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Netherlands publishes report on development cooperation policy coherence in 2020-2021

On May 6, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, sent the Dutch parliament an overview of policy coherence with regard to development cooperation and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) between April 2020 and March 2021.

In the letter to the parliament, Kaag highlighted how the Netherlands supports climate change mitigation through the new Dutch investment fund, Invest International, and advocates for climate financing on an international level.

This year's report included the progress made in gender equality. Kaag stated that the Netherlands aims to integrate more gender equality perspectives in the design phase of new programs.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands adopts motion on vaccine patent sharing through C-TAP

On April 29, 2021, the Dutch parliament adopted a parliamentary motion asking the Dutch government to ensure that pharmaceutical companies share their information on COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The motion was submitted by Dutch member of parliament (MP) Lisa Westerveld of the Green-Left party (GroenLinks) and co-submitted by MPs Jan Paternotte of Democrats 66 (D66), Lilianne Ploumen of the Labour Party (PvdA), Lilian Marijnissen of the Socialist Party (SP), Mirjam Bikker of the Christian Union (CU), and Laurens Dassen of Volt. The motion received 122 out of 150 votes in the parliament.

In addition to the motion, Westerveld submitted parliamentary questions regarding the Dutch government's global vaccination efforts. The parliamentary questions directed to the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, aimed to clarify how the Dutch government will support COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, in its future goals.

Westerveld also asked de Jonge and Kaag if the Dutch government sees possibilities to encourage pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge through C-TAP and whether the Netherlands has already made plans to work with the Belgian government on the revocation of vaccine patents, as has been proposed by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation and the Belgian government.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands contributes US$63 million to ACT-A for global COVID-19 response

The Dutch government has contributed an additional €52 million (US$63 million) to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global partnership to fight COVID-19.

Of these funds, €12 million (US$15 million) is intended to strengthen the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The remaining €40 million (US$48 million) is allocated to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of ACT-A, for the purchase of vaccines.

Since the pandemic began, the Dutch government has contributed €137 million (US$165 million) to the global response to COVID-19.

Press release – The Global Fund

Canada among 29 countries to condemn human rights violations against LGBTI people in Chechen Republic

Canada, among 29 co-signatories, has called on the Russian Federation "to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators."

A report published in 2018 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found strong evidence that Chechnya was engaging in "successive purges against LGBTI persons". LGBTI people in Chechnya face "systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings". Since the release of the report, Russia has failed to implement changes or respond to these human rights violations, and new human rights violations against LGBTI people and opponents of Chechen leadership continue to be discovered, said the joint statement.

The following countries also signed this statement: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Netherlands publishes evaluation of Dutch development policy in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya

On April 19, 2021, the Dutch government published an evaluation report on the Dutch assistance, trade, and investment agenda in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Kenya between 2013 and 2019.

The report, written in English by the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reviewed how the integration of Dutch policy on assistance, trade, and investment took shape in practice, and to what extent the three components of the policy have been achieved in the three partner countries of the Dutch government.

Recommendations made by the IOB included:

  • Clarifying the main objectives of the agenda for assistance, trade, and investment and setting realistic timeframes;
  • Being more explicit about potential synergies and trade-offs between the policy goals;
  • Safeguarding the relevance of Dutch policy in terms of alignment to partner countries’ national policies; and
  • Learning systematically from experience gained and available research.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands

'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

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

Netherlands contributes US$87 million for debt relief, COVID-19 crisis response

On April 9, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, announced that the outgoing cabinet of the Netherlands pledged an additional €72 million (US$87 million) for debt relief and COVID-19 response in low-income countries.

Kaag made the announcement during a virtual meeting with the World Bank. Of this new allocation, €40 million (US$48 million) is intended for the purchase of vaccines, and €12 million (US$15 million) is for the distribution and administration of those vaccines.

Kaag also emphasized the importance of debt relief for giving low-income countries more room to focus on improving healthcare.

News article – Reformatorisch Dagblad (in Dutch)

Dutch cabinet continues support for HIV/AIDS programs

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, sent the Dutch parliament a letter regarding the implementation of a parliamentary motion to continue as many programs as possible unabated which focus on tackling HIV/AIDS.

The cabinet will continue support for protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) through its multilateral partners such as UNAIDS, Aidsfonds, Frontline AIDS, Robert Carr Fund, the Love Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Netherlands will also remain focused on improving the position of girls, young women, and marginalized groups at a national level.

Kaag stated that the future budget for SRHR depends on the development budget and the funding distribution chosen by the next cabinet, and confirmed that she supports the current distribution which allocates €70 million (US$85 million) for SRHR in 2021.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch government evaluates ICSR policy of Dutch development bank FMO

The Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, informed the Dutch parliament of an external evaluation report conducted by the Itad consulting firm of the Dutch development bank, FMO (Nederlandse Financierings Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.).

The cabinet letter to the parliament focused on recommendations for the international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) policy of FMO, due to the parliamentary interest in this subject.

In the evaluation, FMO was recommended to be further involved during preliminary investigations, as well as to involve stakeholders more (and at an earlier stage) in investments made.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

World leaders join European Council President and WHO Director-General in calling for international pandemic treaty

World leaders joined European Council President Charles Michel and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in signing an op-ed calling for a new international pandemic treaty to ensure improved global pandemic preparedness and response for future potential health crises. 

The op-ed acknowledged that no country or multilateral agency could address the COVID-19 pandemic—or future pandemics—alone and that the current crisis serves as a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The treaty would encourage an “all-of-government and all-of-society approach” at all levels to enhance cooperation on a variety of preparedness and response measures. It would fortify mutual accountability and use a 'One Health' approach that looks at human health not as an isolated entity, but rather as intertwined with the health of animals and our planet. 

The heads of states highlighted the role that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) has played in fighting the pandemic, as well as the lessons it has provided, including the need for stronger partnerships for equitable access to treatment and vaccines globally.

Leaders from the following countries signed the treaty: Fiji, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Romania, the UK, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - WHO

News article - Euractiv

Dutch CSOs participate in virtual CSW65 to promote gender equality

From March 15-26, 2021, Atria (a Dutch knowledge institute “on gender equality and women’s history”) and Wo=Men (a Dutch platform that “fights for equal power relations between women, men and gender non-conforming people”) participated in the sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65). The virtual CSW65 was held to promote gender equality and discuss challenges hindering women and girls from equal participation.   

Atria and Wo=Men, among other civil society organizations (CSOs) and UN leaders, joined in on daily strategy meetings to share knowledge with progressive women's rights networks from around the world and highlighted their own priorities to the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, Esther van Dijk.

Continued work in gender equality is important, as Atria underlined that the Netherlands had fallen to 38th place in the World Economic Forum's 'Gender Gap Index' in 2019, 11 places lower than the previous year. According to Atria, the Netherlands' position in gender equality policy negotiations is progressive, advocating for protecting sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), improving sex education, and supporting youth and human rights organizations.

News article - Atria (in Dutch)  

News article - Wo=Men (in Dutch)  

Investments must address digital divide, says Dutch development minister while reviewing lessons learned from Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, addressed the results and lessons learned from the government's Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in a parliamentary letter. The purpose of the Agenda was to outline the opportunities and risks of digital technologies and data for international trade relations and sustainable development worldwide and the Dutch government's response plan.

Kaag stated that investments in education, among other things, should also address the digital divide in low-income countries and prevent digitalization from leading to more inequality. She also mentioned that development programs with a strong digital component should examine which target groups in low-income countries are inadvertently excluded as a result of such a digital divide, and thus, more low-tech solutions should be offered for those groups, such as distance learning via radio instead of online platforms.  

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs presents advisory report on foreign policy

The Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) presented an advisory report on foreign policy for the next cabinet. The report included several concrete policy recommendations for international cooperation.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the AIV advocated for a greater Dutch and European commitment to the fair global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and an increase of the Dutch budget for development cooperation to at least 0.7% of the gross national income (GNI).

The AIV also called for action to support and strengthen digital literacy in education among young people in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and recommended that financing flows which support climate adaptation be systematically monitored.

Report - AIV (in Dutch)

Netherlands elects Rutte for fourth consecutive term; current development minister Sigrid Kaag comes in second

On March 17, 2021, the Netherlands held general elections. The current Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and his People’s Party for Democracy and Freedom (VVD) won the elections with 35 seats, for the fourth consecutive time. 

In second place was the progressive social-liberal party, Democratic 66 (D66) with 24 seats. D66 is led by Sigrid Kaag, current Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, who emphasized that her party aims to make government policy more progressive, fair, and green.  

Far right-wing parties, namely the Party for Freedom (PVV) with 17 seats, the Forum for Democracy (FvD) with 8 seats, and JA21 with 4 seats together achieved a solid result of 29 seats.

However, left-wing parties have been experiencing a decline in voters over the past decade. Combined, the Labor Party (PvdA) with 9 seats, the Socialist Party (SP) also with 9 seats, and the GreenLeft with 7 seats, together hold 25 seats. This is significantly lower than the 65 seats that left parties held after the elections in 2010.   

The formation of a new coalition usually takes several months, however, Rutte recently stated that the quick establishment of a coalition is vital to continue addressing the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. It is almost certain that a new coalition will include both the VVD and D66.  

News article - Politico 

News article - NOS (in Dutch) 

News article - NU.nl (in Dutch) 

News article - RTL News (in Dutch) 

Former European leaders in WHO expert advisory group call for "rethink" of policy to prevent future pandemics

Former European leaders on the independent Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a call to action for policy reform to prevent future pandemics. 

In their report, the members of the expert advisory group called for using lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to fundamentally rethink policy priorities to implement a ‘One Health’ approach, address issues that have caused so many people to be vulnerable to the pandemic, make changes to the global financial system, promote global public goods for health, strengthen existing global health institutions, and support innovation in health systems. 

The group was chaired by Mario Monti—the President of Bocconi University and former Prime Minister of Italy—and included former presidents, prime ministers, ministers, CEOs, leaders of multilateral organizations, and other eminent leaders.

Report - WHO

Dutch election campaigns have lacked global development perspective, say public sector and CSO representatives

On March 11, 2021, the Dutch newspaper AD published an opinion piece on the lack of a global perspective of Dutch political parties. According to the authors, the election programs of the parties include information on foreign trade opportunities and development commitments, but little is written about the domestic consequences of having a weak international role.

The authors emphasized the necessity of highlighting the positive effects of a more global outlook and interconnected domestic and foreign policies in party programs, especially due to the global effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The article was written by Myrtille Danse (Netherlands Food Partnership, or NFP), Hedwig Bruggeman (Consortium partner of NFP), Saskia Hollander (The Broker, Consortium NFP), Bart Romijn (Partos), and Ruerd Ruben (Emeritus Professor Wageningen University & Research).

News article - AD (in Dutch)

Dutch NGOs publish election special on international cooperation and healthcare

The Dutch NGO Cordaid and the Dutch Global Health Alliance collaborated on an election magazine special that was published by the journalistic platform ViceVersa. The special compiled views from politicians and experts on global issues such as the climate crisis, economic development, and health, as well as focused on the importance of international solidarity and cooperation in addressing such issues.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist and one of the experts invited, called for international cooperation to prevent future pandemics. She underlined that ensuring healthy living environments everywhere is vital to achieving this.

Dr. Immaculee Mulamba Amisi, an expert in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, emphasized the importance of SRHR in health care systems, especially for the most disadvantaged populations.

News article - Cordaid (in Dutch)

Donor Tracker webinar will focus on donor governments' funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights; accompanying publication available now

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Donor Tracker webinar to host webinar on donor finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker