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New report highlights COVID-19 impact on existing epidemcis like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB

Focus Equality, a member of the ACTION global health advocacy partnership, and the think tank Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) recently published the report, 'Global health and international cooperation addressing current and future pandemics'. 

The report assessed the state of the fight against COVID-19 one year after the G20 World Health Summit. In addition, the research analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on other existing epidemics such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. The document provided recommendations to the Italian Government given the replenishment of the Global Fund, which is scheduled to take place in September of 2022.

Report - Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)

Italy provides largest jump in ODA spending in 2021, according to preliminary OECD data

The OECD released its preliminary data for 2021, covering ODA by member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

 In 2021, ODA increased in 23 DAC countries. This was largely due to additional support for low-income countries hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The most significant increase in funding was from Italy (34.5%), "due to debt cancellations, an increase in in-donor refugee costs, and support to the multilateral system to address the pandemic (including through vaccine donations)."

Summary note - OECD website

US$10.1 billion in new funding committed in 'Stand Up for Ukraine' campaign

Global Citizen, along with the European Commission and the Canadian government, launched a 'Stand Up for Ukraine' global social media rally on April 8, 2022. US$10.1 billion in funding - US$4.6 billion in grants and US$5.5 billion in loans) have been committed during the campaign, and 20,277 actions have been taken to support those fleeing their homes in Ukraine. 

The campaign culminated in a pledging event in Warsaw on April 9, 2022, to recognize Poland's essential role in supporting refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Global Citizen called on donors to recognize the importance of utilizing this funding as both new and additional; specifically, the use of the funds should not undermine other development priorities, nor should it pit crises against each other. 

Canada: As a co-host of the campaign, Canada committed an additional CAD$100 million (US$79 million) in humanitarian support to Ukraine and neighboring countries with a particular focus on trauma care. Canada has provided CAD 245 million (US$194 million) since January of 2022 for the crisis. 

EU: The European Commission, a co-host of the campaign, committed €600 million (US$660 million) for Ukraine and €400 million (US$440 million) for refugees hosted in the EU.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) committed €4 billion (US$4.4 billion) for 2022-2023 to support EU member states hosting Ukrainian refugees and to develop social infrastructure. This contribution is a part of the EIB’s Ukraine Solidarity Package, under which the EIB has already provided a €668 million (US$755 million) financial aid package to Ukraine to help Ukrainian authorities meet the country’s “most urgent financial needs”, such as buying food, medical supplies, and fuel.

The Council of Europe Development committed €1 billion (US1.1 billion) in loans to member states to support countries hosting refugees. 

Italy: Italy pledged an additional €360 million (US$396 million) in humanitarian assistance for refugees in Europe. 

Sweden: Sweden committed €300 million (US$330 million) to in-country refugee hosts, specifying that the funding would not come out of the official development assistance (ODA) budget. 

Additional donors: Additional countries expressed their support for the campaign and reiterated existing funding promises. 

The Donor Tracker was included as one of the 77 signatories in the open letter to world leaders. 

Report - Global Citizen

News article - Global Citizen

Press release - European Commission

Press release - EIB

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approves US$200 million intervention package

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approved a package of interventions worth approximately €180 million($200 million): €22 million (US$25 million) was allocated for multi- and bi-lateral projects on food security and social, economic, and environmental development in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, and €158 million ($179 million) was allocated for voluntary contributions to International Organizations:

  • €85 million (US$96 million) was allocated to the healthcare sector: €54 million (US$61 million) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, €24 million (US$27 million) to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and €4 million (US$5 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI);
  • €37 million (US$42 million) was allocated for sustainable development and education: €17 million (US$19 million) to The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (UN DESA), €7 million (US$8 million) to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), €5 million (US$6 million)to the  Global Partnership for Education (GPE), €3 million (US$3 million) to the Mediterranean and Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM/IAMB), and €3million (US$3 million) to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO); and, 
  • €27 million (US$31 million) was allocated to the humanitarian sector and to support gender empowerment: €9 million (US$10 million) to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), €6 million (US$7 million) to the International Red Cross (CICR), €5 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), €3 million (US$3 million) to United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), and €3 (US$3 million) to UN Women.

Press release - Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (in Italian)

Fabio Cassese appointed General Director of Italian International Cooperation

Fabio Cassese is the new General Director of Italian International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Before becoming General Director of the Ministry, Cassese served as Ambassador to Jordan, Deputy Director of Development Cooperation, and as a delegate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

Cassese defined his priorities for Italian cooperation in an interview; in his opinion, Italy must invest in humanitarian crises like those in Ukraine and Afghanistan, while simultaneously continuing to invest in the fight against COVID-19 and supporting international multilateral actors like COVAX.

Interview – DiRE

Italy announces additional US$28 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Marina Serni approved a €25 million (US$28 million) contribution for humanitarian response in Ukraine via resolution in response to appeals by the UN and the International Red Cross due to worsening conditions in-country. The funds will allow multilateral bodies to assist the most vulnerable people still in Ukraine or those fleeing to neighboring countries including through support to CSOs.

Italian funds will support the activities of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRSS).

This new contribution followed an initial Italian Government grant of US$124 million (€110 million) to support Ukraine via the general budget in addition to donations of goods for the first reception of Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Italy integrates biodiversity, ecosystems protections into Constitution

Sustainable development has been integrated into the Italian Constitution. The Italian Parliament and Senate voted to incorporate protection of the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems in the interest of future generations into Article 9 of the Italian Constitution; the article also integrates animal protection into the Constitution.

In addition, Article 41 now states that private economic initiative cannot be carried out in contrast with social utility or in such a way as to cause damage to security, freedom, human dignity, health, and the environment. The new provision determines the programs and appropriate controls available so that public and private economic activity can be directed and coordinated for social and environmental purposes.

Press release - The Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) website (in Italian) 

Italy announces US$22 million pledge to CEPI

At the Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) Replenishment in March of 2022, Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Marina Sereni announced a €20 million (US$22 million) pledge to CEPI. 

Italy contributed €15 million (US$17 million) to CEPI's last replenishment. This increased pledge shows solid political support for Italy for global health and pandemic preparedness.

Tweet - Cooperazione Italiana

Press release – CEPI

Italian development agency needs to improve digitization efforts, private sector outreach, engagement within 6 months, says Court of Auditors report

The Italian Court of Auditors published a report entitled, 'The Management of Resources Assigned to the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation: financial instruments, operational modules, and evaluation systems.' The auditors recognized the Agency's progress in working towards former stated goals, but emphasized areas of improvement based on multiple criticisms. Auditors asked the Agency to intervene in problem areas within six months and provide feedback.

The auditors identified 5 areas for major development and implore the Agency to:

  • Improve digitization within the Agency and within projects; 
  • Increase the effectiveness of programs by systematizing procedures for grants allocations and address fragmented intervention plans;
  • Improve project monitoring and evaluation and create the necessary tools to increase cooperation policies' effectiveness;
  • Finalize and improve recruitment processes for the Agency to hire new cooperation staff; and,
  • Engage more with the private sector in sustainable projects in middle-income countries (MICs) and low-income countries (LICs). 

Report - Info Cooperazione Website

Italy to increase ODA budget over 5 years; 2022 budget increase of US$113 million

Italy's Parliament voted to approve a budget for 2022 - 2026 which includes an increase in the international cooperation budget by €99 million (US$113 million) for 2022, €199 million (US$227 million) for 2023, €249 million (US$ 284million) for 2024, €299 million (US$341 million) for 2025, and €349 million (US$398 million) per year starting from 2026.

NGOs are optimistic about the increased international cooperation budget for the next five years. AOI e CINI announced that the members of 'Campaign 070' will present a bill to Parliament in 2022 to integrate the ambitious goal of reaching a 0.5% official development assistance (ODA) / gross national income (GNI) target in 2027 and a 0.7% ODA/GNI target in 2030.

AOI e CINI noted that the 2022 budget will allow Italian ODA to count towards hosting refugees and asylum seekers in their first 12 months in Italy. The unspent part of these funds intended for the reception of refugees and asylum seekers will be redirected from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

Budget Law - Gazzetta Ufficiale

Press release - AOI e CINI

Coalition of 60 renowned scientists call on global governments to allocate 2% of military budgets to global public goods

Carlo Rovelli and Matteo Smerlak, internationally renowned Italian scientists, called on global governments to allocate 2% of their military budgets to international solidarity projects and global public goods. 60 high-profile scientists, including 50 Nobel Prize winners, from all over the world joined the call to action as signatories.

The scientists pointed to the fact that military spending has doubled globally since 2000 to nearly two trillion US dollars annually, an incredible sum which continues to increase in every global region.

Signatories proposed that half of the resources sourced by this agreement be channeled into a global fund under the United Nations' supervision to address humanity's most pressing needs: pandemics, climate change, and extreme poverty. The other half would remain at the disposal of individual governments and redirect the military industry to peaceful purposes in areas of greatest urgency.

News article – Corriere della Sera website

Italy appoints first Special Envoy for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ people

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio announced the appointment of Fabrizio Petri as Italy's first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ people in the world. 

Petri currently serves as the Chair of the Interministerial Committee for Human Rights (CIDU). 

The Special Envoy will coordinate Ministry of Foreign Affairs action for protection against discrimination and promotion of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons and communities and promote broader decriminalization worldwide.

News article - Agenzia Italiana

80% of Italians believe high-income countries must take responsibility for COVID-19 immunization in Africa

Amref, the international non-governmental organization, launched an opinion survey conducted by Ipsos to analyze Italians' thoughts about assistance for low- and middle-income countries in the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 virus.

The opinion poll showed that one in four individuals believe that Africa is the continent in which additional variants of the virus are most likely to develop. However, four in ten think that variants of COVID-19 will develop elsewhere with the same probability. As many as seven in ten believe that rich countries should contribute more to solving global health problems and protecting health services in low-income countries. Specifically, eight in ten think rich countries should take responsibility for immunization in African countries.

Only 36% of respondents believe a more significant contribution from Italy is necessary for the global response to the COVID-19 crisis; 37% think that enough is already being addressed, and 27% believe that too much is being done, taking resources away from Italian citizens on a domestic level. 67% believed responsibility should be shifted to Europe. According to the poll, seven in ten Italians think patents limit the production of vaccines. However, six in ten argue that patents are necessary to avoid the uncontrolled production of vaccines and, therefore, potential risks to public health.

Press release - Amref

Italy transfers US$4.0 billion in Special Drawing Rights to vulnerable countries

In the G20 leaders' summit framework, Italy announced it will allocate 20% of its Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to lower-middle-income economies (LMICs), equivalent to US$4.0 billion. As part of this pledge, 1.0 billion in SDRs (US$1.4 billion) will be channeled to scale up the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust's (PRGT) lending capacity that provides concessional lending to most-vulnerable countries.

G20 countries pledged to return to vulnerable countries US$100.0 billion of the US$650.0 billion in SDRs issued globally by the IMF to face the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the G20 and guest countries have pledged US$45 billion from their recent SDR allocation towards vulnerable countries.

Press release - Italian Ministry of Finance

Italy triples climate finance resources at G20 meeting

Italian Prime Minister Draghi announced that Italy will triple its contribution to fighting climate change by US$1.4 billion per year for the next five years.

Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, the G20 summit in Rome put climate change at the center of world leaders' discussions on the 20 richest economies. The G20 Leaders agreed on the 1.5C degree climate goal. 

Press release – G20

News article - Agenpress (in Italian)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report - ICAI

Finance in Common Summit mobilizes 500 development banks to address climate change, promotes sustainable development

Following the inaugural Finance in Common Summit (FiCS), held in 2020 during the Paris Peace Forum, more than 500 public development banks will meet for a second time from October 19-20, 2021, to address climate change and sustainable development action.

FiCS, held under the leadership of the Italian G20 presidency, will be hosted by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the Italian National Promotional Institution and Financial Institution for Development Cooperation, in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Finance in Common Coalition.

The event will take place in Rome via face-to-face and digital formats.

Speakers include: the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guteres; the Secretary General of the OECD, Mathias Cormann; the President of the European Investment Bank, Wermer Hoyer; the managing director of development policy and partnerships of the World Bank, Mari Pangestu; and many others.

Website - Finance in Common

G20 leaders commit to ensuring humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan

At the G20 extraordinary meeting on Afghanistan, the G20 head of states committed to supporting humanitarian assistance in the country, focusing primarily on vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and people with disabilities.

The G20 leaders called upon leaders to find solutions to maintain essential services; in particular, they desire for strengthened education and health sectors. Furthermore, the leaders flagged the importance of a functioning payment system and overall financial stability in the region. The G20 leaders committed to cooperate with international organizations, international financial institutions, including multilateral development banks, and humanitarian actors in the field. The G20 countries invite the World Bank to explore possible ways to redirect support to international agencies for humanitarian efforts.

Finally, the G20 leaders emphasize the importance of ensuring a rapid vaccination campaign and fully administering previously donated vaccines via COVAX and stand ready to provide more.

Chair summary - G20 website

Italy's Draghi calls on leaders to raise US$100.0 billion for climate climate crisis

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi attended Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition, the COP26 pre-conference in Milan for youth advocates fighting for climate action. 

The UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 - November 12, 2021.

In his final speech, Draghi called for a pledge of US$100.0 billion for low- and lower-middle-income countries and climate-vulnerable nations, specifying the need for grants rather than loans to address the ongoing climate crisis. 

Video transcript - Italian Government Website 

Italy will triple COVID-19 vaccine donations by 2021 year-end and establish pandemic preparedness board with G20 presidency

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, attended the Global COVID-19 Summit and announced that Italy will donate 30 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year, reaching 45 million donations for 2021.

Furthermore, PM Draghi declared that to prepare for future pandemics, the international community must expand vaccine and medical equipment production capacities, especially in most-vulnerable countries. Italy also supports the European Union's plan to devote 1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) to develop several regional medical manufacturing hubs on the African continent and foster technology transfers.

Italy intends to establish the Global Health and Finance Board with its G20 Presidency to enhance global cooperation in governance and finance for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Press release - Italian government website