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Japan’s PM Suga pledges further development of sustainable food systems to address global food security

During the United Nation’s Food Systems Summit 2021, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to continue to create and improve sustainable food systems to address global food security.

Leaders from over 150 countries as well as representatives from international organizations, private companies, and civil society organizations discussed how to tackle food security issues that have deteriorated due to the COVID-19 crisis.

To address specific food security issues, Suga indicated the following points as crucial:

  1. Promoting sustainable production through innovation, digitalization, science, and technology; 
  2. Maintaining free and fair trade, including removing some trade regulations; and 
  3. Supporting approaches in line with regional development efforts by taking into account countries' culture and climate.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Corporation

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Spanish development minister visits Honduras and Guatemala, announcing new partnership

In her first official trip since her appointment as State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela visited Honduras and Guatemala to gather information about Spain’s development cooperation programs in Central America related to education, climate change, gender, and water and sanitation.

Cancela met with government officials, parliamentarians, and representatives from multilateral organizations and local NGOs during the trip. She also participated in an event with the Guatemalan Secretary General for Planning, Keila Gramajo, to announce the approval of the new Partnership Framework Agreement (MAP) 2021-2024 that outlines Spain’s development priorities in Guatemala.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Biden pledges additional 500 million vaccine doses at COVID-19 UNGA; new financial intermediary established by World Bank

US President, Joe Biden, hosted a virtual Global COVID-19 Summit during the UN General Assembly, attended by heads of state, multilateral organizations, philanthropic representatives, and other leaders in global health.  

Biden formally announced that the US would supply an additional 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, bringing the US commitment to approximately 1.1 billion vaccine doses.  He unveiled a new set of US commitments for global leaders to embrace, including:

  • Pushing for equitable access to vaccines; 
  • Providing life-saving equipment, tests, and therapeutics; 
  • Providing all countries with better health security and pandemic preparation; and
  • Aligning accountability around global goals and tracking. 

Other countries joined in the vaccine pledge.  The European Union (EU) pledged 500 million vaccine doses and India ended its vaccine export ban, which will have significant consequences for low- and middle-income countries' access to vaccines. 

Although the US made commitments for oxygen, testing, and PPE, the Center for Global Development (CGD) called the contribution 'modest.' 

According to the CGD analysis, one of the most important announcements from the Summit included the US, the EU, and other countries' announcement to establish a new financial intermediary hosted by the World Bank. The new financing facility, which adopted many of the recommendations from the G20 High-Level Independent Panel, has a global goal of raising US$10.0 billion per year. 

Analysis - Center for Global Development

Press release - The White House

US pledges US$6.0 billion in assistance at UN Food Systems Summit

Samatha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced at the United Nations Food Systems Summit, that the US will commit US$5.0 billion over five years to the Feed the Future (FTF) program. Feed the Future is the US government's global hunger and food security program, which works with partners in the private sector and local actors.

Power also announced the expansion of Feed the Future's Global Food Security Strategy to include more countries and improve approaches to complex issues involved in tackling global hunger. The goal of these expanded investments is to reduce poverty and child stunting in Feed the Future countries by 20% and to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Summit, the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) additionally announced its intent to invest US$1.0 billion to combat food insecurity and bolster agriculture over the next five years. Acting CEO of the DFC, Dev Jagadesan, highlighted the importance of food security in global development in the statement. He suggested that the new targeted investments would encourage private sector advancements in addressing global agriculture and food systems in addition to mitigating climate change.

Press release - USAID

Press release - DFC

UK should cease ODA to DRC due to deforestation concerns, according to NGOs

Over 40 NGOs have demanded that the UK and other donors — the EU, Germany, France, Norway, South Korea, and the Netherlands — pause funding for the protection of the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo until the government extends its logging ban. The 19-year moratorium on new industrial logging is set to end, and the global coalition of NGOs, including Greenpeace Africa, Global Witness, and Congolese indigenous groups, have called on the UK and other donor countries to ensure that ODA is tied to the reinstatement of the moratorium. The Congo Basin is the second-largest rainforest in the world and a vast carbon sink.

News article - SkyNews

NGO letter - DRC

Japan to provide 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, doubling previous pledge

During the Global COVID-19 Summit, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, pledged 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to worldwide distribution attempts, doubling its previous 30 million dose pledge. Japan has provided 23 million doses to global vaccination efforts thus far, with most allocated to Asian and Pacific countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Japan additionally committed US$3.9 billion to global health with a particular focus on:

  1. Overcoming the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic; 
  2. Strengthening health systems in preparation for future health crises; and
  3. Creating an appropriate international environment for reinforcing health security across borders.

Press release – Ministry of Affairs (in Japanese)

EU and US announce joint COVID-19 vaccination plan and support new Financial Intermediary Fund

The US and the EU announced a new partnership to expand cooperation on global COVID-19 vaccination efforts. 

The ‘U.S.-EU Agenda for Beating the Global Pandemic: Vaccinating the World, Saving Lives Now, and Building Back Better Health Security’ outlines five pillars of joint US-EU commitments:

  1. vaccine sharing;
  2. vaccine readiness;
  3. bolstering global vaccine supply and therapeutics;
  4. proposal to achieve global health security; and
  5. a partners' roadmap for regional vaccine production.

The US and the EU have committed to donating more than 1.1 billion and 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, respectively. Both entities will support organizations in vaccine delivery and promote the equitable distribution of vaccines. Through their recently launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce, the US and the EU will support vaccine manufacturing and distribution by resolving supply chain issues among other tasks. They call on other partners to support their efforts. 

The US and the EU will both support and help sustainably capitalize the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) overseen by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the end of 2021; the fund will support global pandemic surveillance and will cooperate to expedite the development of new vaccines. They will also coordinate investments in regional manufacturing capacity in low and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) for vaccines and treatments. 

Press release - European Commission

News article - Politico

Spainish PM Sánchez supports global health initiatives and new Financial Intermediary Fund at UNGA

On September 22, 2021, at the 76th United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) plenary session, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, addressed the importance of strengthening multilateralism and advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to tackle world’s existing inequities.

PM Sánchez, who primarily spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic, called for a new global health treaty for pandemic preparedness and for making sure the most vulnerable populations have equal access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

PM Sánchez additionally announced the following commitments:

  • €2 million (US$2.35 million) for Unitaidthe Access for Covid-19 Tools Accelerator’s (ACT-A) therapeutic pillar;
  • An additional 7.5 million COVID-29 vaccine donation to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing Spain's total to 30 million donated doses; and
  • €30 million (US$35 million) for the climate Adaptation Fund to be disbursed in 2022, as part of Spain’s pledge for the COP26 climate talks, which will take place in Glasgow in November 2021. 

Sánchez also advocated for the creation of a new financial tool under the International Monetary Fund to support the most vulnerable countries in the post-pandemic recovery.

Press release – la Moncloa (in Spanish)

Italy will triple COVID-19 vaccine donations by 2021 year-end and establish pandemic preparedness board with G20 presidency

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, attended the Global COVID-19 Summit and announced that Italy will donate 30 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year, reaching 45 million donations for 2021.

Furthermore, PM Draghi declared that to prepare for future pandemics, the international community must expand vaccine and medical equipment production capacities, especially in most-vulnerable countries. Italy also supports the European Union's plan to devote 1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) to develop several regional medical manufacturing hubs on the African continent and foster technology transfers.

Italy intends to establish the Global Health and Finance Board with its G20 Presidency to enhance global cooperation in governance and finance for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Press release - Italian government website

Liberal Party maintains power following Canadian snap election, fails to secure majority government

The Liberal Party of Canada, led by Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, won in the snap national elections on September 20, 2021, but failed to secure the necessary 170 seats needed for a parliamentary majority. 

Critics consider the snap election an unsuccessful gamble by Trudeau to win a majority government. The results of the most recent election resemble the 2019 parliament, leading many to the conclusion that the election was a waste of both time and money to execute during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Official vote counts are not confirmed, but the country's left-wing New Democrats (NDP) are expected to win a small number of seats. The NDP could be a major power broker in the next parliament, as Trudeau will likely need to compromise with party leader, Jagmeet Singh, to pass legislation. 

The Conservatives, led by Erin O'Toole, are expected to win approximately 122 seats, maintaining their primary opposition status.

Bloc Québécois, a Quebec separationist party, will collect more than 30 seats in the province, which typically deprives the Liberals of a majority government. 

The Green Party faced internal party division, and will most likely send only two members to parliament. 

The People's Party of Canada (PPC), which ran on a populist campaign against vaccine mandates and lockdown measures, failed to acquire any seats in parliament. 

News article - BBC News

News article - CBC/ Radio Canada (in Québécois French)

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party wins minority government in Canadian election; platform promises increased international development spending

Canada’s federal snap elections on September 20, 2021, ended with a minority government led by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, similar to that of the previous formation. The Liberal Party’s campaign platform made several promises regarding Canada’s global engagement, including new spending for international development.

The Liberal Party campaign platform promised to:

  • Increase Canada’s international development assistance each year until 2030 to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Quadruple Canada’s annual investment in the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives to enable Canadian embassies to support the work of feminists, LGBTQ2 activists, and human rights defenders;
  • Donate at least 200 million vaccine doses to COVAX, the World Health Organization's (WHO) vaccine alliance, by the end of 2022 and provide additional funding to support testing and production efforts in low and middle-income countries;
  • Continue engagement with international allies to raise humanitarian funds and support the establishment of enduring democracy in Lebanon;
  • Continue Canadian support for global education, including new funding for girls’ and refugees’ education;
  • Provide increased assistance to people with disabilities in low and middle-income countries; and
  • Double Canada’s funding to grassroots women’s rights organizations and continue to make significant investments in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services

Platform - Liberal Party of Canada

News article - Cooperation Canada

Spain announces UNGA priorities, focusing on equity

On September 21, 2021, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC) released an official document outlining Spain’s priorities ahead of the 76 United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) ministerial week.

Priorities include:

  • Promoting equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to end the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Supporting an equitable, fair, inclusive, and resilient socio-economic recovery;
  • Strengthening multilateralism in order to effectively address global challenges;
  • Promoting peace and security;
  • Protecting vulnerable populations;
  • Advancing gender equality worldwide; and
  • Fostering ecological transition and global digitalization practices.

Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who postponed his trip to New York due to a volcanic eruption at the Canary Islands, will present at UNGA’s plenary session on September 22, 2021.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Sweden takes first place in Center for Global Development's ranking of high-income countries' committment to development

The Center for Global Development, an independent thinktank, published their Commitment to Development Index, (CDI) which measures development policy engagement in 40 major economies. The report consolidates key findings in development finance, investment, migration, trade, environment, health, security, and technology.

The CDI, rooted in "genuine policy effort" relative to country size, added health as a new component this year, taking into account pandemic preparedness as well as other health issues like pollutant concentration and prevention of medication resistance. 

Key findings included:

  • Sweden ranked first in overall development efforts, with top spots in both environmental and migration policies;
  • The UK slipped back to fifth place overall, suggesting a general decline in its development superpower status;
  • China ranked 36th and struggled with migration, security, and a lack of transparency;
  • The US dropped from 18th to 22nd in overall development commitments, indicating fallout from Trump-era policies;
  • France ranked second overall, the highest of the G7 countries;
  • Norway placed third overall with strong performances in development finance and migration; and
  • Australia moved up to fourth place following the introduction of health measurement indicators.

The CDI celebrated successful development policies and made recommendations for improvement for each of the countries it evaluated.

Commitment to Development Index - Center for Global Development

Germany pledges US$87 million during talks with African Union

COVID-19 pandemic response and regional economic integration were key topics during annual talks between the African Union Commission and the German development ministry. In particular, both parties emphasized the importance of COVID-19 vaccine access for the African Union and highlighted the potential African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as areas for immediate action. 

The parties agreed to strengthen the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to promote COVID-19 pandemic response measures; Germany promised a promotional loan worth €250 million (US$292 million) for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and local vaccine production. Germany contributed an additional €29 million (US$34 million) in support of AfCFTA. 

Germany committed €74 million (US$87 million) in assistance in 2021 to the African Union with particular support funneled toward the African Peace and Security Architecture (strategic initiatives on conflict prevention, management, and resolution) promotion of intra-continental labor migration, and cooperation on green infrastructure projects. 

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

Dutch development budget increases with government formation; global health benefits from additional ODA

The Dutch government presented its annual budget plan on Prinsjesdag (Budget Day) on September 21, 2021. The budget was announced, in accordance with tradition, by the Dutch king; the announcement was followed by two days of discussions in parliament.

The budget presented few surprises; while international crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change were represented, the budget did not include a significant increase in Dutch international development cooperation.

Some of the budget increases planned for 2021 and 2022 will go toward global health initiatives, including:

As the government formation process has not yet reached a formal conclusion, the Dutch parliament can potentially object to or influence budget decisions. During the plenary budget discussions following budget day, Members of Parliament were able to file motions, which will be discussed in the upcoming weeks.

News article – NOS (in Dutch)

Press release – Dutch Parliament (in Dutch)

Sweden draft budget bill proposes US$7.0 billion in ODA

On September 20, 2021, the Swedish government presented its draft Budget Bill for 2022 to Parliament; the bill includes a SEK5.0 billion (US$576 million) increase in official development assistance (ODA), totaling SEK 57.4 billion (US$7.0 billion), in line with Sweden’s commitment to providing ODA at one percent of gross national income (GNI). 

Due to its minority position, there is uncertainty about the government's ability to confirm the draft Budget Bill as is. However, most budget proposals within the ODA envelope remain broadly in line with previous years’ allocations and the ODA budget is predicted to remain largely unchanged.

To expand its strategic assignments and strengthen its peace- and state-building efforts, Sweden's Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) will see a notable increase from SEK189 million (US$22 million) to SEK213 million (US$25 million). 

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

UK Prime Minister calls on high-income countries to uphold US$100 billion climate finance commitment

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20, 2021, to convey frustration over high-income nations' failure to adhere to their US$100 billion climate finance commitment to assist low-income and climate-vulnerable nations. 

The original commitment to climate finance was established in 2009 at the UN COP16 and full delivery of the funds was intended by 2020.  

The UK holds the Presidency of the UN COP26, which will be held in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. With its presidency, the UK is keen to fulfill the funding promise, but lacks support from other high-income nations.

Johnson highlighted in his speech that high-income nations are causing detrimental climate change damage and low-income and climate-vulnerable nations suffer the consequences. He reiterated that while some progress has been made to mitigate climate crisis impacts globally, unfulfilled promises of funding and policy change indicate the need for far more action. 

The UK government provided £5.8 billion (US$ 8.0 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) to International Climate Finance for low-income countries between 2015 and 2021 and has committed to doubling funding to £11.6 billion (US$16.0 billion) between 2021-2025.

Press release – UK government

Former UK Prime Minister appointed WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing

Former Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, was appointed as the World Health Organization's (WHO) Ambassador for Global Health Financing. The role will entail strengthening support for long-term global health financing, particularly from G20 and G7 countries.

Brown is widely praised for his management of the 2008 global financial crisis and his stewardship at the 2009 London G20 summit. The announcement was made by the WHO on September 20, 2021.

News article -  WHO

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs resigns over failed Afghanistan evacuations

Former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigrid Kaag (Democrats 66- D66), resigned from her post following a motion of no confidence on September 16, 2021; the vote and subsequent resignation were triggered by the government's failed civilian evacuations from Afghanistan.

Kaag is the first western leader to resign from their post following withdrawals from Afghanistan. 

Kaag is not, however, resigning from her role as D66's party leader and will continue participation in coalition talks to form a new government.

The resignation illuminates heightened tension between Kaag and Prime Minister, Mark Rutte. Kaag heavily criticized the Prime Minister upon his refusal to resign after a motion of no confidence against him in April. Rutte’s party, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), and D66 are the two largest parties in the Netherlands; they are expected to form a minority government in the coming weeks.

News Article – Dutch News

News Article – NOS (in Dutch)

Norway to discontinue oil-based assistance program, focusing on climate-friendly goals

Norway announced that it will discontinue its program, Oil for Development, which assists in oil resource management competency in more than 30 countries.

The Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, stated that the Norwegian development assistance budget should have a strong climate profile, aim to fulfill the Paris Agreement, and ensure the long-term needs of low-income countries. While phasing out Oil for Development, the Norwegian government will re-prioritize the funds to meet its current development goals.  

The Development Assistance Program, Oil for Development, was established in 2005, its principle aim to assist partner countries in the management of oil and gas resources to promote sustainable economic growth and welfare. The program will be phased out gradually until 2024, with the exception of Colombia, where the program will continue until 2025. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)