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Japan provides US$300 million for micro and small enterprises in Turkey

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced that it will provide US$300 million in loans to fund micro and small enterprises through the 'Rapid Support for Micro and Small Enterprises Project'.

Micro and small enterprises comprise 99% of all businesses in Turkey, many of which have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, JICA aims to help these enterprises by providing emergency liquidity and contributing to the sustainable growth of Turkey’s economy.

Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

Business leaders in Japan provide recommendations for addressing COVID-19, increasing ODA for global health

A consortium of business leaders in Japan who support global health announced recommendations for addressing the COVID-19 crisis, including recommending an increase in official development assistance (ODA).

According to the consortium, by increasing ODA, Japanese companies can increase collaboration with the government and develop resources to improve global health. This aligns with the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy proposal, 'Post-Corona Japan', for multilateral collaboration.

The recommendations given by the business leaders included:

  • Promoting the expansion of private companies into the global health field by utilizing ODA;
  • Doubling the ODA budget for global health over the next five years to improve Japanese companies’ contributions toward global health;
  • Strengthening cooperation between government and private companies;
  • Encouraging multi-sector companies to enter the global health area and build strategies and systems that expand their businesses;
  • Increasing the leadership of Japan's government in international cooperation and global health, as well as spearheading international discussions on relevant policies and regulations;
  • Increasing Japan's support for innovations developed by Japanese companies to increase access to health supplies and resources in low- and middle-income countries;
  • Strengthening the development of human resources in global health, including private company personnel; and
  • Building mechanisms to develop human resources through public-private partnerships and accelerate the contribution of Japanese companies to the field of global health.

News article – Jiji Press (in Japanese)

South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture holds round table on rural development implementation

On April 27, 2021, South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Areas (MAFRA) of South Korea held a meeting on the government’s agricultural official development assistance (ODA) and brought together government implementing agencies.

The meeting aimed to establish a partnership system among relevant agencies to strengthen cooperation and to increase food security in partner countries. Each agency shared its annual plan, including MAFRA’s commitment to focus on areas such as rural development, smart farms (which aim to increase efficiency and use of resources), water resource management, and livestock diseases.

News article – Viewers (in Korean)

Japan provides US$39 million to strengthen vaccine cold chains in six Latin American countries, 25 African countries

Japan announced that it will provide US$39 million to six Latin American countries and 25 African countries in an effort to strengthen COVID-19 vaccine supply chains as part of the 'Last One Mile Support' program.

These funds aim to supplement the efforts of the COVAX Facility, a global vaccine initiative to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Japan has provided US$200 million to the COVAX Facility.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

US to share up to 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines globally, raw vaccine supplies to India

The Biden administration announced that it will share 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries. The administration said that the vaccine will become available after the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves it for emergency use.  

The FDA is expected to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few weeks and the US will then donate the supplies to other countries. The distribution plan is still in development.

The US also announced it will share raw vaccine materials with India, which has become a current outbreak hot spot. A spokesperson also indicated that the US will provide India with personal protective equipment, tests, therapeutics, and other respiratory equipment. 

News article - AP

Australian government exploring paths to send oxygen, ventilators to India as COVID-19 outbreak worsens

Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is seeking oxygen supplies from Australia’s state governments to support Indian hospitals that are running low on supplies due to India becoming a current COVID-19 hot spot.

Hunt also indicated that Australia’s federal government could donate non-invasive ventilators to India, which could be sourced from a currently unused supply that was purchased last year in case of high numbers of COVID-19 infections.

News article - ABC News

Norway calls for long-term financing solutions for global health security

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg made a statement at the Virtual United Nations Dialogue on Pandemic Preparedness and Response Architecture, emphasizing that global health security is a global public good and a social, economic, and security issue that needs long-term financing solutions.  

Solberg called for clearer international norms and standards, better coordination to develop and distribute technologies and tools, and support for capacity building. She also emphasized the role and importance of a fully-financed World Health Organization with operational independence.  

As co-chair of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council, Norway has taken part in developing a framework for how the contributors can all share the cost of getting ACT-A fully financed. Norway will work to facilitate discussions on a financing mechanism for global health security.  

Transcript – The Norwegian government  

COVID-19 crisis has hampered fight against malaria, warns German development minister

Speaking on World Malaria Day on April 25, 2021, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, warned that preventing the spread of malaria has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and that more attention is needed to fight malaria.

Müller noted that malaria deaths in 2020 had increased by 100,000 compared to previous years’ rates. The main drivers for this increase included the shift of essential medical resources and healthcare workers to the fight against COVID-19 and disruptions in supply chains, said Müller.

The number of malaria patients receiving treatment decreased in 2020 by 60% in Asia and by 15% in Africa since the beginning of the pandemic. Malaria infections are often fatal, especially for children, but can be prevented and treated by mosquito nets, pesticides, and drugs. However, access to these resources has been limited due to supply shortfalls caused by the ongoing pandemic.

In recognition of the pandemic’s disruption of malaria treatment, the German government channeled an additional €140 million (US$170 million) to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2021.

News article – Deutsche Welle (in German)

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

With new 50-52% emission reduction goal, US under Biden steps back into climate fight

US President Joe Biden convened the two-day Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders, resulting in multiple commitments to tackle the climate crisis, including the US' new target for reducing emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

The Biden administration, which rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in office, has adopted a "whole-of-government" approach to climate both from a domestic and global perspective. The US announced several specific initiatives to help low-income countries meet climate challenges. The Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with partner countries to help plan and meet their strategies for zero emissions and climate-resilient futures.  

The US International Development Corporation announced that it will set its own climate investment goals to have both a net-zero investment portfolio by 2040 and a climate nexus in at least one-third of all its investments by 2023.

The Biden administration will also focus on mobilizing finances for climate investments, including an intent to significantly increase the US contribution to global climate financing. The increase in funding will require Congressional approval.

The full set of announcements included measures to help with changes to workforce skills and needs, innovation and new technologies, and specific regional and sectoral needs. The Summit, which included a broad array of heads of state, leaders of international organizations, businesses, and Indigenous communities, addressed a wide range of climate issues, solutions, and commitments.

Press release - The White House

EU Council reaffirms solidarity in global fight against COVID-19 crisis

The Council of the EU released conclusions reaffirming Team Europe’s (made up of the European Commission, EU member states, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) commitment to global solidarity in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts.

The Council called for an inclusive and green post-pandemic recovery and for EU development funds to be programmed to support a transformative impact that is aligned with the development needs of EU partner countries. 

Conclusions - Council of the EU

European Commission President calls for African Green Deal for pandemic recovery

During a recorded opening message for the EU-Africa Forum on Green Investment in Africa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for an ‘African Green Deal’ to drive a green recovery on the continent. 

Von der Leyen said that just as the EU’s recovery will be driven by the European Green Deal, the same could be true for Africa because the green transition is intended to fight the climate crisis as well as provide an economic opportunity.

The EU will work with African governments to see how it can be a partner in efforts toward a green transition in Africa, she said, including through green investing ahead of the COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference) and the next EU-Africa Summit in spring of 2022.

News article - Euractiv

European Parliament calls for EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy to promote global transition to fair and sustainable agri-food system

A report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Development has called for the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy to help enable a global transition to resilient, fair, and sustainable agri-food systems that provide safe and affordable food for the global population. 

The report stated that the EU should help tackle all forms of malnutrition in humanitarian and development contexts, including in low-income countries. It emphasized the need for the Farm to Fork strategy to explicitly address gender inequality, strengthen resilience to climate change for smallholder farmers, and protect workers’ rights. 

The Committee on Development also encouraged the EU to support capacity-building for regional integration efforts such as the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

Report - European Parliament

At US climate summit, Germany recommits to climate goals, applauds Biden’s efforts on emission reductions

On April 22-23, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the virtual climate summit convened by US President Joe Biden. At the event, attended by 40 heads of state, Biden, who rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate on his first day in office, announced that the US aims to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% by 2030.

Merkel and the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, celebrated the news that the US government would once again take a leadership role in the international fight against the climate emergency.

Germany welcomes the US’ commitments to reduce emissions, Merkel said, and Germany will continue its contribution to reaching the binding EU goal of a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Merkel also highlighted the higher-income nations’ commitment to mobilize US$100.0 billion each year until 2020 to support low-income countries in adapting to climate change and said she believes this agreement should be extended at least until 2025.

Müller also emphasized the relevance of joint international action in climate protection, including the US as a leading nation, but criticized the slow implementation of an international energy transition. Müller also pointed to the high-income nations’ responsibility to further invest in global climate protection measures, since low-income countries will be the most affected by the consequences of the climate crisis.

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

News article - deutschland.de

News article - Handelsblatt (in German)

Australia commits US$123 million to protect ocean environments, develop regional carbon offset scheme

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a A$100 million (US$77 million) investment to manage coastal areas and oceans and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the climate crisis.

The A$100 million (US$77 million) investment focuses on boosting 'blue carbon' ecosystems (especially those with seagrass and mangroves, to help capture carbon), supporting Australian Marine Parks, expanding the Indigenous Protected Areas, and protecting marine species.

The government also committed A$60 million (US$46 million) for developing a carbon offset scheme for the Indo-Pacific.

These investments will fit within Australia’s Climate Change Action Strategy announced in December 2020.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare and WHO Director-General discuss priorities, strengthen collaboration

On April 23, 2021, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Norihisa Tamura, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, held a video conference to discuss priorities and to strengthen collaboration between Japan and the WHO.

Japan will host the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Summit, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Committee, and Tokyo Nutrition Summit this year.

Tamura emphasized that preparation for health crises, universal health coverage, nutrition, aging, and antimicrobial resistance among Japan’s priorities. Japan will continue to promote global access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, the global vaccine initiative co-led by the WHO. Tamura also noted that the WHO has few Japanese staff members, so Japan aims to increase its involvement of WHO members. 

Tedros highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation between Japan and WHO to promote international health, including in the global response to COVID-19.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Finance in Common Summit in Italy will bring together public development banks to contribute toward COVID-19 response and tackling climate crisis

The second edition of the Finance in Common Summit (FiCS) will be held in the autumn of 2021 in Rome, Italy, within the framework of Italy's Presidency of the G20, to focus on the contribution of public development banks to the transformation of agriculture for food security, adaptation to climate change, and protection of biodiversity. 

It will be hosted by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) (the Italian National Promotional Institution and Financial Institution for Development Cooperation) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with support from the members of the Finance in Common Coalition. The event will bring together over 450 public development banks and other stakeholders with the goal of providing financing for COVID-19 response, economic recovery, and measures tackling the climate crisis in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The first edition of the FiCS was held in November 2020 with the goal of contributing to climate and sustainable development. It was co-organized by the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI) and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), along with the French Development Agency (AFD).

Press release - Finance in Common

Japan provides US$13 million for Vietnam's marine research, clean-up efforts

Japan announced that it will provide ¥1.4 billion (US$13 million) to Vietnam to support its marine research and clean-up efforts, as well as its socio-economic development.

Vietnam has been conducting marine surveys to develop sustainable marine economic strategies, but there are not enough research vessels available to carry out a sufficient number of surveys. Of the ¥1.4 billion (US$13 million) provided by Japan, ¥900 million (US$8 million) will be used to strengthen Vietnam’s marine research capacity and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The remaining ¥500 million (US$4 million) will be used for evaluating and reducing plastic waste pollution in Vietnam's coastal areas and ocean, as Vietnam has a plan to reduce 50% of marine plastic by 2025.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will have US$10.9 billion ODA budget for 2021-2022, nearly quarter less than in 2020

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Commonwealth and Development, Dominic Raab, announced on April 22, 2021, that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will be responsible for delivering £8.1 billion (US$10.9 billion) of official development assistance (ODA) in 2021-2022, which is a reduction of 23% based on the UK’s 2020 provisional ODA figures.

Other government departments will be responsible for an additional £1.8 billion (US$2.4 billion), as announced in January, making the total UK ODA budget £9.9 billion (US$13.3 billion) in 2021-2022.

Raab also provided headline budget figures for key thematic priorities for the FCDO. The FCDO has allocated:

  • £534 million (US$729 million) for climate and biodiversity and £941 million (US$1.2 billion) in 2021-2022 will be counted towards meeting the UK’s International Climate Finance commitment of providing £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) over the next five years;
  • £1.3 billion (US$1.7 billion) for global health and COVID-19 – it is assumed that this is bilateral spending, but it is not entirely clear with the text noting a focus on COVAX (the global vaccine initiative), the World Health Organization, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and it also specifies bilateral spending via individual countries;
  • £400 million (US$537 million) for girls’ education to be invested directly in over 25 countries, helping to achieve the global target of getting 40 million girls into education systems – Raab noted that the UK will generously replenish the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) (the UK is co-hosting the GPE replenishment with Kenya this summer), but refused to reveal the exact UK commitment;
  • £906 million (US$1.2 billion) for humanitarian preparedness and response, which will include a £30 million (US$40 million) crisis reserve fund;
  • £251 million (US$337 million) in research and development across the UK's priority areas and a further £38 million (US$52 million) targeted directly at science, technology, and innovations;
  • £419 million (US$562 million) in support of open societies and conflict resolution;  
  • £491 million (US$659 million) on economic development and trade;
  • £3.1 billion (US$4.2 billion) will be provided as multilateral core contributions to key global funds and development banks, including keeping the UK’s pledge to be the top donor to the World Bank’s low-income lending arm (the International Development Association), and this bucket also includes funding to key bodies such as the British Council and the FCDO; and
  • Half of its bilateral ODA will go to Africa (with Raab noting that there will be a major tilt towards East Africa), and one-third of the bilateral budget will go to the Indo-Pacific region and South Asia, while funding to China will be cut by 90% and fall to £900,000 (US$1 million).

Many parliamentarians and civil society organizations criticized the government for a lack of clarity on where the cuts had actually been made and how spending would be affected beyond the broad thematic areas. The way the data had been presented made comparisons with 2020 and 2019 ODA spending extremely difficult. Commentators were also disappointed that there was no country budget level data announced, beyond China. Raab noted that country budget allocations were in the process of being decided and further information would be released once the decisions had been taken.

A joint statement made by numerous UK NGOs condemns the announcement as a "tragic blow" for the world’s poorest.

Press release - UK Government

News article - Devex

News article - The Guardian

Joint statement - Bond

Canada commits to reduce emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030

On April 22, 2021, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in the US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate and announced that Canada will "enhance" its emissions reduction target by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This commitment falls under Canada's participation in the Paris Agreement and exceeds previous targets set by Canada. 

Trudeau's announcement aligns with Canada’s commitment to establish a "green recovery for the COVID-19 pandemic" and Canada’s investment in a Net Zero Accelerator to encourage the development of technologies that help reach the goal of net-zero emissions.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada 

Sweden appoints new Ambassador to Liberia for fall of 2021

On April 22, 2021, the Swedish government appointed Urban Sjöström as Ambassador to Liberia. He will take up his new position in the fall of 2021.

Sjöström currently serves as head of the Swedish Embassy's office in Juba, South Sudan. He has previously worked at the Swedish Embassies of Kenya and Sri Lanka and at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served as a national expert at the European Commission in Brussels.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)