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Advocates criticize Norway for development budget reprioritization in response to Ukraine crisis

The Norwegian government is proposing a record-high development assistance budget of NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion). On May 12, 2022, the government published the revised state budget, indicating the intent to increase the development assistance budget by NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million), to NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) total, corresponding to a 1.09% ODA/GNI ratio for 2022.
 
The government will increase funding to Ukraine and its neighboring countries by NOK1.75 billion (US$178 million), meaning that Norway will contribute at least NOK2 billion (US$203 million) in response to the Russian invasion. In addition, the government allocated 50% of the increase - NOK 1.8 billion (US$183 million) - to in-country refugee costs in Norway, which has been met with heavy criticism. 

The government also proposed the reprioritization of NOK4 billion (US$407 million) within the development assistance budget to finance increased refugee expenditure in Norway. This move aligns with OECD regulations, but advocates are increasingly concerned. The funding will draw from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to cut NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million) and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, NOK300 million (US$30 million).

According to the revised budget, the follwing thematic areas and organizations will be affected by the reprioritization:

  • Afghanistan: NOK60 million (US$6 million);
  • Gender equality: NOK65 million (US$7 million);
  • UN Organization for Rights and Equality (UN Women): NOK75 million (US$8 million);
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): NOK99 million (US$10 million);
  • World Health Organization: NOK118 million (US$12 million);
  • Human rights: NOK136 million (US$13 million);
  • Stabilization of countries in crisis and war: NOK140 million (US$14 million);
  • Civil society: NOK208 million (US$21 million);
  • Africa, regional allocation: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • The Knowledge Bank: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef): NOK358 million (US$36 million);
  • United Nations Development Program (UNDP): NOK440 million (US$44 million);
  • Health: NOK470 million (US$47 million); and
  • Education: NOK553 million (US$56 million).

The only increased allocation in the development assistance as part of the reprioritization is funding towards food security, fish, and agriculture. The funding will be increased by NOK200 million (US$20 million) as a response to the impending global food crisis, which will be exacerbated by the Russian invasion.
 
Several Norwegian CSOs and international development advocates decried the revised budget. Henriette K. Westhrin, Secretary-General of Norwegian People's Aid indicated that it is incomprehensible that the government would consider cutting funding to the world`s poorest, especially since Norway is profiting immensly from the invasion. Secretary-General of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Høybråten, said that the cut could have major consequences for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries and could have a major domino effect on other donor countries' ODA. Secretary-General of Save the Children Birgitte Lange was similarly unimpressed with the development assistance budget cuts, highlighting that in the revised budget, for each seven dollars in development assistance, one will go to Norway rather than partner countries.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

UN WFP warns US Congress of impending global food crisis

Both the head of the UN World Food Programme, Executive Director David Beasley, and the head of the African Union, Akinwumi Adesina, warned US Senators about the severity of the global food crisis, a situation which will be exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy, Beasley pleaded for the United States Agency for International Development to move money quickly to respond to the severe increases in the cost of food.  Adesina also addressed the cost issues, pointing specifically to the 300% increase in fertilizer prices, which will cost African farmers at least US$11 billion in food production value.

The current US$40 billion supplemental bill before the US Senate -- which is earmarked primarily to assist Ukraine and has already passed the US House of Representatives -- contained US$5 billion for global food security.  US Senator Graham stated that, while helpful, the amount is insufficient to meet global needs.  He committed to reaching out to other international donors to help fill the financing gap.  He also proposed a global fund for food security with the aim of increasing private flows.

News report - Devex 

Australia’s opposition Labor Party will co-bid on COP29 with Pacific Island neighbors in 2024

Opposition spokesperson for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, announced that the Australian Labor Party party intends to proceed jointly with its neighboring Pacific Island countries to co-host the 2024 Conference of the Parties (COP29). The proposal depends on Pacific nations' support.

The proposal also depends on whether the Australian Labor Party wins in Australia's national elections, which will be held on May 21, 2022.

The last COP was held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. COP27 will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2022, Egypt and COP28 will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2023. Australia has not hosted a United Nations Climate Change Conference before, and the move would be seen as a significant shift in Australia’s position on climate change.  

Australia has previously been criticized for its reluctance to provide leadership on climate change.

The Labor opposition has set stronger targets than the current government for domestic emissions reductions by 2030. Both parties support a national net-zero target for 2050.

Report – Pursuit

Norway disbursed US$4.2 billion in development assistance in 2021

Statistics, released on May 10, 2022, by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), demonstrate that Norway gave NOK40.1 billion (US$4.2 billion) in development assistance in 2021 - the highest amount in absolute terms in Norway's history. In addition, the number represents a NOK600 million (US$6.2 million) increase from 2020.

Norad manages 50% of Norwegian development assistance, which is equivalent to NOK20 billion (US$2.1 billion). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages 32% of the total funding, while the rest of the funding is managed by other ministries such as the Ministry of Climate and the Environment and Norwegian embassies in partner countries. 

In total, Norway gave NOK7.9 billion (US$822 million) in health-related funding in 2021. This number also includes core support for multilateral organizations. In 2021, NOK2.9 billion (US$301 million) was earmarked to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its respective consequences in low-income countries. Norway contributed 6.6 million COVD-19 vaccines, valued at NOK 380 million (US$39 million), according to the OECD.

The World Food Program (WFP), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received the largest increases in funding in 2021 for individual organizations.

NOK6.4 billion (US$666 million) of the development assistance in 2021 was targeted at climate-related funding in low-income countries. According to Norad, 16% of Norwegian funding was directed toward climate. 

Syria is still the single country receiving the most funding from Norway as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis due to the more than 10-year civil war. In 2021, Norway gave NOK895 million (US$93 million) in humanitarian assistance to Syria. In the 10-year period between 2012-2021, Syria received NOK7.4 billion (US$770 million) in funding. In 2021, Norwegian funding for humanitarian assistance equated to NOK6.6 billion (US$687 million). 

Multilateral organizations received 58% of all Norwegian funding in 2021. NOK12.6 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) went to the UN system, while NOK3.2 billion (US$333 million) went to the World Bank Group. CSOs received 23% of Norwegian development assistance. Among CSOs, Norwegian Refugee Council received the largest amount of funding, followed by the Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People's Aid, and Save the Children Norway. 

Norad – Press release (in Norwegian)

Bistandsaktuelt – News article (in Norwegian) 

Japan provides US$10 million grant to respond to food crisis in Yemen

The Japanese government will provide the World Food Program (WFP) with US$10 million to help respond to the food crisis in Yemen.

Yemen has endured conflict for more than seven years and is facing major food shortages. These shortages have been further exasperated by rising food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the years, Japan has actively assisted Yemen and is committed to helping realize peace and stability in the country.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 

NGOs call on UK to address rising global hunger

A group of 15 international development organizations, including Christian Aid, Save the Children, and the British Red Cross wrote an open letter to the UK government, in which they demanded that the government step up its funding to tackle rising global hunger.

The agencies warned that the conflict in Ukraine has resulted in increasing prices and broken supply chains for grains, cooking oil, fertilizer, and fuel and that this is making pre-existing hunger crises for many countries far worse. The World Bank calculated that there could be a 37% jump in food prices because of the conflict in Ukraine.

The agencies called for the UK government to provide new funding and action to prevent famines and ensure that food is affordable. They also called for a reversal of cuts to the UK’s ODA budget and a commitment to ensure funding for Ukraine is in addition to existing UK development commitments rather than coming at the expense of other programs.  

News article – Keep the Faith

FCDO international development strategy remains unpublished, internal budget allocations delayed

Devex recently reported that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not yet finalized internal allocations for its budget for FY2022/23. 

The overall budget envelope for the FCDO was set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review at £11.1 billion (US$14.3 billion) for FY2022/23 (for both ODA and non-ODA spending). Normally, funding allocations to core thematic and geographic departments within the FCDO are decided by April the latest. However, Devex noted that the FCDO is struggling to finalize these internal allocations.

Part of the reason for the delay could be the failure of the FCDO to finalize its policy priorities, particularly in international development. The UK’s long-awaited International Development Strategy, which has been drawn up by the FCDO, was initially scheduled for release last year but remains unpublished. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in March was cited as the latest reason for the delay, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, set about re-writing the strategy in light of the geopolitical shift.

Devex noted that there are concerns that following the recent UK local elections on May 5, 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson may reshuffle the cabinet reshuffle, potentially causing further delays in the strategy's publication.

The UK NGO community has called for the publication of the International Development Strategy as soon as possible, especially in light of the currently reduced ODA budget and the need for transparency and clarity over the UK’s priorities moving forward.

News article – DEVEX

EU steps up support on food security to drought-affected Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, including US$255 million in development funding

The EU and its member states are providing a total package of €633 million (US$698 million) in Team Europe support to address food security in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, including €231 million (US$255 million) in development funding from the European Commission (EC).

The Team Europe package was announced at a high-level roundtable in Geneva co-hosted by the EC and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It includes €348 million (US$384 million) overall from the EC and €285 million (US$314 million) from EU member states. The EC’s contribution includes funding for humanitarian assistance, conflict management, and €231 million (US$255 million) in development funding to tackle the root causes of food insecurity.

Food security in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia is threatened by climate-induced drought and conflict in the region, which is exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine.

Press release - European Commission

India and Germany strengthen development cooperation with 3 new agreements

During the sixth intergovernmental consultations between India and Germany on May 2, 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, signed three declarations for collaboration in climate, energy, and agriculture.

Building on cooperation for solar technology that has been in place since 2015, India and Germany signed another partnership to build up renewable energies in India. Between 2020 and 2025, €1.0 billion (US$1.1 billion) will be contributed to the partnership.

Additionally, the two countries made an agreement on triangular development cooperation with third countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The collaborations will focus on technical cooperation in climate protection and sustainability.

The third initiative focuses on agroecological agriculture and sustainable resource management. Funding of up to €300 million (US$331 million) will be made available for the initiative by 2025, according to the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In addition, Modi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed a 'Green and Sustainable Development Partnership', a joint declaration of intent to cooperate on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate action.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

Joint Statement – 6th German-Indian Inter-Governmental Consultations 

Norway failed to meet 2021 0.1% ODA/GNI target

Despite economic growth and Norway giving more money to humanitarian efforts than ever before, the government did not reach its target of giving 0.1% of its gross national income (GNI) to international development in 2021.
 
The OECD recently published its preliminary development funding figures for 2021. The figures showed that Norway's ODA levels fell by 11.6% compared to 2020. Despite increased support for pandemic control and Norway giving more than NOK40 billion (US$4.2 billion) in funding - its highest contribution ever - to international development, Norway's ODA total fell from 1.11% of GNI in 2020 to 0.93% percent in 2021.

The government has promised to keep development assistance at one percent of GNI. However, in 2021 Norway fell short by NOK3 billion (US$339 million).

Revised figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that Norway's GNI grew by over 22% last year. The increased growth is mainly the result of record-high oil and gas prices towards the end of 2021 and the reopening of society during the COVID-19 pandemic. With high petroleum revenues as a result of the war in Ukraine, Norway's economy continues to grow, and the gap between economic growth and funding levels for international development may persist into 2022.

However, Norwegian ODA levels relative to GNI are still the second-highest among OECD donors, bested only by Luxembourg.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

German development minister calls for global food security alliance

During the World Bank’s Spring Meeting from April 18 - 24, 2022, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, proposed a new alliance for global food security to prevent a global food crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the most important wheat exporters and suppliers to the World Food Programme. Following the outbreak of the war, food prices increased sharply and wheat supply plummeted, signaling a looming famine, especially for export-dependent countries in Africa and Asia. According to Schulze, the new alliance should ensure rapid coordination of efforts from government donors, international organizations, the private sector, and foundations, and provide short-term crisis support for the most- affected countries, as well as build up resilient production capacities in these countries over the long term.

Schulze presented her proposal to the group of G7 and advocated for more international support during the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Germany holds the G7 presidency this year. Many World Bank Governors, as well as World Bank President David Malpass, the Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, and the Indonesian Minister of Finance and representative of the G20 Presidency, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, supported the suggested initiative and announced their engagement.

Chancellor Olaf Schulz announced that Germany will contribute an additional €430 million (US$474 million) to support global food security during the current crisis.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

News article – Euroactive

Norway to focus on food security, food prices, inclusive food systems, following 2022 Spring Meetings

Between April 20 - 22, 2022, Norwegian Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim participated in the 2022 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG). Key topics discussed were climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the global effects of the war in Ukraine. 

Minister Tvinnereim aimed to focus on food security and how to build sustainable and inclusive food systems. The World Bank's efforts on health, climate, pandemic preparedness, and solutions to handle debt in low-income countries were also discussed. 

Tvinnereim spoke at meetings focusing on how to finance food security and inclusive food systems, as well as an event marking three years of contributions to the Global Financing Facility (GFF). GFF is the main channel of Norwegian funding, which targets maternal, reproductive, child, and adolescent health and nutrition. 

In a press release from the Ministry, Tvinnereim underlined that the World Bank is one of Norway`s most important partners in reducing poverty, building food security, and meeting other global challenges. In 2021, Norwegian funding through the World Bank Group was estimated at around US$504 million (NOK4.6 billion). US$118 (NOK1.1 billion) of the total amount was directed towards IDA, the International Development Association. 

More information on the IMF and World Bank's 2022 Spring Meetings can be found in this Donor Tracker Commentary

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (only in Norwegian)

South Korea should improve agricultural ODA strategy, according to think tank

South Korea’s international agricultural ODA projects need to be improved, according to the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI); KREI critiqued South Korea's policy and strategy for agricultural ODA, saying that it is overgeneralized and does not provide adequate detail.

The KREI critiqued the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in South Korea, claiming that it has not presented key target areas for agricultural ODA and has not come up with improvement measures for a strategy. While the South Korean agricultural ODA budget is increasing, it lacks a detailed strategy. South Korea needs to create a coexisting ecosystem that contributes to South Korea’s national interest along with the development of agricultural and rural areas in recipient countries, according to the Institute.

News article – Naeil (in Korean)

EU should counter Russia’s ‘food diplomacy’, says op-ed

The EU should respond to Russia’s ‘food diplomacy’ according to an opinion piece by Benjamin Fox, an editor at EURACTIV, an independent media network focused on EU affairs.

Moscow is attempting to position the global food crisis as a consequence of Western sanctions against Russia as opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fox argues that the EU should learn from its slow uptake of vaccine diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately support countries in Africa during the global food crisis.

Op-ed - EURACTIV

Japan set to implement Comprehensive Agriculture Master Plan in South Sudan

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing a long-term agricultural plan in South Sudan after launching the project in 2012.

The plan, formally known as the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Master Plan (CAMP) Implementation Support Project, addresses food insecurity and focuses on five key areas: crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries, and institutional development. Japan contributed over US$22 million in official development assistance (ODA) to South Sudan in 2020, and more than 30 JICA experts have been working on the ground to plan and implement the project.

JICA will work with local producers and government officials to improve food security and value-added crop cultivation. The project is expected to also contribute to stability in the country.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Amid Ukraine crisis, Canada should boost international development spending to avoid food crises in Africa

The Institute for Research on Public Policy warns that the aftershock of the war in Ukraine, combined with climate change and the ongoing pandemic, could prove catastrophic for the world’s most vulnerable people. The Institute notes that there are several things Canada can do to help solve this crisis, including investments in international development, trade, and economic recovery.

Russia and Ukraine supply about 50% of Africa’s wheat imports, and for Eritrea, Egypt, Benin, Sudan, Djibouti, and Tanzania, that number is more than 70%. Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) gets half of the wheat it distributes in humanitarian crises from Ukraine. Despite the WFP being Canada’s largest development assistance partner, Canada is only its fifth-largest donor. Canada could significantly step up its investments in international development towards the WFP to make a concrete difference, and avoid food shortages across Africa.

This urgent need for development assistance comes at a time when Canada’s investment in international development has continued to fall short. For every $100 of national income, Canada invests just 31% in international development, short of the 70% goal that other G7 countries have met. With new international development pledges in the government's 2022 budget, Canada can show meaningful increases in international development investments. Canada should also work with multilateral and diplomatic partners to increase global co-operation in this time of need.

Op-ed - Institute for Research on Public Policy

European Commission launches Global Gateway cooperation projects with Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen traveled to Niger, Ivory Coast, and Ghana to launch EU partnerships under the EU’s new Global Gateway investment initiative. 

Urpilainen announced several Global Gateway cooperation projects with these partner countries, including projects focused on sustainable cocoa, agricultural water management, climate, governance, security, vocational training, and education. She also announced €300 million (US$339 million) in 2021 funding from the EU’s development instrument, the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) - Global Europe, for Niger. 

Urpilainen launched the following projects:

  • The first €58 million (US$66 million) was allocated to the Ivory Coast through Team Europe initiatives on sustainable cocoa production, low carbon transition, and security;
  • An additional €25 million (US$28 million) was allocated to a regional program to support best practices for sustainable plantations in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Cameroon; and,
  • An EU contribution of €45 million (US$51 million) went toward a joint project with France to build irrigation infrastructure in Northern Ghana.

Press release - European Commission

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approves US$200 million intervention package

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approved a package of interventions worth approximately €180 million($200 million): €22 million (US$25 million) was allocated for multi- and bi-lateral projects on food security and social, economic, and environmental development in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, and €158 million ($179 million) was allocated for voluntary contributions to International Organizations:

  • €85 million (US$96 million) was allocated to the healthcare sector: €54 million (US$61 million) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, €24 million (US$27 million) to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and €4 million (US$5 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI);
  • €37 million (US$42 million) was allocated for sustainable development and education: €17 million (US$19 million) to The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (UN DESA), €7 million (US$8 million) to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), €5 million (US$6 million)to the  Global Partnership for Education (GPE), €3 million (US$3 million) to the Mediterranean and Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM/IAMB), and €3million (US$3 million) to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO); and, 
  • €27 million (US$31 million) was allocated to the humanitarian sector and to support gender empowerment: €9 million (US$10 million) to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), €6 million (US$7 million) to the International Red Cross (CICR), €5 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), €3 million (US$3 million) to United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), and €3 (US$3 million) to UN Women.

Press release - Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (in Italian)

Spanish development leadership visits Mauritania and Senegal, prioritizes cooperation in Sahel region

On March 27, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation Pilar Cancela concluded her first official visit to the Sahel Region. Cancela met with high-level government appointees from Mauritania and Senegal, two of the priority partner countries for Spain’s development policy, and participated in the 9th Water World Forum, held in Dakar from March 21 - 26, 2022, to advance solutions towards water and sanitation worldwide.

Spain’s development leadership also visited development programs supported by Spanish development cooperation in priority areas, which included rural development, food security, climate change, health systems strengthening, maternal, newborn and child health, women’s health, gender equality, and higher education.

Cancela reaffirmed the Sahel region as a priority for Spain's development cooperation. Both the current Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation (2018-2021) and the new development bill, which is expected to be adopted by June 2022, highlight Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal as key partner countries for bilateral cooperation.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

EU joins eight global Coalitions for Action to transform food systems, increase global food security

In response to increasing global food insecurity, the European Commission will join eight global Coalitions for Action to support the transformation of food systems in EU partner countries worldwide. 

The alliances include government representatives, civil society organizations, researchers, and international organizations. The Commission will join Food is never waste, Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems for Children & All, School Meals Coalition, Aquatic and Blue Foods, Agro-ecology, Zero Hunger, Fighting food crises along the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus, and Sustainable Productivity Growth as partners.

Agro-ecology will support innovation and make use of local and scientific knowledge to scale up agro-ecological practices. Zero Hunger will mobilize resources to achieve hunger reduction including by improving small farm livelihoods. Sustainable Productivity Growth will use technology and innovations to both increase agricultural productivity and enable climate adaptation.

Press release - European Commission