Displaying 1 - 20 of 7272

UK government opens up consultation on forthcoming International Development Strategy

On July 27, 2021, the UK government announced a call for evidence from external stakeholders to help shape its forthcoming International Development Strategy. The consultation is open until September 6 for submission.

The Strategy aims to set out the government’s approach to international development over the next decade and will be aligned to the objectives identified in the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The Integrated Review set out a vision for the UK in 2030 as a science and technology superpower, with a strong focus also on trade, an open international system, democracy, humanitarianism, the climate emergency, and global health. It also signaled a drive for greater engagement in East Africa and the Indo-Pacific region.

The Integrated Review identified four key trends – geopolitical shifts (the increasing relevance of China and the Indo-Pacific region), systemic competition (between states and with non-state actors), rapid technological change and digitization, and rising transnational challenges (the climate crisis, global health risks, illicit finance, terrorism).

The government has also noted that the forthcoming International Development Strategy will maintain a focus on the seven core priorities for UK official development assistance in 2021-2022, outlined by UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in December 2020:

  1. Climate change and biodiversity;
  2. Global health security;
  3. Girls’ education;
  4. Open societies and conflict;
  5. Humanitarian and crisis response;
  6. Science and technology; and
  7. Economic development and trade.

The call for evidence is centered around stakeholders responding to four key questions:

  1. How might progress on international development until 2030 be impacted by the trends identified in the Integrated Review, and how should the UK respond?
  2. What could success in 2030 look like in terms of meeting the needs of the poorest and most marginalized and increasing opportunities for countries to become self-sustaining?
  3. How and where can the UK government's international policy and activity best support long-term international development outcomes?
  4. How and where can the government's development work best support the UK’s wider strategic objectives set out in the Integrated Review?

Submissions to the review should be sent to <IDSCallForEvidence@fcdo.gov.uk>.

Press release - UK government

Australian government examines possibility of establishing mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Australia

The Australian government is assessing proposals to establish a large-scale mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Australia. There have been more than a dozen proposals after the government called for applications.

In the short term, the production of a domestic mRNA vaccine is likely to hinge on producing the Moderna vaccine, as Pfizer has confirmed it has no current plans to manufacture vaccines in Australia.

There is also no current facility that could manufacture these vaccines in Australia.

News article - ABC News

Japan to provide one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Cambodia

Japan announced that it will provide one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in Japan to Cambodia through the COVAX Facility, the global vaccines initiative.

As of July 21, 2021, about 69 thousand COVID-19 cases and one thousand related deaths have been reported in Cambodia. On July 23, Japan will airlift 300 thousand doses from Japan to Cambodia. The vaccines are expected to contribute to Cambodia’s prevention of the COVID-19, and Japan will continue to work with Cambodia to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Japan’s Foreign Minister and WHO's Director-General discuss universal healthcare coverage, global COVID-19 vaccine delivery, Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, discussed universal healthcare coverage, COVID-19 global vaccine delivery, and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit.

Adhanom thanked Motegi for Japan’s work leading the global initiative for universal healthcare coverage, as well as for Japan's infectious disease measures implemented in opening a safe and secure Olympics and Paralympics.

Motegi highlighted the importance of ensuring global access to the COVID-19 vaccine and phase two studies to elucidate the origin of the virus. Motegi also stated that Japan will hold the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021, an event to work toward all people having access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food by 2030.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

New Spanish foreign minister visits AECID headquarters, outlines priorities

On July 23, 2021, a few days after taking over the role as the new Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares visited the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) to meet with the leading members and introduce himself to government officials involved in development affairs.  

Albares emphasized the importance of Spain’s development policy and referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as the most pressing challenge the world is currently experiencing. He outlined universal access to new vaccines and supporting COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, as his top priorities to address.

Press release – AECID

EU on track to share more than 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with low- and middle-income countries by end of 2021

EU member states are on track to exceed the EU’s initial goal to share 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with low- and middle-income countries in 2021, to instead reach 200 million shared by the end of the year.

The doses will mostly be shared via COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 medical tools.

The initial goal to share 100 million doses in 2021 was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on behalf of Team Europe (EU Institutions, EU member states, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) at the Global Health Summit in Rome on May 21, 2021.

Press release - European Commission

Sweden appoints new Ambassador to Bolivia, marking change to on-site Ambassador at Bolivian Embassy

On July 22, 2021, Sweden appointed Nicolas Weeks as its Ambassador to Bolivia, meaning that the Bolivian Embassy will be led by an Ambassador on site in La Paz, Bolivia, whereas previously, the Embassy has been led by a chargé d'affaires in Bogotá, Colombia.

Weeks currently serves as a Ministerial Counsel at the Swedish Embassy in Thailand. He has also held positions at the:

  • Swedish Embassy in Beijing, China;
  • Swedish Consulate in New York, US; and
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden.

Weeks will assume his new position on August 15.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides additional US$6 million to WHO Regional Office for Africa

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden has decided to increase its support to the World Health Organization (WHO) by SEK50 million (US$6 million) in 2021. The additional funding will be earmarked for the WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), supplementing the previous contribution of the same amount in 2020.

The funding is specifically aimed at strengthening the WHO's work in African countries, based on country-specific needs and analyses.

Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation, emphasized that funding provided to contribute to the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines must not overshadow other critical development efforts. Fridh said that the support should improve WHO AFRO’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic now as well as strengthen health systems for the future.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

European Commission to spend US$145 million on 11 new COVID-19 research projects

The European Commission has selected 11 new research projects focused on tackling COVID-19 for a total of €120 million (US$145 million) in funding from Horizon Europe, the EU’s research program.

The 11 research projects include research teams from 40 countries and will include support for clinical trials for new treatments and vaccines, the development of large-scale COVID-19 cohorts and networks beyond Europe's borders, and the reinforcement of and widened access to research infrastructures, such as the European COVID-19 Data Platform.

The projects will help to build the proposed new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) by contributing to HERA’s first pilot project, the HERA Incubator. 

Press release - European Commission

US global health stakeholders debate new US approach to global health preparedness

Global health advocates are debating various legislative proposals to establish a new global health preparedness structure within the US government. One of the leading proposals was co-sponsored on a bipartisan basis by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat), and the Ranking Member, Senator James Risch (Republican). 

The bill, the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021, would add structure to a US pandemic response, including new leadership roles at the National Security Council (NSC) and the US Department of State. Other measures proposed in the legislation include applying more reforms at the World Health Organization and meeting the global goals for vaccination of at least 60% of all countries by the first half of 2022. The legislation also calls for the creation of a new global fund for both pandemic preparedness and global health security.

The Senate bill is not the only legislation to address this. There are several House of Representative bills as well as funding proposals from the Biden administration, which have made global health security a priority. Advocates are split on some of the legislative provisions, including how a fund should be established. Some want the creation of an entirely new global fund, while others support using existing funds. All global health experts, however, think that more funding is needed.  

One other issue under debate is how such a pandemic preparedness effort should be led. Some want the NSC to lead, while others prefer that role be housed in the US State Department. One other concern is that the global health role of the US Agency for International Development will be undercut by these new structures.

Although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has signaled that it wants to speed up the process of this legislation, it is not clear, given all of the other large priorities before Congress, that quick action will be possible.

News article - Devex

Germany provides US$8 million to Climate Change Competence Centre in Burkina Faso

The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the main funder of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), provided €7 million (US$8 million) for the establishment of the Climate Change Competence Centre, which will serve as WASCAL’s research and data hub in Burkina Faso.

The ceremony for the commencement of the Centre took place at the WASCAL Ministerial Council's 4th biennial meeting on July 23, 2021.

WASCAL was initiated by eleven West African countries and the BMBF in 2010, and it leads research and capacity-building programs related to climate change adaption and land use management in West Africa.

In a statement, the German Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, emphasized the relevance of strategic and international partnerships to mitigate the climate emergency and foster the adaption to it. WASCAL, serving as a partnership between West African countries and Germany, makes a significant contribution to regional research on climate change in West Africa, she said.

Press release – Ministry of Education and Research (in German)

Press release – WASCAL

Think tank believes Australia needs international pressure leading up to COP26 climate change conference

Richie Mercian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute, has written that Australia’s poor record on addressing the climate emergency is likely to continue at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021.

Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is the largest exporter of coal and natural gas. 

He believes that international pressure is needed to move Australia forward on climate change action. Examples of pressure to date include criticism of Australia for obstructing progress on Article 6 at the COP25 negotiations in 2019, the impact of the EU proposing a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), and the denial of Australia's speaking slot at the UK-hosted Climate Ambition Summit held in December 2020.

Op-ed - The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit 

UK NGO platform, BOND, calls for government to set new course for development strategy

The UK international development NGO platform, BOND, has issued a new report outlining a set of principles and recommendations for guiding the UK government’s forthcoming International Development Strategy, which is currently being written and is due to be released in the autumn of 2021.

The report calls for the UK government to set ambitious goals for its role in helping to ensure that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are met. This must include tackling current challenges such as vaccine equity, civil society "crackdowns", and the climate emergency.

The report calls for the strategy to be evidence-based and focused on human rights and poverty, and it in particular calls for the strategy to be built around the international commitments on effective development principles outlined in the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda, as well as rooted in the evidence of what principles and actions work well, which the UK’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact has collected. The report also calls for the strategy to be predicated on a return to 0.7% official development assistance of gross national income and sets out high standards of transparency and accountability to recipients and British taxpayers.

The report also calls for the UK government to take on board the need to decolonize development, with a focus on tackling structural inequalities, exclusions, racial injustice, gender inequality, and putting the most marginalized first.

BOND's report calls for the government to use all the tools at its disposal for development, including trade and diplomacy, to achieve core development objectives – defending international law and humanitarian access and using its influence to reshape rules for trade to low and middle-income countries.

News article - BOND

Report - BOND

UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office reportedly planning to cut wage bill by as much as 20%

The international news outlet, Bloomberg, is reporting that the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) is planning to cut its wage bill by as much as 20%.

The article, which is based on an anonymous source, suggests that much of the wage bill cuts will come from cutting workers on international development projects that are no longer going ahead, due to the government’s decision to reduce its official development assistance (ODA) from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% in 2021, resulting in a £4.0 billion (US$5.4 billion) cut. However, in order to reach the target, Bloomberg reports that further posts will need to be cut and that some redundancies are likely to be needed.

The FCDO is apparently in the final stages of the process. An FCDO spokesperson contacted by Bloomberg said no decision had been taken.

News article - Bloomberg

Spanish member of parliament, Pilar Cancela, appointed as State Secretary for International Cooperation

On July 20, 2021, the new Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation (MAUC) José Manuel Albares announced a restructuring of the Spanish foreign ministry which will account for:

  • State Secretary for Foreign and Global Affairs;
  • State Secretary for the European Union;
  • State Secretary for International Cooperation; and
  • State Secretary for Ibero-America and the Caribbean.

While the former State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, was appointed as the new State Secretary for Foreign and Global Affairs (the Foreign Minister’s right-hand person), the governing social-democratic Socialist Party member of parliament, Pilar Cancela, was appointed as the new State Secretary for International Cooperation to steer Spain’s development policy.

Cancela was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and she holds a bachelor's degree in law studies. She is a member of the Socialist Party's executive board since 2017, in charge of the party's secretariat for foreign affairs and migrations. She worked in the Galician regional government, and in 2016 she was elected as a member of the national parliament, the Congress of Deputies. Just before her appointment as State Secretary, Cancela chaired the Congress of Deputies' Committee on Gender Equality. 

Press release – MAUC

France will reach 0.7% ODA of GNI target by 2025, according to new development bill

After substantive debates on both parliamentary chambers and following a commitment made by President Macron at the early stage of its mandate, France adopted a new program and orientation bill on solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities.

According to the law, France will aim to allocate 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA) by 2025, with the envisioned trajectory of 0.52% in 2021, 0.56% in 2022, 0.61% in 2023, 0.66% in 2024. This would result in an additional 6.3 billion (US$7.6 billion) allocated to development assistance in 2025, compared to current 2021 volumes.

At least 70% of France’s ODA (excluding debt relief and loans to international financial institutions) would consist of grants, and 65% of ODA will be channeled bilaterally.

Geographical priorities have also been set by the new law; by 2025, 25% of ODA will be allocated to 19 priority countries, mainly located in sub-Saharan Africa, meaning the regions of Eastern, Western Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union. 75% of ODA (and 85% of French Development Agency’s activities) will be directed to the African continent and the Mediterranean region, and 50% of ODA to the 19 priority countries.

The bill sets three objectives to France’s ODA:

  1. The fight against poverty, malnutrition and global inequalities, and the promotion of education and health;
  2. The promotion of human rights, in particular children’s, of the rule of law and democracy, and Francophonie; and
  3. The protection of global public goods.

In addition, gender equality has become a cross-cutting objective of French development policy. By 2025, 75% of bilateral ODA will have gender equality as one of many significant objectives, and 20% of projects will have gender as their principal objective.

The law also plans to modernize France's development policy through the introduction of new mechanisms such as:

  • An ODA evaluation independent committee;
  • An annual Parliamentary review of ODA’s effectiveness and coherence, and of citizen’s perceptions of ODA;
  • An open database on bilateral and multilateral ODA; and
  • The launch of a Fund for Innovation in Development headed by Nobel Prize Laureate Esther Duflo.

Funding bill - National Assembly (in French)

News article - Focus 2030 (in French)

UK government launches consultation on new trading rules for low and lower-middle income countries

The UK government has started to consult on a new set of trading rules, the proposed ‘Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS)', for low- and lower-middle-income countries. The rules are aimed at helping low- and lower-middle-income countries trade their way out of poverty and will also benefit UK consumers with hopefully lower costs.

The UK government is still operating under the same rules as the European Union’s scheme but is now keen to take a simpler and more pro-growth approach to trade with these countries. The proposed DCTS would apply to 70 countries and aims to lower tariffs compared to those in the EU scheme and simplify rules of origin required for exporting in order to reduce bureaucracy. 

The consultation was launched on July 19, 2021 and will last for eight weeks and seeks views from all stakeholders.

Press release - UK government

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

Vice President of South Korea’s grant assistance agency calls for ODA increase and stronger development effectiveness

Vice President Min-Hyeon Song of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), South Korea’s largest grant assistance agency, stressed the need to increase South Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) budget in a recent interview.

Although the OECD DAC (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee) members' target for ODA is 0.7% ODA of gross national income (GNI), South Korea’s ODA/GNI in 2020 was 0.14%.

Song discussed the need to focus on areas such as green and digital new deal strategy in ODA to help partner countries achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. He also emphasized the importance of strengthening South Korea’s development cooperation effectiveness. While major donors' ODA agencies are in charge of 80% of the government’s development cooperation, KOICA is currently in charge of around 53% of South Korea’s grant assistance.

News article – Herald Economy (in Korean)

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