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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

Netherlands publishes evaluation of Dutch climate finance 2016-2019

The Netherlands published a report by the Dutch Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) about financial assistance to low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) for measures against climate change between 2016 and 2019.

The IOB finds that Dutch climate finance has steadily increased between 2010 and 2019 and is on track to meet the targets of the Dutch government for 2020. They also found that a significant part of climate finance through official development assistance (ODA) is spent on climate adaptation, rather than climate change mitigation.

The report concludes with three strategies for the Dutch government that the IOB says should be considered simultaneously:

  1. Deciding on dedicated climate finance;
  2. Mainstreaming climate considerations in all development assistance; and
  3. Aligning all policies with the Paris Agreement.

The cabinet will not yet act upon to the recommendations made in the IOB report due to the current cabinet's caretaker status, and because further studies need to be carried out, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands

Germany publishes second voluntary national review on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; NGOs demand stronger sustainability strategy

In recognition of the annual high political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), the core United Nations platform for follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the German government presented its second voluntary national review (VNR).

The development ministry’s parliamentary state secretary, Maria Flachsbarth, highlighted the Agenda 2030 and its principles as a compass for a sustainable and climate-friendly recovery after the COVID-19 crisis. She emphasized the need for Germany and all countries globally to significantly increase the pace of their social and ecological transition in order to achieve the SDGs.

At the side event on the German VNR, German NGOs acknowledged the steps the German government has taken to facilitate socially and ecologically sustainable policies, especially concerning SDG 17, to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Still, NGOs called for a stricter German sustainability strategy and for more efforts by all political institutions to implement the SDGs. NGOs including UNICEF and VENRO demanded more internationally oriented politics that take into account the negative effects of Germany’s actions on low- and middle-income countries, and a stronger focus on the protection, support, and inclusion of children in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

This next comprehensive update of the German sustainability strategy is planned for 2023-2024.

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

Press release – UNICEF (in German)

Press release – VENRO (in German)

Press release – Regionale Netzwerkstellen Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie (in German)

Press release – Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung (in German)

Australian senator raises concern regarding new regulations impacting NGO advocacy

Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has reportedly written to the Australian government, voicing concerns about proposed new regulations which could impinge on NGOs' freedom of speech and political protest. 

Fierravanti-Wells was apparently concerned the measure might prevent NGOs from supporting some advocacy activities. An alliance of charities has also raised concerns that the measures represented an unjustified regulatory overreach, and would have a chilling effect on NGOs' advocacy.

The government has stated that the new regulations would expand the types of offenses that could lead to charities being deregistered such as in promoting or engaging in unlawful acts of vandalism and trespass. It appears that these would not necessarily have to be indictable offenses.

News report - The Guardian Australia

Japan commits US$60.0 billion to tackle climate emergency from 2021-2025 during G7 Summit

During the G7 Summit in the UK, Japan announced it will commit ¥6.50 trillion (US$60.0 billion) from 2021-2025 to tackle the climate emergency, which would be about ¥1.30 trillion (US$11.8 billion) per year.

The funds will be used to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, support the development of renewable energies, establish preventative measures for countries impacted by climate change, and help establish basic infrastructure and develop human resources.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

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

New Norwegian climate fund to invest US$1.2 billion in renewable projects in low-income countries

The Norwegian government announced that it would give NOK10.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) over a five-year period to a new climate fund, to invest in renewable energy in low-income countries with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the supply of sustainable energy.

Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, says the establishment of the new climate fund is a milestone in Norwegian development assistance history. Solberg argued that this type of fund is vital for addressing the climate crisis globally and especially for helping countries that have done the least to cause climate change but are feeling the impacts the most.

Allocating money to renewable investments in partner countries also contributes to targets set out in the Paris Agreement for climate action and sustainable development goals (SDGs). Solberg highlighted that the fund aims to ensure that all countries, including low-income countries, can be a part of the transition to a low-emission society. 

Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Minister of International Development, describes the climate fund as the beginning of a new kind of collaboration between public and private capital that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase climate financing, and provide returns on investments.  

The funds will be administered by the Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for low-income countries. The allocation of the total NOK10.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) will be NOK2.0 billion (US$241 million) per year for five years from the state budget and Norfund, starting in 2022. 

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

South Korea unveils Green New Deal ODA strategy

The Committee for International Development and Cooperation (CIDC) of South Korea announced the Green New Deal official development assistance (ODA) strategy as part of its foreign assistance strategy. The main objective of the strategy is for South Korea to lead global climate change response and green recovery. Specifically, the strategy mentions the following three priorities:

  • Support partner countries’ green transition by increasing the share of green ODA above that of the OECD DAC (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee) average by 2025, supporting the establishment of a Green New Deal ecosystem fit for partner countries, and excavating flagship projects tailored to partner countries;
  • Support Green New Deal ODA by leading global discussions and initiatives on green ODA, enhancing South Korea’s leadership on the issue, increasing contributions to green-related international organizations including the Green Climate Fund and the Global Green Growth Institute, and expanding partnerships with UN agencies and multilateral development banks; and
  • Expand mutually prosperous partnerships with partner countries, enhancing synergies with other domestic and foreign policies, and increasing effectiveness by following up with old projects.

Press release – Office of the Prime Minister (in Korean)

Japan’s climate resilience project for Maldives approved by Green Climate Fund

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Green Climate Fund approved the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) 'Building Climate Resilient and Safer Islands in the Maldives' project.

Many of the 1,200 islands that comprise the Maldives lie about one to two meters above sea level and have been affected by coastal erosion and rising sea levels due to climate change. JICA will support the development of a national policy on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), which will be the basis of community-led coastal protection plans for five islands. The project will also help establish an early warning and monitoring system of waves, sea level, coral reefs, and land use.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

South Korea and Global Green Growth Institute partner up for climate response in Uzbekistan

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) have partnered up to support response to the climate emergency in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan.

KOICA will provide US$6 million for a community-based green reconstruction in the country, which will be implemented between 2021 and 2024. The project will include actions to improve access to financial services for local businesses and farmers and develop climate adaptation agri-business models for local businesses.

Press release – KOICA (in Korean)

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

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

Canada to require 100% zero-emission car sales by 2035, accelerating previous target

On June 29, 2021, Canada announced that it is setting a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero emissions by 2035 to support Canada’s climate crisis mitigation efforts. 

This announcement marks an acceleration of Canada’s previous target of 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2040. To ensure the success of this ambitious new climate and infrastructure target, the Government of Canada will support a combination of investments and regulations to help the transition, including working with partners to develop interim 2025 and 2030 targets. 

These new targets are coupled with existing measures to support the zero-emissions vehicle transition, such as investments in zero-emissions charging infrastructure. 

Press release - Transport Canada

With COP26 approaching, Italy to nominate Special Envoy for Climate

At the International Affairs Ministers G20 meeting, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio announced that Italy will nominate a Special Envoy for Climate.

The twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in November 2021 in Glasgow, UK, but Italy will host the pre-COP in Milan from September 30 to October 2, 2021.

Press release – Adnkronos

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

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)

German development ministry contributes US$119 million to sustainable energy transformation in African countries

During the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) annual meeting, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development announced that as part of its international climate financing, it would provide US$119 million (€100 million) for AfDB’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa. The Fund aims to promote private investments in renewable energy sources in African countries and thereby support access to sustainable and modern energy services.

Germany is the biggest European shareholder of AfDB and is thus considered an important partner for facilitating the sustainable development of the African continent. The Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth emphasized AfDB’s key role in financing the African energy transformation, in the fight against the climate crisis, and in the creation of new jobs in the renewable energy sector. 

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