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Netherlands announces agenda to align development, economic, climate ministries on innovation, trade

In a letter to the cabinet, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher and Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Micky Adriaansens outlined new plans for their ministries to link trade, innovation, and investment policy. 

The ministers stated that Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the Dutch economy's dependency on exogenous events. They also recognized that the focus on increased sustainability and digitization will affect future trade flows. A new integrated and interdepartmental approach is expected to improve national economic resilience and security, as well as international corporate social responsibility.

The letter outlined that the two ministries will intensify and expand existing efforts to improve the green and digital transition of Dutch businesses to promote international corporate social responsibility (ICRSR) legislation and reduce strategic dependencies. Beyond aligning the two ministries, the ministers committed to working with other ministries and governments, business and knowledge institutions, and sector organizations to realize these plans. The ministers committed to producing a series of upcoming policy letters that will elaborate on the new joint approach.

The new joint agenda was developed in response to an accepted motion from November 25, 2021, in which cabinet members from various political parties called on the two ministries to follow Germany, France, and Sweden as examples of knowledge economies that have explicitly linked innovation and trade.

Letter – Dutch government (in Dutch)

Motion – Dutch government (in Dutch)

Netherlands urges WTO to prioritize food security, environment, COVID-19 response at ministerial conference

On June 12, 2022, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adapt to face society’s major challenges of food insecurity, environmental degradation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on global food security, the Minister pleaded for the entire WTO to speak out against export restrictions. For environmental protection, Schreinemacher called on members to reach an agreement on fisheries subsidies to safeguard global fish stocks and facilitate trade in environmental goods and services. In addition, the Minister stated that a WTO COVID-19 response is long overdue, affecting global health and trade.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recognized these major challenges, but stated that the road to WTO reform and successful trade agreements will be “bumpy and rocky.” The last major WTO trade deal was produced nearly a decade ago. In her remarks, Schreinemacher acknowledged that it “will only get harder to reach consensus among 164 members.”

Speech - Dutch government

News article - Alarabiya News

Dutch legislators submit 3 motions to improve COVID-19 response mechanisms

The plenary debate on the Dutch Global Approach to COVID-19 took place on June 2, 2022, during which three motions were submitted.

The first motion by the Labour Party and Green Left requested that the government increase its contribution to ACT-A to its “fair share”. Although ACT-A faces a €14 billion (US$14.96 billion) deficit, this motion was discouraged by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher.

The second motion by the Green Left, Christian Democrats (CDA) and Social Liberals (D66) urged the government to structurally invest in pandemic preparedness and strengthening health systems worldwide.

The third motion by the Labour Party, Green Left and D66 requested that the government commit to agreements on knowledge and technology transfer during WHO negotiations. The minister forwarded these two motions to the parliament for judgement.

Press Release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Netherlands announces US$150 million in ODA will go to in-country Ukrainian refugee costs

On May 20, 2022, the Cabinet of the Netherlands released the Spring Bill; in the bill, Dutch Minister of Finances Sigrid Kaag made proposals to amend the budget. 

Kaag announced that an additional €150 million (US$162 million) will be devoted to the reception of Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands. This additional sum will come from the 2022 Dutch ODA budget and will be reallocated from money that was originally intended for climate funding or COVAX. The detailed Spring budget was published on June 1, 2022. 

Press Release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Netherlands will not make additional CEPI contribution, according to development minister

In a letter to the Dutch Parliament on May 12, 2022, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher wrote that the Dutch Cabinet will provide no additional contribution to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) at the moment. 

However, the Dutch Cabinet is currently developing a Global Health Strategy and a second strategy for pandemic preparedness, which will also include an international component. In the upcoming period, the Cabinet will assess whether an additional contribution to CEPI within either of these two new strategies is desirable and feasible.

Press Release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes development cooperation details from 2021

On May 18, 2022, during the Dutch Cabinet's Accountability Day, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a document outlining what was spent, implemented, and achieved with development cooperation funds by theme and focus country in 2021.

Nearly 10 million farmers were able to make their production more climate-resilient and sustainable, 13 million people received humanitarian assistance, and 7306 organizations worked on capacity building to defend the interests and rights of citizens using Dutch development support. In addition, 3.2 million people now have access to renewable energy and 4 million hectares of forest are currently under sustainable management. 

Press release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Netherlands could play key role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution if it bridges sectors, according to parliamentary representative

Jan Klink, People's Party for Freedom (VVD) Dutch parliament member, criticized the Netherlands' vaccine donation process in a recent interview; he included the Netherlands' delayed start of COVID-19 vaccine dose donations in a list of critiques.

According to Klink, the Netherlands should involve Dutch entrepreneurs in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, recommending the mobilization of tulip farmers as an example. One of the leading voices in parliament on global health issues and private sector, he proposed bridging different sectors so that the Netherlands can contribute to the worldwide distribution of vaccines.

Klink, who is a former dairy farmer himself, stated that the Netherlands should focus its development cooperation policy on what it is good at - sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), women’s rights, water, and agriculture.

News article - Vice Versa (in Dutch)

Dutch Cabinet prioritizes primary health care, SRHR over ACT-A contributions

In a letter to Parliament, the Dutch cabinet addressed the Committee on Foreign Affairs, covering the Netherlands' forthcoming Global Health Strategy and Dutch ACT-A contributions in 2022.

The letter came in response to Committee questions to the cabinet. The Labour Party emphasized the importance of contributing the Netherlands' assigned fair share to the WHO's Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), of which the Netherlands has contributed only 20% so far.

The cabinet noted in its letter, however, that for every COVID-19 death, there are two deaths from interrupted care in childbirth or pregnancy. Therefore, the Netherlands will continue to focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and primary health care, being the seventh-largest donor in the field, making it impossible to fully meet the financial requirements of the ACT-A. The spring budget will be published on June 1, 2022, containing any applicable revisions and additions to the original development budget presented in September of 2021. 

Press Release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Dutch Parliament debates upcoming Global Health Strategy

On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) presented advice to parliament on the upcoming Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation's Global Health Strategy. The Ministry is currently finalizing the strategy, which will be completed before the summer of 2022. 

AIV included the following recommendations:

1. Specify the goal of the Global Health Strategy within international frameworks;

2. Ensure international embedding and a long-term focus;

3. Choose distinct strategic priorities - coherence, preparation for future pandemics, and health infrastructure expansion and improvement;

4. Formulate guiding principles - treat health as a universal right and take context-specific approaches;

5. Involve all ministries in policymaking, but leave control of health-related aspects to the Health Ministry;

6. More concretely shape multi-sectoral cooperation; and, 

7. Strive for affordability and accessibility of healthcare.

Committee Debate - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch development minister provides updated information on financial reserves for emergency assistance

In response to a request from parliament, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher provided an updated overview of financial reserves for emergency assistance. The Netherlands increased its emergency assistance budget to €465 million (US$501 million) in 2022 in response to the Ukrainian crisis.

The Dutch donation of basic goods to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is covered by the acute crisis reserve ODA. The acute crisis reserve ODA totals €3.5 million (US$3.8 million), of which €3 million (US$3 million) remains unspent. Non-ODA acute reserve, which totals €1 million (US$1 million), remains unused.

Press Release - Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

While 73% of Dutch citizens want more for support low-income countries for COVID-19 response, government falls short of ACT-A fair share

 

A recent opinion poll, conducted by the development organisations ONE and Cordaid, shows that 73% of Dutch citizens are in favor of increased Dutch support to low-income countries to assist them with COVID-19 response. Desire for support increased by 10% compared to last year.

Despite public opinion, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Schreinemacher is not planning to contribute the Netherlands' fair share to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Access to COVID-19 Tools - Accelerator (ACT-A) this year. This decision became evident during the parliamentary committee debate on March 10, 2022. The Dutch government only fulfilled 35% of its fair share last year, and this year, Dutch contributions are only 20% of the total €345 million ($US377 million). The Dutch Labour Party intends to file a motion to increase Dutch ACT-A contributions and has requested a follow up debate in the parliament on the ACT-A. 

Press Release - Cordaid (In Dutch)

Press release - Parliament website (in Dutch)

Dutch NGOs mobilize US$115 million for Ukrainian refugees; development minister announces additional US$18 million in assistance

Between February 28 - March 5, 2022, Giro555 - a joint initiative of eleven Dutch NGOs - raised €16 million (US$18 million) through public donations to provide medical, financial, and psychological assistance to Ukrainian refugees.

This initiative was followed by a national day of action, on March 7, 2022, in which Dutch media stations joined forces, broadcasting the same television and radio programs to raise funds. Total funding skyrocketed to €106 million (US$115 million) as a result. In a speech, Minister Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, announced that the cabinet will increase funding for emergency assistance in Ukraine from €25 million (US$27 million) to €40 million (US$44 million).

NGOs in the initiative, including UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam, and Red Cross, are present in Ukraine or have established local partners and offer direct emergency assistance in Ukraine and surrounding countries. 

Press Release - Giro555 (in Dutch)

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch health minister appointed co-chair of WHO's new Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (NBI)

The first meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) took place on February 24, 2022; Roland Driece, director of International Affairs of the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands was elected as co-chair of the INB.

During his opening speech, Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that the INB will aim to better prepare the world for pandemic threats and respond to them by:

1) building national, regional, and global facilities to prepare to pandemics and health emergencies;

2) establishing a global policy for the equitable production and distribution of countermeasures against pathogens;

3) determining tools for pandemic response;

4) building a plan for the long term to make sustainable investments; and, 

5) strengthening WHO to be the authority on international health.

Press release - WHO

Dutch development assistance lags during COVID-19 pandemic

De Groener Amsterdammer, a leading Dutch magazine, heavily criticized the role of the Netherlands' development cooperation to solve the COVID-19 crisis. The authors noted that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Netherlands has only fulfilled 35% of its ‘fair share’ of international funding for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Netherlands received negative ratings from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reviews. While global development cooperation increased enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dutch official development assistance (ODA) decreased by 2.8% during that year. 

News Article - De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch)

Dutch NGO releases comprehensive evaluation of 15 major COVID-19 intitiatives

 

Wemos, the Dutch NGO, launched a new website, covid19response.org, which provides an overview and analysis of 15 global initiatives that focus on achieving equal access to COVID-19 medical products, including COVAX, Team Europe, and the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). 

The initiatives have been assessed on the basis of five principles: sufficiency, urgency, sustainability, power balance, and public first.

Some initiatives - including the Multilateral Leaders Task Force - support the local production of medical products, while others (e.g., TRIPS waiver, mRNA hub and C-TAP) foster generic production of these products, encouring low- and middle-income countries to become more self-sufficient through access to COVID-19-related technologies. Unfortunately, nearly half of the initiatives, including Team Europe and HERA, do not give enough priority to public interest. Other shortcomings of the programs include the maintenance of power imbalances, the sole focus on a limited selection of countries, the need for more funding, and lack of political support. 

Press Release – Wemos

Dutch NGOs mobilize US$10 million for COVID-19 assistance in 14 partner countries

Giro555, an alliance that unites major NGOs in the Netherlands - like UNICEF, Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children, etc. -  mobilized €9 million (US$10 million) through the ‘Together against COVID-19’ campaign.

Giro555's member organizations will use the funds to provide emergency medical assistance to COVID-19 victims as well as help to set up vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. In addition to medical-related assistance, the organizations will disburse relevant information regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations on social media platforms and the radio.

The following 14 countries will receive support through partner organizations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Nepal
  • Malawi
  • Palestine
  • Suriname
  • Zambia
  • India
  • Yemen
  • Uganda
  • Syria
  • Bangladesh
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Nigeria

Press Release – Cordaid (in Dutch)

Funding for neglected diseases fell by 4% in 2020, says G-FINDER report

Policy Cures Research published its latest G-FINDER report entitled "Neglected Disease Research and Development: New Perspectives,' on January 27, 2022, which provides a comprehensive analysis of global investment in research and development to address neglected diseases in low-income countries in 2020. 

The report reviews the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and outlines the impact of the crisis on neglected tropical disease funding, which dropped 4% globally from 2019. With a total US$3.9 billion in funding, 2020 sits well above neglected disease funding's long-term average. 

Australia: Australia contributed US$46 million in neglected disease funding in 2020, prioritizing malaria, dengue, bacterial pneumonia & meningitis, hepatitis B and C, rheumatic fever, Buruli ulcer, and scabies. Australia is the third-largest public funder of neglected disease per capita, at US$3.39 per US$100,000 following the United States and United Kingdom. 

Canada: Canada contributed US$12 million to neglected disease funding in 2020, the ninth-largest public funder. 

EU: The European Commission was the third-largest public funder of neglected diseases in 2020; it was the only public funder to increase funding compared to 2019. The US$41 million increase (33%) to US$164 million was largely driven by support for tuberculosis research, which increased by US$23 million. 

France: France contributed US$40 million to neglected disease funding in 2020, the seventh-largest public funder, prioritizing Leptospirosis. 

Germany: Germany contributed US$55 million to public neglected disease funding in 2020, the fifth-largest funder. 

Japan: Japan contributed US$12 million in neglected disease funding in 2020, prioritizing Buruli ulcer and mycetoma, as the tenth-largest public funder.

Netherlands: The Netherlands contributed US$11 million in neglected disease funding in 2020, the eleventh-largest public funder. 

Sweden: Sweden contributed US$11 million in neglected disease funding in 2020, the twelfth-largest public funder. 

United Kingdom: The United Kingdom was the second-largest public contributor to neglected diseases with US$187 million in funding in both absolute and per capita terms. It has remained the second-largest funder for 5 years. It prioritized HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, diarrhoeal disease, kinetoplastid disease, helminth, Salmonella, dengue, bacterial pneumonia and meningitis, cryptococcal meningitis, snakebite envenoming, leprosy, scabies, and mycetoma research. 

United States: The United States remained the largest public funder of neglected diseases by far, following historical trends, with US$1.9 billion in total funding. It remained the top-funder in the neglected disease space in both absolute and per capita terms.

High-income country (HIC) governments provided the vast majority of global funding (63%), followed by the philanthropic sector (21%), industry (12%); the remaining 4% was divided between multilateral organizations and low- and middle-income country governments. 

The philanthropic sector provided US$823 million of funding for neglected diseases, an 3.6% increase from 2019. Top donors include the Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Open Philanthrophy, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Fundació La Caixa, and funds raised from the general public. Wellcome Trust and Open Philanthropy uped their contributions in 2020, making up the bulk of the increase in the philanthropic sector. 95% of all philanthropic funding for neglected diseases in philanthropy comes from the top three funders, Gates, Wellcome, and Open Philanthropy. 

While overall funding decreased minimally, G-FINDER is worried about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises on neglected tropical disease funding in the future. The team expects that widespread focus on the COVID-19 pandemic could take away from resources and attention funders might otherwise have given to neglected diseases. The immediate impact of COVID-19 is most evident, however, in clinical trials. Funding in this sector for neglected diseases fell by US$124 million, or a 10% drop from 2019, and is mainly attributed to difficulties in conducting trials due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. 

Report - Policy Cures Research

Executive Summary - Policy Cures Research

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)