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November 15, 2018: Save the Children hosts conference on the future of development assistance

Save the Children hosts a conference on the future of development assistance in a challenging global context. The conference aims to discuss when and how development assistance works best, and whether governments are committed to a knowledge and evidence-based approaches to development assistance. The conference features presentations from development professionals, showcasing best practices and key components of successful development assistance. Speakers include Norwegian Minister for International Development Nikolai Astrup.

Location: Oslo, Norway 

Event page - Facebook

EU Development ministers discuss key issues in Tallin

EU ministers responsible for development met informally under the rubric of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council to discuss digitalization, relations with advanced developing countries, crisis prevention, and the European External Investment Plan, designed to promote investment in EU partner countries in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood region. NGO representatives present at the meeting reportedly raised concerns about repurposing development assistance for European security and migration management through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.  

Website and livestream - EU2017

October 25, 2018: Norwegian think tank hosts conference on inequality and development

Agenda, a Norwegian think tank, hosts a half-day conference on Norway’s efforts on inequality and development. The conference aims at discussing what drives inequality internationally and how to counteract growing inequalities in our partner countries. Speakers include the Norwegian Minister of International Development, professors from Norwegian universities, and representatives from political parties. 

Location: Oslo, Norway 

Facebook event (in Norwegian) 

Sweden contributes US$89 million to IDA for climate

On June 30, 2022, the Swedish government decided to contribute SEK9.2 billion (US$89 million) to the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA), the single largest global fund for multilateral financial support to the world’s 74 poorest countries.

More than one-third of the Swedish IDA-allocation - aiming to ensure that the World Bank can remain a central actor in helping low- and middle-income countries meet the long-term goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement - will be allocated to climate measures. Projects enhancing crisis preparedness for climate-related disasters, hunger and pandemics will be prioritized.

Sweden is the eighth-largest donor to the IDA and has played a significant role in shaping the organization’s work program for the coming three years.

Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Focus on large funds and the World Bank

The Minister of Development, Nikolai Astrup, indicates that the share of development assistance allocated to global funds and multilateral channels is likely to further increase as it is more effective and costs less. Astrup allocated further funding to the World Bank during the World Bank's Spring Meeting, which means that Norway will allocate US$ 94 million from 2020 - 2025. 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt

Report notes lack of Norwegian policy coherence for development

Norway's development agency, Norad, has released a report titled 'Evaluation of Norwegian Efforts to Ensure Policy Coherence for Development'. The report, conducted by Fafo Research Foundation in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo recommends 1) establishing a new forum with a range of experts to open and initiate debates related to policy coherence, 2) that the forum annually reviews Norwegian policy goals against global development goals, and 3) that embassies systematically report to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on any issues that arise. 

Report - Norad

Spain unveils water and sanitation facility in Honduras

Spain’s ambassador to Honduras, Miguel Alberto Suárez, inaugurated a wastewater treatment plant in Honduras’ Sorosca region. The initiative aims to provide safe drinking water to 45,000 people in Santa Rosa de Copán. With €10 million in financing from the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation (FCAS) and a €300,000 municipal budget, the project aims also to provide a city-wide wastewater connection system to be completed by March 2018. 

Press release - AECID (in Spanish)

CONCORD reports that increases in EU development cooperation are being offset by in-donor costs

CONCORD, the European network representing more than 2,000 NGOs and relief organizations around Europe, has released its 2017 AidWatch Report. The report finds that a substantial increase of 27% in development spending is being offset by “inflated aid” reporting for in-donor costs and debt relief. It also notes that 23 of 28 EU member states increased their assistance budgets; that “development” spending for migrants, refugees, and securitization increased by 43%; and that spending on least-developed countries decreased.

According to the report, it could take European donors another 30 years to meet the 0.7/GNI target at current spending rates. 

Publication - CONCORD Europe

US administrator announces new development impact bond for India

During closing remarks of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in India from November 28-30, 2017, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the creation of the 'Utkrisht Impact Bond' to fund maternal and newborn health in the Indian state of Rajasthan.  The UBS Optimus Foundation, a grant-making foundation dedicated to improving the lives of children worldwide, is providing the initial working capital of US$3.5 million. Up to US$8 million will be provided by USAID and Merck for Mothers, a 10-year US$500 million initiative focused on improving the health and well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, if certain health targets are met. 

News article - Devex

Swedish government issues correction to media: development assistance for COVID-19 will come from current budget, not additional funds

Despite what has been reported in Swedish media, the Swedish government has not provided any additional funding to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in low-income countries. The funds invested to this point are derived from previous allocations to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

It was reported that the Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, had committed an additional SEK 140 million (US$15 million) of official development assistance (ODA) to combat COVID-19, which turned out to be incorrect.

The information was not corrected until more than a month later, until Yasmine Posio, the Left Party's development policy spokesperson, approached Minister Eriksson's staff, who in turn contacted Sveriges Radio and a correction to the online article was made.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Foreign ministers pledge to fight for women’s rights at first all-female summit

Female foreign ministers meeting in Canada for the Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (WFMM), the first summit of its kind, vowed to bring a "women's perspective" to foreign policy. Co-hosted by Canada and the European Union, the event took place in Montreal from September 21-22, 2018. Foreign ministers from Canada, Italy,  Norway, Sweden, and 13 other countries attended, sharing knowledge on how women in foreign policy can be champions for gender equality and women's rights. 

News article - France24

Germany ceases bilateral health and education funding; multilaterals to take over

On February 12, 2020, German Development Minister Gerd Müller officially informed the Committee on Development in the Bundestag (AWZ) about the Ministry of Development Cooperation's (BMZ’s) plans to cease bilateral cooperation within global health and education.

This decision is part of an internal strategic review within the Ministry to narrow down its priority themes and to align Germany’s funding with other western partners and multilateral organizations. As a result, the BMZ plans to reduce the number of countries Germany will engage with bilaterally from 50 to 42 and to channel its global health and education funding only multilaterally, opening these sectors to capital investments and contributions from the private sector.

While a stronger prioritization within the German development cooperation was welcomed by experts, opposition members within the Development Committee (from the Left and the Greens) expressed worry that this decision would shift Germany’s bilateral focus to more strategically aligned countries, disadvantaging the lowest-income countries. The Left's Helin Evrim Sommer called this move a “radical disruption” to Germany’s current approach to development cooperation which until now has placed a strong emphasis on the needs of the people in partner countries. Uwe Kekeritz of the Greens specifically criticized the BMZ's plans to expand its strategic focus on migration control and border security to Africa. 

News article - Evangelisch.de

Norway promotes Global Financing Facility ahead of November conference to mobilize resources

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of Development Nikolai Astrup have written a joint opinion piece on how Norway has worked this year to involve even more countries in their efforts to achieve equality for women through better health, nutrition, and control over own lives through the Global Financing Facility (GFF). On November 5-6, 2018 Norway is hosting a conference for GFF in Oslo, together with Burkina Faso, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The conference aims to mobilize contributions that will be able to prevent the deaths of millions of women, children, and youth in 50 countries. 

Solberg and Astrup emphasize that the GFF model is not only about development assistance. The countries themselves must invest, so GFF financing becomes a catalyst for mobilizing national and private investments. GFF has, for instance, helped Cameroon increase its health budget from eight percent of the national budget in 2017 to 20 percent by 2020. 

Opinion piece - Dagbladet (Norwegian)

October 17-19, 2017: Oceania tobacco control conference takes place in Tasmania

The Oceania Tobacco Control Conference (OTCC) is to be held in Hobart, Tasmania under the theme “From vision to reality: A tobacco-free Oceania”, with a strong focus on indigenous populations. Keynote speakers include Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, a member of the Dine’ (Navajo) tribe, who serves as the Vice President for the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health.  Also speaking is Dr Kurt M. Ribisl, Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. 

Location: Hobart, Tasmania

Event website - OTCC

European institutions gearing up for a busy autumn

In the coming months, the European Commission will prepare its 2018 workplans and begin drafting a proposal for the next seven-year EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF). The Commission will reportedly present a first draft proposal in May 2018.

Meanwhile, the Council of the EU and its working groups will be looking at development post-Cotonou; migration and development; a mid-term review of development assistance programming; preparations for the Africa-EU summit; and EU global strategy, among other things. The European Parliament will take action on the proposed EU 2018 budget and vote on a Commission paper on the future of EU finances in October 2018.

Website - European Council

Latest US COVID-19 supplemental funding bills contains no international assistance

The US House of Representatives passed an additional US$3 trillion supplemental appropriations bill to respond to COVID-19. In a shock to development stakeholders, however, the "Heroes Act" contains zero funds for the global response.

The bill, which faces an uphill battle in the Senate, provided for an interagency review of global health security and urged the appointment of a US coordinator for global health security, but failed to include any funding. According to a Democratic House staffer, US foreign assistance will be taken up in the regular appropriations process, although that process has been greatly delayed by the pandemic. 

Opinion column - The Washington Post

The Netherlands accelerates €13 million in development funding for UNRWA following US funding cuts

In response to funding cuts by the US the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, has stated that the planned annual budget of €13 million for the The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would be made immediately available, instead of being dispensed in several payments as originally planned.

UNRWA provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees residing in the Palestinian territories, but also in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The organization is currently struggling with large financial deficits. These are especially acute because the US government has withdrawn part of its financial contribution. As a result, UNRWA can no longer guarantee a number of basic needs, such as training for more than 500,000 Palestinian children, basic health care, and food.

Press release - government of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

NGOs issue manifesto calling for next UK government to lead on global development

The UK international development NGO network, BOND, has issued a manifesto ahead of the general election on December 12, 2019. The manifesto calls for the next UK government to lead in 'building a just and sustainable world' by:

  • Enhancing the UK’s leadership on international development through a focus on poverty and inequality;
  • Promoting global economic, financial and other rules that benefit all;
  • Tackling climate and environmental degradation;
  • Supporting peacebuilding and humanitarian principles in areas of conflict or crises; and
  • Strengthening democratic and public accountability at the international level.

News article - Bond

UK Department for International Development releases impressive results report on eve of closure

Just ahead of its closure this week, the UK Department of International Development (DFID) has released a new report highlighting the results of its work over the last five years (2015-2020). Its accomplishments include:

  • Delivering humanitarian assistance to nearly 34 million people;
  • Reaching 62.6 million people with programs for clean water and better sanitation;
  • Vaccinating 74.3 million children;
  • Providing 25.3 million women and girls with modern family planning; and
  • Supporting 15.6 million children to gain schooling.

DFID will be merged into the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is set to open on September 2, 2020.

Report  - DFID Results Estimates 2015-2020

News article - Devex

EU development ministers applaud Dutch ODA increase

Following a European Council on Development Cooperation meeting on May 16, EU development cooperation ministers made a statement expressing their concern over "negative" ODA trends among EU Member States, highlighting that "the European objective of spending 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on development assistance is becoming increasingly out of sight". While the overall trend within the EU is negative, the annual report also noted that the Netherlands spent €4.8 billion (US$5.4 billion) on development assistance last year, representing 0.61% of GNI, which was an increase from the previous year.  

The EU and its 28 member states spent a total of €74.4 billion (US$83.8 billion) on development assistance last year, making it the largest donor worldwide at 57% of the total of all OECD countries, according to the OECD's annual report. However, the EU's total fell by €731 million (US$824 million) from 2017.

 Article - Algemene Dabbled (AD; in Dutch)