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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

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

UK-led resolution on girls’ education endorsed by UN Human Rights Council

A UK-led resolution on committing states to do all they can to ensure girls get 12 years of education has been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution, also backed by the UAE is the first time the Council has endorsed a resolution on girls’ education and focuses on committing states to address and eliminate the barriers that girls face in accessing quality education or returning to school, including child marriage and the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, introduced the resolution and reiterated that girls’ education is a top priority for the UK government and noted that the G7 had committed to a series of key targets on increasing the number of girls accessing education.

Press release – UK government opening speech

Press release – UK government closing speech

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

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

UK government supports new, industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce to harness global private finance for pandemic recovery

The UK government has given its support to a new industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce that seeks to expand private finance at the global level to ensure a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Impact investment is an approach through which investors seek both financial rewards and also positive environmental and social impacts from their investments.

The Taskforce, chaired by Nick Hurd—a Conservative Member of Parliament who was formerly the Minister for London—will develop a set of recommendations for Foreign and Development Ministers and the financial sector at the global level, and it will coordinate efforts at the G7, G20, and COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference). The Taskforce will explore recommendations around the:  

  • Potential global standards for measuring the social and environmental impacts of financial investments; and
  • Type of financial instruments/tools that are best suited to raise capital for socially impactful investments in climate, health, or education.

The Taskforce will meet for the first time in August 2021.

Press release - UK government

Japan will provide US$10 million for COVID-19 response and human resource development in Philippines

Japan announced that it will provide ¥687 million (US$7 million) to the COVID-19 response in the Philippines and ¥329 million (US$3 million) to increase the administrative capacity of Philippine government agencies and ministries in the development field.

The COVID-19 response funds will be used to strengthen the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain and facilitate the COVAX Facility’s efforts to ensure rapid and fair access to vaccinations.

As part of efforts to increase administrative capacity, Japan will also accept 22 young students from the Philippine government into graduate schools in Japan, to contribute to their engagement of development issues and promote relations between Japan and the Philippines.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

UK and Germany announce joint declaration to work together to promote global security, democracy, health, education, gender equality, and fight climate emergency

The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, and the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, announced a joint declaration setting out a series of global issues where the two countries will work together.

The declaration identified rules-based international order, security, and defense as key areas for close cooperation. The document also included other development issues as important to work together on, including global health and education, gender equality, the climate crisis, and conflict prevention and stabilization.

On global health, the declaration states that the UK and Germany will work together to strengthen multilateral approaches in response to and to prevent future global health crises, with a focus on the World Health Organization. The two countries will also work to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. The countries are committed to adopting a 'One Health' approach, which takes into account human, animal, and environmental health and recognizes the need for more resilient health systems.  

On conflict prevention and stabilization and peace-building, the UK and Germany announced the establishment of a new 'UK-Germany Stabilisation Partnership', and the declaration shows shared regions/countries of interest to carry out stabilization efforts, including within Africa such as in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

The two countries noted a shared sense of urgency in addressing the climate emergency, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss and agreed ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in November 2021, to align their ask of other countries to increase their impact and, where appropriate, undertake joint advocacy.  

The declaration also notes that there will be an annual German-UK Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue that will cover all matters of foreign policy and international affairs and lead cooperation and coordination.

Press release - UK government

Spain to support transformative digitalization in Africa

On June 28, 2021, the Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Ibero-America, Cristina Gallach, hosted a strategic meeting between leadership representatives from ‘Smart Africa’, a public-private partnership aimed at fostering digitalization in the African continent, civil society organizations, and the government of Spain.

Gallach underlined transformative digitalization as the cornerstone of Spain’s efforts to support sustainable development, inclusive education, women's empowerment, universal health care, and the fight against the climate crisis in Africa. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation's (MAUC) priorities in Africa were earmarked in the 'Foco África 2023' operative plan, which was approved by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ cabinet in March 2021.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

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) 

Norway becomes one of biggest contributors to Global Partnership for Education, with US$441 million pledge

On June 21, 2021, the Norwegian Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein attended the digital Nordic Midsummer Festival together with his Scandinavian colleagues, where Ulstein announced that Norway will give NOK3.7 billion (US$441 million) to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) for 2021-2025.

This corresponds with Norway's NOK740 million (US$88 million) per year to GPE, which means an increase of NOK 50 million (US$6 million) per year compared to the previous period (2018-2020). The donation makes Norway one of the biggest contributors to the partnership.  

Ulstein underlined that GPE is an important partner to ensure that all children get access to education. He argued that education is the most effective tool for securing equal opportunities for all, and it is a key element to ensuring social and economic development.  

The funding from Norway will give 88 million children, including 46 million girls, access to education. It will also provide 175 million children with basic reading skills.  

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

Norway publishes review of Norwegian assistance to Palestinian education system

On June 18, 2021, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) published its report that was commissioned by the EU on Palestine's educational material. This came after Norway's announcement in 2020 that it would withhold 50% of its yearly funding to the Palestinian education system until Palestine stopped using textbooks that Norway perceived as promoting hate and violence.

The GEI report found many improvements "in the Palestinian curriculum since 2017, especially in terms of human rights, gender equality and diversity" and that "several unacceptable illustrations" have been removed or adjusted. The report also acknowledged that the textbooks reflect that Palestine has lived under occupation and the subsequent conflict for decades. The report stated that the Palestinian Authority should "improve more of the content in textbooks and continue to improve the quality of the education".

Norwegian State Secretary Audun Halvorsen said that Norway will monitor the progress made and continue the dialogue with the Palestinian authorities as Norway decides the next steps on providing development assistance. 

Halvorsen stressed that Norwegian assistance to the Palestine education system is vital for the children growing up in the area, as well as education will be a key element in a future Palestinian state, stability, and development in the area.  

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

Norway concerned about humanitarian situation in Myanmar, increases support by US$1 million

Norway announced an increase in humanitarian assistance of NOK10 million (US$1 million) to Myanmar, amounting to a total of NOK58 million (US$7 million) this year.

Since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, over 190,000 people have been displaced in the country. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, stressed that there is a great need for humanitarian support.

Humanitarian organizations working in Myanmar must have safe and unhindered access to the population of Myanmar, said Søreide in a press release.  

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

Canada pledges US$93 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, mobilizes international donors to support

On June 17, 2021, Canada convened the International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in collaboration with UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and the International Organization for Migration. The video conference garnered US$1.5 billion in funding from international donors—including CA$1.2 billion (US$954 million) in grants and CA$742 million (US$600 million) in loans—with a total pledge of CA$115 million (US$93 million) from Canada.

The pledges will support the international response to the second-largest displacement crisis in the world. Funding will be directed toward immediate humanitarian assistance, including shelter, nutrition, health, sanitation, and hygiene for those affected by the crisis. The pledges will also contribute to longer-term development assistance to improve access to quality education, support the integration of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, and strengthen public services in host countries.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Spain calls upon EU to strengthen COVID-19 response in middle-income countries

On June 14, 2021, during an informal meeting of EU development ministries, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, underlined the need for providing middle-income countries with technical and financial assistance in order to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Ángeles Moreno proposed to create a new fiduciary fund at the International Monetary Fund to ensure that middle-income countries, particularly those in the Latin American and the Caribbean region, can have access to international funding to respond to COVID-19. Moreno also underlined the importance of continuing to promote human development as a key instrument to foster nutrition, health, and education worldwide.

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

At G7 Summit, Canada announces new support to low-income countries for COVID-19 vaccines, climate finance, and education

At the 47th G7 Summit from June 11-13, 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new financial and resource support to address inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, respond to the climate emergency, and support education in low-income countries.  

The resource and financial pledges included:

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Dose Sharing: Canada pledged 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be shared as part of the G7 leaders’ new collective commitment to sharing more than two billion doses to the global vaccine effort. Canada is also donating 13 million doses of the vaccine through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative. The vaccine sharing is in addition to Canada’s previous contributions of CA$2.5 billion (US$2.0 billion) in international assistance to the COVID-19 crisis and CA$1.3 billion (US$1.0 billion) contribution to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). 
  • International Climate Finance: Canada pledged a doubling of Canada’s previous international climate finance to CA$5.3 billion (US$4.2 billion) over five years—up from CA$2.7 billion (US$2.1 billion) over five years in 2015—which includes increased support for adaptation and biodiversity to support low-income countries in cutting pollution and building climate resilience. Canada also increased its grant contribution of climate financing from 30% to 40%. These new commitments are a result of the G7 leaders’ collective commitment to increase their 2030 targets to cut the G7’s collective emissions by around half compared to 2010.
  • Support for Global Partnership for Education: Canada pledged CA$300 million (US$240 million) over five years to the Global Partnership for Education. This funding will specifically support girls’ education and help strengthen education systems in low-income countries. 

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

With G7 in mind, UK announces US$577 million to global education, US$161 million for climate emergencies, launches new Centre for Pandemic Preparedness

The UK government made a flurry of development assistance funding and policy announcements last week, taking advantage of the fact that it was hosting the G7 Leaders’ Summit.

On education, the government announced that it will provide £430 million (US$577 million) to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) over the next five years. The UK government has also confirmed that this funding will come on top of the FCDO’s (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) £400 million (US$537 million) committed bilaterally for girls’ education between 2021-2022. The British and Kenyan governments will co-host the Global Education Summit in July 2021 and the GPE is hoping to raise £3.7 billion (US$5.0 billion) over the next five years to fund its work on ensuring access to education in 90 countries.

On climate, the UK government has committed to ensuring all its bilateral development assistance does no harm to nature in response to the Dasgupta Review recommendations, to deliver a "nature positive future". The Dasgupta Review on 'The Economics of Biodiversity', which was published in early 2021, acknowledges nature and biodiversity underpin and sustain economic growth and well-being. The UK also announced £120 million (US$161 million) in new funding to enable more rapid responses to vulnerable people in the face of extreme weather and climate-linked disasters, via pre-arranged financing schemes. The package of support was announced in coordination with Germany and the US.

On global health, the UK also announced the launch of a new Centre for Pandemic Preparedness (CPP) as part of its drive for global health security leadership. The CPP will provide genomic surveillance of human and animal infections in collaboration with other partners, that can be shared globally. The UK and US also announced a new global health partnership between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the US National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analysis, run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

News article - Devex

Press release - UK government (Climate Emergency Funding)

Press release - UK government (Nature Positive ODA)

Press release - UK government (Partnership)

UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office announces new details on governance and management structure

The UK government's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has released information about its governance and management structure. The FCDO will have five boards and committees, which will be as follows:

  • FCDO Supervisory Board – This Board will provide strategic guidance and oversight to the department. It will be responsible for reviewing risks and proposals for mitigating them. It will also assess how well the department is delivering on its key performance indicators. The Management Board, as well as the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, support and will report directly to the Supervisory Board. The Foreign Secretary will chair the Board. The Board is composed of some Director-Generals in the FCDO and non-executive Directors.
  • FCDO Management Board – This Board is focused on the delivery of departmental priorities and management, and it manages risk, performance, and reputation. It is chaired by Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service. It is composed of all the Director-Generals within the FCDO and other key Directors and some non-executive Directors.
  • Audit and Risk Assurance Committee – This committee reviews decisions and systems to ensure internal control. This includes risk management, financing reporting, and safeguarding. To ensure independence, the Committee is composed entirely of non-executive members and has no executive responsibilities. It meets five times a year.
  • FCDO Senior Leadership Board – The Senior Leadership Board focuses on talent and staffing. It reviews recommendations and agrees on appointments for senior staff in the UK and overseas. Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, chairs the Board.
  • Executive Committee – This committee reports to the Management Board and takes decisions on strategic challenges that require time-bound decisions, and it manages the day-to-day management of the FCDO. Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, chairs the Executive Committee.

Press release - UK government