130 countries, he said, have not administered a single dose.

ACT-A and the COVAX Facility were created as part of global efforts coordinated by the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, among others, in order to increase access to vaccines and promote vaccine equity internationally, and these goals are being threatened, said Ghebreyesus.

He called for:

  1. Full financing of ACT-A and COVAX: The financing gap is at more than US$27.2 billion for 2021. He called on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries to commit a proportion of stimulus financing and to unlock capital in multilateral development banks to help close the gap.
  2. Respect for COVAX contracts from all countries and a non-competition commitment: He referred here to countries who continue to sign bilateral vaccine deals while many nations have no vaccine doses at all. Ghebreyesus reiterated WHO's goal that the vaccination of health workers should be in progress in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021, which means that countries with more doses need to share and donate doses before going on to vaccinate their lower-risk populations. He warned that if COVID-19 is not suppressed globally, that variants of the virus could result in the world "back at square one".
  3. An urgent increase in manufacturing to increase the volume of vaccines: This could include "innovative partnerships including tech transfer, licensing and other mechanisms to address production bottlenecks".

Experts have warned that all countries need to take an "internationalist", not nationalist, approach to vaccination rollout and tacking COVID-19, otherwise experts fear that some low-income countries may not receive vaccines until 2024.

Visuals from the 'ACT-A Prioritized Strategy & Budget for 2021' presentation illustrate the contributors of a total of US$6.0 billion to ACT-A, as of February 3, and the breakdown of the US$27.2 billion needed for 2021. According to an update as of February 12, ACT-A has an additional US$4.0 billion in projected funding, so the US$27.2 billion funding gap "will be reduced to US$23.2 billion as projected funds are operationalized."

Transcript - WHO

Event website - WHO

Germany should contribute additional US$1.2 billion to global COVID-19 vaccination campaign, says German Development Minister

In an interview with the German newspaper, 'Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung', German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called on both Germany and Europe to ramp up funding for the global COVID-19 vaccination campaign to also ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s poorest people, “not at some point, but this year”.

There is still a financing gap of €25.0 billion (US$30.4 billion) to provide vaccine doses for at least 20% of low-income countries' populations, Müller said. Emphasizing that the pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere, Müller called for expanding global vaccine production capacities, for example, in South Africa, to provide doses for the African continent. To do so, Germany would need to increase its contribution to the global vaccine campaign to €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) in 2021, which would be an important signal of solidarity, he stated. Müller further called on the European Union to match the US administration’s commitment under US President Joseph Biden, who pledged another US$4.0 billion to the global COVID-19 response. 

News article – Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (in German)

Multilateral approach needed to fight COVID-19, says Germany's Merkel at World Economic Forum

At the World Economic Forum’s virtual summit on January 26, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a multilateral approach to address the COVID-19 pandemic, saying individualistic approaches "won't help solve the problem".

Merkel confirmed that Germany will continue supporting the COVAX Facility and called on high-income countries to provide further funding to the initiative. The COVAX Facility, led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, including low-income countries.

According to Merkel, the question of funding, however, is only one part of the equation; "the other thing in a time of scarcity is the availability of the vaccine,” she said. Merkel would be very glad to see Gavi close the first deals for COVAX, she said and promised that Germany will do everything it can to ensure that the distribution proceeds quickly.

Merkel also called for a strengthening of the World Health Organization (WHO) and highlighted US President Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the WHO as an important step and positive sign. 

Press release – The Federal Chancellery (in German)

Climate Adaptation Summit convenes world leaders, launches Adaptation Action Agenda to enact resiliency measures

World leaders convened digitally at the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) to launch partnerships to tackle the climate crisis, pledge financial support, and sign on to adaptation measures to be enacted while countries fight to prevent further environmental devastation. The Summit was hosted by the Netherlands on January 25-26, 2021.

CAS resulted in the "2030 Adaptation Action Agenda for accelerating climate adaptation action", which aims to make 2021-2030 a "make-or-break" decade of action against the climate crisis. The Agenda takes into account the new challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, with further commitments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015 by all UN member states.

The Climate Adaption Summit also helps prepare for COP26, the annual UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place in November 2021 after being postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government participants included the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, and the UK, many of whom made announcements or pledges:

Australian Minister for Environment, Sussan Ley, announced that Australia would develop a new climate resilience and adaptation strategy this year, and the country will join the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, an initiative of COP26.

France’s Climate Ambassador, Stéphane Crouzat, announced a new €4 million (US$5 million) contribution to the CREWS Initiative, "a mechanism that funds Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for risk informed early warning services".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged €220 million (US$268 million) to support low-income countries adapting to the climate crisis.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new 'Adaptation Action Coalition'—developed in partnership with Bangladesh, Egypt, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia, and the UN—that aims to turn political commitments made through the UN 'Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience' into tangible support. Around 120 countries including the EU and 90 organizations have signed this.

Newly-appointed US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, reiterated that the US is rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate and is working on its new nationally determined contribution (NDC). The US will announce its NDC "as soon as practical" and plans to "significantly increase the flow of finance, including concessional finance" to help adaptation and resilience measures.

International institution and business leaders also attended and announced initiatives:

President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert Houngbo, officially launched a climate adaptation fund, the 'Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program', to help smallholder farmers. IFAD aims to mobilize US$500 million to support more than 10 million people.

President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, announced the launch of the 'Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program' (AAAP), in coordination with the Global Center on Adaptation. The program aims to mobilize US$25.0 billion to "scale up and accelerate climate change adaptation actions across Africa".

Germany pledges US$268 million at Climate Adaption Summit to support climate resiliency in low-income countries

At the Climate Adaption Summit (CAS) on January 25, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged €220 million (US$268 million) to support the lowest income countries’ efforts to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. Germany will take joint responsibility for strengthening the resiliency of low-income countries, Merkel said in a video address.

Parts of the funding provided by Germany will support the expansion of climate risk financing and insurance to protect 500 million of the world's poorest people annually against climate risks, such as floods or crop failures, by 2025 as part of the InsuResilience Global Partnership. The other funding will be channeled to the Least Developed Countries Fund which supports the lowest income nations in efforts to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. The funds are drawn from the German Development Ministry’s (BMZ’s) budget.

According to Development Minister Gerd Müller, the funding provided will allow Germany to expand its cooperation on adaption measures in regions most affected by climate change, especially on the African continent. Activities include measures in the agricultural sector, such as developing climate-resilient plants and increased cooperation in coastal protection.

CAS was seen by many as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the upcoming major UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will take place in November of 2021 in Glasgow.

Press release – The Federal Chancellery

Press release – BMZ

Germany's CDU prepares for Merkel's departure with election of new party leader

On January 16, 2021, the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party elected Armin Laschet, currently State Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, as the party’s new chairman, replacing Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Laschet won the runoff vote against the conservative candidate, Friedrich Merz, after the third candidate, Norbert Röttgen, dropped out in the first round.

Armin Laschet is considered to represent a continuation of Angela Merkel’s centrist and moderate political discourse, but his victory does not guarantee that he will be the CDU’s candidate for chancellorship. While it is believed that Laschet strives for the candidacy, Laschet has stated that the decision around the party’s candidate will be made in coordination with Markus Söder, the head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, Christian Social Union (CSU), in the spring of 2021.

News article – Deutsche Welle

At One Planet Summit, German Chancellor Merkel calls for action to protect biodiversity “not whenever, but now”

On January 12, 2021, at the online One Planet Summit to discuss the environment and climate change, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an accelerated international effort to protect biodiversity and natural habitats, “not whenever, but now.”

Merkel announced that Germany would join the 'High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People', initiated by France and Costa Rica, committing to protecting 30% of land and sea habitats by 2030 to halt the accelerating loss of species and to preserve vital ecosystems.

Merkel also urged the global community to take active steps against deforestation. The protection of the world’s forests is not only vital for biodiversity and climate protection but also global health, she said. Referring to the concept of One Health, she stressed that “human beings can only do well on a healthy planet with healthy flora and fauna.”

The One Planet Summit was launched by France, the United Nations, and the World Bank, to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate. This year’s one-day online summit was the fourth convention, after summits in Paris in 2017, New York in 2018, and Nairobi in 2019. Around 30 heads of state and international organizations attended the online summit to discuss the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as fighting climate change.

Press release – Federal Chancellery (in German)

News article – Deutsche Welle

France launches 'PREZODE', new international initiative to prevent future pandemics

At the One Planet Summit for biodiversity on January 11, 2021, in Paris, France, the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs launched PREZODE (PREventing ZOonotic Diseases Emergence), a new initiative to prevent future pandemics.

The initiative aims to identify and prevent emerging zoonotic risks (diseases passed from animals to humans) and pandemics within the framework of a One Health approach, which considers how human health, animal welfare, and the environment are interconnected. According to participants of the initiative, the five pillars of PREZODE are:

  1. Zoonotic risk analysis;
  2. Zoonotic risk reduction;
  3. Early detection and evaluation of socio-economic impacts;
  4. Development of an international zoonotic risk monitoring system; and
  5. Stakeholder engagement and joint development of regional health and biodiversity networks.

Participants in this initiative will mobilize different research centers from France, Germany, and the Netherlands, such as the:

    Press release - CIRAD

    Germany provides US$59 million for development of COVID-19 therapeutics

    German Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, has announced a new program amounting to €50 million (US$59 million) to strengthen the development of drugs and other therapeutics against the COVID-19 virus. The program specifically aims to support the clinical test phase, in which the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment are tested.

    In addition to the availability of vaccines, effective therapeutics against COVID-19 are decisive in successfully fighting the pandemic, Karliczek said. Even with a high vaccination rate, people will continue to get infected with COVID-19, which is why therapy options for the various stages of infection are pivotal.

    German companies and researchers with an operational site in Germany are eligible to apply for the funding provided.

    Press release – Federal Ministry of Education and Research (in German)

    Human health is inextricably linked to environmental health, says German Development Minister

    In an op-ed in the German newspaper, Focus, on December 22, 2020, German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a 'One Health' approach as a guiding principle for global health to prevent future pandemics. The One Health approach recognizes that human health is strongly connected to the health of animals and the environment.

    According to Müller, the increased and accelerated human encroachment into wild habitats has increased the risk of transmission of novel infectious viruses from animals to human beings. Three-quarters of all newly emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals—including COVID-19, Ebola, bilharzia, and the bird flu, Müller said. 

    To protect ourselves from these infectious diseases, it will be pivotal to not only strengthen health systems but also to protect our planet, he said. According to Müller, therefore, the One Health approach must become the guiding principle for global health prevention.

    To this end, Müller has called for:  

    • Transforming the World Health Organization into a world pandemic center, with a better early warning system for virus outbreaks and means to combat them;
    • Integrating the One Health approach in the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027; and
    • Seizing the chance for a breakthrough in species protection at the World Biodiversity Summit in summer 2021.

    News article – Focus (in German)

    At UN climate summit, Germany's Merkel pledges US$589 million for international climate protection

    At the virtual Climate Ambition Summit, co-convened by the UN, on December 12, 2020, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged a total of €500 million (US$589 million) for 2020 and 2021 to support low-income countries (LICs) in their climate protection efforts.

    The funding will come from the German Development Ministry’s budget and will mostly be channeled via the World Bank and other development banks to strengthen the expansion of renewable energies in LICs, primarily on the African continent.

    All countries should have the means to finance climate protection investments, said Merkel, reiterating  that Germany would keep its promise to double its climate financing to a total of €4.0 billion (US$4.7 billion) annually by 2020. 

    The Climate Ambition Summit provided heads of state a platform to present more ambitious climate goals in anticipation of COP26 (the 26th session of the UN's annual climate conference), which has been postponed to November 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be hosted by the UK.

    The Summit also marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the milestone climate agreement that resulted from the France-hosted COP21 in 2015.

    News article – Der Spiegel (in German)

    Press release – BMZ (in German)