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Following coup, Sweden refocuses development cooperation strategy with Myanmar on democratic processes, human rights

As a result of the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, the Swedish government has decided to revise its 2018-2022 strategy for development cooperation with Myanmar, to reflect Sweden’s support for the country’s return to democratic development and respect for human rights.

Under the strategy, Sweden will continue to support civil society organizations without legitimizing the military government.

The coup "has created a strained and dangerous situation in the country for democracy fighters, free media, and human rights defenders," said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation. Therefore, Sweden is changing its strategy so that it can be more flexible in how it directs its support to the country, said Fridh.

Sweden has already provided extensive support for strengthening democracy, human rights, and gender equality in Myanmar through civil society organizations and independent media. Under the revised strategy, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will reallocate additional funds to these stakeholders.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

UK launches International Pandemic Preparedness Partnership, provides additional US$21 million to CEPI

The UK government has formed a new International Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP) tasked with advising the UK G7 Presidency on how the global community can better protect lives in future pandemics.

The public-private partnership brings together 20 members representing industry, international organizations, and leading experts, and it will be chaired by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance.

The PPP will deliver a roadmap to G7 leaders at their June 2021 summit in Cornwall, UK for how to protect people against future pandemics, with a particular focus on how to reduce the time for developing and distributing new vaccines from 300 days to 100 days. 

The UK will provide additional funding of £16 million (US$21 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the development and supply of vaccines globally.

Press release - UK government

Australia and New Zealand’s foreign ministers reiterate commitment to gender equality, SRHR

Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, met in Wellington, New Zealand, to discuss a range of issues including development assistance.

Mahuta and Payne released a joint statement that reiterated the importance of promoting gender equality and more women in leadership in the Pacific. They emphasized the need for more initiatives on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

This was the first meeting undertaken under the new quarantine-free safe travel bubble set up on April 19, 2021, between Australia and New Zealand. It was also the first time that both New Zealand and Australia were represented by female foreign ministers.

Press release - Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs

Breaking with other world leaders at US climate summit, Australia's Morrison fails to make formal commitment to emissions reduction target, instead announces US$771 million in climate technology research

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has indicated that Australia wants to reach net-zero emissions, preferably by 2050. However, unlike many leaders participating in the Virtual Climate Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden on April 22, 2021, Morrison has not made a formal commitment to a target date.

Australia's emissions target is low compared to many affluent nations—it aims, by 2030, to reach a 26-28% reduction compared to 2005 levels. The UK, on the other hand, aims to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Morrison has instead emphasized the government's support for investments in low emissions technologies. He announced about A$1.0 billion (US$771 million) for emissions-related research and development, with about half going to research on green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

News article - The Guardian Australia

South Korean President calls for global solidarity on carbon neutrality, including supporting partner countries in reducing coal dependency

At the virtual US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate held on April 22-23, 2021, South Korea's President Jae-in Moon called for global efforts on carbon neutrality while highlighting the need to support partner countries in reducing their coal dependency.

Moon also called for high-income countries, including South Korea, to help reduce the number of coal-fired power plants across the globe while simultaneously increasing investments in renewable energy in lower-income countries.

South Korea will host the Partnering for Green Growth & the Global Goals (P4G) Summit on May 30-31, 2021, to accelerate international efforts to combat the climate crisis and meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as to provide a stepping stone to the COP26 climate conference in November 2021. 

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae

News article – Segye Ilbo (in Korean)

France's Court of Audit points out imbalance between development assistance and military operations in Sahel region

The French Court of Audit studied France's strategy in the countries of the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), analyzing France's civil and military actions in the region compared to France's development assistance to support the security and social and economic development of the five countries.

The Court of Audit's report concluded that if France's financial support increased from €580 million (US$690 million) in 2012 to €1.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) in 2018, the majority of the additional amounts (60%) were allocated to military spending. France's development assistance for the region did not follow the same progression and priority that the country had committed, said the report.

The five Sahel countries represented 10% of France's foreign assistance amounts in 2013, a proportion that remained unchanged in 2018, the report pointed out.

The report, therefore, suggested that French government entities consolidate amounts allocated by regions/countries with indicators. This would allow changes to be observed over time within the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID), a committee headed by the French Prime Minister that pursues priorities for France's development policy.  

Press release  - French Court of Audit (in French)

Report - French Court of Audit (in French)

New article - Le Monde Afrique (in French)

Nearly 400 European parliamentarians call on EU and members states to support intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 medical tools

Members of the European Parliament and members of national parliaments in the EU have signed a joint appeal to the EU and EU member states’ governments to support a temporary waiver of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19 medical tools. 

The 388 politicians who signed the agreement called for sharing proprietary technology and information with low- and middle-income countries to increase the manufacturing and availability of COVID-19 tests, vaccines, treatments, and protective equipment.

A TRIPS waiver had been proposed by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization in October 2020, but the Commission and EU member states opposed the waiver. 

Joint appeal - Health Action International

Center for Global Development analyzes gendered impacts of COVID-19 crisis on social protection, economic empowerment, health

The Center for Global Development (CGD) recently published an analysis of the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on healthsocial protection, and economic empowerment, analyzing whether international donors are taking enough action to tackle gender inequalities that have been dramatically exacerbated by the pandemic.

Key findings included:

  • Just 39 of 135 health projects reviewed contained a component addressing the indirect health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and only about half of those included gender-specific indicators;
  • Only 27% of social protection projects included intersectional indicators or targets; and
  • Only 25 of 48 economic recovery projects reviewed called for gender parity, i.e., for women to be 50% or more of project beneficiaries.

A video of CGD's most recent panel discussion on gender equality, 'Africa Taking Charge of its Future: Prioritizing Gender Equality in the Path to Recovery', has been uploaded, and upcoming events will address topics such as the climate crisis and accountability in humanitarian and development work.

Press release - CGD

Spain to provide 8 million vaccine doses to Latin America and Caribbean

At the 27th Ibero-American Summit on April 21, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a special voluntary contribution of 8 million vaccine doses against COVID-19 to the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region.

The vaccine doses, which will be disbursed through COVAX with the collaboration of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), represent between 5% and 10% of those acquired by Spain in 2021. 

Sánchez reiterated Spain’s strong commitment to contributing to the global COVID-19 response and to guaranteeing universal access to new vaccines.

The Ibero-American Summit, held in Andorra, concluded with the approval of the 'Andorra Declaration: Innovation for Sustainable Development', which calls for strengthening the multilateral response against the pandemic, urges the international community to equally disburse COVID-19 vaccines, and underlines the importance of improving pandemic preparedness for future global health crises. 

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Japan launches US$508 million in government-guaranteed bonds for ODA efforts

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched US$508 million in government-guaranteed bonds with a 10-year maturity.

The proceeds will be dedicated to its ODA Loans and Private Sector Investment Finance activities. These funds will finance eligible projects which were selected under the Development Cooperation Charter by the Japanese government in 2015 as part of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) efforts.

The funds will not be knowingly allocated to activities related to coal-fired power generation.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Development Media International to host event on using mass media campaigns to contribute to SRHR and increase modern contraceptive uptake

Development Media International (DMI), a non-profit organization that runs evidence-based behavior change campaigns for improving health in low-income countries, will be hosting an event on April 20, 2021, on using mass media campaigns to contribute to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and increase modern contraceptive uptake.

DMI will present the results of the randomized controlled trial (RCT) that it conducted in Burkina Faso in partnership with the Abdul Jameel Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). The RCT tested the impact of a radio campaign on modern contraceptive uptake, and the results showed that there was a 20% relative increase in intervention zones following the campaign. According to DMI, this was a significant finding, and the radio campaign cost much less than other national family planning investments, making the campaign a highly cost-effective impact accelerator. 

This RTC follows the success of an earlier trial, co-funded by the Wellcome Trust, that used mass media to promote increased child survival and maternal health, by providing parents with information about and encouraging them to seek treatment for children with symptoms of malaria, pneumonia, or diarrhea, as well as by promoting prenatal care and health facility deliveries. DMI’s other projects cover topics including SRHR, nutrition, tuberculosis, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene).

To learn more, sign up for the event here. The event will have simultaneous English-French translation available. 

To read the Donor Tracker’s recent report on donor funding trends for SRHR from the last decade and watch a recording of that report's webinar, click here.

Event website - DMI

Press release - World Health Organization

Center for Global Development calls for UK government to return to 0.7% of GNI as ODA when economy returns to pre-pandemic size

The Center for Global Development (CGD), an international development think tank with a hub in London, has published a new blog exploring when the government should return to spending 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA).

The government temporarily suspended its commitment in 2020 in the face of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public finances, and it has stated that it will only return to the 0.7% commitment "when the fiscal situation allows". The government has failed to outline how it will decide this, despite repeated questioning. In the absence of a straight answer, the Center for Global Development has proposed three different potential scenarios for measuring "when the fiscal situation allows" that the government could use:

  • Scenario 1 – Under this scenario, the government deficit would be used as the measurement. The CGD notes that historically, the UK has met the 0.7% commitment with a government deficit of 1.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), on average. By this measure, the UK could return to 0.7% in 2023 when the deficit is projected to be around 0.8% of GDP.
  • Scenario 2 – Under this scenario, the measurement for when the UK could return to providing 0.7% of its GNI as ODA would be when the budget deficit is eliminated. The UK Chancellor of Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has stated that this scenario is his intention. However, according to a projection by the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), an official independent body on UK public finances, this is unlikely to be reached until 2025-2026. Even then it is not a given, as historically, very few governments have achieved this goal. 
  • Scenario 3 – Under this final scenario, the government returns to 0.7% when the UK economy recovers to its pre-pandemic size, which is expected in 2022. While this option might pose value for money problems as the budget was dramatically cut and then has to rise quickly again, it also allows for programs to be paused rather than canceled, with payments delayed for a year only. It would also enable the UK to announce (as it hosts the G7 and the UN Climate Change Conference in 2021) that it will quickly resume its spending, maintaining global development leadership.

The CGD notes that its preference would be for the government to opt for Scenario 3, given the shortness of the cut, as well as the ability to press pause and to retain UK global development leadership. However, the CGD stresses that whichever scenario is chosen by the government, it is important for the government to set out a clear schedule for returning to the 0.7% target to enable those in the development community to plan effectively.

Op-ed - Center for Global Development

Netherlands contributes US$63 million to ACT-A for global COVID-19 response

The Dutch government has contributed an additional €52 million (US$63 million) to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global partnership to fight COVID-19.

Of these funds, €12 million (US$15 million) is intended to strengthen the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The remaining €40 million (US$48 million) is allocated to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of ACT-A, for the purchase of vaccines.

Since the pandemic began, the Dutch government has contributed €137 million (US$165 million) to the global response to COVID-19.

Press release – The Global Fund

C20 publishes statement ahead of Global Health Summit, calls on international leaders to support universal health coverage

The C20 (Civil 20), the G20 Engagement Group that brings together global civil society, published a statement ahead of the civil society consultation on sustainable health security preparedness and response that was held on April 20, 2021.

The consultation took place ahead of the Global Health Summit, which will be co-hosted by the Italian Presidency of G20 and the European Commission on May 21, 2021.

The C20 called on international leaders to support universal health coverage and consider health a global public good. Women and girls, as well as other marginalized groups and communities, must be at the center of global health strategies and responses, said the statement.

The civil society members emphasized the importance of a multilateral approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis and other pandemics. They also asked for growing support to the global partnership, Access to COVID 19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), and its vaccine pillar, COVAX.

Press release - Civil 20

France and Spain call for new international treaty on pandemic preparedness

France's President Emanuel Macron and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez participated in the high-level event Reforming and strengthening the global health system to better respond to future pandemics’ to discuss the global response to COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness. 

While Macron underlined the importance of international solidarity for guaranteeing equal global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Sánchez highlighted the importance of reinforcing the multilateral system to make sure no one is left behind. Both leaders advocated for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and stated that COVID-19 has shown the need for a new and effective mechanism to prevent and respond to future pandemics.

This high-level meeting was organized alongside the 27th Ibero-American Summit held in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, on April 21, 2021. In addition to Macron and Sánchez, participants included Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado, and the Secretary-General for Ibero-America Rebeca Grynspan.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

EU Council approves new strategies for Indo-Pacific and Mediterranean cooperation on development, climate

The Council of the EU has approved conclusions on strategies for cooperation with both the Mediterranean region (or, the ‘Southern Neighbourhood’) and the Indo-Pacific region, which cover issues such as development, investing in young people, climate and the green transition, health, trade, and security.

Given the intense geopolitical competition in the Indo-Pacific, the EU will seek to contribute to regional stability, prosperity, and sustainable development in the region through trade and investment, tackling the climate crisis, and working together on security, defense, and inclusive socio-economic recovery.

In the Southern Neighbourhood, the EU will invest in socio-economic recovery, job creation, a just and inclusive green transition, and in the people of the region, especially young people. The EU will promote human rights and the rule of law, as well as seek to partner on security, migration, healthcare preparedness, and response capacities. 

Press release on Mediterranean region - Council of the EU

Press release on Indo-Pacific region - Council of the EU

Canada among 29 countries to condemn human rights violations against LGBTI people in Chechen Republic

Canada, among 29 co-signatories, has called on the Russian Federation "to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators."

A report published in 2018 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found strong evidence that Chechnya was engaging in "successive purges against LGBTI persons". LGBTI people in Chechnya face "systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings". Since the release of the report, Russia has failed to implement changes or respond to these human rights violations, and new human rights violations against LGBTI people and opponents of Chechen leadership continue to be discovered, said the joint statement.

The following countries also signed this statement: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada's 2021 budget commits US$14.1 billion to climate action

Canada's newly released budget for 2021 commits CA$17.6 billion (US$14.1 billion) to establishing a green recovery following the COVID-19 crisis and to tackle and protect against the climate crisis.

Specifically, the budget proposes: 

  • CA$4.4 billion to help homeowners reduce their properties' environmental footprints and energy bills;
  • CA$5.0 billion over seven years to Canada's Net Zero Accelerator;
  • CA$319 million over seven years to research and develop commercially-viable carbon capture technologies;
  • CA$2.3 billion over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans;
  • CA$200 million over three years to Infrastructure Canada to establish a Natural Infrastructure Fund to mitigate and prevent the impacts of climate change;
  • CA$977 million over five years to address the loss of marine habitats and biodiversity;
  • CA$647 million over five years to preserve wild Pacific salmon;
  • CA$1.4 billion over 12 years for projects such as "wildfire mitigation activities, rehabilitation of storm water systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines";
  • CA$12 million over five years to the Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program to help communities to plan and build climate-resilient infrastructure, including roads and buildings;
  • CA$64 million over three years to complete flood maps in high-risk regions; and
  • CA$17 million over two years to support climate-resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Australia and UNICEF announce US$10 million for vaccine procurement and delivery in Vietnam

The Australian government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have announced a A$14 million (US$10 million) package to support a mass immunization program against COVID-19 in Vietnam.

This program will help Vietnam vaccinate the prioritized 20% of its population by the end of 2022 and set the foundation to vaccinate the rest of the population when doses are available. The assistance will include acquiring cold chain equipment and materials and developing training courses for health workers and officials.

Funding for this initiative will be derived from Australia’s regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative and its bilateral development cooperation program with Vietnam.

According to UNICEF, Australia has committed a total of A$40 million (US$31 million) over three years to support vaccine procurement and delivery in Vietnam. 

Press release - UNICEF

Netherlands publishes evaluation of Dutch development policy in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya

On April 19, 2021, the Dutch government published an evaluation report on the Dutch assistance, trade, and investment agenda in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Kenya between 2013 and 2019.

The report, written in English by the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reviewed how the integration of Dutch policy on assistance, trade, and investment took shape in practice, and to what extent the three components of the policy have been achieved in the three partner countries of the Dutch government.

Recommendations made by the IOB included:

  • Clarifying the main objectives of the agenda for assistance, trade, and investment and setting realistic timeframes;
  • Being more explicit about potential synergies and trade-offs between the policy goals;
  • Safeguarding the relevance of Dutch policy in terms of alignment to partner countries’ national policies; and
  • Learning systematically from experience gained and available research.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands