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EU Observer suggests that EU assistance may be funding militia in Sudan

The EU Observer reports that the Sudanese government may be using EU humanitarian assistance – including €38 million released in December 2016 – to fund the pro-government ‘Janjaweed’ militia. In recent years, the EU has ramped up support to Sudan in an attempt to reduce migration to Europe. Mukesh Kapila, former UN representative for Sudan, alleges that the Sudanese government is using EU funds to oppress the Sudanese people. Sudanese journalists appear to be backing these claims. Barbara Lochbihler, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights, has expressed concerns about the issue and called for the EU to withdraw funds in order to avoid complicity.

Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, currently faces an International Criminal Court warrant for crimes against humanity.

News article - EU Observer

G7 Energy ministers fail to agree on climate-change statement at Rome forum

On April 9 and 10, 2017, G7 energy ministers met in Rome to review the progress of the 'Rome Energy Initiative for Energy Security', which was launched in 2014. Italian officials were hoping that the ministers would reaffirm the G7′s clear commitment to both the Paris Agreement and decarbonization targets. However, delegates failed to sign a joint statement at the end of the meeting. Carlo Calenda, Italy’s minister of economic development and the event's host, said that it would not be possible to sign such a statement as long as the US administration is still reviewing its energy policy.

News release - Italian Ministry of Economic Development
News article - Corriere della Sera [in Italian]

UK gives additional £7 million in response to chemical attack in Syria

UK Secretary for International Development Priti Patel has announced a £7 million (US$10.7 million) donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) and two other un-named NGOs for lifesaving medical assistance, in response to the recent chemical-weapons attack in Syria. The funding builds on existing WHO support for rapid delivery of medicines for the treatment of chemical-weapons exposure and for medical personnel. It will also be used to provide access to clean water for drinking and sanitation, basic medical supplies, primary care, and training for Syrian health workers. The UK has also advised WHO to use flexibly any funding that remains from its 2016 contribution (£10.7 million; US$16.4 million) for WHO's ongoing response to the attack.

Website – UK Department for International Development

World Health Day caps awareness-raising campaign for depression

The World Health Organization's (WHO) year-long campaign to raise awareness about depression came to a close on April 7, 2017 -- culminating in World Health Day. All year, WHO has worked to publicize depression, providing striking new statistics that highlight what it calls an urgent need for investment. For example, nearly half of all cases of depression globally go untreated, even in high-income countries, while only 3% of government health budgets go to depression on average, despite evidence of economic losses due to low productivity. Beyond World Health Day, WHO will continue to provide informational resources on depression and mental health, and work to scale up mental health services.

Website - World Health Organization

Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference gathers in Washington D.C.

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) holds its annual conference in Washington D.C., in April 2017. The title of this year's conference is ‘Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems: Implementation, Leadership and Sustainability in Global Health’. Over 1,700 global health leaders and implementers from more than 50 countries explore the latest in global health and planetary health. They also discuss the role universities have in addressing global health challenges.  Other sub-themes covered include: governance and political decision-making, health systems and human resources, infectious diseases, NCDs and social determinants of health, planetary health, and women’s health is global health – issues across the lifespan.


Location: Washington D.C, USA

Website - CUGH

Spanish Cooperation Council agrees to prioritize SDG implementation

At the annual meeting of the Spanish Cooperation Council, representatives from government, NGOs, think tanks, and the private sector outlined the importance of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the current political term. Fernando García Casas, Secretary of State for International and Ibero-American Cooperation, reiterated Spain’s commitment to advancing the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Participants also discussed the timeline of the new Spanish cooperation plan for 2017 to 2020, which is currently being drafted and for which consultations with non-government stakeholders will be conducted before it is approved.

Press release - MAEC [in Spanish]

Representatives of four French presidential candidates debate foreign policy and ODA

French newspaper Libération organized a debate between representatives of four French presidential candidates, to discuss the candidates’ programs for foreign policy, including for development assistance.

  • Marielle de Sarnez, representing Emmanuel Macron (‘En Marche’ movement), reiterated the candidate’s commitment to the 0.7% target, and spoke about a partnership with African countries on a wide range of issues (economy, education, research, migrations) beyond ODA conditionality.
  • Pouria Amirshahi, speaking on behalf of Benoît Hamon (Socialist Party), also committed to reaching the 0.7% target, and highlighted the financial transaction tax as an important funding source for the ODA increases needed. He also reiterated Hamon's opposition to the conditionality of development assistance.
  • Alain Cadec, speaking for Francois Fillon (Les Républicains), explained that his candidate did not have a quantified commitment. Instead, he insisted that developing countries' efforts should be made within the framework of development partnerships (e.g., accepting illegal migrants).
  • Djordje Kuzmanovic, representative for Jean-Luc Mélenchon (‘La France insoumise’ movement), committed to reaching the 0.7% target by 2025, differing from the previously mentioned 2022 timeframe. Kuzmanovic also promised to prioritize increases in grants and technical assistance over loans. He mentioned more funding for NGOs, and proposed the creation of a development ministry.

Other issues addressed included the crisis situation in Syria, relationships with Russia, the EU-Turkey deal, France’s interventions in the Sahel region, and relationships with the new Trump administration.

Debate report – Libération [in French]

Sweden approves new development-cooperation strategy with Zimbabwe

The Swedish government has approved a five-year strategy for development cooperation with Zimbabwe, from 2017 to 2022. The strategy defines three overarching priority areas: 1) human rights, democratic governance, rule of law, and gender equality; 2) equitable health, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, women, and youth; and 3) environment, climate, and energy, which is a new area of cooperation for the two countries.

Annual allocations will reach SEK300 million (US$34 million), an increase from the SEK200 million (US$29 million) average allocation per year since 2011. This growth is mainly driven by enhanced engagement in environment-, climate-change-, and energy-related programming. Funds will be channeled through Sweden’s development agency (Sida) rather than through the Zimbabwean government or its agencies.

Press release – Swedish government [in Swedish]

South Korea gives additional US$14 million in humanitarian assistance to Syrian region

At the EU-convened 'Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region', South Korea announced a US$14-million grant in humanitarian assistance. The US$14 million comes on top of the more than US$35 million that South Korea has already contributed to the region since 2012. Part of this new financing will go to neighboring countries experiencing an influx of refugees from the Syrian conflict, including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that South Korea understands its role as a “responsible middle power” to include actively participating in ongoing efforts to assist countries and people affected by conflicts and chronic crises.

News article - Yonhap News

UNDP presents Arab Human Development Report 2016

European Commission and the EastWest Institute have launched “The Arab Human Development Report 2016: Youth and the Prospects of Human Development in a Changing Reality” in Brussels. The report focuses on youth and conflict prevention, arguing that Arab countries can reinforce stability and security by investing in youth and empowering them to engage in the development process. Youth make up the largest demographic group in the Arab world (30% of the population) and, as such, must be put at the center of development policies.

Panel discussions during the launch event assessed the current priorities of EU development assistance in light of the challenges and opportunities in the Arab region.

Website - Arab Human Development Report
News - EastWest NGO - News

South Korea to provide US$300,000 in assistance to flood-hit Colombia

South Korea has announced that it will give US$300,000 to Colombia to address the impact of the heavy rains and landslides that occurred on April 1, 2017, in Mocoa, a city in the southwestern province of Putumayo, killing many people. The funding is intended to bring stability to the lives of flood-affected Colombians, to restore flood-hit areas, and to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Press release - South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Centre for International Policy Studies conference on forced labor and human trafficking

The Centre for International Policy Studies  (CIPS) and the International Political Economy Network cohost an event entitled ‘Power and Inequalities in the Global Political Economy: A perspective on Forced Labor and Trafficking for Labor Exploitation’. Keynote speaker Professor Nicola Phillips, Professor of Political Economy and Head of the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, discusses forced labor and human trafficking in a global economic context, looking at power relations within global value chains and production networks.

Location: Ottawa, Canada

Website- CIPS

UK’s ODA to Africa down, concerns over accountability up

According to an analysis by UK newspaper The Guardian of preliminary data submitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the UK’s ODA concentrated more in 2016 on countries affected by the Syrian refugee crisis, and less on Africa. Lower support for Africa, along with the move to channel ODA increasingly through government departments outside of the Department for International Development (DFID), has prompted criticism from NGOs and members of Parliament. They say that the problem with channeling funding through other departments is a lack of transparency, and the potential for ODA to be applied for objectives other than poverty reduction. NGOs have criticized the shift away from Africa as deviating too radically from a longer-term development strategy that was already in place.

For more on the UK's development priorities, see here.

Website – The Guardian
Website – UK Department for International Development

Oxfam Intermón criticizes Spain's 2017 draft budget

Following the presentation of the 2017 draft budget by the Spanish finance minister to Parliament, development NGO Oxfam Intermón has criticized the current government for not being sufficiently engaged in global development. According to the budget draft, the ODA envelope (managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) has plateaued at €512 million. Oxfam Intermón has called on Parliament to increase Spain's development budget to 0.25% of GNI for 2017. It has also reminded all parliamentary groups that they agreed to increase ODA to 0.4% of GNI by 2020.

Press release - Oxfam Intermón [in Spanish]

Study commissioned by European Parliament reveals 'Brexit' will have major consequences for EU ODA

A study by Elcano Royal Institute, a Spanish think tank, has examined the possible impacts of ‘Brexit’ on the EU’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian policies. Commissioned by the European Parliament, the study finds that the EU’s ODA could decrease by up to 3% within the current multi-annual financial framework (MFF 2014-2020), effecting a 10-13% decrease in global ODA. In the longer term, Brexit could create significant shortfalls in the EU's ODA budget within the next MFF (2021-2027).

These reductions would challenge the EU's role as one of the largest global donors of ODA. The study suggests two distinct ways the EU could respond: 1) by becoming a regional power in foreign policy and development, or 2) by developing into a global leader. While the first approach would not significantly impact the EU’s strategic directions in development, the second would require the institutions not only to compensate for the lost 'Brexit' funding quantitatively, but also qualitatively, leading to an articulation of new policy priorities.

The report considers that a post-Brexit UK might still continue contributing to EU assistance, laying out three possible scenarios: 1) a ‘cosmopolitan’ outlook in which the UK opts to sustain its global commitments, including its relationship with the EU, and maintains its current ODA levels; 2) a ‘realist’ scenario in which the UK takes a strong yet independent lead in development; and 3) a ‘nationalist’ scenario in which the UK cuts its ODA budget by up to 30% and reallocates it to bilateral programs on economic infrastructure.

Full report - Elcano Institute
Website - Euroactiv
Website - European Parliament

EU releases preliminary 2016 ODA figures

Preliminary 2016 ODA figures for the OECD Development Assistance Committee indicate that the EU and its Member States provided €75.5 billion in ODA, an 11% increase over 2015. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, cited these findings as proof of the EU’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, European development NGOs have criticized the figures, saying they are being inflated with the inclusion of refugee costs in EU countries, and have called on the EU and member governments to meet their promise of genuinely spending 0.7% of GNI on poverty reduction.

 

Press release - European Comission
News article - CONCORD

Norway publishes White Paper on SDGs and development policy

The Norwegian government develops White Papers (Stortingsmelding) for parliament on matters that do not require a vote, to inform members on a particular field of work, and to shape future policy. According to a new one the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development, Norway will focus its development policy on three thematic areas: health, education, and climate. It will also continue to base ODA on results, increase efforts to fight pandemics, focus on its vulnerable states' strategy, and work to expand a knowledge bank on global health and education based in Norad, Norway's development cooperation agency. Norway will also replace its 12 focus countries with 20-25 partner countries, and has pledged to reduce its 4,000 ODA agreements by 20%.

White paper – Norwegian Government [in Norwegian]

Germany pledges further €1.2 billion for people suffering from Syrian conflict

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has pledged €1.2 billion in additional assistance to Syria at the Brussels conference, "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region", to reduce the suffering of people in Syria and its neighboring countries. At the conference, co-hosted by Germany alongside the EU, UN, UK, Qatar, Kuwait, and Norway, delegations from over 70 countries convened to raise money and discuss concrete political steps to address the situation in the Syrian region. Gabriel emphasized that no money will be invested without "credible political transformation" of the Syrian government.

Germany had previously made the largest individual pledge to Syria at the 2016 London pledging conference, of €2.3 billion.

Press release – German Federal Foreign Ministry

Study commissioned by European Parliament reveals 'Brexit' will have major consequences for EU ODA

A study by Elcano Royal Institute, a Spanish think tank, has examined the possible impacts of ‘Brexit’ on the EU’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian policies. Commissioned by the European Parliament, the study finds that the EU’s ODA could decrease by up to 3% within the current multi-annual financial framework (MFF 2014-2020), effecting a 10-13% decrease in global ODA. In the longer term, Brexit could create significant shortfalls in the EU's ODA budget within the next MFF (2021-2027). 
 
These reductions would challenge the EU's role as one of the largest global donors of ODA. The study suggests two distinct ways the EU could respond: 1) by becoming a regional power in foreign policy and development, or 2) by developing into a global leader. While the first approach would not significantly impact the EU’s strategic directions in development, the second would require the institutions not only to compensate for the lost 'Brexit' funding quantitatively, but also qualitatively, leading to an articulation of new policy priorities.

The report considers that a post-Brexit UK might still continue contributing to EU assistance, laying out three possible scenarios: 1) a ‘cosmopolitan’ outlook in which the UK opts to sustain its global commitments, including its relationship with the EU, and maintains its current ODA levels; 2) a ‘realist’ scenario in which the UK takes a strong yet independent lead in development; and 3) a ‘nationalist’ scenario in which the UK cuts its ODA budget by up to 30% and reallocates it to bilateral programs on economic infrastructure. 


Full report - Elcano Institute
Website - Euroactiv
Website - European Parliament

EU releases preliminary 2016 ODA figures

Preliminary 2016 ODA figures for the OECD Development Assistance Committee indicate that the EU and its Member States provided €75.5 billion in ODA, an 11% increase over 2015. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, cited these findings as proof of the EU’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, European development NGOs have criticized the figures, saying they are being inflated with the inclusion of refugee costs in EU countries, and have called on the EU and member governments to meet their promise of genuinely spending 0.7% of GNI on poverty reduction.

Press release - European Comission
News article - CONCORD