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UK government opens up consultation on forthcoming International Development Strategy

On July 27, 2021, the UK government announced a call for evidence from external stakeholders to help shape its forthcoming International Development Strategy. The consultation is open until September 6 for submission.

The Strategy aims to set out the government’s approach to international development over the next decade and will be aligned to the objectives identified in the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The Integrated Review set out a vision for the UK in 2030 as a science and technology superpower, with a strong focus also on trade, an open international system, democracy, humanitarianism, the climate emergency, and global health. It also signaled a drive for greater engagement in East Africa and the Indo-Pacific region.

The Integrated Review identified four key trends – geopolitical shifts (the increasing relevance of China and the Indo-Pacific region), systemic competition (between states and with non-state actors), rapid technological change and digitization, and rising transnational challenges (the climate crisis, global health risks, illicit finance, terrorism).

The government has also noted that the forthcoming International Development Strategy will maintain a focus on the seven core priorities for UK official development assistance in 2021-2022, outlined by UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in December 2020:

  1. Climate change and biodiversity;
  2. Global health security;
  3. Girls’ education;
  4. Open societies and conflict;
  5. Humanitarian and crisis response;
  6. Science and technology; and
  7. Economic development and trade.

The call for evidence is centered around stakeholders responding to four key questions:

  1. How might progress on international development until 2030 be impacted by the trends identified in the Integrated Review, and how should the UK respond?
  2. What could success in 2030 look like in terms of meeting the needs of the poorest and most marginalized and increasing opportunities for countries to become self-sustaining?
  3. How and where can the UK government's international policy and activity best support long-term international development outcomes?
  4. How and where can the government's development work best support the UK’s wider strategic objectives set out in the Integrated Review?

Submissions to the review should be sent to <IDSCallForEvidence@fcdo.gov.uk>.

Press release - UK government

Japan’s Foreign Minister and WHO's Director-General discuss universal healthcare coverage, global COVID-19 vaccine delivery, Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, discussed universal healthcare coverage, COVID-19 global vaccine delivery, and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit.

Adhanom thanked Motegi for Japan’s work leading the global initiative for universal healthcare coverage, as well as for Japan's infectious disease measures implemented in opening a safe and secure Olympics and Paralympics.

Motegi highlighted the importance of ensuring global access to the COVID-19 vaccine and phase two studies to elucidate the origin of the virus. Motegi also stated that Japan will hold the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021, an event to work toward all people having access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food by 2030.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

UK NGO platform, BOND, calls for government to set new course for development strategy

The UK international development NGO platform, BOND, has issued a new report outlining a set of principles and recommendations for guiding the UK government’s forthcoming International Development Strategy, which is currently being written and is due to be released in the autumn of 2021.

The report calls for the UK government to set ambitious goals for its role in helping to ensure that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are met. This must include tackling current challenges such as vaccine equity, civil society "crackdowns", and the climate emergency.

The report calls for the strategy to be evidence-based and focused on human rights and poverty, and it in particular calls for the strategy to be built around the international commitments on effective development principles outlined in the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda, as well as rooted in the evidence of what principles and actions work well, which the UK’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact has collected. The report also calls for the strategy to be predicated on a return to 0.7% official development assistance of gross national income and sets out high standards of transparency and accountability to recipients and British taxpayers.

The report also calls for the UK government to take on board the need to decolonize development, with a focus on tackling structural inequalities, exclusions, racial injustice, gender inequality, and putting the most marginalized first.

BOND's report calls for the government to use all the tools at its disposal for development, including trade and diplomacy, to achieve core development objectives – defending international law and humanitarian access and using its influence to reshape rules for trade to low and middle-income countries.

News article - BOND

Report - BOND

UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office reportedly planning to cut wage bill by as much as 20%

The international news outlet, Bloomberg, is reporting that the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) is planning to cut its wage bill by as much as 20%.

The article, which is based on an anonymous source, suggests that much of the wage bill cuts will come from cutting workers on international development projects that are no longer going ahead, due to the government’s decision to reduce its official development assistance (ODA) from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% in 2021, resulting in a £4.0 billion (US$5.4 billion) cut. However, in order to reach the target, Bloomberg reports that further posts will need to be cut and that some redundancies are likely to be needed.

The FCDO is apparently in the final stages of the process. An FCDO spokesperson contacted by Bloomberg said no decision had been taken.

News article - Bloomberg

Australia’s annual agricultural research advocacy conference will focus on food and nutrition security will focus on nexus between biosecurity, health, trade

The annual conference of the Crawford Fund for International Agricultural Research will be held in Parliament House, Canberra, on December 14, 2021. This year’s conference will focus on food and nutrition security, focusing on the nexus between biosecurity, health, and trade. 

The conference will cover food systems and the interaction of food production with zoonotic diseases and human health. Doctor Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, will be the conference's headlining speaker.

The Crawford Fund’s conference follows soon after the global Nutrition for Growth Summit being held in Tokyo on December 7-8, 2021.

Press release - The Crawford Fund for International Agricultural Research

Development priorities of Slovenian EU presidency will include education, gender equality, food security, health, and water

Ministers from Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from July 1-Dec. 31, 2021, briefed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the presidency’s priorities, including its focus on helping EU partner countries recover from the pandemic through focusing on education, gender equality, food security, health, and water. 

Dr. Stanislav Raščan, a State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told MEPs that the Slovenian presidency will continue promoting gender equality through all of the EU’s external actions, while also working to integrate water policy across external policies.

Slovenia’s Education, Science, and Sport Minister, Simona Kustec, told MEPs the presidency’s priorities on research include European partnerships, the European Research Area, international cooperation, and gender equality. 

Press release - European Parliament

Sweden provides US$6 million for World Food Programme in response to UN Secretary-General's famine alert

To combat the current global hunger crisis and provide immediate relief, on July 15, 2021, Sweden decided to provide an additional SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the UN, the world is likely facing the worst famine since World War II, primarily as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. By the end of this year, the UN expects 270 million people to suffer from acute hunger and more than 41 million people to be at risk of starvation.

"We are facing a hunger pandemic and we are in danger of witnessing several major famines at the same time in the world," warned Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The UN Secretary-General calls on us to take strong action to prevent this."

The UN said that 41 million people in 41 countries are at risk of starvation. The countries that are especially at risk are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Yemen, Madagascar, and Nigeria.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

UK development assistance budget cut to last for years as parliamentarians vote to lock in cut

The UK government, in a surprise decision, allowed UK Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote on the government’s decision to cut its ODA budget, after many months of the government rejecting the need for a parliamentary vote on the issue. On July 13, 2021, UK parliamentarians voted to accept the government’s proposal to cut the official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of the country's gross national income to 0.5%.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who announced the cuts, offered parliamentarians two choices. The first was to override the government's decision and restore the ODA budget to 0.7% of national income by January 2022. The second was to support the government’s proposal to cut the ODA budget and agree that it will only be increased back to 0.7% when the national debt is falling and borrowing is no longer used for day-to-day spending. The government proposal won with a majority of 35 votes, with 25 Conservative MPs rebelling against the vote.

The government has noted that under its new criteria laid out in the parliamentary motion, the ODA budget could be back at 0.7% in a couple of years. However, Conservative rebel MPs argue that in reality, the new criteria would lock the UK out of spending 0.7% in the long term. Three former Prime Ministers from the Conservative Party condemned the decision, with John Major noted that it was a "stamp of little England, not global Britain".

News article - BBC news

News article - The Guardian

UK government to consult on new development strategy

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Affairs, Dominic Raab, announced in Parliament that the government will consult with external stakeholders on the creation of its new development strategy.  

Raab, who was speaking to members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the strategy is being actively worked on by the government and that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was engaging with a range of stakeholders including NGOs and international partners. The strategy is intended to guide all UK official development assistance spending.  

When pressed on the exact date when the new development strategy would be released, Raab responded that it will be in a matter of months, not years, but did not give more details.

News article - Devex

Oxfam releases new international report on food insecurity during COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfam Canada calls for government action

A new Oxfam report, ‘The Hunger Virus Multiplies’, says that as many as eleven people per minute are likely dying of hunger and malnutrition—more than the current global death rate of COVID-19 at around seven people each minute. With half a million people pushed into famine-like conditions since the pandemic started, Oxfam Canada called for more government action to address the crisis.

The report found that 155 million people around the world are now living with crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, which is 20 million more than last year. Oxfam highlighted the impact of economic shock worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which included mass unemployment and severe disruptions in food production, as well as the worsening climate crisis, as key factors influencing the spike of those facing food insecurity. 

Oxfam Canada called on Canada and other donor countries to immediately and fully fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal to address this crisis. Oxfam Canada also highlighted the urgent need to break vaccine monopolies and have a 'people's vaccine' (as referred to by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition fighting for global vaccine access), as well as build fairer and more sustainable food systems and support social protection programs. 

Report - Oxfam Canada

Members of European Parliament to hold debate on how to combat food security in low-income countries

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the Development Committee will hold a debate on July 13, 2021, on the global humanitarian and food security situation with UN World Food Programme's (WFP) David Beasley presenting on WFP’s work. 

The number of people facing acute food insecurity in 2020 hit a five-year high due to conflict, extreme weather, the COVID-19 crisis, and other economic shocks.

This discussion will help inform an upcoming committee report on food security in low-income countries.

Press release - European Parliament

US House Appropriations Committee approves US foreign assistance bill for fiscal year 2022

The US House Appropriations Committee approved a US$62.2 billion bill to fund the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill, which was passed on a party-line vote. With the approval of the agriculture appropriations bill, which provided funding for international food assistance and other small amounts in additional assistance, the total amount for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 International Affairs budget provided by House appropriators is US$64.1 billion. This represents a US$6.7 billion (12%) increase over FY 2021 levels.

The House committees' approved levels were just slightly above what US President Joe Biden had requested in his budget. Global health funding increased by 16%. The largest increase was for global health security, but other increases were made for tuberculosis, bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, and international family planning. The bill also removed long-standing restrictions to family planning programs and permanently repealed the Mexico City Policy, also known as the 'global gag rule'.

Humanitarian assistance increased by 9% to US$8.5 billion. Climate funding, including funding for the Green Climate Fund, was set at over US$3.0 billion, which was higher than Biden's budget request.

News article - USGLC

German development minister calls on G20 to increase efforts against hunger crisis

On the second day of the meeting of G20 foreign and development ministers in Italy on June 30, 2021, discussions focused on the topic of humanitarian assistance. German development minister Gerd Müller drew attention to the funding gap that the World Food Programme (WFP) faces in carrying out its work against global hunger.

Emphasizing Germany as the second-largest donor for WFP, Müller urged other G20 countries to contribute to closing this gap.

Müller warned that the number of undernourished people has been rising again in the last few years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, the climate emergency, and several conflicts. The G20’s joint efforts are more than ever essential to eradicate hunger in the world by 2030, he said.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

News article – Evangelisch.de (in German)

Japan provides US$48 million for COVID-19 response and port renovation in Senegal, strengthening food security in Mali

Japan provided ¥4.9 billion (US$48 million) collectively for the renovation of Dakar's Pier Three and COVID-19 response in Senegal.

The pier in Senegal's capital city's port mainly handles cargo destined for Senegal's neighboring country of Mali. Japan will provide ¥4.4 billion (US$42 million) to renovate the pier, aiming to contribute to the food security in Mali.

Japan also provided ¥514 million (US$6 million) to improve the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Senegal.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan hosts Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021

Japan will host the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit on December 7-8, 2021. The discussion will be centered around five themes: “(1) Health: Making nutrition integral to Universal Health Coverage, (2) Food: Building food systems that promote safe, healthy diets and nutrition, (3) Resilience: Addressing malnutrition effectively in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, (4) Accountability: Promoting data-driven accountability, and (5) Financing: Securing new investments to tackle malnutrition.”

At the Summit, stakeholders from governments, international organizations, businesses, and civil society will discuss topics related to nutrition and how to address challenges in this area.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

G20 foreign affairs and development ministers sign declaration on food security, call for partners to join Italy's Food Coalition

The G20 foreign affairs and development ministers met in Matera, Italy on June 29, 2021, to discuss the fight against COVID-19, speeding up the recovery of the global economy, the global climate change emergency, and food shortages in countries in Africa. The meeting culminated in the 'Matera Declaration on food security, nutrition and food systems. A call to action in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond'.

The signatories of this Matera declaration "agree to deliver on food security priorities by enhancing efforts in ensuring safe and adequate nutrition for all, ending all forms of malnutrition, preserving agrobiodiversity, as well as relying on science, innovation, advanced business practices and responsible behaviour complementing traditional knowledge, local food culture and best practices to achieve" the targets of the second sustainable development goal (SDG 2), 'Zero Hunger'.

The meeting renewed calls for partners to join the Food Coalition launched by Italy in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Food Coalition is a multistakeholder platform that aims to reduce the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security.

Development Ministers Meeting Communiqué - G20

Press release - FAO

Norway announces new agreement to increase food security and climate resilience in Niger

Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, announced in a press release that Norway has signed an agreement of NOK100 million (US$12 million) to strengthen food security in Niger, a partner country to Norway in the Sahel, an African region which is known for especially contending with conflicts, poverty, climate change, and population growth.  

The new agreement follows Norway's new strategy for the Sahel region, which focuses on supporting civil society and continuing previous work on improving governance in the Sahel countries.  

The Norwegian funding to Niger will go to a collaborative project together with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and CARE Norway. The project will run for five years and ensure that over 280,000 people in communities with low resilience to the climate crisis are offered better and healthier food. The project will also help create jobs in Niger.   

With the support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NMBU, CARE Norway, and the National Agricultural Research Institute of Niger (INRAN) will work together on solutions regarding how the agriculture sector in Niger can ensure sufficient nutritious food. The aim is to support farmers in adapting their food production to climate change, as well as increase the revenue from small-scale agriculture. It is estimated that 40,000 households will be reached by 2026. Another important aspect of the project is to ensure entrepreneurship training for women and the younger generations in Niger.  

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Canada announces US$21 million in humanitarian assistance for Nigeria

On June 23, 2021, the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Nicolas Simard, announced CA$27 million (US$21 million) in new humanitarian assistance for Nigeria.

The contribution will help fight food insecurity and provide critical health and protection services in northeast Nigeria, with a focus on women and girls who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing conflict in the region.

Twitter - High Commission of Canada to Nigeria

News article - The Guardian Nigeria

Japan highlights importance of addressing climate emergency during 10th meeting of SDGs Promotion Headquarters

On June 22, 2021, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi, among others, participated in the 10th meeting of the SDGs Promotion Headquarters to assess Japan's progress on the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their relation to the climate emergency.

The meeting discussed a Voluntary National Review (VNR) based on the report titled 'Towards Achieving the SDGs in the Post-COVID-19 Era', which evaluated Japan's progress on the SDGs to date. The members of the meeting decided to present the report at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which will be at the UN in July 2021.

During the meeting, Suga emphasized the importance of international cooperation in achieving SDGs and that the climate emergency is a humanitarian issue. Japan aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese) 

UK government creates new Ministerial Council and Office for Science and Technology in bid to drive breakthroughs in key challenges facing UK and world

On June 21, 2021, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of a new Ministerial Council on Science and Technology. The Council will be chaired by Johnson and will set the strategy for how science and technology can be used to tackle societies' biggest challenges within the UK and around the world.

Johnson also announced that the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, will take on an additional role as National Technology Advisor and head a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy. The Office will support the Council in the development of the strategy and drive forward its implementation, ensuring that science and technology lie at the heart of policy and public service development across all elements of the government. One of the Office’s first tasks will be to identify the potential technology breakthroughs that the UK should strategically prioritize.

The announcement supports the government’s Integrated Review of Foreign, Diplomatic, Defence and Security Policy recommendation that the UK should strive to be a scientific powerhouse in the next 10 years.  

The UK government is investing £14.9 billion (US$20.0 billion) in research and development (R&D) in 2021-22, the highest level that it has been.

Press release - UK government