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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

Japan provides US$300 million for micro and small enterprises in Turkey

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced that it will provide US$300 million in loans to fund micro and small enterprises through the 'Rapid Support for Micro and Small Enterprises Project'.

Micro and small enterprises comprise 99% of all businesses in Turkey, many of which have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, JICA aims to help these enterprises by providing emergency liquidity and contributing to the sustainable growth of Turkey’s economy.

Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare and WHO Director-General discuss priorities, strengthen collaboration

On April 23, 2021, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Norihisa Tamura, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, held a video conference to discuss priorities and to strengthen collaboration between Japan and the WHO.

Japan will host the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Summit, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Committee, and Tokyo Nutrition Summit this year.

Tamura emphasized that preparation for health crises, universal health coverage, nutrition, aging, and antimicrobial resistance among Japan’s priorities. Japan will continue to promote global access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, the global vaccine initiative co-led by the WHO. Tamura also noted that the WHO has few Japanese staff members, so Japan aims to increase its involvement of WHO members. 

Tedros highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation between Japan and WHO to promote international health, including in the global response to COVID-19.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan provides US$13 million for Vietnam's marine research, clean-up efforts

Japan announced that it will provide ¥1.4 billion (US$13 million) to Vietnam to support its marine research and clean-up efforts, as well as its socio-economic development.

Vietnam has been conducting marine surveys to develop sustainable marine economic strategies, but there are not enough research vessels available to carry out a sufficient number of surveys. Of the ¥1.4 billion (US$13 million) provided by Japan, ¥900 million (US$8 million) will be used to strengthen Vietnam’s marine research capacity and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The remaining ¥500 million (US$4 million) will be used for evaluating and reducing plastic waste pollution in Vietnam's coastal areas and ocean, as Vietnam has a plan to reduce 50% of marine plastic by 2025.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

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

Japan launches US$508 million in government-guaranteed bonds for ODA efforts

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched US$508 million in government-guaranteed bonds with a 10-year maturity.

The proceeds will be dedicated to its ODA Loans and Private Sector Investment Finance activities. These funds will finance eligible projects which were selected under the Development Cooperation Charter by the Japanese government in 2015 as part of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) efforts.

The funds will not be knowingly allocated to activities related to coal-fired power generation.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan and US release joint statement on Indo-Pacific, climate emergency, COVID-19 crisis

Japan and the US released 'U.S. – Japan Global Partnership For a New Era', a joint statement on their commitment for a free and open Indo-Pacific and to bolster security in the region.

Japan and the US discussed the Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership to create a sustainable and green global economic recovery, as well as the U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership to address the climate crisis.

Both countries also reiterated their commitment to combatting the COVID-19 crisis and to increase support for COVAX, the global vaccine initiative.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Press release – The US White House

Japan to host Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment meeting in June; Foreign Minister reiterates Japan’s commitment to universal health coverage

On April 15, 2021, at the 'One World Protected' event hosted by the US and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced that Japan will be co-hosting the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Summit in June 2021.

Motegi also ensured Japan’s commitment to equitable vaccine distribution through the COVAX Facility, the global vaccine initiative co-led by Gavi, as well as through the 'Quad', a vaccine framework led by Japan, Australia, India, and the US.

He emphasized the importance of universal health coverage in tackling the COVID-19 crisis and achieving the delivery of basic healthcare to the world.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

'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

OECD data show increase in Japan’s 2020 ODA in volume and as percent of GNI

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) for 2020, which showed that Japan’s ODA was US$16.3 billion in 2020, a 4% increase from 2019.

The percentage of Japan’s ODA compared to gross national income (GNI) also increased, from 0.29% to 0.31% of ODA/GNI.

Among the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries, Japan had the fourth-highest ODA, behind the US, Germany, and the UK.

A major reason for the increase in ODA was due to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as Japan’s support to revitalize economic activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

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

Japan's JICA partners with France's AFD-initiated platform, Sport en Commun, to promote achievement of SDGs in Africa

On April 6, 2021, the UN's International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) joined Sport en Commun, a pan-African digital platform initiated by the French Development Agency (AFD) in November of 2020 to promote the achievement of the UN's global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

Sport en Commun aims to promote the funding of development projects through sports and matching resources. JICA's partnership with Sport en Commun builds on the bilateral relationship between Japan and France; Tokyo and Paris will also host the next Olympics and Paralympics. 

Press release - JICA

Press release - Sport en Commun

Japan joins UN’s Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition on combatting gender-based violence

Japan announced that it will be a member of the UN’s Generation Equality Forum's Action Coalition focused on gender-based violence.

Japan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uto Takashi, noted that the COVID-19 crisis has had a particular impact on vulnerable people, including women and girls, and the international community needs to turn this crisis into an opportunity to improve gender equality.

Takashi praised the Generation Equality Forum, a UN initiative working toward gender equality, and affirmed Japan’s commitment to eradicating gender-based violence.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan provides loans for micro-, small, medium-sized enterprises in Egypt

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced that it will fund micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through the Private Sector Investment and Finance (PSIF). The loan is co-financed with the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).

In Egypt, MSMEs account for 25% of gross domestic product and 75% of employment. However, access to financial services for these enterprises is limited, especially for women.

Loans for the MSMEs will be provided through the Egyptian bank, Banque Misr.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan-based Global Health Innovative Technology Fund invests US$22 million to develop drugs for malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis

The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), a Japan-based international private-public partnership, announced that it will provide ¥2.3 billion (US$22 million) to develop new drugs for malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and visceral leishmaniasis, as well as a vaccine for malaria and diagnostics for tuberculosis.

GHIT is funded by a mix of private and public funders, notably the Japanese government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust, along with a growing list of private sector funders and collaborators. In 2020, GHIT invested a total of ¥4.2 billion (US$40 million)

As of March 31, 2021, GHIT is funding 57 projects, comprised of 30 in their discovery stages, 20 preclinical studies, and 7 clinical trials.

Press release - Global Health Innovative Technology Fund

Japan provides US$50 million to finance women-owned businesses in Mexico

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced that it will provide US$50 million to finance women-owned businesses in Mexico through the Compartamos Banco, a microfinance bank in Mexico.

Compartamos provides services to small businesses in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, and about 90% of its clients are women.

Mexico has a high level of inequality, with about two million people living in extreme poverty. It is estimated that 30% of adults in Mexico do not have access to financial services.

These funds aim to support the expansion of women-owned businesses, mainly in the poorest states.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan provides US$144 million for COVID-19 response in Uzbekistan

Japan announced that it will provide up to ¥15.0 billion (US$144 million) in loans for the COVID-19 response in Uzbekistan.

These funds are intended to increase the efficiency, sustainability, and transparency of resource allocation in the economy. The funds are also intended to enhance economic inclusion and social resilience by improving the residency registration system and increasing low-income family allowance.

The loan has an annual interest rate of 0.01% with a repayment period of 15 years.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan’s House members form 'League of Legislators to Eliminate Malaria by 2030'

18 Japanese legislators, including members of both the upper and lower houses of the House of Representatives, formed the 'League of Legislators to Eliminate Malaria by 2030', which specializes in the worldwide elimination of malaria.

The federation of legislators aims to increase Japan’s international presence in the effort to eliminate malaria. The President will be Yasuhisa Shiozaki and the Secretary-General will be Masashi Kumano.

Japan has strengthened health systems abroad to address infectious diseases and has collaborated with the private sector to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Japan continues to contribute to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Press release – Malaria No More Japan