Policy Updates

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Swedish development cooperation ranked number one by Center for Global Development

The Commitment Development Index (CDI), an annual survey conducted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), has ranked Sweden first amongst 40 countries providing development assistance to low-income countries.

In addition to levels of development finance, policy areas surveyed included climate, migration, security, technology, trade, and investment. Sweden scored well across six out of the seven components and ranked first in the area of migration, third in development finance, and in the top ten in trade, investment, environment, and security.

"Sweden has a tradition of listening, learning, and improving," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The result of this year's Commitment to Development Index is proof of this constant work. We are now working on further and deepening our work to ensure long-term sustainable green development for poor people where we safeguard climate, biodiversity, gender equality, and democracy."

In previous rankings, only the G-20 and OECD DAC countries were examined, but the 2020 survey was expanded from the original 27 countries.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden initiates new development cooperation strategies for Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, greater Latin American region

The Swedish government has commissioned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to initiate preparations of new development cooperation strategies with Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, as well as the larger region of Latin America. The strategies will cover the period between 2021 and 2025 and proposals should be submitted by October 30, 2020.

All strategies will focus on areas such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, environment, climate, and biodiversity. In addition, Sida will explore options to strengthen Swedish support for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bolivia and migration in the Latin America region.

The strategy for Colombia will be developed in collaboration with the Folke Bernadotte Academy and emphasis will be also put on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and continuing to support implementation of the FARC peace agreement.

"Latin America is a heterogeneous region marked by widespread inequality. Although developments in Latin America have been positive in many respects in recent decades – democracy has spread, economies have modernized and poverty has been reduced – the challenges remain great," said Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "A regional strategy for Latin America enables Sweden to contribute to a positive development in the region.”

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Bolivia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Colombia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Cuba strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Latin America regional strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Japan supports construction of Afghanistan's first private sector gas-fired power plant

Along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP) will support the construction of a 58.56-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. According to the ADB and JICA, the gas-fired power project aims to source gas locally and reduce electricity imports, as well as attract more private sector investment and financing.

Afghanistan has the world’s lowest electricity penetration rate of 34%. According to JICA, while energy demands have been growing at nearly twice its economic growth rate, Afghanistan remains highly dependent on energy imports from neighboring countries, which consists of at least 75% of its power.

The ADB and JICA have each committed loans of US$10 million for the project. Private sector sponsors include the Ghazanfar Group (of Afghanistan) and Hassan Allam Holdings (of Egypt) will participate as sponsors, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) will provide additional finance. 

JICA has approved US$1.5 billion investment in the LEAD Fund and financial assistance totaling US$500 million since the fund's launch to support high quality infrastructure projects. 
Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister announces Spain's ODA will increase to 0.5% GNI by 2023

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, has announced that Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) will increase to 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2023. The announcement was made at the Spanish Congress of Deputies' development commitment hearing which was aimed at reviewing the Spanish government’s plans for development cooperation during the current legislature. 

Minister González Laya announced that Spain’s development policy has been restructured to support low- and middle-income countries in addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Accordingly, key development priorities will include:

Vertical priorities

  • Global health, nutrition, water, and sanitation;
  • Climate change;
  • Education; and
  • Socioeconomic progress.

Horizontal priorities

  • Feminist development policy;
  • Human rights;
  • Humanitarian assistance; and
  • Innovative partnerships.

Minister González Laya also presented Spain's 'Joint Response Strategy', a strategic plan aimed at responding to COVID-19 globally. This plan will focus Spain’s development efforts on humanitarian and emergency assistance, multilateralism, and capacity building in partner countries.

Press release – Cooperación Española, MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Norad report evaluates Norway's efforts to focus ODA on narrower thematic and geographic priorities

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) recently released a report evaluating the geographical and thematical concentration of Norway's Official Development Assistance (ODA). The evaluation is based on a political decision from 2013, in which the government, led by Foreign Minister Børge Brende, determined that Norway would increase the geographical and thematic concentration of its ODA. The aim of the resolution was to more clearly define Norway's goals and priorities while encouraging more cost-effective ODA-management. 

Between 2012 and 2017, Norway's ODA became more concentrated on a smaller number of partners and agreements; the number of development contracts declined rapidly while the volume of ODA increased. Nonetheless, the report concludes that no substantial geographic or thematic concentration of Norway's ODA spending was achieved.

Article – Norad (in Norweigan)

Former Australian ministers seek greater agricultural research for pandemic prevention

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for greater preparedness for pandemics and outbreaks of other diseases affecting the world. Former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, and former Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, are calling on the Australian government to integrate research and development in agriculture, health, and the environment in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics. An integrated approach is particularly necessary for dealing with food chains involving close contact between humans and animals.

The Australian government recently released a new development strategy titled 'Partnerships for Recovery', which outlines a shift in the country's development programming to focus on stability and economic recovery from COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region.

News article - Australian Financial Review

UK announces US$79 million in development assistance to Colombia for climate efforts

On World Environment Day, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that it will provide £64 million (US$79 million) in development assistance to Colombia — which is home to almost 10% of the world’s biodiversity — to support rainforest preservation and sustainable, rural livelihoods.

This funding comes from the UK’s International Climate Finance Fund (UK IFC), which is a pool of funding dedicated to supporting climate change. This financing builds on the £173 million (US$213 million) of development assistance that has already been provided to Colombia through the UK ICF program. The UK government has committed to doubling its climate financing in the next couple of years.

News article - inews

UK's new Shadow International Development Minister outlines Labour Party's development priorites

The Labour Party’s recently appointed Shadow International Development Secretary, Preet Gil, has set out the party’s new vision for international development. Gil has called for a strong, independent Department for International Development (DFID) that can function as a global leader in tackling poverty and inequality. While the Labour party’s immediate priority would be to focus some of the UK’s ODA budget on addressing COVID-19, Gil argued that the ODA budget must also be used to tackle long-standing inequalities related to gender, climate, healthcare, water and sanitation, and nutrition.

Gil also identified solidarity as a guiding principle of Labour’s approach to international development. In practice, this means forging partnerships with a wide variety of actors around the world (including faith groups, charities, academics, trade unions, co-operatives, movements, and businesses) and ensuring that the UK's development assistance prioritizes the inclusion and amplification of excluded or marginalized voices.

Op-ed - LabourList

UK reschedules COP26 Climate Conference for November 2021

The UK has announced that COP26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, has been rescheduled to November 2021 as a result of COVID-19. The UK was originally set to host the event in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020. It will now take place on November 1-12, 2021.  

Twitter – Alok Sharma