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EU to deepen relationship with Horn of Africa on peace, human development, economic recovery

In establishing a new strategy with the Horn of Africa, the EU will deepen its strategic relationship with the region on areas of cooperation such as democracy, peace and security, social and human development, trade and regional integration, and post-COVID-19 social and economic recovery. 

The EU’s new strategy will promote multilateralism, provide "principled" humanitarian assistance, address the growing impact of the climate crisis and environmental degradation, enhance resilience, and strengthen the health sector while exploring potentially boosting local vaccine manufacturing capacity. Providing the region’s young people with skills and education will drive the EU’s approach to social and human development.

Press release - Council of the European Union

Strategy - Council of the European Union

Netherlands publishes report on development cooperation policy coherence in 2020-2021

On May 6, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, sent the Dutch parliament an overview of policy coherence with regard to development cooperation and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) between April 2020 and March 2021.

In the letter to the parliament, Kaag highlighted how the Netherlands supports climate change mitigation through the new Dutch investment fund, Invest International, and advocates for climate financing on an international level.

This year's report included the progress made in gender equality. Kaag stated that the Netherlands aims to integrate more gender equality perspectives in the design phase of new programs.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

UK and India enter into new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, includes focusing on global health and climate crisis

The UK government entered into a new ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership' with India on May 4, 2021, the first such partnership granted by India to a European country.

The partnership was agreed upon following a meeting between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, and it is guided by an ambitious '2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations' plan over the next ten years. The plan, beyond clearly marking intentions to strengthen ties on trade and defense, also sets out how India and the UK can jointly cooperate to tackle global challenges such as global health and the climate crisis.

On the climate crisis, the plan calls for the two countries to come together in stepping up actions on the development of clean energy, transportation, and protecting biodiversity. It also calls for greater collaboration on helping low-income countries adapt to the impact of climate change, given the UK and India’s respective roles as co-chairs of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). The plan calls on the countries to work through the Adaptation Action Coalition to accelerate helping partner countries adapt to climate change. Finally, the plan calls for the creation of a new multi-country Technical Assistance Facility and Fund (TAFF) to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) develop more resilient infrastructure.

Regarding global health, the plan calls for the current India-UK Health Partnership to be expanded to cover global health security and pandemic resilience with a leadership role on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR). The partnership also calls for steps to be taken to ensure that critical medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplies reach those in need.

For both climate and global health, the plan calls for the UK and India to collaborate in research and innovation, as well as for working on clean energy, the environment, circular economy, and urban development.

Press release - UK government

Policy paper - UK government

UK hosts G7 meeting, agrees to uphold democracy, support equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution, provide financial support to countries facing famine

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, chaired a meeting of the G7’s foreign and development ministers last week on May 3-4, 2021, in London. The UK government also invited government representatives from India, Australia, South Korea, and the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reflecting the UK’s foreign policy goal of leaning in more to the Indo-Pacific region's growing strategic importance. Representatives from South Africa were also guests.

The G7 ministers agreed to defend democracy, increase funding to the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, provide funding for countries facing famine, and step up their efforts to help partner countries become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis.

On upholding democracy and human rights, the G7 foreign and development ministers agreed to:

  • Uphold media freedom around the world, including by increasing funding to the Global Media Defence Fund;
  • Bolster their response to threats to democracy, including through a new North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership aimed specifically at tackling threats such as vaccine disinformation; and
  • Support the new Canadian-driven action plan on tackling arbitrary detention.

On ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the ministers:

  • Endorsed the COVAX Facility as a primary way for countries to share vaccines globally;
  • Agreed to increase funding to the Facility, though no specific pledges of increased funding were announced; and
  • Committed to working toward expanding manufacturing for affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

On addressing famines, the ministers:

  • Agreed to provide £5.0 billion (US$6.7 billion) in humanitarian assistance to those countries facing famine, including Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria; and
  • Committed their support for the World Bank and UN on preparedness and early action to prevent famines.

On addressing the climate crisis, the ministers:

  • Agreed to do more to help low-income countries build resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve planning and response to climate-related disasters; and
  • Welcomed the role of the private sector in supporting climate resilience.

These agreements came in addition to the ministers' commitments to enhance girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment.

Press release - UK government

Statement - European External Action Service

Spain and Mexico strengthen cooperation to tackle COVID-19 crisis worldwide

On April 30, 2021, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC), Arancha González Laya, met with the Mexican Secretary for External Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, to review current global challenges and advance bilateral cooperation partnerships.

As a result of the meeting, Spain and Mexico decided to strengthen collaborations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to foster equal and universal access to new vaccines, treatments, and other health goods. González and Ebrard also aligned strongly on other development areas, such as addressing gender equality and the climate emergency.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Sweden strengthens support for UN Peacebuilding Fund

On April 28, 2021, the Swedish government adopted its first strategy for Sweden’s cooperation with the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), focusing primarily on gender equality, climate, and conflict prevention.

Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation, stressed the importance of not only providing support when conflict arises but also working to prevent conflict and staying after conflict has ended to ensure continued peace.

Sweden has contributed more than SEK 235 million (US$28 million) to the PBF for its work in countries such as Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Papua New Guinea, and Somalia, and it is as such one of the largest donors to the Fund.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power confirmed to head USAID, role to be elevated to US National Security Council

By a bipartisan vote, former UN Ambassador Samantha Power was confirmed as Administrator to the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The vote in the Senate was 68-26 and was met with enthusiasm from development groups and her new colleagues, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  

In a first for a USAID Administrator, her role will be elevated to be a part of the US National Security Council.

Power addressed her priorities in her confirmation hearing in March 2021, saying that she would aim to enhance USAID's work addressing food security, education, gender equality, global health, as well as the "interconnected and gargantuan" current global issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, state collapse, and "democratic backsliding",

News article - CNN

European Parliament adopts 2021-2027 EU research program, Horizon Europe, with strong focus on health, climate crisis, digitalization

The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to adopt Horizon Europe, the EU’s new €95.5 billion (US$113.6 billion) research program for 2021-2027, which has a strong focus on research and innovation for global challenges like the climate emergency, digitalization, and the COVID-19 crisis. 

Horizon Europe consists of three pillars:

  1. Excellent Science;
  2. Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness; and
  3. Innovative Europe.

The program has applied since January 1, 2021, when it was provisionally put in place by the European Commission. 

Press release - European Parliament

European Commission President calls for African Green Deal for pandemic recovery

During a recorded opening message for the EU-Africa Forum on Green Investment in Africa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for an ‘African Green Deal’ to drive a green recovery on the continent. 

Von der Leyen said that just as the EU’s recovery will be driven by the European Green Deal, the same could be true for Africa because the green transition is intended to fight the climate crisis as well as provide an economic opportunity.

The EU will work with African governments to see how it can be a partner in efforts toward a green transition in Africa, she said, including through green investing ahead of the COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference) and the next EU-Africa Summit in spring of 2022.

News article - Euractiv

European Parliament calls for EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy to promote global transition to fair and sustainable agri-food system

A report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Development has called for the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy to help enable a global transition to resilient, fair, and sustainable agri-food systems that provide safe and affordable food for the global population. 

The report stated that the EU should help tackle all forms of malnutrition in humanitarian and development contexts, including in low-income countries. It emphasized the need for the Farm to Fork strategy to explicitly address gender inequality, strengthen resilience to climate change for smallholder farmers, and protect workers’ rights. 

The Committee on Development also encouraged the EU to support capacity-building for regional integration efforts such as the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

Report - European Parliament

With new 50-52% emission reduction goal, US under Biden steps back into climate fight

US President Joe Biden convened the two-day Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders, resulting in multiple commitments to tackle the climate crisis, including the US' new target for reducing emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

The Biden administration, which rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in office, has adopted a "whole-of-government" approach to climate both from a domestic and global perspective. The US announced several specific initiatives to help low-income countries meet climate challenges. The Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with partner countries to help plan and meet their strategies for zero emissions and climate-resilient futures.  

The US International Development Corporation announced that it will set its own climate investment goals to have both a net-zero investment portfolio by 2040 and a climate nexus in at least one-third of all its investments by 2023.

The Biden administration will also focus on mobilizing finances for climate investments, including an intent to significantly increase the US contribution to global climate financing. The increase in funding will require Congressional approval.

The full set of announcements included measures to help with changes to workforce skills and needs, innovation and new technologies, and specific regional and sectoral needs. The Summit, which included a broad array of heads of state, leaders of international organizations, businesses, and Indigenous communities, addressed a wide range of climate issues, solutions, and commitments.

Press release - The White House

EU Council reaffirms solidarity in global fight against COVID-19 crisis

The Council of the EU released conclusions reaffirming Team Europe’s (made up of the European Commission, EU member states, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) commitment to global solidarity in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts.

The Council called for an inclusive and green post-pandemic recovery and for EU development funds to be programmed to support a transformative impact that is aligned with the development needs of EU partner countries. 

Conclusions - Council of the EU

At US climate summit, Germany recommits to climate goals, applauds Biden’s efforts on emission reductions

On April 22-23, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the virtual climate summit convened by US President Joe Biden. At the event, attended by 40 heads of state, Biden, who rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate on his first day in office, announced that the US aims to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% by 2030.

Merkel and the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, celebrated the news that the US government would once again take a leadership role in the international fight against the climate emergency.

Germany welcomes the US’ commitments to reduce emissions, Merkel said, and Germany will continue its contribution to reaching the binding EU goal of a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Merkel also highlighted the higher-income nations’ commitment to mobilize US$100.0 billion each year until 2020 to support low-income countries in adapting to climate change and said she believes this agreement should be extended at least until 2025.

Müller also emphasized the relevance of joint international action in climate protection, including the US as a leading nation, but criticized the slow implementation of an international energy transition. Müller also pointed to the high-income nations’ responsibility to further invest in global climate protection measures, since low-income countries will be the most affected by the consequences of the climate crisis.

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

News article - deutschland.de

News article - Handelsblatt (in German)

Australia commits US$123 million to protect ocean environments, develop regional carbon offset scheme

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a A$100 million (US$77 million) investment to manage coastal areas and oceans and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the climate crisis.

The A$100 million (US$77 million) investment focuses on boosting 'blue carbon' ecosystems (especially those with seagrass and mangroves, to help capture carbon), supporting Australian Marine Parks, expanding the Indigenous Protected Areas, and protecting marine species.

The government also committed A$60 million (US$46 million) for developing a carbon offset scheme for the Indo-Pacific.

These investments will fit within Australia’s Climate Change Action Strategy announced in December 2020.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Finance in Common Summit in Italy will bring together public development banks to contribute toward COVID-19 response and tackling climate crisis

The second edition of the Finance in Common Summit (FiCS) will be held in the autumn of 2021 in Rome, Italy, within the framework of Italy's Presidency of the G20, to focus on the contribution of public development banks to the transformation of agriculture for food security, adaptation to climate change, and protection of biodiversity. 

It will be hosted by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) (the Italian National Promotional Institution and Financial Institution for Development Cooperation) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with support from the members of the Finance in Common Coalition. The event will bring together over 450 public development banks and other stakeholders with the goal of providing financing for COVID-19 response, economic recovery, and measures tackling the climate crisis in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The first edition of the FiCS was held in November 2020 with the goal of contributing to climate and sustainable development. It was co-organized by the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI) and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), along with the French Development Agency (AFD).

Press release - Finance in Common

Canada commits to reduce emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030

On April 22, 2021, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in the US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate and announced that Canada will "enhance" its emissions reduction target by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This commitment falls under Canada's participation in the Paris Agreement and exceeds previous targets set by Canada. 

Trudeau's announcement aligns with Canada’s commitment to establish a "green recovery for the COVID-19 pandemic" and Canada’s investment in a Net Zero Accelerator to encourage the development of technologies that help reach the goal of net-zero emissions.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada 

UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will have US$10.9 billion ODA budget for 2021-2022, nearly quarter less than in 2020

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Commonwealth and Development, Dominic Raab, announced on April 22, 2021, that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will be responsible for delivering £8.1 billion (US$10.9 billion) of official development assistance (ODA) in 2021-2022, which is a reduction of 23% based on the UK’s 2020 provisional ODA figures.

Other government departments will be responsible for an additional £1.8 billion (US$2.4 billion), as announced in January, making the total UK ODA budget £9.9 billion (US$13.3 billion) in 2021-2022.

Raab also provided headline budget figures for key thematic priorities for the FCDO. The FCDO has allocated:

  • £534 million (US$729 million) for climate and biodiversity and £941 million (US$1.2 billion) in 2021-2022 will be counted towards meeting the UK’s International Climate Finance commitment of providing £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) over the next five years;
  • £1.3 billion (US$1.7 billion) for global health and COVID-19 – it is assumed that this is bilateral spending, but it is not entirely clear with the text noting a focus on COVAX (the global vaccine initiative), the World Health Organization, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and it also specifies bilateral spending via individual countries;
  • £400 million (US$537 million) for girls’ education to be invested directly in over 25 countries, helping to achieve the global target of getting 40 million girls into education systems – Raab noted that the UK will generously replenish the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) (the UK is co-hosting the GPE replenishment with Kenya this summer), but refused to reveal the exact UK commitment;
  • £906 million (US$1.2 billion) for humanitarian preparedness and response, which will include a £30 million (US$40 million) crisis reserve fund;
  • £251 million (US$337 million) in research and development across the UK's priority areas and a further £38 million (US$52 million) targeted directly at science, technology, and innovations;
  • £419 million (US$562 million) in support of open societies and conflict resolution;  
  • £491 million (US$659 million) on economic development and trade;
  • £3.1 billion (US$4.2 billion) will be provided as multilateral core contributions to key global funds and development banks, including keeping the UK’s pledge to be the top donor to the World Bank’s low-income lending arm (the International Development Association), and this bucket also includes funding to key bodies such as the British Council and the FCDO; and
  • Half of its bilateral ODA will go to Africa (with Raab noting that there will be a major tilt towards East Africa), and one-third of the bilateral budget will go to the Indo-Pacific region and South Asia, while funding to China will be cut by 90% and fall to £900,000 (US$1 million).

Many parliamentarians and civil society organizations criticized the government for a lack of clarity on where the cuts had actually been made and how spending would be affected beyond the broad thematic areas. The way the data had been presented made comparisons with 2020 and 2019 ODA spending extremely difficult. Commentators were also disappointed that there was no country budget level data announced, beyond China. Raab noted that country budget allocations were in the process of being decided and further information would be released once the decisions had been taken.

A joint statement made by numerous UK NGOs condemns the announcement as a "tragic blow" for the world’s poorest.

Press release - UK Government

News article - Devex

News article - The Guardian

Joint statement - Bond

Breaking with other world leaders at US climate summit, Australia's Morrison fails to make formal commitment to emissions reduction target, instead announces US$771 million in climate technology research

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has indicated that Australia wants to reach net-zero emissions, preferably by 2050. However, unlike many leaders participating in the Virtual Climate Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden on April 22, 2021, Morrison has not made a formal commitment to a target date.

Australia's emissions target is low compared to many affluent nations—it aims, by 2030, to reach a 26-28% reduction compared to 2005 levels. The UK, on the other hand, aims to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Morrison has instead emphasized the government's support for investments in low emissions technologies. He announced about A$1.0 billion (US$771 million) for emissions-related research and development, with about half going to research on green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

News article - The Guardian Australia

South Korean President calls for global solidarity on carbon neutrality, including supporting partner countries in reducing coal dependency

At the virtual US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate held on April 22-23, 2021, South Korea's President Jae-in Moon called for global efforts on carbon neutrality while highlighting the need to support partner countries in reducing their coal dependency.

Moon also called for high-income countries, including South Korea, to help reduce the number of coal-fired power plants across the globe while simultaneously increasing investments in renewable energy in lower-income countries.

South Korea will host the Partnering for Green Growth & the Global Goals (P4G) Summit on May 30-31, 2021, to accelerate international efforts to combat the climate crisis and meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as to provide a stepping stone to the COP26 climate conference in November 2021. 

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae

News article – Segye Ilbo (in Korean)

Center for Global Development calls for UK government to return to 0.7% of GNI as ODA when economy returns to pre-pandemic size

The Center for Global Development (CGD), an international development think tank with a hub in London, has published a new blog exploring when the government should return to spending 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA).

The government temporarily suspended its commitment in 2020 in the face of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public finances, and it has stated that it will only return to the 0.7% commitment "when the fiscal situation allows". The government has failed to outline how it will decide this, despite repeated questioning. In the absence of a straight answer, the Center for Global Development has proposed three different potential scenarios for measuring "when the fiscal situation allows" that the government could use:

  • Scenario 1 – Under this scenario, the government deficit would be used as the measurement. The CGD notes that historically, the UK has met the 0.7% commitment with a government deficit of 1.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), on average. By this measure, the UK could return to 0.7% in 2023 when the deficit is projected to be around 0.8% of GDP.
  • Scenario 2 – Under this scenario, the measurement for when the UK could return to providing 0.7% of its GNI as ODA would be when the budget deficit is eliminated. The UK Chancellor of Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has stated that this scenario is his intention. However, according to a projection by the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), an official independent body on UK public finances, this is unlikely to be reached until 2025-2026. Even then it is not a given, as historically, very few governments have achieved this goal. 
  • Scenario 3 – Under this final scenario, the government returns to 0.7% when the UK economy recovers to its pre-pandemic size, which is expected in 2022. While this option might pose value for money problems as the budget was dramatically cut and then has to rise quickly again, it also allows for programs to be paused rather than canceled, with payments delayed for a year only. It would also enable the UK to announce (as it hosts the G7 and the UN Climate Change Conference in 2021) that it will quickly resume its spending, maintaining global development leadership.

The CGD notes that its preference would be for the government to opt for Scenario 3, given the shortness of the cut, as well as the ability to press pause and to retain UK global development leadership. However, the CGD stresses that whichever scenario is chosen by the government, it is important for the government to set out a clear schedule for returning to the 0.7% target to enable those in the development community to plan effectively.

Op-ed - Center for Global Development