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Germany’s BMZ sets target quota for focus on gender equality

On September 27, 2022, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) announced the implementation of a target quota for projects which contribute to gender equality.

The target aims for 93% of all BMZ projects from 2022 through 2025 to contribute to gender equality. Of these, eight percent of projects must have gender equality as the main objective, twice as many as in 2022. 85% (a 25% increase) of all projects will contribute to gender equality as a secondary outcome.

The BMZ also shared that it is working on a new strategy for feminist German development policy, which will likely be published next year.

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

EU pledges US$48 million over 6 years to UNFPA Supplies Partnership

On September 24, 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced an EU pledge of €45 million (US$48 million) over six years to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership during the Global Citizen Festival on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. 

The funding will support sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s rights for more than 20 million women and girls in 54 countries around the world.

Press release - European Commission

Press release - UNFPA

Canada donates US$55 million to address global malnutrition, US$57 million to UN agencies

Over the week of September 19 - 23, 2022, Canada donated CA$75 million (US$55 million) to support malnutrition and CA$78 million (US$57 million) in core funding to several UN agencies at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level Meetings.

At the Child Malnutrition Crisis: Pledging to Save Lives event hosted by the United States and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Minister Sajjan committed CA$75 million (US$55 million) in humanitarian funding to support the United States’ Call to Action on Acute Malnutrition. The funding includes CA$35 million (US$26 million) to support UNICEF’s work in treating severe, acute malnutrition and CA$40 million (US$29 million) to support nutrition programming through NGOs.

Throughout the week, Minister Sajjan met with several ministers, partners, and youth groups from around the world, pledged an additional CA$78 million (US$57 million) in core funding to several UN agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund, and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

Lastly, alongside the Ford Foundation, the Equality Fund, and government donors, Canada celebrated the launch of the Alliance for Feminist Movements, a platform to improve funding for grassroots women’s organizations and to amplify the work feminist movements undertake globally.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Norway presents development priorities at UNGA

Over the week of September 19, 2022, Norway’s delegation to the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77) was led by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide and representatives from the Parliament attended together with Støre.

In advance of the high-level week in New York, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented Norway`s main priorities for UNGA 77, including:

  1. Support for Norway’s efforts as an elected member of the UN Security Council and promote Norway’s broad priorities in the UN;
  2. Promoting binding international cooperation and respect for international law and safeguarding the multilateral system;
  3. Leading efforts to promote disarmament;
  4. Strengthening the UN’s capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts;
  5. Strengthening human rights and the international legal order;
  6. Strengthening the UN’s capacity to prevent and respond to humanitarian crises and promoting international cooperation on refugees and migrants; and
  7. Promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with particular emphasis on climate and environmental issues, energy, food security, gender equality, health, the oceans, and reducing inequalities.

The Prime Minister and the rest of the Norwegian delegation were very active during UNGA 77. Norway`s participation can be summed up in the following activities:

Keynote speech during the General Assembly
During the General Assembly, the Prime Minister delivered Norway's keynote speech and emphasized that the Russian war in Ukraine is a direct violation of the UN Charter and the global legal order, and indicating that the responsibility for stopping the war lay with Russia.  At the same time, he pointed out the war's impact on existing global crises, such as high energy prices, food shortages, and development in low-income countries. Støre called for global unity to protect the multilateral system.

Meeting in the UN Security Council
Støre also participated in a separate meeting, led by France in the UN Security Council, on the war in Ukraine. Norway and other members of the council agreed that Russia's warfare is a violation of humanitarian law and human rights.

Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting
Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Foreign Affairs, chaired the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting during UNGA. The aim of the meeting was to mobilize support for the United Nations Organization for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), which is facing severe challenges related to its budget.

Meeting about the situation in Sahel 
Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development attended a high-level meeting on the situation in Sahel, led by the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union. The purpose of the meeting was to launch a high-level panel for security, development and good governance in Sahel.

The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People
More than 100 countries committed to protecting at least 30 percent of the earth's land and seas by 2030. Espen Barth Eide, Minister for Climate and Environment attended the first steering committee meeting of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People. This is an intergovernmental group championing a global deal for nature and people that can halt the accelerating loss of species, and protect vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security.

Article - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Spain's Sánchez shares pledges, development priorities at UNGA

On September 22, 2022, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez addressed a statement to the plenary session of the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) outlining Spain's development priorities of global health, food security, climate change, education, and gender equality.

Sánchez reiterated his commitment to increasing Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of its gross national income by 2030, as underlined in the development cooperation bill that will be approved by the end of 2022.

He also provided updates on Spanish development finance and strategic priorities. Key takeaways included:

  • Sánchez's announcement that Spain would disburse up to €237 million (US$235 million) from 2023 - 2026 to foster global health initiatives, including a €130 million (US$129 million) pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and other instruments related to pandemic preparedness and global health R&D;
  • A €237 million (US$235 million) pledge aimed at addressing the current food crisis caused by the Ukrainian war;
  • An agreement between Spain and Senegal to promote the creation of an International Alliance for Resilience for Drought, an initiative that will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 2022 to be held in Egypt in November;
  • The establishment of the UN's GIGA Technology Center for digital education in Barcelona; and
  • A statement that Spain will contribute €100 million (US$99 million) over 2023 - 2026 to different organizations, including UN Women, that work on gender equality and particularly on sexual rights and reproductive health programs.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

 

Canada announces US$9 million development assistance to Philippines

On September 20, 2022, Canada announced CA$12 million (US$9 million) in development assistance to three projects in the Philippines between 2022 and 2027.

In greater detail, the assistance will include:

  • CA$5 million (US$4 million) for the Accelerating Green and Climate Finance in the Philippines: UN Development Programme from 2022 - 2027;
  • CA$3 million (US$2 million) to the Empowering Women for Sustainable Peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: UN Women and UN Development Programme from 2022 - 2026; and
  • CA$5 million (US$4 million) to the World Bank Group's Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund from 2022 - 2026 which focuses on community revitalization.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada


 

Norway's Tvinnereim speaks at Transforming Education Summit

On September 17, 2022, Norwegian Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, spoke at the 'Mechanisms for Capacity Building, Policy Support and International Collaboration' roundtable at the Transforming Education Summit.

In her statement, Tvinnereim highlighted the role of education in achieving gender equality, poverty reduction, and climate adaptation, and called for more ambitious planning and commitment to reverse the learning deficits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tvinnereim named four priorities for policy makers, namely:

  1. Ensuring that all children, especially girls, have access to quality education;
  2. Increasing the resilience of schools to increasingly frequent extreme weather events, which disrupt the education of millions of children every year;
  3. Strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus and coordination of short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term development efforts; and
  4. Full implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and UN Security Council resolution 2601.

Norway will be a co-convener of the Education Cannot Wait’s High-level Financing Conference in February 2023.

Speech - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

News article - UN Association of Norway (in Norwegian)

UK NGOs list new development priorities for Parliament

In response to a call from BOND, the UK international development NGO network, on September 7, 2022, working groups provided their priorities for the new UK government on international development.

Covering a broad array of topics, specific priorities included:

  • Publication of a fully-funded and sufficiently staffed cross-government civic space strategy;
  • Pro-active engagement by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) with NGOs to raise awareness of the importance of poverty-focused development cooperation;
  • Restored funding for civilian peacebuilding and conflict prevention and support for grassroots and local CSOs working in fragile and conflict-affected contexts;
  • Delivery on commitments made at the Global Disability Summit, FCDO Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy (February 2022), and in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto relating to girls' education;  
  • Development of a strategy for supporting locally-led funding initiatives, including transparent and trackable targets for direct funding allocations to local actors;
  • Restoration of the 0.7% GNI/ODA target and prioritization of support for humanitarian efforts, including gender equality and food security;
  • Leadership by the FCDO in tackling racism in the sector through inclusive engagement with NGOs and people of color to create a plan to address racism;
  • Reduction of the impact of sanctions on humanitarian action by issuing exceptions or general licenses for humanitarian work across all UK sanction regimes;
  • Commitment by the Prime Minister to greater transparency and accountability of public finance, with specific regard to the ODA budget; and
  • Restoration of funding for water, hygiene, and sanitation efforts to 2018 levels and integration of these sectors into the UK’s global health and climate approach.

News article – BOND

Australia will provide additional US$14 million in COVID-19 budget support for Timor Leste

Timor-Leste's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Adaljiza Magno, announced Australia committed to providing an additional A$20 million (US$14 million) to support Timor-Leste's budget programs during fiscal year (FY) 2022/23.

In a joint press conference in Timor-Leste, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong indicated that the increased A$20 million (US$14 million) in development assistance will be provided as budget support for the COVID-19 response. The funding will add to the Timor-Leste government’s Bolsa da Mãe Jerasaun Foun program to support mothers and children and the village development program (PNDS).

The Australian government also aimed to expand its Labour Mobility Scheme to enable people from Timor Leste to work more easily in Australia.

Transcript – Foreign Minister of Australia

Sweden partially restores development assistance cuts

Sweden has announced it intends to restore SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) of the SEK9.1 billion (US$850 million) it initially diverted from its international development budget in 2022 - roughly 18% of its annual development assistance spending - to cover the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees in-country.

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans said that the latest decision followed a lower forecast from the country’s migration agency last month on Ukrainian refugee numbers this year. 

The move - which follows an earlier reinstatement of SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) in June 2022 for climate, democracy, and human rights assistance - was met by relief by development advocates. They have criticized Sweden’s proposed development budget cuts, highlighting the government's hasty decision to freeze substantial parts of development spending before the full impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was clear.

Currently, SEK6.1 billion (US$570 million) of the SEK57.4 billion (US $5.3 billion) in development spending for 2022 - roughly 11% - will go to in-donor refugee costs. This represents a lower share than the period from 2015-2017 when Sweden took in large numbers of Syrian refugees, though higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.

Press Release – Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

UK outlines specifics on funding uses for US$295 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine

The UK released a new report highlighting where its £220 million (US$295 million) in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine is going. The report highlights that 6.6 million people are displaced inside Ukraine, and 5.8 million people are registered as refugees across Europe, making it one of the fastest-growing refugee crises since World War II.

UK funding, which includes £145 million (US$194 million) for the UN and Red Cross Agencies and an additional £25 million (US$34 million) in matched funding to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal (DEC), is focused on supporting the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly, and disabled. The UK has three core objectives:

  • Providing assistance in Ukraine and to people seeking refuge in the region;
  • Working with others to deliver a well-coordinated and well-funded response; and
  • Advocating for respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Report – UK Government

UK unlikely to meet fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI due to inflation

The UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an independent research institute, issued a new briefing note on the outlook for UK public finances over the coming years; the note suggests that the UK’s fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI will likely not be satisfied by FY2023/24 as anticipated by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in April 2022. The two fiscal tests set by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, were that the country is not borrowing for day-to-day spending and that the ratio of underlying debt to GDP is falling.

The IFS’s briefing note is based on the Bank of England’s August 2022 forecasts which show higher and more persistent inflation than anticipated by the OBR. The report, which provides a set of scenarios for government spending and revenue, shows that higher inflation combined with higher interest rates, will push up public spending and that while revenues will also be pushed up by higher inflation, they will likely be moderated by weaker growth in real-terms earnings and household spending. As a result, the note shows that borrowing could be about £16 billion (US$22 billion) higher than forecasted in 2022 and £23 billion (US$ 40 billion) higher in 2023.

Briefing Note - Institute for Fiscal Studies

Twitter – Richard Watts

During World Water Week, CSOs demand Netherlands and others promote gender equal, local climate solutions

Thousands gathered at this year’s World Water Week conference both online and in Stockholm to discuss global water issues from August 23 - September 1, 2022.

Sareen Malik, Executive Director of the African Civil Society Network on Water (ANEW), stressed that listening to women’s voices and investing in community resilience is key to water and climate solutions. In an interview, Malik explained that global water issues, including those caused by climate change, especially impact women. Dried-up water sources have led to some women spending significantly more time searching for water, increasing their exposure to violence. It has also caused people to travel to cities, adding more pressure to existing systems and causing conflicts at water points. Carrying water for hours harms women’s health, and water scarcity additionally affects menstrual health hygiene. Malik’s research found that some women have been forced to exchange sex for water with those who have access in order to survive.

Malik argued that addressing these issues requires involving women and girls from low- and middle-income countries in high-level political discussions. She continued that more women should be involved in the climate and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sectors to promote more inclusive water system designs and climate solutions. She also advocated for more women to govern water points to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.

In addition, Malik called on donor countries to amplify women’s voices and give them opportunities to share their experiences and ideas at important fora, like the World Water Week conference. She also highlighted the need for greater investments to strengthen community resilience so they can effectively address issues themselves. Lastly, she noted that language needs to be simplified to democratize who can participate in discussions and decision-making.

After World Water Week, Malik will visit the Netherlands to speak to ministers and members of parliament about the upcoming COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh in November 2022 and the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. The Netherlands will co-chair the UN 2023 Water Conference alongside Tajikistan.

Article - Vice Versa

Website – World Water Week

FCDO Annual Report fails to outline future ODA budgets, reflects trend to prioritize economic growth

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) 'Annual Report', released in August 2022, contained no forward-looking ODA budget outline for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022/23 against key geographies and key departments - a stark omission; the report usually contains this information. The UK’s international development NGO network, BOND, criticized the omission as a blow to transparency. The FCDO stated that it will release its projected ODA budget sometime in the fall.

The report does, however, provide some insight into ODA spending across FCDO departments between FY2020/21 and FY2021/22 when the UK reduced its ODA/GNI ratio from 0.7% to 0.5%.

Health: FCDO’s health program, which includes the 'Global Health Funds' department, had a marginally higher budget, moving from £1.15 billion (US$1.5 billion) in FY2020/21 to £1.19 billion (US$1.6 billion) in FY2021/22. However, two additional areas were counted under this programmatic area in the latest 'Annual Report': the 'Health Directorate Central' and 'Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics' work. If these two additional spending items are excluded, health spending fell by 14%, from £1.15 billion (US$1.5 billion) in FY2020/21 to £993 million (US$1.3 billion) in FY2021/22.

Education and Gender: 'Education, Gender and Equality' program funding fell by 43%, moving from £308 million (US$414 million) in FY2020/21 to £174 million (US$234 million) in FY2021/22. Specific spending items were different between evaluated years due to organizational department changes, so it is difficult to determine cut locations at this stage. However, this thematic area performed better than anticipated, as it had a projected budget of just £124 million (US$167 million) for FY2021/22 in 2021.

Climate: 'Energy, Climate and Environment' program funding fell by 39%, from £330 million (US$443 million) in FY2020/21 to £201 million (US$270 million) between FY2021/22, with the largest drop in funding to the International Climate Change and Green Growth Department; this drop was anticipated in the projected budget.

Economy: 'Economic Cooperation & Growth' was the biggest winner with allocated funding growing almost five-fold, from £61.4 million (US$83 million) in FY2020/21 to £336 million (US$451 million) in FY2021/22.  This reflects the changing priorities of the UK government toward increasing economic growth and shifting away from traditional development programs.

News article – BOND

Report – FCDO

Netherlands appoints first woman religious freedom ambassador

In September 2022, Bea ten Tusscher succeeded Jos Douma as Special Envoy of Religion (or Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Belief). Ten Tusscher is the first woman to hold the position, which was created by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 2019 to protect global religious freedom.

Ten Tusscher has served in several positions at the MFA since 1986. She was formerly Ambassador to Bulgaria, Norway, Hungary, Cyprus, Bangladesh, and Guatemala, and from 2009-2012 served as head of the department of 'Human Rights, Good Governance, Gender, and Humanitarian Aid.'

According to the Netherlands, much needs to be done to secure freedom of religion, and special attention must be paid to youth. Capital punishment is still present in some countries for apostasy or blasphemy. Ten Tusscher noted the importance of a global perspective on the importance of religion, rather than a European-centric one, which is largely secular. She highlighted that 82% of the world's population identifies as religious, emphasizing the importance of religion for diplomacy and development.

The Dutch MFA aims to protect global freedom of religion and belief through various efforts, such as bilateral engagements and dialogues with religious leaders, and at various international organizations, including the EU, UN, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), and the Council of Europe (CoE). The MFA also finances projects through the Human Rights Funds and has appointed a Human Rights Ambassador since 1999.

News article – Friesch Dagblad (in Dutch)

Netherlands holds consultations on new feminist foreign policy

In a letter, Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra responded to the Senate’s questions about the recent decision for the Netherlands to adopt a feminist foreign policy. Hoekstra reassured the Senate that broad internal and external consultations are underway to elaborate on the policy and to discuss the Senate’s questions.

The Senate’s Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Development Cooperation’s submitted a letter on June 24, 2022, to share insights and questions from faction members about the new policy. The letter reiterated that faction members were pleased with the decision to focus on a feminist foreign policy in the wake of worsening global gender equality.

The members posed several key questions including:

  • Which feminist principles will be adopted in the policy?
  • How will the policy ensure that ministries besides the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation are committed?
  • How will the policy promote coherence between different ministries in international policy as well as between national and international policy?
  • How will the Netherlands adopt a more active attitude within multilateral organizations?
  • Which budgets are earmarked for the development and implementation of the feminist foreign policy, how is sufficient capacity at the management level ensured, and how will the policy’s monitoring, evaluation, and accountability be designed and embedded?

Other questions arose concerning which stakeholders were part of the consultations, policy implementation dates, and if and when Senate members can expect to receive legislative proposals.

Hoekstra wrote that consultations on the new feminist foreign policy are being held with partners from civil society, businesses, science partners, and “the Global South”, without detailing specific stakeholders. The minister reassured the Senate the posed questions will be discussed in detail. Hoekstra also noted that he hopes the consultation process will be finalized in early 2023 and that both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be notified.

Letter to Senate – Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs (in Dutch)

Letter to Minister Hoekstra – Dutch Senate (in Dutch)

Norad to encourage private sector investments in low-income countries

Norad, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, proposed several instruments for mixed financing in which development funding would de-risk private investments to increase overall funding; results were published in a recent report entitled “How to reach the SDGs through mobilizing private investments in developing countries through development funding?” 

There is a US$2.5 trillion uncovered funding gap in current efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in low- and middle-income countries, according to statistics from the UN. New calculations indicate that this gap has increased by more than US$700 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Norad intends to mobilize private sector support to close some of the existing gap.

During Arendalsuka, the largest political festival in Norway, Director-General of Norad Bård Vegard Solhjell expressed that he wanted to challenge the private sector to think differently about investments in low-income countries. He argued that many people have an "old-fashioned" view of the African continent and that the continent is experiencing high growth and several functioning markets. Solhjell also pointed out that energy use on the continent will likely double by 2024. As such, it is likely that countries in Africa will represent the largest market for several Norwegian companies in a few decades. 

News article – E24 (in Norwegian)

Panel - Arendalsuka 

Australian ODA targeting young girls falls, says Plan International

Plan International Australia reported that Australian development spending on adolescent girls has remained steady at about 5%.  However, resources to fight gender-based violence targeting adolescent girls fell. Australia spent A$59 million (US$41 million) in this area in 2016, but funding fell to A$44 million (US$31 million) in 2020.

Plan's recent survey indicated 85% of respondents would support the government increasing assistance to support girls overseas.

Report – Plan International Australia

Sweden increases sustainable development strategy budget by US$42 million

The Swedish government recently approved a new strategy for promoting socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development conditions in Sweden's global development cooperation between 2022–2026.

The strategy – targeting people living in poverty and under oppression – amounts to SEK4.3 billion (US$42 million), a SEK250 million (US$25 million) increase compared to the previous strategy period.

Press Release – Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

USAID announces US$30 million for gender equality, women's empowerment in Afghanistan

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a US$30 million commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment in Afghanistan. The resources will be implemented through UN Women.

The funding will go to a number of areas including increases in social protection services, support for civil society organizations that are run by women for improved women's rights, and resources to improve women's economic empowerment through better access to and training for women. The new US support comes as the Taliban increasingly restricts the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. 

Press release - USAID