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Japan contributes US$20 million to food security efforts

The Japanese government announced contributions totalling US$20 million to bolster food security in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, the Philippines, and Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip during the week of August 29, 2022.

The package included:

  • US$2 million through the World Food Programme (WFP) to Sri Lanka;
  • US$5 million through WFP for life-saving food assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan;
  • US$6 million through WFP for food rations for people in urgent need of food assistance in Syria;
  • US$6 million through WFP for farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines; and
  • US$2 million through United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for essential in-kind food assistance to over one million Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.

The donations are part of Japan’s July 2022 commitment to providing US$200 million for improving food security in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent food shortages.

Press release – World Food Programme 

Press release – World Food Programme

Press release – World Food Programme

Press release – World Food Programme  

Press release – United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Norwegian Research Council announces US$15 million for projects on food security, global health

The Norwegian Research Council announced that it will dedicate NOK148 million (US$15 million) to 14 research projects on international relations, the Arctics, global health, and food security. 

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, said that the projects will generate vital knowledge for future Norwegian foreign and development policy. In addition, she highlighted that the government prioritizes research within international development, especially in light of current compounding crises; current and unfolding challenges like the climate crisis, uncertainty around global food security, the Russian war in Ukraine and high energy prices were all of concern to the minister. 

According to Tvinnereim, Norway has a responsibility to contribute knowledge and research to global challenges, especially considering its role as a major international development funder.

Of the 14 research projects, seven will focus on global health, and Norwegian research institutions will collaborate closely with local partners. The aim of some of these projects will include developing new methods to diagnose and treat preeclampsia and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); they will also test alternative models for providing psychological assistance to LGBTQ+ communities in low-income countries.

Two projects will also focus on global food security and will be conducted in collaboration with local partners in Africa. One of the projects will test methods to improve food security in 'Sub-Saharan Africa' (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union) by strengthening access to agricultural resources and innovations for small-scale food producers. The second project will look at technological and cultural obstacles to implementing alternative fertilizers.

Press release – the Norwegian Research Council (in Norwegian)

News article – Khrono (in Norwegian)

New research shows Netherlands not on track to meet climate goals

New research by the Berlin-based NewClimate Institute has found that the Dutch government is not on track to meet its goals of achieving a CO2 reduction of at least 55% by 2030 and becoming climate neutral by 2050. The research concluded that the Dutch cabinet must adjust its targets to keep within the Dutch CO2 budget to prevent global warming past 1.5°C. This 1.5°C target is the goal of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to take concerted climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming.

In conjunction with this target, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated the maximum global emission that is allowed to be produced to stay within 1.5°C of global warming. From this, each country has been assigned a portion of this, noted as their national CO2 budget. The NewClimate Institute has also calculated a ‘fair share’ budget, which considers that high-income countries have benefited from higher CO2 emissions, and as a result must do more to offset those emissions in the future.

The new research is the first of its kind to determine whether the Dutch government’s climate goals align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Its findings show that The Netherlands has already exceeded both its national CO2 budget and its ‘fair share’ CO2 budget. The research concluded, The Netherlands need to decrease their emission as fast and deep as possible, and additionally provide substantial support to other countries.” Similar research on Germany and Finland’s CO2 budgets has led their governments to step up their agreements.

Blog – Greenpeace (in Dutch)

Report – NewClimate Institute

US to host Global Fund replenishment, US$18 billion goal

The White House formally announced that it will host the seventh replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) on September 19, 2022, in New York City.  

The Global Fund's seventh replenishment aims to raise US$18 billion in pledges, which will be used in the 2023-2025 grant cycle. US President Biden's budget request for FY2023 includes US$2 billion, the first planned contribution of a total US$6 billion.

The US is both a founding member and the largest contributor to the Global Fund, which was established in 2002. The Global Fund is a multi-stakeholder organization that brings governments, the private sector, and civil society together to address HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria by working in low- and middle-income countries to strengthen health systems.

Press release - The White House

UK outlines specifics on funding uses for US$295 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine

The UK released a new report highlighting where its £220 million (US$295 million) in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine is going. The report highlights that 6.6 million people are displaced inside Ukraine, and 5.8 million people are registered as refugees across Europe, making it one of the fastest-growing refugee crises since World War II.

UK funding, which includes £145 million (US$194 million) for the UN and Red Cross Agencies and an additional £25 million (US$34 million) in matched funding to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal (DEC), is focused on supporting the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly, and disabled. The UK has three core objectives:

  • Providing assistance in Ukraine and to people seeking refuge in the region;
  • Working with others to deliver a well-coordinated and well-funded response; and
  • Advocating for respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Report – UK Government

Japan announces US$30 billion in African investments over three years at TICAD8

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke at the opening session of the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) and announced Japan’s commitment to providing US$30 billion in financial contributions throughout Africa over the next three years.

TICAD8 took place in Tunisia from August 27-28, 2022. 

Japan has contributed US$20 billion to the continent over the past three years and will increase its contributions moving forward with a focus on investing in people and quality growth. The government has outlined five focus areas including: 

  • Launching “Japan’s Green Growth Initiative with Africa,” a US$4 billion initiative to address climate change;
  • Promoting investment in start-up companies with young, energetic people;
  • Co-financing initiatives with the African Development Bank up to US$5 billion to improve the lives of the most vulnerable;
  • Contributing up to US$1 billion to the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment to support measures against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; 
  • Promoting human resource development; and
  • Suporting regional stabilization.

Kishida also addressed the ongoing food crisis and stated that Japan would make a US$300 million contribution to co-finance food production initiatives with the African Development Bank.

Press release – Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet

South Korea opens K-Bio Health Strategy Center

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) opened the K-Bio Health Strategy Center in Seoul to establish a comprehensive support system for bio-health companies.

The South Korean government has already established six regional centers for sharing experimental equipment and consulting on clinical trials. MOHW plans to push for related policies to create an industrial ecosystem where bio-health companies with excellent technologies can succeed in commercialization. 

Press release – Ministry of Health and Welfare (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea explores digital health options in Western Pacific region

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) discussed digital innovation on health in the Western Pacific region with the World Health Organization's (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office and the Korean Society of Medical Informatics.

This meeting was held in connection with the 6th National Assembly International Health Council Forum to promote cooperation between lawmakers in the Asia-Pacific region. MOHW intends to pursue digital-based future medical care, a new digital healthcare market, and a big data-based bio-health industry. South Korea will strengthen cooperation with domestic and foreign digital healthcare experts to explore South Korea's potential role in the Western Pacific region as a leader in digital healthcare.  

Press release – Ministry of Health and Welfare (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

Japanese companies call on government to step up health ODA ahead of TICAD8

On August 25, 2022, 11 Japanese companies spoke at Global Health Action Japan in preparation for the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) which was held in Tunisia later that week.

Japanese companies specializing in pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, laboratory equipment, and the elimination of health inequalities in Africa and other parts of the world presented products and initiatives highlighting their contributions to global health. In addition, the companies called on the Japanese government to increase health-related ODA contributions and strengthen public-private partnerships in procurement and human resource development.

Four initiatives under consideration by the Business Leaders’ Coalition for Global Health include:

  • Emphasizing the private sector’s influence in international healthcare to the Japanese government;
  • Creating a scheme or entity to coordinate and strengthen collaboration with international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund);
  • Communicating information about Japanese advancements in global health domestically and abroad; and
  • Implementing “impact weighted accounting” strategies to promote the nonfinancial, social impacts of products and firms.

The event signals Japanese companies' increased activity in global health efforts. Earlier this year, Japanese business leaders called on the government to double health-related ODA by 2025 and work closely with businesses to achieve global health targets.

Press release – The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese)

NGOs call on Australia to increase Global Fund commitment by 86%

In a speech in Canberra on August 23, 2022, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) Peter Sands called on the Australian government to ramp up its commitment to the fund's seventh replenishment cycle.

The Global Fund is seeking an Australian contribution of A$450 million (US$316 million) for its seventh replenishment, which will cover the 2023 - 2025 period. This figure includes budget lines to address the compounding impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Global Fund's disease focus areas and health systems strengthening.

Sands stressed that the Global Fund has made significant commitments to Australia’s development focus regions - Southeast Asia and the Pacific - particularly on tuberculosis. 

A report by the Canberra-based Development Policy Centre noted that while Australia was strongly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, the Global Fund spent around three-quarters of its assistance in 'Sub-Saharan Africa' (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union).

The US$450 million replenishment call, supported by Australian NGOs, would require an 86% increase compared to Australia’s 2019 replenishment figure. Despite Labor governments generally taking a pro-multilateral approach, difficult budget circumstances could make it challenging for the Albanese Labor Government to follow through on such an increased commitment.

To date, the new government has not commented on increasing multilateral contributions with one exception; it will contribute to the World Bank's new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for pandemic prevention. 

Report - Development Policy Centre

20 countries launch global coalition to stop plastic pollution by 2040

The 'High Ambition Coalition to Stop Plastic Pollution,' a group of like-minded countries that have taken the initiative to form a coalition committed to developing a legally binding global agreement against plastic pollution, launched on August 22, 2022; the coalition aims to end oceanic plastic pollution by 2040.

Every year, between 5 -12 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the oceans, contributing to environmental degradation and increasing microplastics in water. Without effective measures, oceanic plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2040.

The coalition, chaired by Norway and Rwanda, currently has 20 members including Canada, Peru, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, South Korea, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland, Ecuador, France, and the Dominican Republic.

The US, China, and India - the world's largest plastic producers - and other large producers are noticeably absent from the coalition. 

Members of the coalition will meet in New York at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2022, followed by a formal meeting in Uruguay on November 28, 2022.

Website - High Ambition to End Plastic Pollution

Government of Sweden - Press Release (in Swedish)

News article - Argus

UK unlikely to meet fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI due to inflation

The UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an independent research institute, issued a new briefing note on the outlook for UK public finances over the coming years; the note suggests that the UK’s fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI will likely not be satisfied by FY2023/24 as anticipated by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in April 2022. The two fiscal tests set by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, were that the country is not borrowing for day-to-day spending and that the ratio of underlying debt to GDP is falling.

The IFS’s briefing note is based on the Bank of England’s August 2022 forecasts which show higher and more persistent inflation than anticipated by the OBR. The report, which provides a set of scenarios for government spending and revenue, shows that higher inflation combined with higher interest rates, will push up public spending and that while revenues will also be pushed up by higher inflation, they will likely be moderated by weaker growth in real-terms earnings and household spending. As a result, the note shows that borrowing could be about £16 billion (US$22 billion) higher than forecasted in 2022 and £23 billion (US$ 40 billion) higher in 2023.

Briefing Note - Institute for Fiscal Studies

Twitter – Richard Watts

UK launches new 'Developing Country Trading Scheme' for low-income countries

On August 22, 2022, the UK launched its new 'Developing Country Trading Scheme.'

The scheme, which will come into force in January 2023, replaces the UK’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) which it used when it was part of the EU. The new scheme, which is eligible to 65 low- and middle-income countries, expands the number of products eligible for cuts in import taxes and simplifies rules and regulations. It also includes a proviso to suspend the lower tariffs if partner countries undertake human rights or labor abuses.

The UK’s Department of Trade said the move was part of a wider drive by the UK to reduce development assistance dependency and drive trade and prosperity in partner countries.

News article – BBC

News article - UN

During World Water Week, CSOs demand Netherlands and others promote gender equal, local climate solutions

Thousands gathered at this year’s World Water Week conference both online and in Stockholm to discuss global water issues from August 23 - September 1, 2022.

Sareen Malik, Executive Director of the African Civil Society Network on Water (ANEW), stressed that listening to women’s voices and investing in community resilience is key to water and climate solutions. In an interview, Malik explained that global water issues, including those caused by climate change, especially impact women. Dried-up water sources have led to some women spending significantly more time searching for water, increasing their exposure to violence. It has also caused people to travel to cities, adding more pressure to existing systems and causing conflicts at water points. Carrying water for hours harms women’s health, and water scarcity additionally affects menstrual health hygiene. Malik’s research found that some women have been forced to exchange sex for water with those who have access in order to survive.

Malik argued that addressing these issues requires involving women and girls from low- and middle-income countries in high-level political discussions. She continued that more women should be involved in the climate and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sectors to promote more inclusive water system designs and climate solutions. She also advocated for more women to govern water points to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.

In addition, Malik called on donor countries to amplify women’s voices and give them opportunities to share their experiences and ideas at important fora, like the World Water Week conference. She also highlighted the need for greater investments to strengthen community resilience so they can effectively address issues themselves. Lastly, she noted that language needs to be simplified to democratize who can participate in discussions and decision-making.

After World Water Week, Malik will visit the Netherlands to speak to ministers and members of parliament about the upcoming COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh in November 2022 and the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. The Netherlands will co-chair the UN 2023 Water Conference alongside Tajikistan.

Article - Vice Versa

Website – World Water Week

Netherlands commits additional US$85 million for Ukraine reconstruction

On a joint visit to Kyiv, Ministers Liesje Schreinemacher (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) and Kasja Ollongren (Defence) announced that the Netherlands will commit an additional €79 million (US$85 million) to support Ukraine’s struggle and reconstruction as a result of the Russian invasion.

The ministers announced that most of the extra assistance and investments (US$70 million) will support Ukraine’s reconstruction, for example by partially financing Dutch companies to restore bridges, dykes, and hospitals in affected areas. This funding is also meant to support local Ukrainian small- and medium-sized enterprises.

An additional US$11 million will be used for demining so people can return safely to their homes or farmlands. In addition, US$1 million was made available for draft reconstruction plans for Kherson, Odesa, and Mykolaiv, which will be developed and implemented by a diverse group of stakeholders, including young people, women, and refugees. A final US$3 million was set aside to support the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which provides knowledge on macroeconomic reforms, good governance, and the rule of law.

Since the start of the war six months ago, the Netherlands has supplied more than US$227 million in material, weapons, ammunition, and equipment to Ukraine. It has also given US$2 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for psychosocial support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. In addition to financial support, the Netherlands deployed a forensic team to collect evidence on Russian war crimes in May 2022. On August 20, 2022, the Netherlands sent 90 Dutch soldiers to the UK to provide basic military training to Ukrainian soldiers.

Ollongren also offered to share knowledge and expertise concerning care for veterans. The Netherlands is currently considering a financial contribution to a new fund established by Ukraine and the UK to enable direct procurement of equipment from industries.

Press release – Dutch government (in Dutch)

UK parliament report calls on government for clear strategy to tackle global food security issues

The UK parliament’s International Development Committee published a new report on food security, which called on the government to publish a comprehensive strategy for addressing the global food crisis; the authors of the report envisioned specific increases in funding for humanitarian assistance and sustainable agriculture to address immediate and future-oriented concerns. The report also called on the government to support the newly established Global Alliance on Food Security (GAFS).

The report highlighted that the number of severely food insecure people has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, from 135 million in 2019 to 276 million in summer 2022; this number is likely to increase by the end of 2022 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting impact on food production and distribution. The report notes that rising inflation, the war in Ukraine, and increasingly intense and frequent extreme weather events are all negatively impacting food security.

The report acknowledges that food security is a priority for the UK, which commits to tackling the drivers of food insecurity and supporting sustainable agriculture and food systems in its recently released international development strategy.

At the bilateral level, the report notes that the UK government spent £198 million (US$266 million) on food assistance between 2021-2022, and it recently announced £18 million (US$24 million) for the FCDO’s 'Green Growth Centre of Expertise,' which will help to improve food production in countries including Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda. The government also announced £133 million (US$179 million) for research and development (R&D) to help produce drought-resistant crop varieties.

At the multilateral level, the UK and other countries launched the new Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS) on May 14, 2022; the UK has committed to providing funding to World Food Programme (WFP) and to other UN organizations including the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

However, the report calls for a clear strategy and for larger amounts of both humanitarian and agricultural funding to help address the compounding crises.

Report – UK Parliament Food Insecurity Report

FCDO Annual Report fails to outline future ODA budgets, reflects trend to prioritize economic growth

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) 'Annual Report', released in August 2022, contained no forward-looking ODA budget outline for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022/23 against key geographies and key departments - a stark omission; the report usually contains this information. The UK’s international development NGO network, BOND, criticized the omission as a blow to transparency. The FCDO stated that it will release its projected ODA budget sometime in the fall.

The report does, however, provide some insight into ODA spending across FCDO departments between FY2020/21 and FY2021/22 when the UK reduced its ODA/GNI ratio from 0.7% to 0.5%.

Health: FCDO’s health program, which includes the 'Global Health Funds' department, had a marginally higher budget, moving from £1.15 billion (US$1.5 billion) in FY2020/21 to £1.19 billion (US$1.6 billion) in FY2021/22. However, two additional areas were counted under this programmatic area in the latest 'Annual Report': the 'Health Directorate Central' and 'Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics' work. If these two additional spending items are excluded, health spending fell by 14%, from £1.15 billion (US$1.5 billion) in FY2020/21 to £993 million (US$1.3 billion) in FY2021/22.

Education and Gender: 'Education, Gender and Equality' program funding fell by 43%, moving from £308 million (US$414 million) in FY2020/21 to £174 million (US$234 million) in FY2021/22. Specific spending items were different between evaluated years due to organizational department changes, so it is difficult to determine cut locations at this stage. However, this thematic area performed better than anticipated, as it had a projected budget of just £124 million (US$167 million) for FY2021/22 in 2021.

Climate: 'Energy, Climate and Environment' program funding fell by 39%, from £330 million (US$443 million) in FY2020/21 to £201 million (US$270 million) between FY2021/22, with the largest drop in funding to the International Climate Change and Green Growth Department; this drop was anticipated in the projected budget.

Economy: 'Economic Cooperation & Growth' was the biggest winner with allocated funding growing almost five-fold, from £61.4 million (US$83 million) in FY2020/21 to £336 million (US$451 million) in FY2021/22.  This reflects the changing priorities of the UK government toward increasing economic growth and shifting away from traditional development programs.

News article – BOND

Report – FCDO

Germany strengthens cooperation with Bolivia for nature, climate protection

German Minister for Development and Cooperation Svenja Schulze traveled to Bolivia where she met with high-level government representatives to discuss German-Bolivian cooperation.

Cooperation will prioritize the protection of the Amazon region, support the energy transition, and expand renewable energy in Bolivia. To work toward these priorities, Germany pledged to provide an additional €20 million (US$21 million) for cooperation with Bolivia. Additional priorities include gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence.

In addition to Bolivia, the German government offered Armenia, Laos, Nepal, and Mongolia opportunities to engage in bilateral development cooperation. With these offers, the number of countries Germany works with bilaterally increased from 61 to 65. The revision of Germany’s bilateral development cooperation was defined in the coalition treaty, which became effective in December 2021.

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

Netherlands appoints first woman religious freedom ambassador

In September 2022, Bea ten Tusscher succeeded Jos Douma as Special Envoy of Religion (or Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Belief). Ten Tusscher is the first woman to hold the position, which was created by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 2019 to protect global religious freedom.

Ten Tusscher has served in several positions at the MFA since 1986. She was formerly Ambassador to Bulgaria, Norway, Hungary, Cyprus, Bangladesh, and Guatemala, and from 2009-2012 served as head of the department of 'Human Rights, Good Governance, Gender, and Humanitarian Aid.'

According to the Netherlands, much needs to be done to secure freedom of religion, and special attention must be paid to youth. Capital punishment is still present in some countries for apostasy or blasphemy. Ten Tusscher noted the importance of a global perspective on the importance of religion, rather than a European-centric one, which is largely secular. She highlighted that 82% of the world's population identifies as religious, emphasizing the importance of religion for diplomacy and development.

The Dutch MFA aims to protect global freedom of religion and belief through various efforts, such as bilateral engagements and dialogues with religious leaders, and at various international organizations, including the EU, UN, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), and the Council of Europe (CoE). The MFA also finances projects through the Human Rights Funds and has appointed a Human Rights Ambassador since 1999.

News article – Friesch Dagblad (in Dutch)

US Global Fragility Act hits congressional snag

The US Global Fragility Act, passed in 2019, hit an impasse in the US Congress on August 19, 2022.

The law, initially hailed as a new way to deliver US foreign assistance in fragile states, has been repeatedly delayed. Most recently, the conflict between Congress and the Biden Administration stems from the selection of Haiti and Libya as pilot countries for the new ODA program.

Specifically, two leading Senators, Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Lindsey Graham, criticized the inclusion of Haiti and Libya in the pilot stage, expressing concern that the two countries were too unstable to be effective partners in the program. 

Meanwhile, frustrations continue to build over the act's prolonged implementation due to insufficient communication between the Biden Administration and Congress, siloed streams of assistance, and partisan infighting.

However, the consensus remains that the Global Fragility Act is a positive and necessary step in US global development policy.

News report - Foreign Policy