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UK development assistance budget cut to last for years as parliamentarians vote to lock in cut

The UK government, in a surprise decision, allowed UK Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote on the government’s decision to cut its ODA budget, after many months of the government rejecting the need for a parliamentary vote on the issue. On July 13, 2021, UK parliamentarians voted to accept the government’s proposal to cut the official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of the country's gross national income to 0.5%.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who announced the cuts, offered parliamentarians two choices. The first was to override the government's decision and restore the ODA budget to 0.7% of national income by January 2022. The second was to support the government’s proposal to cut the ODA budget and agree that it will only be increased back to 0.7% when the national debt is falling and borrowing is no longer used for day-to-day spending. The government proposal won with a majority of 35 votes, with 25 Conservative MPs rebelling against the vote.

The government has noted that under its new criteria laid out in the parliamentary motion, the ODA budget could be back at 0.7% in a couple of years. However, Conservative rebel MPs argue that in reality, the new criteria would lock the UK out of spending 0.7% in the long term. Three former Prime Ministers from the Conservative Party condemned the decision, with John Major noted that it was a "stamp of little England, not global Britain".

News article - BBC news

News article - The Guardian

Japan prepares to provide 11 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 15 countries

During a press conference, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced that Japan will provide 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 15 countries, including Iran and Bangladesh.

AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan will be distributed through the COVAX Facility, the global initiative for fair vaccine distribution. Motegi also announced that Japan will provide an additional 1 million vaccine doses to Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Cooperation (in Japanese)

Japan publishes International Cooperation 2021 research paper

The Policy Research Institute of Japan’s Ministry of Finance published its International Cooperation 2021 research paper, which includes topics such as intellectual and research support, and the Institute’s activities and achievements.

Its activities this year included workshops on finance and governance with Uzbekistan, Myanmar, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, as well as collaborative research with Chinese research institutes on sustainability considering an aging population.

Press release – Ministry of Finance (in Japanese)

Canada announces 18 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine for COVAX, donation matching campaign to UNICEF Canada’s vaccination drive

On July 12, 2021, Canadian Minister of International Development Karina Gould, announced that Canada will donate an additional 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX). The Minister also announced that Canada will match, dollar for dollar, donations made by Canadians to UNICEF Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination fundraising campaign up to a maximum of CA$10 million (US$8 million). 

The 18 million doses will be administered through a newly-funded COVAX Dose Sharing mechanism. The UNICEF fund matching campaign, “Give a Vax” will run until September 6, 2021. A fully funded matching fund campaign would cover COVID-19 vaccination costs of approximately 4 million people worldwide. Funds raised will enable UNICEF to cover the cost to transport vaccines to countries in need, keep vaccines viable, and train health care workers to administer vaccines, among other costs. This announcement builds on the more than CA$2.5 billion (US$2.0 billion) that Canada has already committed to supporting the global response to COVID-19.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada 

News article - CBC

Philanthropists to provide US$125 million to fill funding gaps to key programs as result of UK government development assistance cuts

A group of philanthropists has committed £94 million (US$125 million) to cover key programs that have faced funding gaps as a result of the UK government’s decision to cut its development assistance budget. The philanthropists include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the ELMA Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation.

The funding will focus on helping projects tackling preventable diseases and providing family planning and sexual health services—all areas that have suffered as a result of the UK government’s decision to reduce its official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% in 2021 as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

News article - BBC

German Development Minister Müller announced as next Director-General of UN Industrial Development Organization

German Development Minister Gerd Müller, who will not run for office again next legislature, was recommended by the board of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to be the next organization's Director-General, starting in 2022.

In a statement, Müller considered UNIDO as the leading UN agency to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement to address the climate crisis, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace to increase gender equality. Müller shared that his goals include "fair globalization, sustainable industrial development, and the creation of jobs and future prospects" in low-income countries.

The recommendation of the UNIDO’s board needs to be approved at the General Conference at the end of November 2021 before he would take office in January 2022. Müller succeeds Li Yong, who has been Director-General since 2013.

Press release – UNIDO

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

Japan provides US$150 million in loans to support COVID-19 response in Brazil

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a US$150 million Private Sector Investment Finance (PSIF) Loan Agreement with Itaú Unibanco S.A., a Brazilian private financial institution, to finance Brazil’s healthcare sector and strengthen the COVID-19 response.

In Brazil, private hospitals accept low-income patients who use the Unified Health System or Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), a free national universal health insurance system. However, private hospitals have been impacted by the decrease in outpatient and surgeries as a result of COVID-19. Brazil also imports about 50% of Brazil’s medical equipment and 30% of its pharmaceuticals, but supply has tightened due to COVID-19.

This project will support private hospitals facing COVID-19, enabling them to further conduct research and development and accept patients who come from SUS. The loans will also help provide diagnostic clinics with medical equipment and support pharmaceutical companies with production bases in Brazil.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

UK government to consult on new development strategy

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Affairs, Dominic Raab, announced in Parliament that the government will consult with external stakeholders on the creation of its new development strategy.  

Raab, who was speaking to members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the strategy is being actively worked on by the government and that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was engaging with a range of stakeholders including NGOs and international partners. The strategy is intended to guide all UK official development assistance spending.  

When pressed on the exact date when the new development strategy would be released, Raab responded that it will be in a matter of months, not years, but did not give more details.

News article - Devex

After reshuffle of Spanish cabinet, José Manuel Albares takes over as new Foreign Minister

On July 10, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a significant reshuffle of his coalition government, which is expected to be in place until the end of the current term of office in 2024.

The new Spanish government is composed of 23 ministers (14 women and nine men), which includes three Deputy Prime Ministers or Vice-Presidents of the government. The Spanish Minister of Economic Affairs and Digitalization, Nadia Calviño, has been appointed as First Vice-President of the government becoming Sánchez’s top aide. The left-wing Podemos party’s leader, Yolanda Díaz, is Second Vice-President of the Government and Minister of Labor; and Teresa Ribera is Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister of Ecological Transition.

Among other changes, Sánchez has appointed the Spanish ambassador in Paris, France, José Manuel Albares, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. Albares, who is a diplomat who worked as Sánchez’s office Director General for International Affairs from 2018-2020, will take over from Arancha González Laya as head of the Spanish diplomacy and development cooperation. In his first public remarks as Foreign Minister, Albares reiterated that Spain will continue to champion global efforts to tackle climate change and to foster gender equality.  

News article – El País (in Spanish)

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Team Europe to support Senegal in building vaccine manufacturing facility for COVID-19 and other diseases

The European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a grant agreement with Senegalese President Macky Sall to provide support in building a manufacturing facility for vaccines, including for COVID-19, in Senegal.

This project is a part of the new ‘Team Europe’ (EC, EIB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and EU member states) initiative, which aims to help African nations manufacture vaccines, medicines, and health technologies and reduce their dependence on imports for these products for health and pandemic response and help boost their economies.

Financing and technical assistance will be provided by the EC, the EIB, Germany, France, and Belgium, as well as other non-European partners such as the US and the World Bank Group. 

Press release - European Commission

Press release - European Investment Bank

UK government supports new, industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce to harness global private finance for pandemic recovery

The UK government has given its support to a new industry-led Impact Investment Taskforce that seeks to expand private finance at the global level to ensure a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Impact investment is an approach through which investors seek both financial rewards and also positive environmental and social impacts from their investments.

The Taskforce, chaired by Nick Hurd—a Conservative Member of Parliament who was formerly the Minister for London—will develop a set of recommendations for Foreign and Development Ministers and the financial sector at the global level, and it will coordinate efforts at the G7, G20, and COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference). The Taskforce will explore recommendations around the:  

  • Potential global standards for measuring the social and environmental impacts of financial investments; and
  • Type of financial instruments/tools that are best suited to raise capital for socially impactful investments in climate, health, or education.

The Taskforce will meet for the first time in August 2021.

Press release - UK government

Japan holds meeting on global health strategy, emphasizing universal healthcare coverage, post-COVID-19 strategies

On July 9, 2021, Japan held its first 'Global Health Promotion Strategy' meeting. Members from multiple government agencies met to discuss their individual strategies and the future direction of Japan’s global health strategy.

Those included in the meeting were the Japan International Cooperation Agency; Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry; the Ministry of the Environment; and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.

Participants discussed topics such as the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, creating partnerships with countries and various stakeholders, and establishing resilient universal healthcare coverage in other countries.

News article - Japan Broadcasting Corporation (in Japanese)

Press release - Prime Minister’s Office of Japan (in Japanese)

G20 Panel on Financing Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response calls on G20 to increase funding for global health by US$15.0 billion per year

The G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (HLIP) presented its official report, 'A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age', to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on July 9, 2021. The Panel called the G20 and international community for a public funding increase in global financing of at least US$15.0 billion per year over the next five years.

The report said that the additional US$15.0 billion per year should include US$10.0 billion annually to a Global Health Threats Fund, which should be established to support investments for pandemic preparedness and response, and US$5.0 billion per year to increase funding to existing global health international institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as creating dedicated pandemic preparedness concessional financing windows in the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs).

The Panel also asked to create a new Global Health Threats Board, bringing together finance and health ministers as well as international organizations.

The Panel emphasized the importance of all nations prioritizing and sustaining domestic investments in pandemic preparedness over time.

The G20 will be taking into account the Panel’s recommendations in the lead-up to the G20 Joint Finance and Health Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Italy in October.

Report – G20

Press release G20

Dutch Development Minister, Sigrid Kaag, steps down

On July 9, 2021, the Dutch Government Information Service (RVD) announced that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, is stepping down.

Kaag recently took on a new role in the outgoing cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs, following a shuffling of positions in the cabinet. The RVD stated that Kaag decided to step down because the two roles are difficult to hold simultaneously. As the party leader of the Democrats 66 (D66), she also plays a paramount role in the formation process of the new cabinet.

Kaag's political party, D66, has been tasked with selecting a new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

News article – NU.nl (in Dutch)

News article – NLTimes

Members of European Parliament to hold debate on how to combat food security in low-income countries

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the Development Committee will hold a debate on July 13, 2021, on the global humanitarian and food security situation with UN World Food Programme's (WFP) David Beasley presenting on WFP’s work. 

The number of people facing acute food insecurity in 2020 hit a five-year high due to conflict, extreme weather, the COVID-19 crisis, and other economic shocks.

This discussion will help inform an upcoming committee report on food security in low-income countries.

Press release - European Parliament

Oxfam releases new international report on food insecurity during COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfam Canada calls for government action

A new Oxfam report, ‘The Hunger Virus Multiplies’, says that as many as eleven people per minute are likely dying of hunger and malnutrition—more than the current global death rate of COVID-19 at around seven people each minute. With half a million people pushed into famine-like conditions since the pandemic started, Oxfam Canada called for more government action to address the crisis.

The report found that 155 million people around the world are now living with crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, which is 20 million more than last year. Oxfam highlighted the impact of economic shock worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which included mass unemployment and severe disruptions in food production, as well as the worsening climate crisis, as key factors influencing the spike of those facing food insecurity. 

Oxfam Canada called on Canada and other donor countries to immediately and fully fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal to address this crisis. Oxfam Canada also highlighted the urgent need to break vaccine monopolies and have a 'people's vaccine' (as referred to by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition fighting for global vaccine access), as well as build fairer and more sustainable food systems and support social protection programs. 

Report - Oxfam Canada

Publish What You Fund and Brookings to host webinar on gender financing and transparency

Publish What You Fund and the Brookings Institution will host a webinar on July 8, 2021, from 10:00-11:15 am EDT, on transparency in finance for gender equality.

Expert panelists will discuss how donors can better engage with national stakeholders to address funding gaps, advance policymaking, more effectively coordinate programs, and improve financial transparency. Registration for the webinar is open.

The discussion will be moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow, George Ingram, with a presentation by Publish What You Fund's US Representative, Sally Paxton. Questions for panelists can be submitted at events@brookings.edu or posted on Twitter using the hashtag #GenderFinancing.

Speakers:

  • Amanda Austin: Head of Policy and Advocacy at Equal Measures 2030
  • Tenzin Dolker: Resourcing Feminist Movements Coordinator at the Association for Women's Rights in Development
  • Louise Holt: General Director at Global Affairs Canada
  • Michele Sumilas: Assistant to the Administrator for Policy at the US Agency for International Development
  • Marijn Wiersma: Interim Group Lead at CDC Group Plc
  • Lisa Williams: Team Lead & Senior Policy Analyst of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the OECD

Webinar registration - Brookings Institution

German government prompted in open letter to help Namibia combat rapid spread of COVID-19

Against the backdrop of the worsening COVID-19 situation in Namibia, around 250 German organizations and individuals, among them, researchers, politicians, and experts on the African continent, wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Development Minister Gerd Müller, and German Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas. The signatories called on the German government to provide Namibia with medical supplies, vaccines, and if needed, medical staff. Müller stated that Germany is in close contact with the Namibian authorities to coordinate rapid help.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Namibia and the mortality rate of 15 death per one million inhabitants is five times higher than, for instance, in South Africa. The open letter’s signatories emphasized Germany’s political responsibility to provide support to Namibia, due in part to Germany's colonial occupation of Namibia (1884 to 1915), which included the genocide of Herero and Nama people, for which Germany recently officially recognized responsibility. The letter appealed to German leaders to turn this responsibility into “unbureaucratic action”.

In a statement, Müller said multiple deliveries of support goods for Namibia worth more than €11 million (US$13 million) are currently being prepared. The deliveries comprise ventilators, hospital beds, test kits, protective equipment, and masks. According to Müller, the German government is also planning to share vaccine doses with Namibia.

News article – Deutsche Welle (in German)

Press release – Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland (in German)

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Gender-based violence costs EU US$441.0 billion yearly, finds European Institute for Gender Equality

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) will publish a study on the cost of gender-based violence (GBV) in August of 2021. GBV is estimated to cost €366.0 billion (US$441.0 billion) per year in the EU, with the cost of violence against women equaling 79% of this cost.

Supporting people who experience this violence is not enough—the EU needs to invest in actions and structures that prevent the violence and protect victims and survivors, said EIGE Director Carlien Scheele.

The study calculated the costs of GBV through the following categories:

  • Physical and emotional impact (56%);
  • Criminal justice services (21%); and
  • Lost economic input (14%).

Other relevant costs include civil justice services (child custody proceedings, divorces, etc.), housing assistance, and child protection.

To calculate data accurately, EU countries need detailed information from public services (including the justice sector and law enforcement), as well as data from surveys because GBV is under-reported. Detailed data collection is required under the Istanbul Convention, which all EU members signed (21 ratified). 

Press release - EIGE

Australia commits further assistance to Fiji as COVID-19 infection rate accelerates, Papua New Guinea's vaccination rate remains low

Australia has sent a second medical team to Fiji to assist with its growing COVID-19 outbreak, and Australia will continue to provide Fiji with COVID-19 vaccine doses, reaching 500,000 doses within the coming two weeks.

Professor Stephen Howes of the Development Policy Centre in Australia wrote that Fiji has the world’s eighth-highest per capita growth in new COVID-19 cases. The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Fiji is proportionately above the maximum reached by India at its peak, and hospitals are reportedly full and oxygen supplies running low.

By comparison, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a less severe outbreak but has the seventh-lowest rate of vaccination globally. On this basis, Howes indicates that PNG remains at risk and is likely to be one of the last countries to be able to end isolation measures. 

Op-ed - Development Policy Centre, Australian National University