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New US$229 million institute for pandemic therapeutics established in Melbourne

A new A$325 million (US$229 million) center, the Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics, targeting anti-pandemic medicines will be established in Melbourne, Australia; the center will be housed within the newly-established A$650 million (US$457 million) Australian Institute for Infectious Disease, a partnership between the University of Melbourne, the Doherty Institute, and the Burnet Institute. 

In the largest philanthropic donation ever to a medical research facility in Australia, Canadian businessman Jeffrey Cumming committed to providing A$250 million (US$176 million) to enable the rapid development and testing of new therapeutics to combat emerging pandemics. The Victorian State government has also committed A$75 million (US$53 million) to establish the center.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Cummings Centre, stressed the need for greater innovation in anti-pathogen therapeutics. Investments in therapeutics lagged significantly compared to funding for the development of preventatives like vaccines in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new center will, therefore, focus on research in developing new therapeutics quickly, including through computational techniques and molecular platforms.

Press release – The Doherty Institute

Netherlands considers EU proposal to alter farm data reporting requirements

In June 2022, the European Commission submitted a proposal to expand EU Member States’ obligation to provide information about farm sustainability indicators. The Netherlands generally supports the proposal, though there are some concerns around proposal elements, such as introducing a farm ID, special surveys, legally requiring farms to provide the requested information, and requiring the EU Member States to give financial compensation to agricultural companies.

Since 1965, all EU Member States are legally required to collect, verify, and submit economic and accounting data about agricultural holdings. Each year, information from more than 80,000 farms across the EU is entered into the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). Recently, the European Commission proposed to convert the FADN into a Farm Sustainability Data Network (IDL). The amendment aims to provide environmental and social data on farms in addition to economic and accounting data. The proposal is estimated to enter into force in 2025.

The Dutch Interministerial Working Group for the Assessment of New Commission Proposals (BNC) expressed support for the aim of the amendment. In its technical sheet, the BNC recognized the importance of 'relevant and reliable data and accompanying sustainability and social policies.' At the same time, the working group expressed concerns about some of the accompanying changes outlined in the proposal.

First, it questioned the feasibility of introducing unique ‘farm IDs’ to enable links with other integrated agricultural statistics and information systems used by other member states. It also noted a lack of concrete outcomes regarding how proposed links will improve policymaking and evaluation, and guarantee participating companies’ privacy.

The working group believed existing regulations and opportunities for ad-hoc and periodic data collection in the European agricultural sector are sufficient, and expressed concerns that proposed 'special surveys' would increase administrative burdens. Similarly, the Netherlands questioned the necessity of a provision requiring farms to provide information, as most provide sufficient data voluntarily.

Finally, the working group expressed doubts about the proposal’s suggestion for member states to offer financial compensation for farmers’ participation, citing differences in member state data collection methods as grounds for different criteria for compensation.

The Netherlands remained open to the proposed legal requirements, however, if other member states find them important.

Article – AgriHolland (in Dutch)

Report – Dutch Interministerial Working Group (in Dutch)

South Korea releases draft 2023 ODA budget totaling US$3.3 billion

The South Korean government released a draft 2023 budget plan that significantly expands the total amount of ODA from KRW3.9 trillion (US$2.9 billion) in 2022 to KRW4.5 trillion (US$3.3 billion) in 2023.

Since ODA and contributions to international organizations have significantly increased, the budget for South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will increase by 10%. Contributions to international organizations rose about 64% from KRW168.6 billion (US$124 million) to KRW276.7 billion (US$230 million). The government will use humanitarian assistance to contribute US$100 million to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) per year from 2023 - 2025, equivalent to an additional US$300 million to ACT-A over that time period.

News article – Yonhapnews (in Korean)

Sweden approves additional US$50 million in development assistance for Ukraine

Sweden announced a new development assistance package of US$100 million for Ukraine on September 29, 2022. The package includes military assistance worth SEK500 million (US$50 million) and SEK500 million (US$50 million) for reconstruction efforts.

Non-military funds will be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine, focusing on the sustainable management of destroyed infrastructure and humanitarian procurements. In addition, Sweden will assist with the delivery of Ukrainian wheat to countries most at risk of widespread starvation. As part of these efforts, Sweden will cover the costs for at least 30,000 tons of wheat to be transported by sea from Ukraine.

Sweden will also be responsible for coordinating waste management and recycling during reconstruction – a request made by President Zelenskyy when Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson visited Kyiv in July 2022.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, Swedish support to Ukraine has more than doubled through a number of decisions amounting to an additional SEK5.2 billion (US$519 million) thus far for military, humanitarian, and reconstruction support, in addition to financial guarantees and civilian operations.

Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Save the Children warns billions could be diverted from UK ODA for Ukraine refugee costs

Save the Children have raised the alarm over the UK government’s controversial decision to use the ODA budget to cover the costs of housing 118,000 Ukrainians in the UK. Save the Children has estimated that the cost could be as high as 25% of the UK ODA budget in 2022, or £3 billion (US$4 billion). While Save the Children welcomes the UK’s support to refugees, it argues that it must not come at the cost of helping others in need. In order to cover the costs and ensure the ODA budget does not exceed 0.5% of UK gross national income, Save the Children estimates that hundreds of ODA projects will need to be stopped.

The UK only announced in July that it would begin to count the costs of housing Ukrainian refugees in the UK via its ODA budget.

News article – The Independent

 

German development minister calls for increased protection of climate-vulnerable countries

In an interview, German Minister for Development and Cooperation Svenja Schulze said that she will advocate for more climate protection for particularly vulnerable low- and middle-income countries at this year’s COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

According to Schulze, she aims to collaborate with countries most affected by climate change on the development of a Global Shield against Climate Risks, which Germany proposed in July at this year’s 13th Petersberg Climate Dialogue. The Global Shield is intended to assure sufficient financial resources are available to support low- and middle countries in the short term in the case of extreme weather events.

Schulze also called for more solidarity with climate-vulnerable countries, especially since these countries usually contribute the least to global CO2 emissions but are most affected by the impacts of climate change.

News article – Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (in German)

Sweden partially restores development assistance cuts

Sweden has announced it intends to restore SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) of the SEK9.1 billion (US$850 million) it initially diverted from its international development budget in 2022 - roughly 18% of its annual development assistance spending - to cover the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees in-country.

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans said that the latest decision followed a lower forecast from the country’s migration agency last month on Ukrainian refugee numbers this year. 

The move - which follows an earlier reinstatement of SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) in June 2022 for climate, democracy, and human rights assistance - was met by relief by development advocates. They have criticized Sweden’s proposed development budget cuts, highlighting the government's hasty decision to freeze substantial parts of development spending before the full impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was clear.

Currently, SEK6.1 billion (US$570 million) of the SEK57.4 billion (US $5.3 billion) in development spending for 2022 - roughly 11% - will go to in-donor refugee costs. This represents a lower share than the period from 2015-2017 when Sweden took in large numbers of Syrian refugees, though higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.

Press Release – Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Japan contributes US$20 million to food security efforts

The Japanese government announced contributions totalling US$20 million to bolster food security in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, the Philippines, and Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip during the week of August 29, 2022.

The package included:

  • US$2 million through the World Food Programme (WFP) to Sri Lanka;
  • US$5 million through WFP for life-saving food assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan;
  • US$6 million through WFP for food rations for people in urgent need of food assistance in Syria;
  • US$6 million through WFP for farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines; and
  • US$2 million through United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for essential in-kind food assistance to over one million Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.

The donations are part of Japan’s July 2022 commitment to providing US$200 million for improving food security in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent food shortages.

Press release – World Food Programme 

Press release – World Food Programme

Press release – World Food Programme

Press release – World Food Programme  

Press release – United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Norwegian Research Council announces US$15 million for projects on food security, global health

The Norwegian Research Council announced that it will dedicate NOK148 million (US$15 million) to 14 research projects on international relations, the Arctics, global health, and food security. 

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, said that the projects will generate vital knowledge for future Norwegian foreign and development policy. In addition, she highlighted that the government prioritizes research within international development, especially in light of current compounding crises; current and unfolding challenges like the climate crisis, uncertainty around global food security, the Russian war in Ukraine and high energy prices were all of concern to the minister. 

According to Tvinnereim, Norway has a responsibility to contribute knowledge and research to global challenges, especially considering its role as a major international development funder.

Of the 14 research projects, seven will focus on global health, and Norwegian research institutions will collaborate closely with local partners. The aim of some of these projects will include developing new methods to diagnose and treat preeclampsia and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); they will also test alternative models for providing psychological assistance to LGBTQ+ communities in low-income countries.

Two projects will also focus on global food security and will be conducted in collaboration with local partners in Africa. One of the projects will test methods to improve food security in 'Sub-Saharan Africa' (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union) by strengthening access to agricultural resources and innovations for small-scale food producers. The second project will look at technological and cultural obstacles to implementing alternative fertilizers.

Press release – the Norwegian Research Council (in Norwegian)

News article – Khrono (in Norwegian)

New research shows Netherlands not on track to meet climate goals

New research by the Berlin-based NewClimate Institute has found that the Dutch government is not on track to meet its goals of achieving a CO2 reduction of at least 55% by 2030 and becoming climate neutral by 2050. The research concluded that the Dutch cabinet must adjust its targets to keep within the Dutch CO2 budget to prevent global warming past 1.5°C. This 1.5°C target is the goal of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to take concerted climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming.

In conjunction with this target, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated the maximum global emission that is allowed to be produced to stay within 1.5°C of global warming. From this, each country has been assigned a portion of this, noted as their national CO2 budget. The NewClimate Institute has also calculated a ‘fair share’ budget, which considers that high-income countries have benefited from higher CO2 emissions, and as a result must do more to offset those emissions in the future.

The new research is the first of its kind to determine whether the Dutch government’s climate goals align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Its findings show that The Netherlands has already exceeded both its national CO2 budget and its ‘fair share’ CO2 budget. The research concluded, The Netherlands need to decrease their emission as fast and deep as possible, and additionally provide substantial support to other countries.” Similar research on Germany and Finland’s CO2 budgets has led their governments to step up their agreements.

Blog – Greenpeace (in Dutch)

Report – NewClimate Institute

US to host Global Fund replenishment, US$18 billion goal

The White House formally announced that it will host the seventh replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) on September 19, 2022, in New York City.  

The Global Fund's seventh replenishment aims to raise US$18 billion in pledges, which will be used in the 2023-2025 grant cycle. US President Biden's budget request for FY2023 includes US$2 billion, the first planned contribution of a total US$6 billion.

The US is both a founding member and the largest contributor to the Global Fund, which was established in 2002. The Global Fund is a multi-stakeholder organization that brings governments, the private sector, and civil society together to address HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria by working in low- and middle-income countries to strengthen health systems.

Press release - The White House

UK outlines specifics on funding uses for US$295 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine

The UK released a new report highlighting where its £220 million (US$295 million) in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine is going. The report highlights that 6.6 million people are displaced inside Ukraine, and 5.8 million people are registered as refugees across Europe, making it one of the fastest-growing refugee crises since World War II.

UK funding, which includes £145 million (US$194 million) for the UN and Red Cross Agencies and an additional £25 million (US$34 million) in matched funding to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal (DEC), is focused on supporting the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly, and disabled. The UK has three core objectives:

  • Providing assistance in Ukraine and to people seeking refuge in the region;
  • Working with others to deliver a well-coordinated and well-funded response; and
  • Advocating for respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Report – UK Government

Japan announces US$30 billion in African investments over three years at TICAD8

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke at the opening session of the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) and announced Japan’s commitment to providing US$30 billion in financial contributions throughout Africa over the next three years.

TICAD8 took place in Tunisia from August 27-28, 2022. 

Japan has contributed US$20 billion to the continent over the past three years and will increase its contributions moving forward with a focus on investing in people and quality growth. The government has outlined five focus areas including: 

  • Launching “Japan’s Green Growth Initiative with Africa,” a US$4 billion initiative to address climate change;
  • Promoting investment in start-up companies with young, energetic people;
  • Co-financing initiatives with the African Development Bank up to US$5 billion to improve the lives of the most vulnerable;
  • Contributing up to US$1 billion to the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment to support measures against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; 
  • Promoting human resource development; and
  • Suporting regional stabilization.

Kishida also addressed the ongoing food crisis and stated that Japan would make a US$300 million contribution to co-finance food production initiatives with the African Development Bank.

Press release – Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet

South Korea opens K-Bio Health Strategy Center

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) opened the K-Bio Health Strategy Center in Seoul to establish a comprehensive support system for bio-health companies.

The South Korean government has already established six regional centers for sharing experimental equipment and consulting on clinical trials. MOHW plans to push for related policies to create an industrial ecosystem where bio-health companies with excellent technologies can succeed in commercialization. 

Press release – Ministry of Health and Welfare (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea explores digital health options in Western Pacific region

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) discussed digital innovation on health in the Western Pacific region with the World Health Organization's (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office and the Korean Society of Medical Informatics.

This meeting was held in connection with the 6th National Assembly International Health Council Forum to promote cooperation between lawmakers in the Asia-Pacific region. MOHW intends to pursue digital-based future medical care, a new digital healthcare market, and a big data-based bio-health industry. South Korea will strengthen cooperation with domestic and foreign digital healthcare experts to explore South Korea's potential role in the Western Pacific region as a leader in digital healthcare.  

Press release – Ministry of Health and Welfare (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

Japanese companies call on government to step up health ODA ahead of TICAD8

On August 25, 2022, 11 Japanese companies spoke at Global Health Action Japan in preparation for the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) which was held in Tunisia later that week.

Japanese companies specializing in pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, laboratory equipment, and the elimination of health inequalities in Africa and other parts of the world presented products and initiatives highlighting their contributions to global health. In addition, the companies called on the Japanese government to increase health-related ODA contributions and strengthen public-private partnerships in procurement and human resource development.

Four initiatives under consideration by the Business Leaders’ Coalition for Global Health include:

  • Emphasizing the private sector’s influence in international healthcare to the Japanese government;
  • Creating a scheme or entity to coordinate and strengthen collaboration with international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund);
  • Communicating information about Japanese advancements in global health domestically and abroad; and
  • Implementing “impact weighted accounting” strategies to promote the nonfinancial, social impacts of products and firms.

The event signals Japanese companies' increased activity in global health efforts. Earlier this year, Japanese business leaders called on the government to double health-related ODA by 2025 and work closely with businesses to achieve global health targets.

Press release – The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese)

NGOs call on Australia to increase Global Fund commitment by 86%

In a speech in Canberra on August 23, 2022, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) Peter Sands called on the Australian government to ramp up its commitment to the fund's seventh replenishment cycle.

The Global Fund is seeking an Australian contribution of A$450 million (US$316 million) for its seventh replenishment, which will cover the 2023 - 2025 period. This figure includes budget lines to address the compounding impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Global Fund's disease focus areas and health systems strengthening.

Sands stressed that the Global Fund has made significant commitments to Australia’s development focus regions - Southeast Asia and the Pacific - particularly on tuberculosis. 

A report by the Canberra-based Development Policy Centre noted that while Australia was strongly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, the Global Fund spent around three-quarters of its assistance in 'Sub-Saharan Africa' (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union).

The US$450 million replenishment call, supported by Australian NGOs, would require an 86% increase compared to Australia’s 2019 replenishment figure. Despite Labor governments generally taking a pro-multilateral approach, difficult budget circumstances could make it challenging for the Albanese Labor Government to follow through on such an increased commitment.

To date, the new government has not commented on increasing multilateral contributions with one exception; it will contribute to the World Bank's new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for pandemic prevention. 

Report - Development Policy Centre

20 countries launch global coalition to stop plastic pollution by 2040

The 'High Ambition Coalition to Stop Plastic Pollution,' a group of like-minded countries that have taken the initiative to form a coalition committed to developing a legally binding global agreement against plastic pollution, launched on August 22, 2022; the coalition aims to end oceanic plastic pollution by 2040.

Every year, between 5 -12 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the oceans, contributing to environmental degradation and increasing microplastics in water. Without effective measures, oceanic plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2040.

The coalition, chaired by Norway and Rwanda, currently has 20 members including Canada, Peru, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, South Korea, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland, Ecuador, France, and the Dominican Republic.

The US, China, and India - the world's largest plastic producers - and other large producers are noticeably absent from the coalition. 

Members of the coalition will meet in New York at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2022, followed by a formal meeting in Uruguay on November 28, 2022.

Website - High Ambition to End Plastic Pollution

Government of Sweden - Press Release (in Swedish)

News article - Argus

UK unlikely to meet fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI due to inflation

The UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an independent research institute, issued a new briefing note on the outlook for UK public finances over the coming years; the note suggests that the UK’s fiscal tests to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI will likely not be satisfied by FY2023/24 as anticipated by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in April 2022. The two fiscal tests set by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, were that the country is not borrowing for day-to-day spending and that the ratio of underlying debt to GDP is falling.

The IFS’s briefing note is based on the Bank of England’s August 2022 forecasts which show higher and more persistent inflation than anticipated by the OBR. The report, which provides a set of scenarios for government spending and revenue, shows that higher inflation combined with higher interest rates, will push up public spending and that while revenues will also be pushed up by higher inflation, they will likely be moderated by weaker growth in real-terms earnings and household spending. As a result, the note shows that borrowing could be about £16 billion (US$22 billion) higher than forecasted in 2022 and £23 billion (US$ 40 billion) higher in 2023.

Briefing Note - Institute for Fiscal Studies

Twitter – Richard Watts

UK launches new 'Developing Country Trading Scheme' for low-income countries

On August 22, 2022, the UK launched its new 'Developing Country Trading Scheme.'

The scheme, which will come into force in January 2023, replaces the UK’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) which it used when it was part of the EU. The new scheme, which is eligible to 65 low- and middle-income countries, expands the number of products eligible for cuts in import taxes and simplifies rules and regulations. It also includes a proviso to suspend the lower tariffs if partner countries undertake human rights or labor abuses.

The UK’s Department of Trade said the move was part of a wider drive by the UK to reduce development assistance dependency and drive trade and prosperity in partner countries.

News article – BBC

News article - UN