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Following widepread human rights abuses linked to controversial election, UK freezes funding to Uganda for police, prisons, military trainings

The UK government has frozen funding for three UK development assistance projects in Uganda worth £41,000 (US$50,000) in response to widespread human rights abuses and repression of political protests in the country following the controversial reelection of Yoweri Museveni for a sixth term.

The frozen funding was for projects supporting Uganda’s police forces, prisons service, and defense forces, mostly around human rights training. The UK government is now in the process of reviewing all UK development assistance to Uganda and has said it may permanently cut the funding to these projects.

News article - African Monitor

Spain launches new 'e-Duc@' fund to foster digital education in partner countries

As part of its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on February 3, 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) announced the launch of the new ‘e-Duc@’ fund to foster digital education in middle- and low-income partner countries. With a special focus on vulnerable populations, this new instrument will account for a budget of €4 million (US$5 million) in 2021 to support digitalization projects in partner countries.

The AECID also announced that the Spanish Foreign Ministry’s Secretary of State for International Cooperation has created a new working group on education and digitalization aimed at strengthening the government’s coordination in this area and advancing Sustainable Development Goal 4 on inclusive, quality education for all.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Fourth International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Liaison Office established in Japan

An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Liaison Office was established in Japan to raise the importance of investing in small-scale farming and reducing hunger in low-income countries. This is the fourth IFAD’s Liaison Office in the world.

The IFAD Liaison Office in Japan will help tackle issues such as food insecurity, undernutrition, and poverty in rural areas. These actives will contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 ('No Poverty') and SDG 2 ('Zero Hunger').

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

European Commission releases data on US$733 million mobilized in 2020 for COVID-19 research

The European Commission released data on how it spent the €781 million (US$733 million) it allocated to COVID-19 research in 2020 as part of its €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) pledge for combating COVID-19, sourced from its 2014-2020 research program, Horizon 2020. 

This includes the Commission’s contribution of €100 million (US$122 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI).

The Commission reports that it funded: 

  • 45 clinical management and treatment projects at €119 million (US$145 million) in total; 
  • 4 vaccine projects at €108 million (US$131 million) in total; 
  • 27 preparedness and crisis management projects at €88 million (US$107 million) in total;
  • 28 health system resilience projects at €53 million (US$64 million) in total;
  • 25 diagnostic projects at €36 million (US$44 million) in total;
  • 24 basic science, including the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, projects at €38 million (US$46 million) in total; and
  • 11 public health measure projects at €12 million (US$15 million) in total.

Report - European Commission

News article - Science|Business

US formally designates Myanmar military takeover as coup, triggering review of foreign assistance

Following the military takeover in Myanmar, the US Department of State formally designated the event a coup d'état, triggering legal restrictions on the use of US foreign assistance.

State Department officials have started a review of all assistance to Myanmar to assess which funding, such as humanitarian assistance and support for democracy, is going directly to people in need versus going directly to the government.  

By law, assistance to the government will be suspended but other assistance will be allowed to continue. A State Department official also indicated that it would undertake "a broader review of our assistance programs to ensure they align with recent events."

News article - Devex

Dutch NGOs call on government to ensure pharmaceutical companies share knowledge on COVID-19 vaccine development

On February 2, 2021, Oxfam Novib and Wemos, in cooperation with numerous other NGOs, addressed a letter to the Dutch Ministry of Health, Wellbeing, and Sports, calling on the government to provide assistance to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

According to the letter, the Dutch government stated its support for C-TAP in 2020 but did not take any further action to assist the cause. The NGOs urged the government to do so by providing financial assistance to C-TAP and by actively engaging with pharmaceutical companies to encourage them to share their knowledge and patents so that the global production of COVID-19 vaccines is maximized.

News article - RTL Nieuws (in Dutch)

Letter - Oxfam Novib and Wemos (in Dutch)

Japan provides US$28 million to develop fishing ports, fish markets in Indonesia

The Japan International Cooperation (JICA) announced plans to provide up to ¥3.0 billion (US$28 million) to Indonesia for the Programme for the Development of Fisheries Sector in Outer Islands (Phase 2).

The project aims to strengthen and establish fishing ports and fish markets on the outer islands of Indonesia, which will stimulate the local fishing industry and improve the living conditions of coastal communities.

This initiative will contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 8 (‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’), SDG 10 (‘Reduced Inequalities’), and SDG 14 (‘Life Below Water’).

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan, Asian Development Bank sign memorandum of cooperation to promote green energy in ASEAN region

Japan and the Asian Development Bank signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) under the Cleaner Energy Future Initiative (CEFIA) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote renewable and low-carbon energy.

This MOC will support the implementation of CEFIA projects, as well as develop policies that accelerate research activities and foster the sharing of data and knowledge. As of 2020, the Asian Development Bank’s investment in clean energy in the ASEAN region reached US$440 million, which consisted of 22% of their portfolio.

Press release – Asian Development Bank (in Japanese)

France to host international cooperation conference to work toward achieving SDGs

Five years after its inception, the French development technical cooperation agency, Expertise France, is holding an international cooperation conference on February 9, 2021, a bilingual (French and English) event that aims to showcase innovative approaches to development, focusing on solutions to tackle upcoming challenges and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Participants will include Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), Rémy Rioux, CEO of the French Development Agency, and Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who jointly won the 2008 Nobel Prize with Luc Montagnier for their contribution to HIV/AIDS.

Event - Expertise France

Australian Prime Minister's 2021 priorities include Pacific vaccine access

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed his government to five priority areas for 2021. These included suppressing the COVID-19 virus and delivering the COVID-19 vaccine nationally.

Speaking at the National Press Club, he emphasized Australia’s ability to manufacture vaccines for the entire Australian population.

He also said the Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development in the Pacific were working with Pacific and Southeast Asian governments on dedicated vaccine assistance tailored to their health systems and needs.

Australia has continued its Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) as well as supporting Indonesia's vaccine program.

Morrison also said the country has recently "upgraded" its relationships with Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, as well as signed a new digital commerce agreement with Singapore.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Sweden and Canada jointly commit US$28 million to pandemic research in low-income countries focused on artificial intelligence

The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have agreed to jointly invest SEK 232 million (US$28 million) in the Global South AI4COVID Program, which is supported by Pulse Lab Jakarta (a joint data innovation facility of the government of Indonesia and the UN).

The new research program will support multidisciplinary research in low- and middle-income countries focused on evidence-based artificial intelligence (AI) and data science methods to facilitate emergency management and recovery from COVID-19, as well as strengthen readiness for future pandemics. Three specific areas will be targeted: policy research, AI innovations, and training for local researchers. The program will support about 130 researchers in countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America over a period of two to four years. Currently, methods are being developed to collect more inclusive COVID-19 data as well as data on the impacts of the pandemic on socio-economic variables, gender-based violence, and human rights.

"Research depends on large amounts of local and specific data. The data available today for more advanced automated systems with artificial intelligence is often adapted for people in our part of the world, and in many cases not very useful in Sida's partner countries," said Anna Maria Oltorp, Head of Research Collaborations at Sida. "This is something that the research program within AI will address."

Website - The Global South AI4COVID Program

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

UK assumes Presidency of UN Security Council for February 2021 with focus on COVID-19, climate, violent conflict

The UK assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council on February 1, 2021. It will hold the rotating post for a month and said it will use its leadership to focus on three key issues: the COVID-19 crisis, anti-democratic conflict, and the climate crisis.

Regarding the topic of conflict, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, expressed the UK's concern about "the situation in Myanmar", referring to the recent coup following the election win of the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's leader. The UK has condemned the military takeover.

Human rights experts fear what this could mean for the persecuted Rohingya population and other groups.

Twitter - UK government

Australian Foreign Minister expresses concern about military takeover in Myanmar

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne, stated the government's deep concerns about control of Myanmar reportedly being seized by the military. She called on the military to respect the rule of law and the outcome of the 2020 general election. This would include the release of civilian leaders including President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Australia has supported Myanmar with bilateral assistance as part of regional programs through its cooperation with ASEAN for many years. It has committed an estimated A$91 million (US$69 million) in total official development assistance (ODA) to Myanmar in 2020-2021.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Report - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation addresses parliamentary concerns on COVID-19 and vaccine access

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, responded to parliamentary questions about a report that African countries are likely to be heavily affected by a second COVID-19 wave, as existing challenges concerning health, education, and economy have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 crisis and require further assistance. The report did not specify which African countries.

Kaag further stated that aside from the €25 million (US$30 million) that was allocated to the COVAX  Advance Market Commitment (AMC), no additional resources have been put towards combatting the COVID-19 crisis in low-income countries by the Netherlands this year.

Kaag also noted that although she sees no reason to remove patents on the development of COVID-19 vaccines at this moment, the government does encourage the analysis of possible patent-related issues that could hinder the production and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Kaiser Family Foundation releases 2019 report on family planning funding

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organization that focuses on US and global health, released its 'Donor Government Funding for Family Planning in 2019' report in January 2021.

The report found that:

  • Donor governments' funding levels for family planning in 2019 were similar to those of 2018;
  • In 2019, half of the studied donors increased bilateral funding for family planning;
  • The US was the largest donor to family planning, followed by the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada; 
  • Funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) remained steady compared to 2018 levels; and 
  • Funding levels in the future may be negatively affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, but there might be more support from the Biden administration if future funding requests are approved by Congress.

Report - KFF

Germany should contribute additional US$1.2 billion to global COVID-19 vaccination campaign, says German Development Minister

In an interview with the German newspaper, 'Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung', German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called on both Germany and Europe to ramp up funding for the global COVID-19 vaccination campaign to also ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s poorest people, “not at some point, but this year”.

There is still a financing gap of €25.0 billion (US$30.4 billion) to provide vaccine doses for at least 20% of low-income countries' populations, Müller said. Emphasizing that the pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere, Müller called for expanding global vaccine production capacities, for example, in South Africa, to provide doses for the African continent. To do so, Germany would need to increase its contribution to the global vaccine campaign to €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) in 2021, which would be an important signal of solidarity, he stated. Müller further called on the European Union to match the US administration’s commitment under US President Joseph Biden, who pledged another US$4.0 billion to the global COVID-19 response. 

News article – Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (in German)

South Korea’s Foreign Minister calls for stronger multilateralism in COVID-19 era

At the World Economic Forum’s 'Davos Agenda Week Leadership Panel' on January 29, 2021, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kyung-wha Kang made a strong argument for global cooperation that is based on multilateralism and the values of solidarity and partnership to respond to global issues including addressing the COVID-19 and climate crises, as well as achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

With regards to COVID-19, she highlighted the positive role of the COVAX Facility in enhancing global access to vaccines and stressed the need to enhance the global health system led by the World Health Organization (WHO), tackle fake news, increase the participation of private stakeholders, and restore multilateralism.

News article – KBS World

GlaxoSmithKline gives India’s Bharat Biotech licensing right to world’s first malaria vaccine, commits 15 million doses per year until 2028 at manufacturing cost

The British-based pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has granted India’s Bharat Biotech all the licensing rights to its malaria vaccine, the world's first. The move will ensure the long-term supply of the vaccine and will also hopefully enable the vaccine to be more accessible and affordable for lower-income countries. GSK is also handing over the manufacturing capacity of the vaccine’s RTS,S antigen to the Indian biotech company.

The vaccine is currently being piloted in conjunction with PATH (formerly known as Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), a nonprofit global health organization, to assess the safety, cost-effectiveness, and impact. GSK and PATH have been involved in the development of the malaria vaccine since 2001 as part of a public-private partnership funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This partnership also led to the selection of Bharat Biotech as a partner to develop the vaccine further.

If the World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for wider use, GSK has committed to supplying up to 15 million doses of the vaccine annually until the end of 2028 at manufacturing cost.

News article - Devex

EU approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as third available for use

The European Commission has authorized AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as the third one available for use. The approval was based on the assessment of the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and it follows the approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines.

AstraZeneca’s approval means that an additional 400 million doses will be available in 2021 for EU member states under a deal between the Commission and AstraZeneca. 

Press release - European Commission

News article - Politico

Japanese Prime Minister discusses policy priorities during Davos Agenda

On January 29, 2021, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga provided an overview of Japan’s policy priorities during the virtual Davos Agenda, a meeting of global leaders gathered by the World Economic Forum.

Japan’s policy priorities include becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, contributing to digital expansion such as through increasing research and development and strengthening international rule-making, and promoting multilateral trade systems and free and fair economic zones. Suga also stated that a successful 2021 Olympics would symbolize global unity in overcoming COVID-19.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)