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High chance of UK Conservative Party leadership contest this summer

Thersea May, the UK Prime Minister, has announced that she will give a date for her departure as leader of  the Conservative Party after June 3rd, when the Houses of Parliament are due to debate her new bill on exiting the EU. Her announcement has sparked growing speculation that a leadership contest for the Head of the Conservative Party could take place as early as summer 2019, especially if her deal fails yet again to win a majority in the Houses of Parliament.  The new deal is highly likely to fail, given that it not been endorsed by the opposition Labour Party. This failure comes despite weeks of intense talks between the government and the opposition to try and find a way forward. 

Former UK Conservative foreign minister Boris Johnson has publicly announced that he will run in any forthcoming leadership contest and is the current favorite to win. Johnson has questioned the usefulness of the UK's 0.7% gross national income to development assistance target and challenged the need for a standalone department within government responsible solely for international development cooperation.  

News article - The Guardian

News artice-  Spectator

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

At Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, world leaders raise US$2.4 billion for equitable vaccine access: enough to vaccinate 30% of adults in AMC elligible countries

Gathering virtually at Gavi COVAX AMC's 'One World Protected' Summit on June 2, 2o21, world leaders raised a total of US$2.4 billion in public and private sector finance for equitable vaccine distribution, surpassing the event's fundraising target and raising the total pledged to date to COVAX AMC to US$9.6 billion.

Donor commitments included:

  • US$38 million from Australia;
  • US$176 million from Canada;
  • US$120 million from France;
  • US$800 million from Japan; and
  • US$60 million from Spain.

A number of new dose-sharing commitments were also announced at the summit, increasing COVAX's supplies by over 54 million doses. Pledges included:

  • 30 million Japanese-produced doses pledged by Japan to the COVAX Facility and other countries;
  • 15 million doses pledged by Spain to the COVAX Facility (in addition to the 8 million previously pledged); and
  • 2 million doses pledged by Sweden to the COVAX Facility (in addition to the 1 million previously pledged).

The funds raised at the Summit will secure 1.8 billion doses for low-income countries in 2021-2022: sufficient supplies to immunize nearly one-third of the adult population in AMC-eligible countries. The money will also be used by COVAX to diversify its vaccine supply against new variants and fund the global health strategy planning for 2022 and beyond.

Press release - Gavi the Vaccine Alliance

Impact evaluation highlights sustainability of MCC/Plan USA education project

To commemorate the International Day of the Girl, the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) hosted an event to highlight a recent 10-year impact evaluation of Plan International USA’s 'Burkinabe Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed' (BRIGHT), a girls’ education program in Burkina Faso. The independent evaluation showed that the government and local communities have successfully sustained the results of the program years after its conclusion, with notable improvements in school attendance and performance. 

Publication - Plan International USA

UK proposes ‘Brexit’ approach for R&D cooperation

The UK has outlined its preferences for a research agreement with the EU post-Brexit  in ‘Collaboration on science and innovation: A Future Partnership Paper’. The paper lays out the UK’s case for continuing a strong research partnership with EU Member States. It seems to suggest that the UK and EU should negotiate detailed terms for an enhanced ‘associate country status’  in the context of the next EU Research Framework Program (FP9). The UK benefits significantly from EU research funding: from 2007-2013, the UK contributed about €5.4 billion to EU research and development in 2007-2013, while it received €8.8 billion.

Publication - Government of the UK

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

Norway reaches US$1.2-billion target for development assistance to Syria

In 2016, Norway committed NOK 10 billion (US$1.2 billion) to education, food, health, water and sanitation services in Syria. At the conference on Syria held in Brussels in March, Norway committed additional NOK 2.45 billion (US$298 million) in 2019. Support for education will be prioritized and the funding will go through the United Nations, the Red Cross, and Norwegian humanitarian organizations. 

Press release - Government of Norway (in Norwegian)

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

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

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

UN members gather in New York for 2019 High Level Political Forum

Representatives of UN member states have gathered in New York for the seventy-fourth High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), an eight-day UN summit on sustainable development. The theme of this year's meeting has been announced as  'Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality'; as such, the focus of all events and speakers will be upon methods for and progress towards eradicating inequalities amongst and within member states and vulnerable populations therein.

The HLPF serves as an in-depth, critical review of the global progress made on the 2030 Agenda, and on specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The set of goals set to be reviewed this year are the following:

  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all;
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries;
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;
  • Goal 16Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Reviews are conducted voluntarily by member states, who share their national and sub-national progress towards the SDGs with attendees. The review-sharing process provides a platform to analyze achievements and examine growth areas through partnerships with attending organizations and stakeholders. 47 countries have volunteered to give reviews this year.

United Nations - High Level Political Forum website

South Korea shifts ODA budget further toward COVID-19 response

The South Korean government announced its second supplementary budget to finance the domestic emergency relief fund addressing COVID-19. Amounting to KRW7.6 trillion (US$6.2 billion), the supplementary budget also called for adjustments in other sectors including official development assistance (ODA). The supplementary budget includes reductions to the 2020 ODA budget of KRW276.7 billion (US$227 million), primarily from concessional loans and overseas volunteer programs that were suspended due to COVID-19 lockdown in partner countries. Details of the cuts are as follows:

  • Cuts to concessional loans: KRW200 billion (US$164 million);
  • Cuts to bilateral ODA projects: KRW14 billion (US$12 million);
  • Cuts to overseas volunteer programs: KRW36 billion (US$30 million);
  • Cuts to global fellowship programs: KRW11 billion (US$9 million); and
  • Cuts to administrative support for the Green Climate Fund: (KRW6.5 billion (US$5 million).

Of the US$227 million in cuts to the ODA budget, the supplementary budget cut US$50 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). In response to the cut, MOFA stated that it will increase humanitarian assistance to partner countries affected by COVID-19.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF), which is in charge of concessional loans, also faced a budget cut of KRW200 billion (US$164 million). In response, MOEF has announced the following measures to support partner countries:

  • Provision of US$400 million in ODA to strengthen COVID-19 healthcare systems in partner countries;
  • Suspension of repayment on US$110 million worth of loans extended to 26 partner countries;
  • Doubling of the amount of ODA to South Korea's 'New South' and 'New North' policies to US$7 billion for the next three years, with an increased focus on global health cooperation; and
  • Support for economic cooperation with Russia and Uzbekistan.

In addition to these measures, South Korea will also set up a task force with 12 ministries and five governmental organizations to support global efforts to fight COVID-19.

News article – Yonhap news (in Korean)

Press release - South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance

Press release - South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance

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)

UK think-tank calls for government to provide US$25 billion to UN Climate Fund by 2030

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a UK based policy think-tank, has released a new report calling on the UK to scale up its contributions to the UN Climate Fund three-fold to amount to £20 billion (US$25 billion) by 2030.

The report calls for a new model of international co-operation in an era of environmental breakdown and calls on the UK government to dramatically increases its funding to the UN Climate Fund, in order to pay its fair share, in light of its historical carbon emissions record. The UK government currently provides £1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) to the UN Climate Fund over a four-year period up until 2023.

News article - The Guardian

Report: Our Responsibility - IPPR

ONE publishes new 'Africa COVID-19 Tracker' compiling data on COVID-19 response, impacts

ONE, an organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, published its ONE Africa COVID-19 Tracker, which compiles and updates data for every African country, providing regional trends and country-specific information including the following:

  • Indicators related to the COVID-19 response, including testing and vaccination rates, as well as the number of cases, deaths, and doses allocated through COVAX, a global initiative to equitably distribute vaccines and treatment;
  • Indicators related to how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted economies, including external finance, foreign assistance, government expenditure, and external debt; and
  • Indicators related to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on poverty, population density, life expectancy, and food insecurity.

Through the Tracker, ONE aims to provide a centralized place for the data to help people across all sectors tackle the crisis.

Press release - ONE

Canadian civil society disappointed with Budget 2019

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), an umbrella organization representing Canada’s international development and humanitarian organizations, has voiced its disappointment with the new Budget 2019 put forward by the federal government. According to the CCIC, the budget does not contribute additional resources to achieve the targets of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. CCIC plans to launch an e-petition calling for a significant increase in official development assistance and asks all political parties to make development an election issue.

News release- Canadian Council for International Cooperation

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)

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) 

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

UK foreign secretary visits Africa to make case for new UK partnership

The UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has visited Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya in a whirlwind tour to make the case for new UK partnerships across Africa on development assistance, trade, and security.

In Kenya, Hunt listened to entrepreneurs pitching for new business ideas as part of a UK development assistance-funded program to help entrepreneurs scale up their businesses. In Ethiopia, he spoke at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Addis Ababa and announced £16 million (US$20 million) in UK assistance to help Ethiopia run transparent, free, and fair elections.

In Nigeria, he attended inaugural meeting of the UK/Nigeria Economic Development Forum and in Ghana he approved a £26 million agreement (US$33 million) with British business Aqua Africa to reduce water poverty in the country. While in Senegal, the UK will fund a new £4 million (US$5 million) English-language program in French- and Portuguese-speaking countries across Africa.

Press release - UK government