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Japan provides US$6 million to improve Liberian food security

Japan announced that it will provide ¥645 million (US$6 million) to improve food security in Liberia. ¥250 million (US$2 million) will be used to provide food assistance, and ¥395 million (US$4 million) will be used for the development of human resources related to food security.

While rice is a major staple in Liberia, more than half of Liberia’s rice supply is imported. In addition, poor fishing environments and outdated technology exacerbate health risks to consumers. The loan will provide about 3,600 tons of rice to Liberia and will also help fishermen and rice farmers by providing training and technical equipment.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Each US$1.3 billion in UK recycled IMF Special Drawing Rights to LMICs will result in US$416 million net loss, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a leading international development think-tank, published a new report criticizing the UK’s proposal to count some of its recycled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as official development assistance (ODA).

CGD calculated that for every £1.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) of SDRs that the UK recycles, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will experience a £310 million (US$416 million) net loss in development assistance. The UK will count 31% of its recycled SDRs as part of its commitment to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) as ODA, reducing resources from the UK ODA budget that are available to LMICs. CGD has described the UK’s decision to count its recycled SDRs as ODA as "giving with one hand while taking with the other."

Other donor countries that have also decided to recycle their SDRs to LMICs have chosen not to count them as ODA; this decision will ensure that the full amount of SDRs is available to target countries in addition to planned ODA budgets.

The report is heavily critical of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules which enable the UK to count IMF lending, via its Poverty, Growth and Reduction Trust, as ODA, arguing that rules do not appropriately reflect the low-level risk of the loans.

The report recommends that:

  • In the short term, the new UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, push the UK Treasury to ensure all of its recycled SDRs are additional to the UK’s 0.5% of GNI ODA budget. If this is not possible, the report recommends that the IMF actively draw on other countries' flows that are not counted as ODA; the funding only counts as ODA when it is drawn down by the IMF and released to countries. It is not counted as ODA when it is merely committed.
  • In the long-term, if a new fund at the IMF is used to channel the additional SDRs to LMICs, it should ensure that any funding that is counted as reserves and subsides by other donors should not be counted as ODA.

Report – Center for Global Development

Japan provides US$3 million to Kenyan agriculture infrastructure, focusing on conversion of organic waste into insect feed and fertilizer

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) invested US$3 million in Sanergy, a U.S. company that collects and transforms organic waste into insect feed, organic fertilizer, and biofuel.

In Nairobi, Kenya approximately half of waste is dumped illegally, and waste disposal sites can only process 0.5 million m3 of the 1.8 million m3 waste brought into sites. Additionally, while agriculture, forestry, and fisheries comprise about 30% of GDP and 40% of employment, limited feed and fertilizer resources have impeded the expansion of farming production.

With private sector investors such as AXA IM Alts, Novastar Ventures, and Finnfund, JICA will invest in Sangery to help with waste management and agricultural development in Kenya. JICA will work with various public and private investors and leverage its network to solve social problems not only in Kenya but in other countries on the African continent.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Australia will partner with Pacific Island countries to improve agriculture quality and biosecurity

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, announced that Australia will partner with Pacific Island countries and the international consulting organization, DT Global, to enhance agricultural trade and improve biosecurity. The program will assist producers in the Pacific in finding new markets and improve the quality of their products.

The Australian Department of Agriculture will also participate in the program, which will address regional pests and diseases like African Swine Fever and the Fall Army Worm. Improved biosecurity will enable Pacific Island producers greater access to the New Zealand and Australian markets.

Press release - Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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

UK NGOs raise concerns over additional cuts to UK development assistance budget

UK NGOs raised concerns over the UK Treasury's plan to make further cuts to the UK’s development assistance budget as a result of so-called ‘accounting tricks.’ 

The UK government announced that it will only spend 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) from 2021 onwards. However, UK NGOs are concerned that in addition to this cut, the Treasury will count the following spending items in its ODA budget, further reducing the discretionary funds available to the UK in 2021-2022:

  • Cancellation of a multi-million-pound debt owed by Sudan to the UK, despite the debt having been written off years ago;
  • 30% of Special Drawing Rights given by the IMF, which the UK has agreed to recycle and hand on to low- and lower-middle-income countries in order to help with the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, despite this funding providing additional new resources to the UK budget; and,
  • The cost of giving COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries as official ODA, which could amount to £1 billion (US$1.4 billion).

While these spending items are all allowed under the international rules for measuring ODA set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, UK NGOs argue that they either don’t represent current real flows of money (Sudan’s historic debt relief) or should be given in addition to the UK’s ODA budget as they come from an additional budget or are responding to exceptional circumstances.   

NGOs note that if the Treasury decides to count these items as part of its ODA spending, the discretionary spending of the UK’s development assistance budget will be significantly reduced. The budget has already been cut by £4 billion (US$5.4 billion) due to the government’s decision to reduce the volume of ODA to 0.5% of UK's GNI in 2021/22. However, these additional costs could cut the UK’s discretionary spending by a further £2 billion (US$2.7 billion), leaving the UK with only £8 billion (US$10.7 billion) for its discretionary ODA budget in 2021/22.

News article – DEVEX

Australian PM may not attend COP26 climate talks

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is reported to have said that he might not take part in the UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021. More than 100 world leaders are expected to attend, and the summit occurs one day after a G20 meeting in Rome.

A final decision has not been made regarding Australian attendance at the climate talks, but options include sending Foreign Minister, Maurice Payne. The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, could also attend. Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, urged the Prime Minister to attend the climate change conference.

A commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 remains controversial within Australian parties. Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, faces critique from National party members for ambitious emissions reductions, due to the potential effects on rural producers and coal mining areas. 

However, Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, indicated that Australia needs to back global climate emissions targets in its own interest. In a speech to major employers, Frydenberg warned that access to markets and capital could be hindered as other countries adjust to climate change.

Media report - Canberra Times

Media report - SBS

Norway enters US$56 million agreement with Global Crop Diversity Fund to ensure food security

Norway is entering a ten-year agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust to improve food security and to secure increased chances of viable crops for vulnerable small farmers despite more extreme weather occurrences.  

At the UN Food Systems Summit, Norway promoted a new initiative on seed safety. It is important that small farmers choose which seeds to sow, which are subsequently input into the seed system. The seed system is important for both farmers' rights and food security.  

Norway supports the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development (BOLD) program as part of its agricultural development strategy. One of BOLD's core aims is to improve the genetic characteristics of seeds so they can withstand more extreme weather to increase food safety.

The agreement consists of approximately NOK500 million (US$56 million) over ten years. As a part of the program, 15 national gene banks in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) will receive assistance to support biological diversity and, thus, ensure regional food security. Furthermore, seeds will be preserved in Svalbard's global seed vault. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

FCDO’s annual report reveals striking ODA cuts to UK bilateral country programs

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and, Development Office's (FCDO) newly published '2020-2021 Annual Report and Accounts' reveals some of the impacts of the UK's cuts to official development assistance (ODA) in fiscal year (FY) 2021/22. 

The report indicates decreases in ODA allocations to the FCDO central programs. Expenditures of the global health central program departments will fall 27% to US$1.2 billion (GBP£916 million). ODA spending on education, gender, and equality will also fall by more than half to £124 million (US$167 million).

The report also reveals that the FCDO plans to spend £1.8 billion (US$2.4 billion) in direct country bilateral ODA in FY2021/22. This entails a concerning 45% cut compared to FY2020/21, mainly driven by reductions in funding to the poorest countries.

While some partners on the Asian continent will receive large cuts, analysis by Devex shows some evidence of an Indo-Pacific tilt: 

  • £32 million (US$43 million) will be allocated to the FCDO’s newly established South East Asia & Pacific Department; 
  • ODA to Indonesia will increase by 22% to £14 million (US$18.8 million); 
  • India’s ODA will also increase by 33% to £55 million (US$74 million); however, 
  • ODA to Bangladesh will fall by 62%; and
  • Pakistan, historically the largest recipient of UK bilateral ODA, will see a funding cut of 40%, from £160 million (US$215 million) to £97 million (US$130 million).

The Devex analysis also shows that fragile states and countries on the African continent are scheduled to receive large cuts.

  • Lebanon’s ODA is set to fall by 85%, from £85 million (US$114 million) to £13 million (US$18 million);
  • ODA to Somalia is set to fall by 41%, from £121 million (US$163 million) to £71 million (US$94 million); 
  • ODA to Nigeria is set to fall from £209 million (US$281 million) to £95 million (US$128 million); 
  • Ethiopia's ODA is set to fall from £240 million (US$322 million) to £107 million (US$144 million); and
  • ODA to Kenya, a primary UK development and security partner, is falling by 39%, from £67 million (US$90 million) to £41 million (US$55 million).

News article - Devex

Report - FCDO 2020-2021 Annual Report and Accounts

EU Commission commits US$165 million to CGIAR and US$29 million to ECW at Global Citizen Live

The European Commission announced new commitments of €140 million (US$165 million) to CGIAR, a global partnership on agriculture and food security research and development (R&D), and €25 million (US$29 million) to the UN Education Cannot Wait (ECW) global education fund at the Global Citizen Live concert on September 25, 2021.

CGIAR brings together organizations around the globe that conduct R&D to reduce rural poverty, increase food security, improve health and nutrition, and foster the sustainable management of natural resources. 

The EU is a founding supporter of ECW, a global fund to finance education during humanitarian crises for crisis-affected children. The Commission has committed nearly €53 million (US$62 million) in total to ECW since its inception in 2016.

Press release - European Commission

Impact report - Global Citizen

Japan’s PM Suga pledges further development of sustainable food systems to address global food security

During the United Nation’s Food Systems Summit 2021, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to continue to create and improve sustainable food systems to address global food security.

Leaders from over 150 countries as well as representatives from international organizations, private companies, and civil society organizations discussed how to tackle food security issues that have deteriorated due to the COVID-19 crisis.

To address specific food security issues, Suga indicated the following points as crucial:

  1. Promoting sustainable production through innovation, digitalization, science, and technology; 
  2. Maintaining free and fair trade, including removing some trade regulations; and 
  3. Supporting approaches in line with regional development efforts by taking into account countries' culture and climate.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Corporation

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

US pledges US$6.0 billion in assistance at UN Food Systems Summit

Samatha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced at the United Nations Food Systems Summit, that the US will commit US$5.0 billion over five years to the Feed the Future (FTF) program. Feed the Future is the US government's global hunger and food security program, which works with partners in the private sector and local actors.

Power also announced the expansion of Feed the Future's Global Food Security Strategy to include more countries and improve approaches to complex issues involved in tackling global hunger. The goal of these expanded investments is to reduce poverty and child stunting in Feed the Future countries by 20% and to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Summit, the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) additionally announced its intent to invest US$1.0 billion to combat food insecurity and bolster agriculture over the next five years. Acting CEO of the DFC, Dev Jagadesan, highlighted the importance of food security in global development in the statement. He suggested that the new targeted investments would encourage private sector advancements in addressing global agriculture and food systems in addition to mitigating climate change.

Press release - USAID

Press release - DFC

G20 Agriculture Ministers sign Florence Sustainability Charter to improve food security

The G20 Ministers of Agriculture met in Florence, Italy on September 17-18, 2021, and approved the Florence Sustainability Charter to address food security in the three-dimensional sustainability framework: economic, social, and environmental.

Furthermore, the Ministers reaffirmed their intent to reach zero hunger, which has been severely threatened by ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Charter will strengthen cooperation between G20 members and low-income countries on food and agriculture; the agreement allows nations to share knowledge and establish internal production capacities best suited to local environments, contributing to the resilience and further recovery of agriculture in rural communities.

Florence Sustainability Charter - G20

Liz Truss appointed as new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development in UK Cabinet reshuffle

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, appointed Liz Truss as the new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development (FCDO). 

The move is part of a broader cabinet reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Dominic Raab, the former Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development, was demoted to the role of Secretary of State for Justice, but will take on the Deputy Prime Minister title. The move was largely seen as a result of Raab’s management of the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan, with many Conservative Members of Parliament highly critical of his approach.

Raab is the second western world leader, following Sigrid Kaag in the Netherlands, to leave their post following Afghanistan withdrawals. 

Truss was the Secretary of State for International Trade between 2019 - 2021 and holds the title of Minister for Women and Equalities. She will retain her role as Minister for Women and Equalities in her new post as the Foreign Secretary. Devex reports that civil society and development commentators’ views of her appointment have been mixed but all agree that she will have a challenge ahead, managing the COVID-19 crisis, climate change, and conflict on a limited budget.  

Other political appointment changes within the FCDO include the appointment of Amanda Milling as an FCDO Minister of State, replacing, Nigel Adams, former Minister for Asia. Vicky Ford replaces James Duddridge as Minister for Africa. Deborah Stedman-Scott joined the FCDO as Minister for Women, but simultaneously maintains a role at the Department for Work and Pensions. Finally, Kemi Badenoch joined the FCDO with responsibilities concerning equality, which she shares with Truss.

Truss penned an article in the Sunday Telegraph in which she acknowledged the UK's status as a global leader in development, champion of girls’ education, and supporter of freedom, free enterprise, democracy, and equality around the world.

News article - Devex

News article - The Telegraph

European Parliament Development Committee urges European Commission to prioritize global food systems

Tomas Tobé, the Chair of the Committee on Development in the European Parliament, submitted several oral questions to the European Commission concerning the EU’s role in improving global food systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While acknowledging that resources will be limited in the EU budget’s Global Europe instrument and that tough choices will have to be made, Tobé said he hopes the EU will aim to lead by example by taking action at the UN Food Systems Summit.

Tobé posed the following questions:

  1. How will the Commission ensure the EU can take a leadership role in reaching SDG2 including by making financial commitments for nutrition under the 2021-2027 EU budget given the current huge global funding gap?
  2. How does the Commission intend to use EU trade policy to support the global transition to sustainable agri-food systems in accordance with the 'Farm to Fork' Strategy?
  3. What measures does the Commission intend to propose to support partner countries and the local farmers, fishers, foresters, and food producers in moving toward more sustainable practices in key areas such as animal welfare, the use of pesticides, and the fight against antimicrobial resistance?

​​Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, responded to the questions by recognizing the need to ensure the shift to sustainable food systems is global. He said the EU has been active in the preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit.

The Development Committee will begin working on a report on food systems in low- and middle-income countries, which will incorporate the Commission’s answers to the committee’s questions.

Video - European Parliament

India-Germany climate cooperation strengthens; Germany joins International Solar Alliance

The parliamentary state secretaries at the German development ministry, Dr. Maria Flachsbarth and Norbert Barthle, visited India to strengthen cooperation between India and Germany on climate policy and expand renewable energy sources; the state secretaries confirmed Germany’s accession to the International Solar Alliance (ISA), emphasizing Germany’s support for a worldwide energy transition with secure funding for technology and market development.

ISA is a collaborative platform, which was initiated by India in 2015, and focuses on increasing solar capacity worldwide, especially in countries with high solar radiation.

Flachsbarth highlighted climate change adaption measures as another vital policy focus moving forward and announced Germany’s continued cooperation with India for climate crisis mitigation. Germany will also invest in financing solutions to provide better protection against climate disasters, she said.

The visit also addressed the expansion of India-Germany cooperation on agroecological farming and its potential contributions to food security, income generation, and climate mitigation impacts.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Left-of-center coalition probable following Norwegian national elections

Parties on the left in Norway gained a clear majority in parliament following the September 13, 2021, national election, indicating the end of the center-right government's eight-year rule.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, is now in a position to negotiate a new left-of-center coalition. Coalition partnerships are not confirmed, however, the Labour Party, Socialist Left Party, and Center Party are expected to meet for negotiations in the coming days, signaling the prospect of a new government formation.

The potential left coalition has cross-party support for global health initiatives and discussions on the use of multilateral funding mechanisms are expected, led by the Center Party. Agriculture is also expected to be a priority on the agenda.

Article - NRK (in Norwegian) 

Political Program - Center Party (in Norwegian)

Political Program - Labour Party (in Norwegian)

NGOs call for UK government to postpone COP26 as fears grow that low-income countries may struggle to participate

More than 1,500 civil society organizations from 130 countries have collectively called for the UK government to postpone the UN COP26 climate talks.

COP26 will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November of 2021 with the UK hosting the event and holding the Presidency. The groups, which are members of the Climate Action Network, made the public demand based on growing fears that participants from low-income and climate-vulnerable nations will struggle to attend the in-person event due to the high cost of the UK's COVID-19 travel requirements.  

In response to the statement by the Climate Action Network, the UK government noted that all delegates who have not been able to get a vaccine will receive the jab this week. The UK government also announced that it would provide funding to all participants (including media and observers attending) that will require a ten-day quarantine under the UK’s COVID-19 travel requirements.

The UK government has labeled some countries as ‘red list’ countries, many of which are low-income and climate-vulnerable countries. Travelers from these countries are required to quarantine in a hotel. The government will provide funding to cover the costs of a hotel for all participants traveling from red-list nations. 

News article – BOND

UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office loses 200+ development professionals following merger in 2020

A new analysis by Devex reveals that 212 development professionals left the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) following the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in September 2020. 

While the FCDO told Devex that the number of former DFID staffers who departed after the merger was similar to the previous year’s turnover, the Chair of the UK parliament’s International Development Committee, Sarah Champion, has expressed concerns over staffing. She indicated that the Committee's previous concern that the merger could lead to a development brain-drain from the FCDO is coming true. This staffing issue is of particular concern, given that the UK was renowned globally for its staff expertise in development. 

Staffing losses come as the FCDO faces increasing criticism for its management of the UK's withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab, has received significant criticism following revelations that an internal FCDO risk report predicted that the fall of the government in Afghanistan could be swift following withdrawal. This conclusion contradicted Raab’s statements that defended the UK's actions due to intelligence failures and lack of accurate predictions of quick government breakdowns. 

News article: The Guardian

UK’s development superpower status under threat, warns Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a global development think-tank with an office in London, has published a new blog reflecting on the first anniversary of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCOD) following the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The blog argues that some of the UK's core development strengths under DFID have been eroded as a result of the merger, highlighting that the FCDO is less poverty-focused, its commitment to development effectiveness is weaker, and its expertise has declined. CGD argues that these trends, coupled with the substantial budget cuts to the UK development assistance budget, threaten the UK’s development superpower status.

CGD argues that the purpose of UK development assistance has shifted as a result of the creation of FCDO and is now more concentrated on meeting UK national interests than addressing poverty. CGD recognizes that this shift began prior to the merger, but notes that the merger has accelerated the move away from poverty reduction.

On development effectiveness, CGD argues that while it is too early to empirically evaluate how the merger has impacted the quality of UK development assistance, CGD predicts that it will further decline, especially in the category of transparency. A recent review by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), the UK’s independent development assistance watchdog, highlighted that the FCDO has been less transparent in its engagement with the ICAI than in prior years and the Chair of the UK parliamentary International Development Committee has criticized the UK government for a lack of clear information, particularly with regards to its spending plans.

Finally, on staffing CGD notes that when the merger happened, only 2 of the 7 initial appointments to the Management Board were former DFID officials. More recently, the FCDO has announced 20% cuts to its staffing costs, with most of the cuts likely to fall on staff managing development projects have been stopped due to cuts in the development assistance budget.

Blog - Center for Global Development