Policy Updates

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Norway continues support for Syria and bordering countries

Norway will provide NOK1.8 billion (US$174 million) to continue supporting work towards political solutions to the Syria crisis. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, announced the commitments at the digital conference 'Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region' hosted by the European Union and United Nations.  

Norway has been one of the largest donors to the humanitarian efforts in Syria and its bordering countries. Since 2016, Norway has supported the region during times of crisis with more than NOK10 billion (US$ 991 million). Norway intends to continue as a consistent partner to mitigate suffering, protect vulnerable groups, and reduce state fragility. The humanitarian response focuses on protecting civilians and development workers, on the preservation of women's rights, education for Syrian children and youth, and the expansion of conflict prevention efforts.  

Press release – Norwegian Government  

Spain pledges US$11 million at Global Goal Summit

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez participated at the 'Global Goal: Unite for Our Future' COVID19 pledging summit. This event, held on June 27, was co-hosted by European Commission and the international advocacy NGO 'Global Citizen' and was aimed at raising finances for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments. 

Prime Minister Sánchez announced that Spain will provide €10 million (US$11 million) to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) aimed at combating hunger and guaranteeing nutrition standards in partner countries severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

In response to the summit, Sánchez reiterated Spain’s engagement in the global response against COVID-19 and also expressed support for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the ACT-Accelerator initiative. Furthermore, Sánchez called upon the international community to take action for protecting the most vulnerable populations worldwide, particularly women and girls.  


Press release – European Commission

Video – Pedro Sánchez's Twitter profile (in Spanish)

Swedish development cooperation ranked number one by Center for Global Development

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

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

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

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

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

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

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

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

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

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

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Bolivia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Colombia strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Cuba strategy - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

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

Center for Global Development releases 2020 Commitment to Development Index

The Center for Global Development has released its 2020 Commitment to Development Index (CDI).

The CDI measures 40 countries' global development policy effort, emphasizing the importance of policies “beyond aid” in seven areas: development finance, investment, migration, trade, environment, security, and technology. Sweden, France, and Norway take the top three rankings with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emerates scoring the lowest.

2020 CDI Executive Summary - Center for Global Development

2020 Commitment to Development Index - Center for Global Development

Canada announces US$68 million for global sexual and reproductive health and rights

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced CAD94 million (US$67 million) in sexual and reproductive health funding for the most marginalized and vulnerable women globally. This investment will go to partners working to progress sexual and reproductive health and rights including:

  • Comprehensive sex education;
  • Advocacy; 
  • Family planning and contraceptives; and
  • Sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response.

Supported programming will advocate for womens' right to choose a safe and legal abortion. 

A portion of this funding was already announced by Canada in June 2019.  

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

In bid to become first female Prime Minister of Netherlands, Dutch Development Minister announces candidacy for party leadership

On June 21, 2020, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, announced her candidacy to become the party leader of the social-liberal party, D66, for the upcoming Dutch general elections scheduled for March 17, 2021. In her announcement, Kaag explicitly stated her wish to become the first female Prime Minister of the Netherlands. 

The members of D66 will elect their new party leader at the end of August and the results will be announced on September 2, this year. 

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

Analysis of ODA spending allocations by UK’s Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggests merger will shift UK's development priorities

A new report by Development Initiatives, an international development data organization based in the UK, has warned that the planned merger of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) could shift the focus of the UK's official development assistance (ODA) away from poverty, gender, and fragile states. It also raises concerns about declining transparency as a result of the merger.

The report draws on data analysis of ODA spending allocation over the last five years by the FCO and DFID to examine how a greater alignment of UK ODA spending with foreign policy objectives might impact on future UK ODA allocations.

The analysis revealed stark differences in spending patterns across the two departments:

  • The FCO allocated 78% of its ODA to middle-income countries between 2014-2018 and 74% of its ODA over the to countries where less than 5% of the population lived in extreme poverty. In stark contrast, DFID allocated 61% of its ODA to countries where over 20% of the population live in extreme poverty, and over half of its ODA to low-income and least developed countries.
  • The FCO allocated less than half of its ODA (41%) to fragile states. In contrast, 88% of DFID ODA went to fragile states.
  • The FCO does not report on how much of its ODA is allocated to supporting gender equality. In contrast, gender equality is an important priority for DFID with over 61% of its ODA going to projects focused on gender equality in 2018.
  • In 2020 an assessment by Publish What You Fund, an independent assessor of development assistance transparency, deemed the FCO's transparency ‘fair’, while DFID ranked among the most transparent donors in the EU and third most transparent in the world.  

The report recommends that the UK legislation which requires UK ODA to be allocated for poverty reduction and gender equality, which currently only applies to DFID and not to other spending departments, be applied to all ODA spending by all departments. The report also recommends maintaining DFID expertise within the new department and establishing a new cross-government ODA committee.

Report – Development Initiatives

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

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

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

Vertical priorities

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

Horizontal priorities

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

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

Press release – Cooperación Española, MAEUEC (in Spanish)

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

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

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

Article – Norad (in Norweigan)

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

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

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

Op-ed - LabourList