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Finance in Common Summit to address sustainable recovery from COVID-19

On November 12, 2020, during the 3rd-annual Paris Peace Forum, the Finance in Common Summit will take place, to stress the role of public development banks in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the summit, participants are expected to launch a coalition to support the emergence of a financial response to the COVID-19 crisis that takes into consideration sustainable development and climate change. The aim is to define a global strategy for the 450 public development banks operating at sub-national, national, regional, international, and multilateral levels, whose volume of activity represents about US$2 trillion annually, according to organizers.

The summit is intended to feed into the forthcoming COP26 Conference and the G20 Summit. It will gather the development bank community, heads of state, governments, representatives from the private sector, civil society, think tanks, and academia.

This high-level meeting is an initiative of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI) and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), organized under the high patronage of French President, Emmanuel Macron, with the support of UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. 

Press release - Finance in common website

News article - Devex

European Commission concludes exploratory talks on possible COVID-19 vaccine with CureVac

The European Commission (EC) has concluded exploratory talks with CureVac regarding the purchase of 225 million vaccines given a successful development of the vaccine.

"We are doing everything we can to provide Europe and developing countries with sufficient vaccines quickly,” said Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jong, referring to Dutch pledges to donate vaccines to vulnerable countries.

The Joint Negotiation Team, representing the EC, Spain, Sweden, Poland, and the four countries of the Inclusive Vaccine Alliance (Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands) has been responsible for conducting negotiations on promising COVID-19 vaccines.

Press release – Dutch government (in Dutch)

Norway's reduced GNI could result in cuts to ODA

In response to a written question to Parliament, Norway's Minister of Finance, Jan Tore Sanner, reported that Norway's gross national income (GNI) in 2020 is estimated at NOK3.5 trillion (US$376 billion). Based on the GNI estimate from the national budget, Norway generally allocates 1% of its GNI to development assistance. Because the GNI estimate presented by Sanner is lower than previously projected, using it as the starting point for the 2020 development assistance budget would entail a NOK4.5 billion (US$413 million) decrease in funding for development.

In his response, Sanner emphasized that there is an unusually high level of uncertainty surrounding GNI estimates in 2020. In early October the government will present its 2021 national budget, which will include official new estimates for Norway's GNI in 2020 and 2021.

Written question - Norwegian Government  (in Norwegian)

Japan launches initiative to address climate change in COVID-19 recovery

Japan has prepared to launch a new initiative that will share information and enable dialogue between countries as well as non-state actors on realizing a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19.

As part of the initiative, Japan has developed an online platform named 'Platform Redesign 2020' detailing information on policies and actions taken by national governments to further climate change and pandemic recovery simultaneously. Furthermore, Japan will host an Online Ministerial Meeting on September 3, 2020 where ministers and high-level officials from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Parties will exchange their opinions and information on climate and other environmental measures in the context of COVID-19.

The Platform for Redesign is led by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, supported by UNFCC, and managed by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).

Press release – Japanese Ministry of the Environment

Official website – Platform for Redesign 2020

European Commission concludes exploratory talks on possible COVID-19 vaccine with Moderna

The European Commission has concluded its exploratory talks with US-based biotech company Moderna on purchasing its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna is the fifth vaccine manufacturer the Commission has finished negotiations with on purchasing COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The potential advance purchase contract with Moderna would include an initial purchase of 80 million doses and the possibility of an additional 80 million doses if the vaccine is safe and effective. The contract would also include provisions allowing all EU member states to purchase the vaccine, donate vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, or redirect vaccines to other European countries. 
Press release - European Commission

CEPI pre-orders 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for eventual distribition with WHO and Gavi

The Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has initiated international collaboration to ensure fair distribution of the eventual COVID-19 vaccine. The cooperation program between CEPI, WHO, and Gavi, the vaccine alliance is called Covax. Where CEPI finances the development and production of the vaccines, WHO and GAVI will ensure a fair distribution to poor countries.

CEPI has pre-ordered 300 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by AstraZeneca with the goal of delivering two billion doses by the end of 2021 together with WHO and Gavi.

Assistant Research Director Paul Kristiansen is optimistic but emphasizes the need for more and stable funding. To reach the goal, US$18 billion is needed for research and development. Norway supports CEPI with NOK3 billion (US$323 million) and several other countries also contribute. So far, CEPI has committed to distributing US$895 million for the development of COVID-19 vaccines. The prerequisite for the support is that the companies deliver affordable vaccines back to CEPI for fair distribution through GAVI and WHO.  

Kristiansen also argues that there is a need for more than one vaccine due to lack of production capacity, geographical spread due to different storage temperatures, and transport logistics. There are also advantages to having several different manufactures in different countries. CEPI currently supports nine companies and manufacturers in China, Europe, the US, Australia, and Hong Kong. 

News article – Teknisk Ukeblad  (in Norwegian)

Radical rethinking of global economy is necessary to protect planet Earth and humankind, urges German Development Minister

In recognition of Earth Overshoot Day, German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a radical rethinking of the global economy to protect the environment and humankind. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date annually when humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

While this year’s Earth Overshoot Day is later than the previous years due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Müller emphasized that COVID-19 should be a wake-up call for the world. Against the backdrop of the global devastation brought on by the pandemic, and given the advancing climate crisis, he called for setting the course for climate-neutral development, such as an ambitious innovation and investment package for the expansion of renewable energies across the African continent and in India, among other regions.  

Press release – BMZ (in German)

South Korea implements green energy and agriculture program in Fiji with support from Green Climate Fund

South Korea's Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced that it has been granted US$5 million by the Green Climate Fund to implement an agrophotovoltaic program in Fiji which combines solar power generation with advanced agricultural techniques.

According to KOICA, the total budget of the program is US$20 million with KOICA investing US$8 million and the Fiji Development Bank providing US$1 million to the project. The project will reportedly help Fiji combat climate change and switch to renewable power sources by 2035.

News article – The Korea Herald

Report finds UK international climate finance helped reduce 30 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in last decade

According to a new report from the UK government, its international climate finance interventions over the last nine years have helped reduce 30 million tons of greenhouse gases around the world: the equivalent of taking 7 million cars off the road for a year. The UK has ringfenced £9.2 billion (US$11.7 billion) of its official development assistance (ODA) budget (between 2011-12 and 2020-21)) for international climate finance interventions. These interventions support low-income countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change. 

In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, UK international climate finance interventions have helped to:

  • Improve access to clean energy for 33 million people, including off-grid renewable energy sources, solar lanterns, and clean cookstoves;
  • Provide 2,000MW of clean energy capacity in low-income countries;
  • Enable 66 million people to adapt to the impact of climate change, for example by providing training on how to grow climate-resilient crops; and
  • Leverage an additional £4.1 billion (US$5.2 billion) in public funding and an additional £2.2 billion (US$2.8 billion) of private finance to fight climate change

The volume of UK international climate finance has doubled since 2011-12 and the UK government has committed to doubling it again to least £11.6 billion (US$14.7 billion) between 2021-22 and 2025-26. Funding is managed by the UK's former Department for International Development, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs.  

Report - UK international climate finance

South Korea's unification minister identifies health, disease control, and climate change as priority areas for inter-Korean cooperation

South Korea's Minister of Unification Lee In-young has emphasized the need to establish a common vision to protect the lives of both South and North Koreans and identified three key areas of cooperation.

Speaking at an event on August 21, 2020 commemorating 75 years since the liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese colonial rule, Minister Lee highlighted that the ministry will establish a detailed cooperation plan on health and medicine, disease control and prevention, and climate change, the three areas of cooperation that were agreed by both Koreas. Since his appointment, Minister Lee has been vocal about enhancing inter-Korean cooperation.

Press release – Ministry of Unification (in Korean)

UK government announces new interim leadership team for Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office

The UK government has announced its interim leadership team for the forthcoming Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). FCDO will formally open on September 1, 2020, following the UK government’s decision to merge its Department for International Development (DFID) with its Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The announcement comes after the recent appointment of Sir Philip Barton as the permanent secretary to the FCDO, the highest-level civil servant in the new department.

The team is comprised of five directors-general, appointed on an interim basis of five months only to help manage the transition. The team also includes one political director, appointed on a permanent basis. Each Director-General leads on a specific geographic area and a set of thematic areas.

  • Juliet Chua will be the new director-general of finance and corporate performance. This was a post she held in DFID.
  • Tim Barrow will be the new political director. He is currently UK ambassador to the EU.
  • Tom Drew will be the director-general of Middle-East and North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He is currently director-general of consular and security at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. He will also be responsible for humanitarian and crisis management, as well as defense, migration, and national security.
  • Moazzam Malik will be the director-general for Africa. He is currently director-general of country Programs in DFID. He will also be responsible for conflict and stabilization, human rights and good governance, and the UK’s development finance institution, the CDC Group.
  • Vijay Rangarajan will be the director-general for the Americas and overseas territories. He is currently ambassador to Brazil. He will also be responsible for climate change, health, education, and gender.
  • Jenny Bates will be the director-general of the Indo-Pacific region. She is currently the director-general for Europe at the FCO.
  • Kumar Iyer will be the director-general of delivery. He is currently director-general of the prime minister's COVID-19 task force.

Some commentators have pointed to the dominance of FCO former staff in the management structure as a sign that development will be deprioritized within the new organization in favor of foreign policy. 

News article - Financial Times

News article - Devex

Canada's IDRC funds ten new research projects on COVID-19 and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has announced funding for ten new research projects examining the impacts of COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. The projects will expand on existing IDRC funded initiatives and involve understanding, measuring, and documenting the impact of COVID-19 and responses to COVID-19 on the following subjects, in partnership with the following organizations:

  1. Food security and nutrition in Kenya - Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization;
  2. Resilience of the fish value chain in Malawi - University of Malawi;
  3. Staple food value chains in Zimbabwe - Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project;
  4. Trade of food between Tanzania and the East African Community partner states - Economic and Social Research Foundation;
  5. Gender implications and youth resilience in agribusiness - United States International University Africa;
  6. Food security in Johannesburg - PRICELESS South Africa;
  7. Food production and supply in Kenya and Uganda -National Agricultural Research Organization;
  8. Local food production in Nigeria - Centre for Population and Environment Development;
  9. Household food systems in West Africa - SOCODEVI; and
  10. Informal food economy resilience in Dakar - Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale.

Press release- IDRC

Australia will seek to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in Pacific region, signals Prime Minister

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that Australia would seek to assist Pacific and some South-East Asian countries by distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. This depends on Australia being able to develop a “working supply” of vaccine. Australian development NGOs welcomed this statement but have called for increased assistance funding for such a rollout to protect the existing development assistance budget.

News article - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Australia's Health Minister releases COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy; additional US$17 million for COVID-19 clinical trials

Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced an additional A$25 million (US$17 million) for clinical trials focused on treating and preventing COVID-19. Applications for funding will close on September 23, 2020, with studies to commence from early 2021. Funds will be provided from the domestic Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The government also released its COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy, which outlines Australia’s response to the virus. According to the strategy, the Australian government has submitted an expression of interest to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

Press release - Minister for Health

Strategy - Department of Health

South Korean research institute provides recommendations for nation's development assistance policies

The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), one of the leading national research institutes on international development cooperation in South Korea, published an article that analyzed the global implementation of the SDGs and the impact of COVID-19. The paper also provided policy recommendations for South Korea’s ODA post-COVID-19 including:

  • Better reflecting challenges of SDGs implementation and the impact of COVID-19 in South Korea’s Country Partnership Strategies (CPS), as South Korea’s partner countries have strong support needs in order to implement SDGs in the areas of health, nutrition, industry and infrastructure, inequality, peacebuilding, and more;
  • Improving policy coherence between domestic strategy and ODA strategy on topics such as the gender wage gap, income inequality, climate change response and elderly poverty, which are major challenges domestically and internationally;
  • shifting from a sector-based approach to a multi-dimensional program that links diverse sectors, institutions, and support mechanisms to respond to various SDGs challenges;
  • improving sections on marginalized groups, gender, inequality, and human rights in CPS papers
  • and diversifyomg ODA types and actively linking ODA with other types of development finance, such as private sector finance.

Press release – Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (in Korean)

Japan provides US$2 million for food assistance to Cape Verde

Japan will provide US$2 million (¥250 million) in food assistance to Cape Verde

According to a Japanese Government press release, about 10% of the total land in Cape Verde is cultivated, and the country imports about 85% of grains. Since the drought in 2016, approximately 37% of the population is facing food shortages. These funds will be used to provide food assistance and improve the country's overall food situation. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

South Korea signs agreement with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19 emergency response program

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), South Korea's main grant assistance implementing agency, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) of the African Union (AU) on a COVID-19 emergency response program for 2020 and implement the said program.

The agreement covers the launch and implementation of the emergency response program, which will support Africa CDC's Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) initiative across Africa. KOICA will specifically provide health and medical equipment to enhance AU member countries’ treatment infrastructure, diagnostic kits and equipment, support to prevent and manage infection of medical staff and experts, and contact-free consultation on communication with the public.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

South Korean research institute and World Bank to conduct case study on South Korean economic development

South Korea's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that the Korea Development Institute (KDI), one of the leading national research institutes in South Korea, will conduct a study in partnership with the World Bank's Korea Office on South Korea’s experience with transitioning from a low-income to a high-income economy, or escaping the so-called 'middle-income trap'.

As part of the collaboration, the World Bank will be publishing a report entitled 'Korea: Connecting Innovation and Technology to Development' as an outcome of this co-research in the first half of 2021. This study will analyze South Korea’s economic history from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis to present with special focus on innovation and technology, economic structural reform, small-medium enterprises and start-ups, education and labor, and export and foreign investment as South Korea’s key drivers of economic growth.

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

Sweden halts development assistance to state actors in Belarus

On August 19, Sweden decided to halt all development assistance benefiting state actors in Belarus. As a result of this decision, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has begun reviewing ongoing operations equivalent to about SEK9 million (US$1 million), most of which was aimed at strengthening democracy and human rights.

"Given the development in the country after the elections, we think the decision is very reasonable," said Carin Jämtin, Director General of Sida.

Sweden has a long-standing relationship with Belarus; Sweden has provided development assistance to the country for 25 years and is one of its largest bilateral donors. Sida’s 2020 allocation for Belarus is SEK 102 million (US$11 million).

Swedish support has mostly been focused on improving gender equality, anti-discrimination, freedom of speech, and democratic organizations. "We have a dialogue with our partners to look at how we can further strengthen support for civil society and other actors,” said Carin Jämtin. “In concrete terms, the way in which this aid should look depends very much on the development. We need to find the best ways to support further democratic development."

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Australian 'End COVID for All' movement builds coalition of health, charity, church, and business groups calling for government funding for humanitarian action on COVID-19

Australian NGO, Micah Australia, has developed a coalition to help low-income countries in the region to combat COVID-19. Supported by the peak overseas assistance NGO body, ACFID, over 13,000 people have signed a pledge to support the campaign.

Micah has also drawn in Australian celebrities and more than 150 organizations. The 'End COVID for All' pledge calls on the Australian government to contribute its appropriate share of global funding to this humanitarian response.

News article - Pro Bono News