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Netherlands presents plans for humanitarian assistance in 2021 

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, informed the House of Representatives on how the cabinet plans to provide humanitarian assistance in terms of policy and financing during 2021.  

Kaag emphasized that providing emergency assistance should continue through financing, humanitarian UN organizations, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and the Dutch Relief Alliance. Kaag also emphasized that the government is committed to providing such assistance in compliance with humanitarian law and that the approach should focus on the people who are directly affected by it. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch development minister responds to parliamentary questions on climate finance for low- and middle-income countries 

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, responded to parliamentary questions about transparency concerning climate finance for low- and middle-income countries.   

Kaag acknowledged that using different methods to measure climate financing complicates making a clear overview of the funds that are provided. However, she did point out that the Netherlands has always been transparent about the methods it uses to calculate climate finance. Kaag also stated that she is not in favor of ruling out loans and guarantees as a form of climate financing because they may be suitable solutions depending on the activity and purpose of the financing. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Dutch NGOs host debate on migration, development cooperation, climate crisis  

On February 17, 2021, Amnesty International, Greenpeace Netherlands, and Oxfam Novib organized a debate during which Dutch politicians discussed the future outlook of their political parties on international dilemmas and solutions.

Focus points during the debate included migration, the global climate crisis, and the return of the budget for development cooperation to 0.7% of the gross national income. 

The politicians who took part in the debate were Rob Jetten (Democratic 66), Kati Piri (Labor Party), and Anne Kuik (Christian Democratic Appeal), Tom van der Lee (GreenLeft), Don Ceder (ChristianUnion), Mahir Alkaya (Socialist Party), and Ruben Brekelmans (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy).  

News article - Oxfam Novib (in Dutch) 

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

Dutch cabinet responds to evaluation reports on implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

The Dutch cabinet responded to two evaluation reports on the five-year implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Netherlands, which began in 2016.

The reports provided recommendations and adjustments for the domestic implementation of the SDGs in the coming years.  

In adherence to the evaluation reports, the cabinet acknowledged that the responsibility for the SDGs should be placed within the Ministry of General Affairs and that an SDG platform should be set up within the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands. Furthermore, the cabinet agreed that designing policy and visibly assessing it should be improved upon by an integrated assessment framework.  

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Previous and current Dutch development ministers kick off election campaigns of their political parties

During the weekend of February 13-14, 2021, Sigrid Kaag, Party Leader for Democratic 66 (D66), and Liliane Ploumen, Party Leader for the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), kicked off their campaigns for the upcoming elections on March 17, 2021. 

In her speech, Kaag addressed her party’s plans to tackle the climate crisis in the Netherlands by putting an end to all subsidies and tax credits for the majority of the fossil fuel industry. Additionally, the party aims to close all coal-fired power stations before 2030 and to end the bio-industry within ten years.  

On the other hand, Ploumen focused on her party’s plans to tackle wealth inequality in the Netherlands. The party also wants higher taxes for multinationals corporations and millionaires as well as a "digital tax" for tech companies such as Google and Facebook. 

News article - NOS (in Dutch) 

News article - NOS (in Dutch) 

Despite Dutch government's efforts to boost assistance, Netherlands's ODA-GNI will likely decline after 2022 from COVID-19 fallout

On February 12, 2021, Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, responded to a parliamentary motion on returning to the target of 0.7% of the gross national income (GNI) for official development assistance (ODA).

Kaag confirmed that the current cabinet made extra resources available to reverse the declining trend in the ODA budget and contributed an extra €500 million (US$608 million) to the international fight against COVID-19. However, the government did adjust the GNI and the ODA budget to be lower from 2022 onwards due to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.  

Kaag further stated that given the cabinet’s caretaker status, due to the resignation of the cabinet following a childcare benefit scandal, it can only point out the importance of maintaining a sufficient budget for development cooperation to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 and climate crises and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management outlines results of Climate Adaptation Summit, creation of '1000 Cities Adapt Now' coalition

On February 11, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen-Wijbenga, informed the House of Representatives of the results of the Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands in late January. The global summit was dedicated to elevating climate adaptation on the international agenda and presenting concrete actions. 

New initiatives discussed include the mobilization of more resources to facilitate climate adaptation and the creation of a coalition, 1000 Cities Adapt Now (1000 CAN), aimed at cooperating with 1000 cities worldwide to adapt to climate change over the next ten years.

The Netherlands itself committed to training 30 climate-resilient infrastructure officers to improve local infrastructures.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

NGOs call for increased transparency of Dutch development bank 

A new report by the International Accountability Project and the Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies investigated the degree of transparency of the Dutch development bank FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.), involving investments between January 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020.

The report was signed by 28 NGOs, including Oxfam Novib and Both Ends, which fight for social and environmental justice.   

The report urged the FMO to be more transparent about the negative effects of proposed investments on people and the environment and to better involve the impacted communities in the decision-making process.

Press release - Oxfam Novib (in Dutch) 

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

Dutch NGOs call on government to ensure pharmaceutical companies share knowledge on COVID-19 vaccine development

On February 2, 2021, Oxfam Novib and Wemos, in cooperation with numerous other NGOs, addressed a letter to the Dutch Ministry of Health, Wellbeing, and Sports, calling on the government to provide assistance to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

According to the letter, the Dutch government stated its support for C-TAP in 2020 but did not take any further action to assist the cause. The NGOs urged the government to do so by providing financial assistance to C-TAP and by actively engaging with pharmaceutical companies to encourage them to share their knowledge and patents so that the global production of COVID-19 vaccines is maximized.

News article - RTL Nieuws (in Dutch)

Letter - Oxfam Novib and Wemos (in Dutch)

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation addresses parliamentary concerns on COVID-19 and vaccine access

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, responded to parliamentary questions about a report that African countries are likely to be heavily affected by a second COVID-19 wave, as existing challenges concerning health, education, and economy have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 crisis and require further assistance. The report did not specify which African countries.

Kaag further stated that aside from the €25 million (US$30 million) that was allocated to the COVAX  Advance Market Commitment (AMC), no additional resources have been put towards combatting the COVID-19 crisis in low-income countries by the Netherlands this year.

Kaag also noted that although she sees no reason to remove patents on the development of COVID-19 vaccines at this moment, the government does encourage the analysis of possible patent-related issues that could hinder the production and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Kaiser Family Foundation releases 2019 report on family planning funding

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organization that focuses on US and global health, released its 'Donor Government Funding for Family Planning in 2019' report in January 2021.

The report found that:

  • Donor governments' funding levels for family planning in 2019 were similar to those of 2018;
  • In 2019, half of the studied donors increased bilateral funding for family planning;
  • The US was the largest donor to family planning, followed by the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada; 
  • Funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) remained steady compared to 2018 levels; and 
  • Funding levels in the future may be negatively affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, but there might be more support from the Biden administration if future funding requests are approved by Congress.

Report - KFF

Dutch CSOs share recommendations on gender equality for 65th session of UN Commission on Status of Women

On January 28, 2021, Atria, a Dutch knowledge institute "on gender equality and women's history", and Wo=Men, a Dutch gender platform with affiliated professionals and organizations that "fights for equal power relations between women, men and gender non-conforming people", presented a document with recommendations for working areas from Dutch civil society for the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place in March 2021.

The report was presented to Esther van Dijk, Dutch Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, and the recommendations for themes that were made by the civil society organizations (CSOs) included: 

  • Ensuring women’s full and meaningful participation and decision-making in public life; 
  • Eliminating gender-based violence; 
  • Challenging gender stereotypes; and
  • Ensuring a gender transformative COVID-19 response. 

News article - Wo=Men (in Dutch) 

Report - Atria and Wo=Men

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation freezes support for UNDP over possible malpractice in Russia

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, has frozen the transfer of €10 million (US$12 million) to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)—one-third of the yearly amount that the Netherlands usually pays to the organization—as a direct response to the possible misuse of allocated funds for an energy project in Russia.

Kaag became aware of the possible misuse in May 2018 and stated that the UN did not properly address these issues until late last year. Consequently, she is still in discussion with other organizations and donor countries about whether or not these measures are sufficient to lift the freeze.

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch product development partnerships publish report on impact in preventing and responding to global health threats

In their new report, 'Keeping The Promise: Product Development Partnerships’ (PDPs) Role in the New Age of Health Research and Product Development', the Dutch government-supported PDPs identified the key factors that helped them succeed in the prevention of and response to global health threats such as tuberculosis, malaria, and COVID-19.  

Key factors that were found included: minimizing the costs of product development by pooling resources and leveraging partnerships, building a global capacity for scientific research, and ensuring a needs-based approach.

The report concluded by stating that with increased funding and political support, PDPs can continue to develop and drive equitable global access to health technologies. Dutch PDP funding is up for renewal in 2022. 

Report - Product Development Partnerships

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".

New investment policy of Dutch development bank includes plan to phase out fossil fuel investments

The Dutch Minister of Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, responded to parliamentary questions about the new investment policy of the Dutch development bank, FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.), stating that FMO did not vote on a new investment policy in 2020 and is rather working towards a more sustainable policy that phases out investments in fossil fuels.

The final decision is expected to be made by FMO in the first quarter of 2021. If adopted, this means the bank will not make any new direct investments in fossil fuels, with a temporary exception for natural gas if no other sustainable alternative is available.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Feminist former Dutch Development Minister elected new leader of Labour Party following predecessor's scandalous resignation

On January 23, 2021, the Dutch Labour Party voted on their definitive candidate list during a digital party congress and officially elected Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, as their new party leader. 

Ploumen succeeds Lodewijk Asscher, who stepped down on January 14 due to his role in the decade-long, racially-motivated tax fraud scandal which recently broke, leading to the resignation of the entire Dutch cabinet in a dramatic show of political remorse.

Ploumen is the first female leader of the Labour Party and is known for founding the She Decides campaign, which raises funds for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in low- and middle-income countries. Before this, Ploumen worked for various NGOs such as Mama Cash and Cordaid.

News article - BBC

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs responds to new European Commission Gender Action Plan

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, responded to Gender Action Plan III of the European Commission to promote gender equality. He stated that the cabinet endorses the plan and thinks it is in line with the governments’ Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy that focuses on the promotion of global gender equality.

Blok’s response emphasized the commitment to the empowerment of women and girls and the promotion of equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people worldwide. The government wishes to achieve these goals through gender diplomacy, gender-specific programs, and gender mainstreaming.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)