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Spanish CSOs join GPE’s education financing campaign

On November 6, 2020, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) co-hosted, in collaboration with several Spanish organizations, a virtual event to launch its ‘Raise Your Hand’ financing campaign in Spain to raise awareness about the need to continue investing in global education, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

GPE hosted the event in collaboration with ProFuturo, a Spanish digital education program led by the Telefónica and ‘la Caixa' Foundations, as well as the Spanish Campaign for Global Education (CME), which was formed by development NGOs working on education issues.

The Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and the Spanish Olympic swimmer, Teresa Perales, also took part in GPE’s event.

Press release - CME (in Spanish)

Press release - ProFuturo (in Spanish)

European Commission awards US$151 million to 23 COVID-19 research projects

The European Commission has awarded €128 million (US$151 million) to 23 new research projects addressing the COVID-19 crisis and its effects.

The funding will support research to strengthen and adapt industrial capacity for manufacturing prevention, diagnostics, and treatment equipment, as well as research to improve mitigation measures. This funding comes from the Horizon 2020 research framework program and is a part of the Commission’s €1.4 billion (US$1.7 billion) pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative.

The projects' goals include: 

  • Repurposing manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment;
  • Improving surveillance and care through medical technologies, digital tools, and artificial intelligence analytics; and
  • Developing solutions to the behavioral, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release - European Commission

UK parliament debates whether to waive intellectual property rules on COVID-19 products

Some members of the UK parliament have challenged the government to use its influence at the international level to push for a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, to enable wider access for low- and lower-middle-income countries.  

Speaking at a debate in the Houses of Parliament on November 5, 2020, Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat Party’s chief whip, noted that without such urgent action, richer countries will likely crowd out poor countries' access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, resulting in a two-tier rollout and deepening existing inequalities.

Chamberlain noted that rules within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) already exist to enable countries to override health monopolies in exceptional public health circumstances. She also cited how Germany, Australia, and Canada have already taken advantage of these rules, loosening their laws around compulsory licenses in order to allow (if required) the use of interventions to assist with COVID-19 without the patent holders' consent.

Chamberlain, who was supported by Sarah Champion (Labour MP and Chair of the International Development Select Committee), called for the UK to step up as a force for good and support the South African and Indian proposal for intellectual property monopolies to be waivered on COVID-19 products.

However, Wendy Morton, minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), noted that the UK government wanted the existing rules on intellectual property rights to be upheld and not waivered. Morton cited the importance of intellectual property rights in incentivizing companies to invest in research and development around new drugs against COVID-19. 

The UK government has spent around £1.0 billion ($1.3 billion) on research for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines and has contributed £548 million (US$709 million) to the COVAX Facility, an international partnership under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator that pools resources to negotiate vaccine deals, with the goal to also help lower-income countries have more equitable access to vaccine candidates.

News article - Devex

Uganda's suspension of cash transfer organization's operations prompts questions of legality, forces USAID to terminate direct assistance

As a result of a Ugandan government investigation of GiveDirectly, the largest global nonprofit that provides cash transfers, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was forced to end a US$10 million direct cash transfer program to the Ugandan people.

USAID's program, which provided cash to those who had lost income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, was part of the national COVID-19 response. Although GiveDirectly had received cabinet-level approval, Uganda's National Bureau for NGOs opened an investigation in September 2020. It raised questions about the organization's registration, approvals, and sources of funding and expressed concerns about whether cash transfers could lead to "laziness among recipients".

However, GiveDirectly's randomized controlled trial studies with independent researchers indicated that the cash transfer programs are effective in increasing productive hours, in part due to the food security they provide.

Despite this and the US embassy's recently-issued press release stating that no irregularities had been identified, the Ugandan government's suspension of GiveDirectly required the US to permanently terminate the program.

Lawyers questioned the legality of GiveDirectly's suspension. Magelah Peter Gwayaka, a lawyer from the Chapter Four Uganda human-rights nonprofit, said that according to Ugandan law, an organization should receive a fair hearing before the high court prior to operations being canceled.

The US is Uganda's largest development and humanitarian assistance donor.

News article - Devex

Australia signs new agreements worth US$1.0 billion for 50 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia signed vaccine deals worth A$1.5 billion (US$1.0 billion) with Novavax, a vaccine development company, and Pfizer, a pharmaceutical corporation (who is in collaboration with BioNTech, a biotechnology company).  

If the vaccines proved to be effective and safe, the agreements would see Novavax supply 40 million doses and Pfizer/BioNTech 10 million vaccine doses. These vaccines could be available by mid-2021.

These deals follow Australia's A$1.7 billion (US$1.2 billion) deals with AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd for about 85 million vaccine doses in September.

Overall the Australian government’s 'COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy' has now established access to over 134 million doses from four different types of vaccines to have multiple options and not have all their "eggs in one basket".

Two of these are protein vaccines containing an adjuvant called Matrix-M, one is a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine, and one is a viral vector-based vaccine.

Press release - Minister for Health

News article - Reuters

Italy and FAO launch food coalition to support food systems facing COVID-19 crisis

On November 5, 2020, Italy and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Food Coalition, a voluntary multi-stakeholder alliance to prevent and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on food systems.

The Food Coalition aims to advocate for strengthening global agri-food systems, raise awareness, share best practices, as well as mobilize financial resources and technical expertise to support the most vulnerable. More than 30 countries have expressed interest in joining the coalition.

At the launch event, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte committed to including the fight against hunger in the Italian G20’s presidency agenda for 2021.

News article - OnuItalia

South Korean president emphasizes importance of multilateral cooperation on health and climate change, will contribute US$10 million to COVAX AMC

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a keynote speech at the 2020 Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, emphasizing the need for stronger multilateral cooperation on health and the climate crisis.

In particular, he stressed the following:

  • South Korea will increase official development assistance (ODA) on health in 2021 to support its partner countries’ COVID-19 responses;
  • South Korea will contribute US$10 million to the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) and strengthen its partnership with the International Vaccine Institute while calling for others to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all people; and
  • South Korea will cooperate with partner countries on smart green industrial complexes (to increase renewable energy production and the number of jobs) and 'smart city' projects, as well as organize the P4G Summit in Seoul in 2021 for global sustainable development.

The Jeju Forum took place on November 5-7, 2020, and it is an annual event to discuss international cooperation for peace, prosperity, and security in East Asia.

Transcript - The Blue House (in Korean)

Japanese think tank launches WELCO Lab to increase global health collaboration among Japanese companies

In October 2020, Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting, a Japanese think tank, launched the WELCO Lab for Global Health to build multisectoral collaboration between Japanese companies for developing innovative solutions to global health issues.

With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s support, the WELCO Lab has currently brought together 13 Japanese companies that are committed to solving global health issues, and it is welcoming more members.

By publicizing these companies' future global health projects, the WELCO Lab aims to strengthen commitments and build connections among companies with the goal of collaboration and co-creation.

News article - Jiji Press

Japan commits up to US$238 million in ODA loans to strengthen Mongolia's COVID-19 response

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced that it will provide up to ¥25.0 billion (US$238 million) in official development assistance (ODA) loans to strengthen Mongolia’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The loans will be used to implement emergency response measures for the health, economic, and social sectors to mitigate the socioeconomic damage caused by the pandemic. The loans will also contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).

The interest rate for the loan is 0.01% per annum with a 15-year repayment period and a four-year grace period.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan completes US$20 million irrigation project in Rwanda to help agricultural sector

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) completed a project worth US$20 million of three irrigation dams and a main irrigation canal in Eastern Rwanda.

Launched in February 2019, the project included the rehabilitation of two storage dams, called Cyimpima and Gashara, and the construction of a new storage dam, Bugugu. The project covered three marshlands totaling 170 hectares located in Kigabiro, Mwulire, and Rubona, which is used by 1,174 farmers.

The project will improve irrigation and increase the yield of farms, contributing to the development of the agricultural sector.

News article - The New Times

Japan provides US$407 million in loans for East-West Economic Corridor infrastructure, small and medium-sized companies in Myanmar

Japan announced that it will provide ¥42.8 billion (US$407 million) in loans to build a bridge and finance small and medium-sized companies in Myanmar.

¥27.8 billion (US$264 million) of the funds will be used for the construction of a bridge in Myanmar that will be part of the East-West Economic Corridor that crosses Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The Corridor aims to facilitate more trade in the Mekong region which includes these four countries and Cambodia, increasing access to the Indian market and potentially alleviating the region's economic dependence on the Chinese market.

The remainder of the loans, ¥15.0 billion (US$143 million), will be used to stabilize small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and help mitigate the socioeconomic damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis in Myanmar.

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

News article – Japan Times

Dutch parliamentarians assess efforts to protect vulnerable children during COVID-19 crisis

On November 4, 2020, Anne Kuik, a Dutch member of parliament (MP) of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), and Jöel Voordewind, a Dutch MP of the Christian Union (CU), submitted parliamentary questions about vulnerable children in poor countries who have been overlooked due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Kuik and Voordewind asked the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, what efforts the Netherlands is making to prevent child trafficking, as well as to protect and help children who are unable to go to school because of the pandemic.

The MPs also asked the minister to provide answers to these questions before next week’s debates on the 2021 foreign trade and development cooperation budget.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Canada to co-host UN's Peacebuilding Fund Replenishment Conference, will emphasize gender responsiveness

In January 2021, Canada will co-host the UN's Peacebuilding Fund Replenishment Conference. The purpose of the conference is to secure "predictable and sustained commitments" to the Fund for the next four years.

The Fund will support the international community engaging in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and this recent round of funding specifically focuses on gender responsiveness and the "unique needs of fragile states during the COVID-19 pandemic."

To date, Canada has consistently been one of the top ten donors to the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Sweden pledges US$8 million to combat food shortages, child malnourishment

Rising food prices during the COVID-19 crisis, alongside other factors such as failed harvests, droughts, conflicts, and political instability, have fueled hunger crises in several low-income countries around the world. It is currently estimated that 690 million people are affected by chronic food shortages, and many of them are children.

To ease the situation and help combat child malnutrition, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in support of humanitarian needs in Yemen, Burkina Faso, and Venezuela. In addition, Sida has allocated SEK 21 million (US$2 million) to the International Rescue Committee for their work in South Sudan and Cameroon.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

South Korea provides US$70 million to Ghana and Tanzania to support COVID-19 response

South Korea's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that it approved an emergency concessional loan of US$70 million for Tanzania and Ghana to help them combat the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Out of the US$70 million, US$40 million will be provided to Tanzania to increase the capacities of infectious disease diagnosis and management, and US$30 million will be given to Ghana to establish the health sector's response strategy and expand medical facilities.

This fund will be aligned with the African Development Bank Group’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF), which supports its regional member countries' governments and private sectors during the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release – Ministry of Economy and Finance (in Korean)

Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs publishes 2020-2022 work program

The Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), an independent body that advises the Dutch government and parliament on foreign policy, published their work program for 2020-2022. The three themes that they will focus on in the context of development cooperation are:

  1. Social protection in Africa;
  2. Reception of refugees in the region, with an emphasis on Africa; and
  3. Circular economy in development policy.

The social protection theme focuses on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on poverty in the continent of Africa. The AIV will advise the Dutch government on how its development cooperation policy can effectively contribute to the creation and maintenance of a sustainable system of social protection.

These approaches of providing social assistance to vulnerable groups have previously been applied and seen good results in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. The work program does not specify which countries the Netherlands will apply these approaches to in 2020-2022.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

EU supports Mozambique with US$118 million for education, health, social protection

The European Commission committed €100 million (US$118 million) in short-term budget support for Mozambique's government to enable the continuation of its essential services during the COVID-19 crisis. The funding supports an expansion of social protection, and it will help ensure that children can safely return to school and that vulnerable people can access health services.

Including the new funding, the Team Europe COVID-19 support from EU bodies and EU member states for Mozambique totals €170 million (US$201 million). The Commission will also support Mozambique’s civil society to strengthen accountability processes and provide the government technical assistance on monitoring COVID-19-related spending. 

Press release - European Commission

Trump's US foreign assistance approach will likely affect Biden's efforts to increase development priorities

Following the US presidential election, more attention is turning to what policies a Biden administration would favor for US global development.

President-elect Joe Biden has extensive experience in foreign policy and most experts agree that, if he is president, global development will be reestablished as a core element of foreign policy, alongside defense and diplomacy. He is also likely to reengage with the multilateral system.

What is less clear, however, is whether Biden will return to the pre-Trump approach to development or whether he will adopt a more progressive, human rights-based approach. Increasing pre-Trump global development priorities would seem even more liberal than before to some, due to President Donald Trump's consistent rejection of and budget cuts in foreign assistance, as well as the presence of fewer Republican lawmakers in Congress who champion development.

The Trump administration's departure from a once-shared bipartisan consensus on US leadership in humanitarian assistance may now test Biden's efforts to receive bipartisan support.

Progressives in the US, however, emphasize the importance of reassessing the use of military tools and the national security argument that has been prominent since the 9/11 attacks on the US. Nazanin Ash, a representative from the International Rescue Committee (a humanitarian relief NGO) indicated that the post-9/11 framework has detrimentally affected the possible impacts of humanitarian and development work. Ash highlighted that a rights-based approach entails fewer "paternalistic" projects and rather more empowerment of local populations to address the economic and political inequalities in their governments.

News analysis - Devex

As civilian death toll in deadly Nagorno-Karabakh conflict rises, Norway provides US$2 million to relief organizations; UN warns of war crimes

Norway is contributing NOK17 million (US$2 million) to organizations providing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the rapidly escalating territorial and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict is ongoing since the late 1980s, but a recent resurgence of violence in the fall of 2020 has led to warnings from UN officials that insurgent attacks on civilians fall under the definition of war crimes.

The support will be allocated through several organizations and Norway will also support displaced children through its strategic partnership with Save the Children and the organization Halo Trust, which works to protect civilians from land mines. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide emphasized that she hoped the different parties of the conflict abide by the recently-instated ceasefire and resume substantial negotiations; violence has since resumed.

Norway affirmed its support of the work of the OSCE Minsk Group (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) which has been working toward a peaceful solution since 1994. 

Press release - Norwegian government

Netherlands organizes virtual conference to hear young people's voices from Middle East and Africa on current challenges

On November 2, 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) organized a virtual conference, called Youth at Heart, aimed at involving youth in development cooperation and addressing the challenges related to the large number of young people in the Middle East and Africa compared to the number of available job opportunities.

The themes of this conference included the global COVID-19 crisis, education, work, youth-led change, and mental health, as well as the experiences of refugees and women.

Hundreds of participants talked with young people from regions including the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East to hear their ideas on improving their future prospects.

Recordings of the conference can be found on the MFA's YouTube channel.

News article - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Virtual conference videos - Ministry of Foreign Affairs