Displaying 1 - 20 of 168

Sweden adopts new 2021-2024 strategy for cooperation with International Fund for Agricultural Development

On February 18, 2021, the Swedish government adopted a new five-year strategy for its cooperation with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The strategy aims to strengthen IFAD's global efforts to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and poverty, particularly focusing on women, small-scale farmers, and other vulnerable groups in poverty-stricken areas.

"Food security is under pressure in many parts of the world. And climate change and disappearing biodiversity make the situation even more difficult”, said Per Olsson Fridh, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation. Fridh highlighted that IFAD promotes sustainable agriculture in low-income countries that enables populations to be fed while also protecting the soil.

In particular, Sweden’s objective is to promote IFAD’s work in the areas of climate resilience, climate impact, and biodiversity protection. In addition, the strategy aims to support gender equality and female economic empowerment.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

EU's newly released agenda for renewed multilateralism aims to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines

The European Commission and the European External Action Service released a new EU strategy for “renewed multilateralism” that includes the goal to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines through funding research and production, ensuring global access, and strengthening the global health system (including through leading on World Health Organization reform efforts).

The joint communication calls for the EU to step up its leadership and make better use of its ability to act as a "convenor, honest broker and bridge-builder,” calling for a “new generation of partnerships.”

Other categories of action include strengthening global recovery and tackling inequalities; combatting the climate crisis and building more sustainable systems; establishing global rules for new digital technologies; and modernizing global institutions.

Press release - European Commission

Factsheet - European Commission

Strategy document - European External Action Service

Dutch NGOs host debate on migration, development cooperation, climate crisis  

On February 17, 2021, Amnesty International, Greenpeace Netherlands, and Oxfam Novib organized a debate during which Dutch politicians discussed the future outlook of their political parties on international dilemmas and solutions.

Focus points during the debate included migration, the global climate crisis, and the return of the budget for development cooperation to 0.7% of the gross national income. 

The politicians who took part in the debate were Rob Jetten (Democratic 66), Kati Piri (Labor Party), and Anne Kuik (Christian Democratic Appeal), Tom van der Lee (GreenLeft), Don Ceder (ChristianUnion), Mahir Alkaya (Socialist Party), and Ruben Brekelmans (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy).  

News article - Oxfam Novib (in Dutch) 

Dutch development minister responds to parliamentary questions on climate finance for low- and middle-income countries 

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, responded to parliamentary questions about transparency concerning climate finance for low- and middle-income countries.   

Kaag acknowledged that using different methods to measure climate financing complicates making a clear overview of the funds that are provided. However, she did point out that the Netherlands has always been transparent about the methods it uses to calculate climate finance. Kaag also stated that she is not in favor of ruling out loans and guarantees as a form of climate financing because they may be suitable solutions depending on the activity and purpose of the financing. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Under Spain’s leadership, Sahel Alliance General Assembly adopts resolution to foster regional sustainable development

On February 16, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), Arancha González Laya, chaired the second General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance that took place in N’Djamena, Chad, to review the current situation of the region and advance coordination to effectively address the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of this meeting, the Sahel Alliance adopted a joint statement aimed at improving the living conditions of populations in the Sahel in a sustainable manner and guaranteeing equal access to essential services. Among other measures, it underlines the need to strengthen actions addressing the COVID-19 crisis, rural development, food security, climate change adaptation, and gender equality in the Sahel region.  

González Laya stated that the Sahel Alliance is committed to working towards post-COVID-19 recovery, strengthening public health services, as well as achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Created in July 2017, the Sahel Alliance is a regional organization that gathers the G5 Sahel member states—Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad—in addition to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions. Since June 2020, Spain holds the presidency of the Sahel Alliance for a one-year period.

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Joint statement – General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance

South Korea's Ministry of Environment contributes US$5 million as official development assistance in 2021

South Korea's Ministry of Environment (MOE) announced that it will provide KRW5.4 billion (US$5 million) in official development assistance (ODA) for international development cooperation projects on water.

The projects will specifically focus on Indonesia, Cambodia, and Uzbekistan as part of the ministry’s efforts to implement the government’s main foreign policies of the New Southern and the New Northern Policies that target South, Southeast, and Northeast Asian countries.

All the projects in the three countries will aim to improve water management and infrastructure.

News article – Newsis (in Korean)

Assistance from South Korea’s major grant agency to closely align with government’s foreign policy priorities

President Hyuk-Sang Sohn of the Korea International Cooperation Agency, the major grant assistance agency of South Korea, stated in an interview that the agency will primarily focus on the New Southern Policy and the New Northern Policy, as well as the Green New Deal, which are major strategies of South Korea.

The New Southern and Northern Policies are the major foreign policies of the South Korean government. The New Southern Policy focuses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states as well as India, and the New Northern Policy focuses on Eurasian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The Green New Deal is a sustainable transition strategy that aims to promote more environmentally- and socially-aware development based on a low-carbon economy.

Sohn also stressed that Korea will take more of a leading role in international development cooperation than it has in the past, based on its agenda and strategy.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

Previous and current Dutch development ministers kick off election campaigns of their political parties

During the weekend of February 13-14, 2021, Sigrid Kaag, Party Leader for Democratic 66 (D66), and Liliane Ploumen, Party Leader for the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), kicked off their campaigns for the upcoming elections on March 17, 2021. 

In her speech, Kaag addressed her party’s plans to tackle the climate crisis in the Netherlands by putting an end to all subsidies and tax credits for the majority of the fossil fuel industry. Additionally, the party aims to close all coal-fired power stations before 2030 and to end the bio-industry within ten years.  

On the other hand, Ploumen focused on her party’s plans to tackle wealth inequality in the Netherlands. The party also wants higher taxes for multinationals corporations and millionaires as well as a "digital tax" for tech companies such as Google and Facebook. 

News article - NOS (in Dutch) 

News article - NOS (in Dutch) 

UK hosts first G7 finance ministers’ meeting, centering green recovery, support to vulnerable countries, jobs protections, taxes on digital economy

The UK hosted its first virtual G7 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting on February 12, 2021. The UK Chancellor for the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, led the meeting by calling upon his counterparts – the Finance Ministers and Central Governors from France, Italy, Germany, Canada, the US, and Japan – to ensure a green recovery post-COVID-19 by putting the climate and nature at the center of all economic and financial decision-making in 2021.

Sunak also called for G7 countries to work with international institutions to enable vulnerable countries to manage the pandemic. This included supporting a rapid and fair vaccine distribution, and supporting debt relief, with a call for private-sector creditors to help ensure sustainable debt treatment to the poorest countries and ensure access to credit and grants for low-income countries.

Sunak also called for the G7 finance ministers to focus in the year ahead on protecting jobs and reaching a global solution to the tax challenges created by the digitalization of the economy.

The meeting comes ahead of the UK’s first G7 virtual leaders meeting on February 19, 2021.

Press release - UK government

News article - Devex

German draft supply chain law would increase companies' accountability to social, environmental standards

The German government has published a draft supply chain law intended to guarantee German companies' compliance with social and ecological standards at all stages of the value chain, including with foreign suppliers.

According to the draft law, if a German company becomes aware of a deficiency in the supply chain, it is legally required to remedy it. Companies would be fined in the event of human rights and environmental breaches and run the risk of being excluded from public tenders for up to three years.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) and Minister for Employment Hubertus Heil (SPD) have long been pushing for legal regulation entailing minimum social end ecological standards for foreign supply chains. Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier (CDU), however, had rejected these plans until now. With the newly published supply chain law, they have now agreed on a compromise. The proposed law would be a “signal for a just globalization”, Müller said.

Business and industry associations criticized the government’s draft law as a solo national effort and called for a comprehensive European supply chain law. While many supporters of the law, such as the development organizations Bread for the World and Misereor, said that the draft law would be an important first step, they criticized the lack of governing liabilities that would enable victims of human rights violations to claim indemnification.

Müller and Heil hope to see the supply chain law adopted in the current legislative period, by June 25, 2021.

News article – Deutschlandfunk (in German)

News article – Deutsche Welle

Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management outlines results of Climate Adaptation Summit, creation of '1000 Cities Adapt Now' coalition

On February 11, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen-Wijbenga, informed the House of Representatives of the results of the Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands in late January. The global summit was dedicated to elevating climate adaptation on the international agenda and presenting concrete actions. 

New initiatives discussed include the mobilization of more resources to facilitate climate adaptation and the creation of a coalition, 1000 Cities Adapt Now (1000 CAN), aimed at cooperating with 1000 cities worldwide to adapt to climate change over the next ten years.

The Netherlands itself committed to training 30 climate-resilient infrastructure officers to improve local infrastructures.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Spanish NGOs meet development leadership officials to shape assistance system reform

On February 8, 2021, representatives from the development NGO umbrella organization ‘La Coordinadora’ met with the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and the Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Magdy Solimán. The objective of this meeting was to review the current government’s plans to deeply reform Spain’s development cooperation system.

According to La Coordinadora, Moreno reiterated the government’s intentions to increase Spain’s development assistance to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income by the end of the current term of office and underlined the need to strengthen Spanish cooperation and eliminate existing administrative bottlenecks in order to effectively address such budgetary grow.

La Coordinadora took advantage of the meeting to present its proposal paper to the Spanish government titled ‘A new cooperation system to change the world’, which was launched in January 2021 after gathering input and recommendations from up to 300 people involved in Spain’s development affairs.

Press release - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Proposal paper - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Independent review commissioned by UK Treasury calls for new national measure of prosperity that takes into account value of natural world

The UK government’s finance ministry, the Treasury, has for the first time commissioned a new review into the economic importance of the natural world.

The independent review, led by Sir Partha Dasgupta, a professor of economics at Cambridge University, found that the world’s current path to prosperity is unsustainable if its impact on the natural world is taken into account. There has been a 40% plunge in stocks of natural capital between 1992 and 2014. The report calls for radical changes to global production, consumption, finance, and education to ensure sustainable growth. The report asks governments to:

  • Replace gross national production as a measure of a nations’ prosperity with a new measure that takes into account a nation's impact on the natural world;
  • Create new supranational institutions to protect global public goods such as the rainforests and oceans; and 
  • Pay low-income countries to protect vital ecosystems.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, has welcomed the review and said that it is critical that the world reverses the trend of fast-declining biodiversity.

Lord Nicholas Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics and author of a previous ground-breaking UK government review on the climate crisis, highlighted the need for immediate action now"to do so would be significantly less costly than delay" and would help lift millions out of poverty.

Report - The Dasgupta Review

News article - The Guardian

UK should ensure G7 summit shows "Western unity", finds solutions to climate and health crises, includes more African leaders, says think tank

The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), a UK security think tank, has published an article arguing for the UK government to focus on four key issues at the G7 summit that the country is hosting this year:

  1. Showing "Western unity": After limited US engagement during the Trump administration, RUSI called for the G7 summit to focus on the display of strong unity between the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Canada, and the EU, the current G7 members. While the UK government’s invitations to India, Australia, and South Korea as guests to the G7 summit in 2021 is welcome, RUSI argued that its keenness to permanently expand the G7 to include these countries and create a 'G10' risks causing divisions. RUSI particularly referred to India's differing foreign policy relationships.
  2. Addressing the twin crises of our time, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic: RUSI also calls for the G7 to ensure that as hard times fall, that world does not turn its back on globalization and resort to economic nationalism, by showing that the solution to these crises requires collective action, for example, by promoting a collaborative approach to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
  3. Recognizing the strategic significance of "sub-Saharan Africa" by belatedly inviting African leaders to key G7 meetings: RUSI noted that the UK government’s failure to invite African leaders to the summit, as has been the case for the last five G7 summits, along with the steep cut in UK development assistance, risks signalling that an Indo-Pacific "tilt" comes at the expense of Africa. According to RUSI, it is not too late to remedy the situation by inviting key African leaders to certain G7 meetings.
  4. Tackling threats to liberal democracy posed by populism and extremism: RUSI wrote that many of the threats are transnational in nature and require common and coordinated responses. 

The UK government also launched its G7 youth engagement initiative, 'Y7', which aims to gather youth leaders from around the world to enable their voices to be heard and to ensure that the G7 helps build a greener and more prosperous world for all in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release - RUSI

France, CGIAR strengthen collaboration on sustainable agriculture; France to allocate US$15 million to CGIAR over three years

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, signed an agreement on February 4, 2021, aiming to reinforce France's collaboration with the international organization, CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research).

This partnership includes a detailed action plan agreed upon with CGIAR, whose headquarters are located in Montpellier, France, aiming to support research for agricultural and rural development in low-income countries in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate action.

The collaboration focuses on three main themes:

  • Agriculture and climate change;
  • Agro-ecological transitions; and
  • Nutrition and sustainable food systems.

The action plan has the following three components:

  1. The development of ambitious partnership projects: These are backed by the 'Declaration of Cooperation and Reinforcement of Scientific Collaborations' and involve CGIAR centers, research institutes in low-income countries, and French research bodies, notably, the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), and the National Institute for Research on Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE);
  2. Soft diplomacy: CGIAR and France will have annual partnership coordination meetings regarding the international events for which they want to collaborate, which will include at least one high-level international advocacy event each year; and
  3. Financial and implementation support: France will allocate €12 million (US$15 million) to CGIAR over three years.

Within the French government, this partnership involves the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Press release - French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs

UK NGOs launch joint 'Crack the Crises' campaign advocating for government to use G7 and COP26 to tackle COVID-19, climate crisis, systemic injustices with unified strategy

UK NGOs have joined forces to launch a campaign aimed at getting the UK government to ensure that world leaders tackle the COVID-19 and climate crises, as well as the crisis of systemic poverty and injustices which are further exacerbated by COVID-19 and climate change, at the G7 summit and UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), both of which the UK will host this year. Experts see the multiple crises as intertwined and are advocating for solutions that address them head-on in conjunction with one another.

The campaign is called ‘Crack The Crises’ and brings together organizations representing more than 10 million people in the UK and include Oxfam, ONE, Bond, and ActionAid.

Website - CracktheCrises

Japan, Asian Development Bank sign memorandum of cooperation to promote green energy in ASEAN region

Japan and the Asian Development Bank signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) under the Cleaner Energy Future Initiative (CEFIA) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote renewable and low-carbon energy.

This MOC will support the implementation of CEFIA projects, as well as develop policies that accelerate research activities and foster the sharing of data and knowledge. As of 2020, the Asian Development Bank’s investment in clean energy in the ASEAN region reached US$440 million, which consisted of 22% of their portfolio.

Press release – Asian Development Bank (in Japanese)

UK assumes Presidency of UN Security Council for February 2021 with focus on COVID-19, climate, violent conflict

The UK assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council on February 1, 2021. It will hold the rotating post for a month and said it will use its leadership to focus on three key issues: the COVID-19 crisis, anti-democratic conflict, and the climate crisis.

Regarding the topic of conflict, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, expressed the UK's concern about "the situation in Myanmar", referring to the recent coup following the election win of the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's leader. The UK has condemned the military takeover.

Human rights experts fear what this could mean for the persecuted Rohingya population and other groups.

Twitter - UK government

Japanese Prime Minister discusses policy priorities during Davos Agenda

On January 29, 2021, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga provided an overview of Japan’s policy priorities during the virtual Davos Agenda, a meeting of global leaders gathered by the World Economic Forum.

Japan’s policy priorities include becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, contributing to digital expansion such as through increasing research and development and strengthening international rule-making, and promoting multilateral trade systems and free and fair economic zones. Suga also stated that a successful 2021 Olympics would symbolize global unity in overcoming COVID-19.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

UK’s independent assistance watchdog outlines review agenda for 2021-2022

The UK’s independent development assistance watchdog, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), has set out which UK government development assistance programs and policies it will review in 2021-2022.

ICAI will review the UK government's:

  • Use of official development assistance (ODA) to respond to the COVID-19 crisis one year on;
  • Alignment of UK ODA to the UN Paris Agreement on climate action;
  • Humanitarian response to COVID-19;
  • ODA to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA);
  • Use of ODA to support democracy and human rights;
  • ODA to support education in light of its commitments;
  • ODA in Afghanistan as part of a country portfolio review; and,
  • Peacebuilding efforts with a focus on gender.          

Report - ICAI Work Plan