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COVAX delivers 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to 144 countries; donors make new commitments to reach US$5.2 billion goal

More than one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered through COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), marking a significant milestone. The 1 billion vaccine doses were delivered to 144 countries in less than one year.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is spearheading 'Break COVID Now,' the Investment Opportunity for the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC) which aims to raise US$5.2 billion in new funding to support new challenges and global equitable vaccine distribution.

  • EU Institutions: In response to the Investment Opportunity, European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer announced that the EIB will make €300 million (US$339 million) in financing available to COVAX through a cost-sharing facility. The EIB’s financing will enable COVAX to quickly secure and deploy COVID-19 vaccine doses for lower- and middle-income countries, particularly targeting those on the African continent. The EIB provided €400 million (US$452 million) in loans for COVAX in December of 2020 and another €200 million (US$226 million) in November of 2021. 
  • Netherlands: Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, pledged €20 million (US$23 million) for 2022 in the Investment Opportunity. This pledge brings total Dutch support up to €90 million (US$103 million) for the COVAX facility. Schreinemacher called on both public and private partners to make a financial contribution to the ACT-A and COVAX, emphasizing the shared responsibility of all nations to vaccinate the world population and reopen economies to end the pandemic. 
  • Canada: At the end of 2021, Canada committed to donating the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to COVAX by the end of 2022. Canada is expected to continue making substantial contributions to COVAX throughout the year. 
  • Norway: Norway has pledged NOK500 million (US$ million) thus far for COVAX in 2022.
  • Spain: Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation José Manuel Albares pledged €3.5 million (US$4 million) to COVAX at the Investment Opportunity. Spain pledged €10 million (US$11 million) to Gavi's core vaccination activities in 2022, including support for the first malaria vaccine rollout. 

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Video - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Press release - EIB

Twitter - Development Canada

Twitter - Development Canada

Report - Global Affairs Canada

Netherlands approves additional US$574 million per year for ODA despite low confidence in new coalition

On January 10, 2022, the Netherlands presented a new cabinet, Rutte IV, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Liberal Party (VVD) after the longest government formation process in Dutch history. The coalition agreement approved new measures to prioritize health care, climate, education, housing, and the COVID-19 crisis while increasing the official development assistance (ODA) budget.

According to the coalition agreement, the Netherlands is set to take advantage of low interest rates by increasing its spending significantly. The spending increase includes a structural increase in the government budget of €29.0 billion (US$33.0 billion) until 2025, which includes around €500 million (US$574 million) annually for development cooperation. 

Despite the coalition agreement and the structural spending increase, confidence in the new government has reached a historic low. According to a recent poll, 27% of the Dutch voters are moderately confident in the government and 2% of voters are highly confident, meanwhile, 65% have limited or no confidence at all in the new government. 

The new Ministers and Secretaries of State took their oath under the supervision of the Dutch King, Willem-Alexander. The new Dutch Minister of Finance, Sigrid Kaag of Democrats 66 (D66), took her oath via video link as she tested positive for COVID-19 a few days prior to the ceremony.

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

News article - NU.nl (in Dutch)

News article - Politico

New government in Netherlands; Liberal Party to lead development ministry

After more than 9 months of ongoing formation talks, the Netherlands will present a new cabinet on January 10, 2022. Former Member of European Parliament (MEP), Liesje Schreinemacher of the Liberal Party (VVD), is the speculated new Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in Rutte's fourth cabinet.

Schreinemacher's appointment will be the second time in Dutch political history that the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is under the control of the Liberal Party.

As an MEP, Schreinemacher was a member of the Committee on International Trade (INTA), the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) and, a substitute on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.  

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Netherlands presents coalition agreement for upcoming legislature, adding US$573 million in ODA per year

On December 15, 2021, after nine months of coalition talks, the Dutch formation parties finalized their coalition agreement and presented it to parliament. The official presentation will be followed by a debate in the House of Representatives, whereby Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Liberal Party (of the VVD party) will be charged with forming a cabinet of ministers. The presentation of the new cabinet is likely to take place after the Christmas recess, which ends on January 10, 2022.

Key points from the new coalition agreement include:

  • A structural increase of official development assistance (ODA) of an average of €388 million (US$445 million) per year; however, the actual amount increases over the years, starting at €318 million (US$364) and reaching €556 million (US$638 million) in 2025;
  • Funding increases to major multilaterals including COVAX, plus increasing spending on priority topics such as climate adaptation and mitigation and refugee hosting.
  • A recommitment to the ongoing development of the Dutch global health strategy, with the goal of eliminating tuberculosis and HIV by 2030.

The new cabinet intends to expand ministerial posts to have a better division of governing tasks and for a gender-balanced coalition. Currently, there are 24 minister posts, and the formation parties want to increase the number to a total of 30 with 20 ministers and 10 state secretaries.  

News article - NOS.nl (in Dutch)

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Press release  - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Parliament discusses Netherlands' International COVID-19 strategy

On December 9, 2021, the Dutch parliamentary committee for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation held a discussion on the Netherlands' global strategy for COVID-19. Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Tom De Bruijn, of the D66 party, reiterated that the Netherlands remains committed to a fair distribution of vaccines as well as investing in country readiness and the strengthening of health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

De Bruijn noted that the World Health Organization's (WHO's) technological transfer hub initiative could potentially circumvent the ongoing problems surrounding the controversial call for an intellectual property waiver that would allow the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment production, and that, therefore, the Dutch cabinet will support the WHO with their health strategy efforts. The Transfer of Technology Hub stimulates voluntary cooperation between local companies, big pharmaceuticals, and academic researchers, to ensure vaccine production in LMICs, in particular in the African continent. 

De Bruijn also launched an investigation into the discontinuation of funding for the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in 2022 and will inform parliament by letter if there is room for contribution in the 2022 budget. The Netherlands contributed €50 million (US$58 million) to CEPI in both 2020 and 2021. 

Press release - Dutch parliament (in Dutch)

Dutch Development Minister informs Parliament of final changes to 2021 budget, global COVID-19 strategy

On December 6, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Tom de Bruijn, informed Parliament about the amendments in the Dutch budget for 2021. In total, the budget increased by €80 million (US$92 million), of which €25 million (US$29 million) went to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), €23 million (US$26 million) to climate, €46 million (US$53 million) to humanitarian assistance, and €20 million (US$23 million) to strengthen the private sector and labour market policy in low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, De Bruijn sent Parliament a letter concerning the global approach to the COVID-19 pandemic in preparation for the committee debate, which is scheduled for December 9, 2021; in the letter, the Minister clarified the Dutch position to combat the COVID-19 pandemic internationally. 

Press release - Dutch parliament (in Dutch)

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch parliament adopts motion to meet 0.7% ODA/GNI target, mobilizes funds for COVAX from private sector  

On November 30, 2021, the Dutch parliament voted on motions submitted during debates concerning the Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (FDTC). One of the adopted motions urges the Dutch government to make structural changes in order to meet an official development assistance (ODA) budget of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) in four years; a second adopted motion attempts to mobilize support for COVAX from the business community.

The 0.7% ODA/GNI target was accepted with a small majority; the latter motion had the support of all four formation parties—the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Democrats 66 (D66), and the Christian Union (CU).

Press release - Dutch parliament (in Dutch)

Press release - Dutch parliament (in Dutch)

Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation 2022 budget debate focuses on 0.7% ODA/GNI target

The Dutch parliament held its annual budget meeting for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation on November 25, 2021.  

Minister De Bruijn hesitated to deepen budget discussions out of line with the current coalition agreement, and largely referred to the next cabinet (including the new Minister) to decide on new investments. 

Nonetheless, several amendments were put forward, including a motion by Tom van der Lee of the Green Left party, together with Members of Parliament (MPs) from five different parties, to raise the 2022 budget by 300 million (US$ 345 million) to increase Dutch support to COVAX and to support logistical hurdles for vaccine implementation in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, Christine Teunissen of the Party for the Animals (PvdD) called on the government to make an investment plan to structurally increase the ODA budget to 0.7% of GNI in the next four years. Lastly, Alexander Hammelburg of Democrats 66 (D66) asked the Minister to mobilize the Dutch private sector for additional financial and technical support for COVAX. All in all, the BHOS committee contributed a total of thirty-five amendments to the 2022 budget, of which nineteen will be discussed and voted on in parliament later by November 30, 2021.

Press release - Dutch parliament (in Dutch)

Dutch report on Product Development Partnerships Fund III finds program effective

On November 22, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation reacted in parliament to the evaluation report of Product Development Partnerships (PDP) Fund III. According to Minister De Bruijn, the activities of the six PDPs are relevant and can be considered cost-effective to the development and marketing of products to prevent and combat poverty and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) related disorders and diseases. The evaluation report estimated that 2.4 billion people around the world have benefited from work done by the PDPs.

The PDP III grant was awarded for a period of 5 years, from 2015 to 2020, whereby the Dutch government invested €84 million (US$96 million) into six PDPs. In 2020, the grant period was extended by one year with €17 million (US$20 million) to cover 2021 as well. De Bruijn declared that the evaluation report forms the basis for the funding framework of PDP IV, which is expected to start in July 2022.
 

Netherlands to discontinue financing fossil fuel projects abroad

At COP26, the Netherlands decided to join a group of countries that will stop investing in coal, oil, and gas abroad. Although the Dutch were initially hesitant, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Tom de Bruijn of Democrats 66 (D66), signed the collective statement on November 8, 2021, after 21 other countries.

The Netherlands is a large player in the international oil and gas market, which explains their initial reluctance. According to documents from Atradius Dutch State Business, the export credit insurer of the Dutch state, the Dutch government guaranteed more than 4.5 billion (US$5.2 billion) in fossil energy projects in 2020.  

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Netherlands to contribute US$420 million to Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust

The Dutch Minister of Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, committed €365 million (US$420 million) to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which supports the economic recovery of low-income countries whose economies are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Hoekstra, the commitment was requested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which during the G20 summit in Rome, called on high-income countries for assistance and support for low-income economies suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The US$420 million donation is a portion of the Netherlands' Special Drawing Rights (SDR) funds.

Twitter - Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra

Netherlands short of COVID-19 vaccine donation commitments to COVAX, according to NGOs

Oxfam Novib reports that pharmaceutical companies and high-income countries, including the Netherlands, are supplying far fewer COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) than promised based on an inventory performed by a worldwide coalition of NGOs.

Only 260 million of the 1.8 billion doses promised have been delivered - 14 percent. The report reiterated that the Netherlands has committed to supplying 27 million vaccine doses to COVAX, the World Health Organization's global vaccine initiative, but the total donated thus far is less than 500,000 doses.

The Ministry of Health replied to the criticisms, noting that it understands Oxfam Novib's call for expediency and expects to meet its pledge of 27 million vaccines by the end of 2021. The Ministry expects to donate an additional 10 million doses to COVAX at the end of the year. 

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch development minister addresses parliament concerning next Product Development Partnership Fund

Dutch member of parliament (MP), Anne Kuik of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), encouraged Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Tom de Bruijn, of Democrats 66 (D66), to evaluate the impact of Product Development Partnerships III (PDPs) and to develop a multi-annual budget plan to safeguard the financing of the PDP IV Fund.

De Bruijn stated that the necessary resources are available in the Ministry’s budget for Trade and Development Cooperation and will likely be granted in July of 2022. Minister De Bruijn awaits the outcome of the final evaluation report of PDP III, delivered in mid-November of 2021, which will support the content of the PDP IV framework.

The PDP IV will be the fourth iteration of a fund intended for the development and availability of affordable, effective medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and innovative products for neglected diseases and conditions to combat poverty and inequality.

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands to contribute US$1.5 billion in climate financing in 2022

In a letter to parliament, the Dutch Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Climate, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, conveyed Dutch expectations for the COP26 climate talks, which will begin on October 31, 2021.

The Dutch government considers mitigation, adaptation, and climate financing initiatives essential during the talks, and hopes that countries worldwide are prepared to sharpen ambition for climate action in light of the recent IPCC Energy Transition report. 

The Netherlands is expected to contribute 1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) to climate financing in 2022 in both public and private funds.

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes new Youth Ambassador for SRHR, Gender Equality, and Bodily Autonomy

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation welcomed Laura Bas as the new Dutch Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Gender Equality, and Bodily Autonomy. Bas was appointed on October 15, 2021, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the Dutch organization, CHOICE Youth and Sexuality. 

The Youth Ambassador SRHR serves as a link between policy creators and daily realities; her presence in national and international fora allows her to voice the opinions of young people to the Ministry. The move will allow the importance of SRHR, women’s rights, and gender equality to be highlighted. Her tenure will conclude at the end of 2022

Twitter - Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dutch government pledges US$87 million to CGIAR at Global Citizen Live concert

The Dutch Government announced it will donate €75 million (US$87 million) to CGIAR for 2022-2024 to help develop sustainable food systems, support smallholder farms, and improve water management. 

The Dutch donation was announced by Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, simultaneously with the European Commission and Belgian government pledges during the Global Citizen concert on September 25, 2021.

Press Release - CGIAR

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve gender mainstreaming approaches following IOB evaluation

The Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) evaluated the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding Gender Mainstreaming. The evaluation, which covered the 2015-2020 period, noted that while major progress has been made, gender work has not systematically translated into a concrete gender strategy. 

The Ministry responded by announcing that it will implement the IOB's recommendations by increasing internal gender expertise, training its employees on gender, and by improving its own gender mainstreaming instruments.

Press Release – Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

In breakthrough in Netherlands government formation, current coalition parties could stay

After months of coalition talks, there were breakthroughs in the formation of the new Dutch government. In a complete change of course, Sigrid Kaag, party leader of Democrats 66 (D66), announced her party's willingness to continue with the current formation, consisting of the Liberal Party (VVD), D66, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Christian Union (CU), despite differences on ethical matters with the latter.

All parties have expressed a desire to implement structural changes, hoping for a 'new restart.' Most significantly, the new plan includes a larger role for parliament. Kaag said she wants the new agreement to be ‘more progressive, open, generous, and humane.'  

News Article – NOS (in Dutch)

News Article - DutchNews

Netherlands allocates US$110 million to global health organizations to fight COVID-19 in LMICs

The Dutch government has announced it will donate €95 million (US$110 million) to four international health organizations to fight COVID-19 in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs). 

The donation will be shared between the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine AllianceThe Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Global Financing Facility.  

The aim of the additional donation is to strengthen health care systems in LMICs and improve health care issues that have been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Press Release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands' Rutte highlights vaccine inequity at UNGA, introduces one-to-one vaccination program

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte held a speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) in New York on September 24, 2021, in which he discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and global vaccine inequity. He highlighted the importance of increasing global vaccination rates to deter new variants of COVID-19 and emphasized vaccines as the only way out of the pandemic.

Furthermore, it was announced that the Netherlands will give away vaccines on a one-to-one basis. One vaccine will be donated for every vaccine registered nationally, with the goal of donating 20 million vaccines to COVAX, the World Health Organization's vaccine initiative, by the end of 2021. Additionally, Rutte expressed plans to increase donations to the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Trust Fund to support socio-economic recovery.