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Netherlands donates 745,000 COVID-19 vaccines bilaterally, expects to donate 20 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX by end of 2021

The Netherlands announced that it will donate its stock of 745,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to countries in need that have appealed to the Dutch government. Part of this stock will be made available to Tanzania and Namibia.

The donations of AstraZeneca doses are given bilaterally to countries that have applied to the Dutch government for these vaccines, but other doses ordered by the Netherlands that are no longer needed are sent to COVAX, the global vaccine initiative for fair distribution worldwide.

The Dutch government expects to donate 20 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX by the end of 2021. The Netherlands previously donated half a million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX through Sweden.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article – NU.nl (in Dutch)

International Planned Parenthood Federation poised to launch legal challenge against UK government’s development assistance budget cuts

The NGO International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has alerted the UK government that it plans to call for an urgent judicial review of the UK’s government’s decision to stop funding IPPF, arguing that the decision to cut the development assistance budget from providing 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% without changing the legislation on 0.7% is unlawful.

The UK government had committed to providing IPPF with £21 million (US$28 million) for their ACCESS program to support marginalized groups' access to sexual and reproductive health rights in low-income countries in 2021, but IPPF could potentially lose £72 million (US$96 million) if funding cuts are maintained over the next three years with catastrophic impacts predicted on women and girls. 

Dr. Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, noted that the decision to challenge the cuts was not taken lightly, and has been driven by the injustice of the decision on women and girls the organization serves.

News article - MSN

UK-led resolution on girls’ education endorsed by UN Human Rights Council

A UK-led resolution on committing states to do all they can to ensure girls get 12 years of education has been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution, also backed by the UAE is the first time the Council has endorsed a resolution on girls’ education and focuses on committing states to address and eliminate the barriers that girls face in accessing quality education or returning to school, including child marriage and the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, introduced the resolution and reiterated that girls’ education is a top priority for the UK government and noted that the G7 had committed to a series of key targets on increasing the number of girls accessing education.

Press release – UK government opening speech

Press release – UK government closing speech

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)

Sweden guarantees pension fund investments in sustainable development

For the first time, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has provided a public guarantee of SEK 1.5 billion (US$180 million) for a private bond focusing on health and social development in low- and middle-income countries, through a guarantee instrument, 'Financing For Healthier Lives'.

The guarantee instrument has been developed in collaboration with a Swiss fund manager, 'responsAbility', and Danske Bank. The funds will be lent to companies in low- and middle-income countries through Alecta (a Swedish occupational pension plan manager) and Afa Försäkring (a Swedish insurance company).

Sida’s public guarantee aims to lower the risk on investment so that, in addition to regular official development assistance (ODA), private institutional capital can be mobilized for development projects that support poverty reduction. On the international capital market, the new bond will be classified as a Social Bond, which refers to bonds that fund "new and existing projects with positive social outcomes".

Kalle Hellman, Sida's Deputy Head of Unit for Guarantees and Catalytic Financing for Development, explained that by using approximately SEK50 million (US$6 million) from Sweden's ODA, SEK 1.5 billion (US$180 million) from private funds can be invested in line with the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs), with a focus on health and social development. This will provide a good exchange for Sweden's currency, said Hellman, and Sweden could "show the market that this type of investment is both possible and interesting". In the long term, Hellman hopes that market players can make direct investments without a guarantee agreement.

Op-ed – Sida (in Swedish)

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

Sweden provides US$6 million for World Food Programme in response to UN Secretary-General's famine alert

To combat the current global hunger crisis and provide immediate relief, on July 15, 2021, Sweden decided to provide an additional SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the UN, the world is likely facing the worst famine since World War II, primarily as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. By the end of this year, the UN expects 270 million people to suffer from acute hunger and more than 41 million people to be at risk of starvation.

"We are facing a hunger pandemic and we are in danger of witnessing several major famines at the same time in the world," warned Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "The UN Secretary-General calls on us to take strong action to prevent this."

The UN said that 41 million people in 41 countries are at risk of starvation. The countries that are especially at risk are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Yemen, Madagascar, and Nigeria.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

After assassination of Haitian president, US will provide support in transition to "inclusive government", starting with COVID-19 vaccine doses

The United States supported a call by Haitian officials for an "inclusive" and "credible" government, in the aftermath of the assassination of the Haitian President. US President Joe Biden sent a delegation to the island to assess the needs of the Haitian people and to discuss the political transition.

“It’s up to the Haitians to come up with the solution to this political process at this point so we rely on them and give them all the support that we can to work conclusively, to work together to form a consensus government," said a US State Department delegation member. "The United States will definitely, along with our international partners, support an inclusive, credible government.” 

At the same time, the Administrator for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Samatha Power, testified before two Congressional committees about the need to approach development activities carefully in Haiti, noting that the assistance provided to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake had only resulted in "chaos."  Members of Congress pressed Power for assurances that the provision of assistance would be done differently to help ensure better outcomes.

As part of the new assistance, the US delivered the first shipment of 500,000 doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to Haiti, with a "significant amount" of more vaccine doses to come, according to a White House source.

News report - Voice of America

News report - Reuters

News report - Bloomberg

Sweden develops basis for new development cooperation strategy for Iraq for 2022-2026

On July 15, 2021, the Swedish government authorized the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) together with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA—the Swedish government agency for peace, security, and development) to develop a basis for Sweden’s new development cooperation strategy with Iraq for 2022-2026.

The new strategy will focus on supporting peaceful and inclusive societies in Iraq, including human rights, gender equality, democracy and the rule of law, climate and environment, sustainable development, as well as the sustainable use of natural resources. In addition, Sida and FBA have been requested to particularly consider interventions to address consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today's decision demonstrates our continued commitment and broad cooperation with Iraq," said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. "When the current strategy was adopted, Iraq was in an immediate post-conflict phase and was in dire need of support for stabilization and reconstruction. These needs remain central to the future strategy, but we also hope to put an even greater focus on democratic development, gender equality, and the environment and climate."

The new strategy will replace the existing one, which expires at the end of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Development priorities of Slovenian EU presidency will include education, gender equality, food security, health, and water

Ministers from Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from July 1-Dec. 31, 2021, briefed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the presidency’s priorities, including its focus on helping EU partner countries recover from the pandemic through focusing on education, gender equality, food security, health, and water. 

Dr. Stanislav Raščan, a State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told MEPs that the Slovenian presidency will continue promoting gender equality through all of the EU’s external actions, while also working to integrate water policy across external policies.

Slovenia’s Education, Science, and Sport Minister, Simona Kustec, told MEPs the presidency’s priorities on research include European partnerships, the European Research Area, international cooperation, and gender equality. 

Press release - European Parliament

Germany announces US$306 million in funding to WHO, 30 million vaccine doses to be shared

During his visit to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) headquarters in Geneva on July 15, 2021, German health minister Jens Spahn committed to contributing €260 million (US$306 million) to the WHO. These funds are part of previously announced pledges worth €2.2 billion (US$2.6 billion) that Germany made to the Access to COVID-19 Tool Accelerator (ACT-A).

The €260 million (US$306 million) will contribute to the development, production, and distribution of COVID-19 test kits, treatments, and vaccines. Germany will also share 30 million vaccine doses with other countries, announced Spahn.

Spahn emphasized that only an international and cooperative approach will successfully end the pandemic. Still, he defended Germany’s rejection of vaccine patent waivers, proposed by India and South Africa to the World Trade Organization. Germany is one of the last key opponents to the waivers after the US and France announced their support for a patent waiver.

News article – Ärzteblatt (in German)

News article – Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German)

South Korea provides US$60 million in concessional loans for Tunisian land infrastructure development

South Korea's Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), which is responsible for implementing concessional loans, has agreed to provide US$60 million for a land information system construction project in Tunisia.

This project is part of EDCF’s commitment to enhance digital and green official development assistance (ODA), which are key aspects of South Korea’s New Deal Plan.

News article – FN Times (in Korean)

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

Oxfam Spain launches paper with political recommendations ahead of Generation Equality Forum

With the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) for gender equality being held in France from June 30-July 2, 2021, Oxfam Intermón (the Spanish branch of Oxfam, an NGO which aims to end global poverty) and ‘L’Associacio de Drets Sexuals i Reproductius’ (a sexual and reproductive health and rights organization) launched a position paper with political recommendations for the Spanish government to assume a leadership role in fostering gender equality worldwide.

This paper underlined the need for Spain to improve political coherence and to allocate 30% of Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to the fight toward women's rights, 60% toward some projects that are especially "significant", and 6% toward sexual and reproductive health and rights programs. According to Oxfam Intermón, such measures are indispensable to effectively implement Spain’s feminist foreign policy announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Arancha González Laya in March 2021.

Despite Spain co-leading GEF’s Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Foreign Minister González Laya did not make any significant new financial announcements at GEF.

Position paper on GEF 2021 – Oxfam Intermón

Australia's Monash University starts phase 3 clinical trials for inhalable oxytocin with potential to eliminate thousands of maternal deaths in low-income countries

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Johnson & Johnson have jointly developed a form of oxytocin that does not require refrigeration and can be delivered through an inhaler.

Oxytocin is used to stop post-partum hemorrhages, a leading cause of global maternal mortality. This new form of inhalable oxytocin would be easier to distribute and less invasive than the commonly used injectable oxytocin, giving it great potential for maternal health projects in low-income countries.

The project is about to enter phase 3 clinical trials. Commercial production could still be several years away.

News report - ABC News

EU has struggled to maintain solidarity during the pandemic, finds Chatham House report

Researchers from Chatham House, an independent international affairs think tank, concluded in a new report that the EU has struggled to maintain solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. They cite the EU and its member states’ use of export bans, border closures, fraught negotiations over a recovery fund, and a slow start to vaccine procurement. 

The report does note that the EU was active on the international stage through its support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 medical tools. But it also criticizes the EU for supporting COVAX, ACT-A’s vaccines pillar, while simultaneously cutting bilateral deals with vaccine producers that undermined COVAX’s success. 

Research paper - Chatham House

Council of the EU proposes cuts to development budget of US$19.5 billion in draft 2022 EU budget, but budget would still exceed 2021 allocations

The Council of the EU adopted a position on the European Commission’s draft 2022 EU budget that would cut funding for the Neighborhood, Development, and International Instrument (NDICI) by €500 million (US$602 million) for a new allocation of €16.2 billion (US$19.5 billion).

The proposed cuts still preserve a significantly higher 2022 budget for NDICI than the allocation of €12.1 billion (US$14.6 billion) in the 2021 EU budget. 

Within the Council’s cut to NDICI in the Commission’s draft budget, €100 million (US$120 million) would come from the common provisioning fund for the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD+) and €400 million (US$482 million) would come from the emerging challenges and priorities cushion.

Press release - Council of the EU

Netherlands announces new development partnerships for 2021

On July 14, 2021, the Dutch government published a list of its current strategic partnerships for development as of January 1, 2021, as part of the government’s policy framework, 'Strengthening Civil Society'.

The Dutch government selected 42 partnerships that are funded through the four funds of the policy framework: 'Power of Voices', 'Power of Women', 'Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Partnership Fund', and 'Women, Peace and Security'. The total budget made available for the four funds amounts to €1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion) between 2021 and 2025.

A list of organizations selected for support through the policy framework can be found here (in Dutch).

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch cabinet appoints new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

On July 14, 2021, Tom de Bruijn was appointed as the new Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the outgoing cabinet starting August 10, 2021.

The announcement was made jointly with the appointment of the new Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, and the new State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management. De Bruijn will take over the former role of his party leader, Sigrid Kaag of the Democrats 66 (D66) party, who will focus on her role in the cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article – Volkskrant (in Dutch)

South Korean politicians discuss methods for improving global health assistance to support partner countries’ global pandemic response

Members of the national assembly of South Korea, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, organized a seminar on South Korea’s global health assistance strategy in the COVID-19 era.

Politicians from both ruling and opposition parties remarked on the necessity to strengthen global cooperation to respond to the global pandemic and for South Korea to strengthen its global partnerships and humanitarian assistance activities to support partner countries’ COVID-19 responses.

The seminar also brought together representatives of academia, the private sector company, and several government ministries, including the ministries of foreign affairs, health, and economy and finance. The Foreign Ministry representative commented on the need to increase strategic partnerships with global health initiatives while better preparing for future pandemics through the expansion of finance and stronger engagement with the Global Disease Eradication Fund (GDEF).

Currently, South Korea’s contributions to global health initiatives, including Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, come from the GDEF which is based on a levy on international flights.

News article – Akom News (in Korean)