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High-income countries expected to fall US$75.0 billion short in climate pledge; NGOs call on Canada and high-earners to increase climate funding

High-income nations are expected to fall US$75.0 billion short in their pledge to jointly mobilize US$100.0 billion a year in international climate finance from 2020 to 2025 to support most vulnerable countries’ adaptation to climate change, according to recent estimates released by Oxfam.

Canada is among the few countries to increase its climate finance pledge in recent months, but total funding commitments still fall short of closing the gap. Oxfam estimates that wealthy governments will continue to fall short of the US$100.0 billion goal and reach between US$93.0 - US$95.0 billion per year by 2025, five years after the expected completion date.

While climate change could trigger economic losses exceeding more than double those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis is not addressed with the same urgency as the COVID-19 crisis. For instance, Canada has invested over CA$397.0 billion (US$315.1 billion) in COVID-19 response measures since January 2020, while pledging just CA$5.3 billion (US$4.2 billion) over five years in climate finance.

With the UN COP26 climate talks just over a month away, Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Quebec are calling on wealthy countries to urgently increase their pledges for climate finance. Specifically, they are calling for at least 50% of pledged climate finance to support climate adaptation in low-income and climate-vulnerable countries. They are additionally asking for Canada to address its feminist principles by allocating targeted funding for local women’s rights and youth organizations undertaking gender- and youth-responsive initiatives.

Op-ed - Oxfam Canada

G20 Agriculture Ministers sign Florence Sustainability Charter to improve food security

The G20 Ministers of Agriculture met in Florence, Italy on September 17-18, 2021, and approved the Florence Sustainability Charter to address food security in the three-dimensional sustainability framework: economic, social, and environmental.

Furthermore, the Ministers reaffirmed their intent to reach zero hunger, which has been severely threatened by ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Charter will strengthen cooperation between G20 members and low-income countries on food and agriculture; the agreement allows nations to share knowledge and establish internal production capacities best suited to local environments, contributing to the resilience and further recovery of agriculture in rural communities.

Florence Sustainability Charter - G20

US holds virtual global health summit at UNGA; Biden calls for 70% world vaccination rate by September 2022

US President, Joe Biden, will host a virtual meeting of global leaders during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 21, 2021, calling for a series of renewed COVID-19 commitments, including a global vaccination goal of 70% by September 2022.

The event is billed as the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better.

The invitation was extended to heads of government and state, businesses, philanthropy, civil society, and international organizations and indicated that the President will ask leaders to prepare to address future health security threats. 

Biden will also suggest that participants make commitments to address other challenges like the world's oxygen crisis. Follow-up summits are already scheduled to ensure accountability of participants. 

Biden is additionally expected to announce the purchase of 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for global distribution. The deal is in negotiation stages, so details remain unavailable; however, the announcement will be the second by the US government to purchase millions of vaccines for worldwide distribution.

News article - The Washington Post

News article - The Washington Post

Liz Truss appointed as new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development in UK Cabinet reshuffle

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, appointed Liz Truss as the new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development (FCDO). 

The move is part of a broader cabinet reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Dominic Raab, the former Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development, was demoted to the role of Secretary of State for Justice, but will take on the Deputy Prime Minister title. The move was largely seen as a result of Raab’s management of the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan, with many Conservative Members of Parliament highly critical of his approach.

Raab is the second western world leader, following Sigrid Kaag in the Netherlands, to leave their post following Afghanistan withdrawals. 

Truss was the Secretary of State for International Trade between 2019 - 2021 and holds the title of Minister for Women and Equalities. She will retain her role as Minister for Women and Equalities in her new post as the Foreign Secretary. Devex reports that civil society and development commentators’ views of her appointment have been mixed but all agree that she will have a challenge ahead, managing the COVID-19 crisis, climate change, and conflict on a limited budget.  

Other political appointment changes within the FCDO include the appointment of Amanda Milling as an FCDO Minister of State, replacing, Nigel Adams, former Minister for Asia. Vicky Ford replaces James Duddridge as Minister for Africa. Deborah Stedman-Scott joined the FCDO as Minister for Women, but simultaneously maintains a role at the Department for Work and Pensions. Finally, Kemi Badenoch joined the FCDO with responsibilities concerning equality, which she shares with Truss.

Truss penned an article in the Sunday Telegraph in which she acknowledged the UK's status as a global leader in development, champion of girls’ education, and supporter of freedom, free enterprise, democracy, and equality around the world.

News article - Devex

News article - The Telegraph

US and EU to reduce methane emissions by one-third by 2030, Biden says

United States President, Joe Biden, held a virtual summit with global leaders to address responses to harmful methane emissions; Biden announced that the US and Europe agreed to cut global methane emissions by one-third by 2030 and similarly urged other nations to join the "global methane pledge.” 

Biden welcomed representatives from the EU, UK, Italy, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Russian, Korea, India, Mexico, and the United Nations Secretary-General, to the event. Notably absent were the president of China, although he did send an envoy, and Brazil. 

The meeting precedes the UN's Climate Change Conference, COP26, which will take place in November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Biden called the reduced methane emissions target “ambitious but realistic” and also pledged that the US will assist lower-income countries in meeting the new target. 

News report - The New York Times

 

Global Citizen wins appeal for nonprofit status in Australia, signaling importance of advocacy for poverty reduction

Global Citizen won its case to be classified as a public benevolent institution (PBI) in Australia, allowing the organization to seek tax-deductible recipient status among other financial benefits. 

Australia’s charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, sought to deny PBI status for Global Citizen. The Commission argued against PBI status, claiming that Global Citizen operates as an advocacy entity that does not provide direct relief, disqualifying the organization from benefits.

An appeal against the original decision was successful with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal asserting that Global Citizen organizes direct relief for the reduction of poverty through advocacy. Advocacy in the political process was labeled as a “regular and indispensable part” of their work.

The appealed decision affirms the importance and necessity of advocacy to promote poverty reduction. 

Media report - The Guardian Australia

Australia-USA AUSMIN meeting reiterates global health commitments

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Maurice Payne, outlined US-Australia joint commitments to global health at the annual AUSMIN meeting in September 2021.

AUSMIN is an annual meeting of Australian Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers and the US Secretaries of Defence and State.

The 23 commitments in the joint statement reiterated prior announcements by the two countries, including support for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which aims to enable vaccine access for almost 30% 0f populations of low and middle-income countries.

Payne also noted an expansion of the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which would initially focus on Papua New Guinea.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Japan to provide US$7 million to strengthen medical and electric systems in Micronesia

Japan announced that it will provide ¥400 million (US$4 million) to strengthen health and medical capacity and ¥300 million (US$3 million) to stabilize the supply of electricity in Micronesia.

Hospitals in the country often lack equipment and personnel, and people living in rural areas and remote islands have difficulty accessing medical care. These funds will provide medical containers, medical patrol vehicles, and other healthcare and medical-related equipment to ensure that medical care can reach rural areas and remote islands.

Micronesia additionally relies on diesel power generation for most of its electricity supply. It is quite vulnerable to international fluctuations in crude oil prices and transportation costs. These funds will help stabilize the country’s energy supply by providing fuel oil for power generation.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Spanish NGOs urge Prime Minister to prioritize vulnerable populations and environment at UNGA

On September 17, 2021, the Spanish development NGO umbrella organization, la Coordinadora, sent an open letter to Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, preceding the 76 UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) ministerial week; the letter called for the PM to lead UNGA in creating positive social impact by increasing the rights and protections of both people and the planet. 

According to la Coordinadora, global economic rules must be changed in order to prioritize vulnerable populations and the environment in interventions.

Spanish NGOs called upon PM Sánchez to assume a leadership role in fostering universal, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Among other measures, la Coordinadora proposed that the Spanish government provide middle- and low-income partner countries with at least half of Spain’s assigned €11 billion (US$13 billion) in Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

Press release – “la Coordinadora“ (in Spanish)

Netherlands remains uncommitted to providing COVID-19 doses to COVAX

As of September 17, 2021, the Netherlands had not donated spare COVID-19 booster vaccines to the World Health Organisation (WHO), prompting Dutch Members of Parliament, Lisa Westerveld and Tom van der Lee (Green Left Party), to publicly question the Minister of Health and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation on the decision. 

On the same day, another member of parliament, Alexander Hammelburg (Democrats 66-D66), questioned the ministers about the WHO’s request to avoid booster vaccines in high-income nations as long as other countries lack sufficient vaccine doses.

The Netherlands has not committed to making further vaccine donations to COVAX, the WHO's COVID-19 vaccine initiative, until the government decides whether to administer booster vaccines to its population in an attempt to protect against new strains of the COVID-19 virus.

News Article – Nationaal Dagblad (in Dutch)
 

 

European Commission proposes new EU Health Authority (HERA)

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, gave her State of the European Union speech on September 15, 2021; the European Commission subsequently released its legislative proposal on September 16 addressing the new EU Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), which was announced during the speech, to strengthen the EU’s cross-border health capacities. 

The EU's long-term budget will provide HERA with €6 billion (US$7.1 billion) in funds for the next six years. Von der Leyen additionally proposed mobilizing an investment of €50 billion (US$58.8 billion) by 2027 from Team Europe through a new health preparedness and resilience mission. 

The EC proposal calls for HERA's establishment under the European Commission as opposed to a separate agency to enable full operation of the project beginning in early 2022.

The HERA proposal emphasizes the international dimension of public health threats more urgently than the initial impact assessment. HERA aims to closely collaborate with global partners on supply chains, global production capacity (especially in lower- and middle-income countries, or LMICs), global access to medical countermeasures, funding preparedness, and response capacity in LMICs, and global surveillance.

Press release - European Commission

Proposal - European Commission

Q&A - European Commission

Team Europe disbursed US$40 billion to EU partner countries in COVID-19 response

Team Europe has disbursed €34 billion (US$40 billion) to EU partner countries since the COVID-19 crisis began to support pandemic responses as of April 2021.

Team Europe’s total pledged support package thus far has grown from €20 billion (US$23.5 billion) in spring 2020 to €46 billion (US$54.1 billion).

The funding targets the following areas: 

  • Emergency response to humanitarian needs: €1.8 billion (US$2.1 billion)
  • Strengthening health, water, and sanitation systems: €6.3 billion (US$7.2 billion)
  • Mitigating social and economic consequences of the pandemic: €25.8 billion (US$30.4 billion) 

Team Europe consists of the European Commission (EC), European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and EU member states. 

Press release - European Commission

Japan launches US$192 million in non-guaranteed domestic bonds for SDGs

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched ¥20 billion (US$192 million) in non-guaranteed domestic bonds in two tranches: ¥10 billion (US$96 million) with a 10-year maturity and ¥10 billion (US$96 million) with a 20-year maturity.

The International Capital Market Association (ICMA) has earmarked the funds as 'social bonds,' and they are qualified by the Japan Research Institute. The bonds are expected to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

European Investment Bank creates new development branch with US$5.6 billion initial investment

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved €4.8 billion (US$5.6 billion) in financing for a new branch focused on development finance. 

The EIB created the branch in response to the Council of the EU's call for the bank to enhance contributions to EU development efforts globally. 

The branch will create regional hubs and increase the EIB's cooperation with multilateral development banks, national development finance institutions, and local partners. A new advisory group will consult the EU on its external operations.

The initial financing is earmarked for the following areas: 

  • Clean energy, energy-efficient housing, and climate action: €2.2 billion (US$2.6 billion); 
  • COVID-19 vaccines, health, and education: €647 million (US$761 million); 
  • Sustainable transport: €752 million (US$885 million); and  
  • Private sector investment and COVID economic resilience: €500 million (US$588 million). 

Press release - European Investment Bank

European Parliament Development Committee urges European Commission to prioritize global food systems

Tomas Tobé, the Chair of the Committee on Development in the European Parliament, submitted several oral questions to the European Commission concerning the EU’s role in improving global food systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While acknowledging that resources will be limited in the EU budget’s Global Europe instrument and that tough choices will have to be made, Tobé said he hopes the EU will aim to lead by example by taking action at the UN Food Systems Summit.

Tobé posed the following questions:

  1. How will the Commission ensure the EU can take a leadership role in reaching SDG2 including by making financial commitments for nutrition under the 2021-2027 EU budget given the current huge global funding gap?
  2. How does the Commission intend to use EU trade policy to support the global transition to sustainable agri-food systems in accordance with the 'Farm to Fork' Strategy?
  3. What measures does the Commission intend to propose to support partner countries and the local farmers, fishers, foresters, and food producers in moving toward more sustainable practices in key areas such as animal welfare, the use of pesticides, and the fight against antimicrobial resistance?

​​Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, responded to the questions by recognizing the need to ensure the shift to sustainable food systems is global. He said the EU has been active in the preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit.

The Development Committee will begin working on a report on food systems in low- and middle-income countries, which will incorporate the Commission’s answers to the committee’s questions.

Video - European Parliament

African Union and EU form global health partnership, focusing on infectious disease, research, and pandemic preparedness

The African Union’s Africa CDC and the European Commission’s European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a cooperative partnership on shared global health objectives.

The MoU addresses emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, epidemic intelligence, capacity building for preparedness and outbreak response, public health research, the 'One Health' approach, and data management. 

Press release - EDCTP

Sweden earmarks US$242 million in 2022 ODA for COVID-19 vaccines

The Swedish government allocated SEK 2.1 billion (US$242 million) in its official development assistance (ODA) budget for 2022 to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries.

Because inequitable global vaccine access continues to afflict low-income countries, the funds are primarily intended to support the procurement of vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative. Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, Per Olssen Fridh, said the funds will promote vaccine access for all and decrease the development of new and harmful mutations of COVID-19.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

India-Germany climate cooperation strengthens; Germany joins International Solar Alliance

The parliamentary state secretaries at the German development ministry, Dr. Maria Flachsbarth and Norbert Barthle, visited India to strengthen cooperation between India and Germany on climate policy and expand renewable energy sources; the state secretaries confirmed Germany’s accession to the International Solar Alliance (ISA), emphasizing Germany’s support for a worldwide energy transition with secure funding for technology and market development.

ISA is a collaborative platform, which was initiated by India in 2015, and focuses on increasing solar capacity worldwide, especially in countries with high solar radiation.

Flachsbarth highlighted climate change adaption measures as another vital policy focus moving forward and announced Germany’s continued cooperation with India for climate crisis mitigation. Germany will also invest in financing solutions to provide better protection against climate disasters, she said.

The visit also addressed the expansion of India-Germany cooperation on agroecological farming and its potential contributions to food security, income generation, and climate mitigation impacts.


Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Left-of-center coalition probable following Norwegian national elections

Parties on the left in Norway gained a clear majority in parliament following the September 13, 2021, national election, indicating the end of the center-right government's eight-year rule.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, is now in a position to negotiate a new left-of-center coalition. Coalition partnerships are not confirmed, however, the Labour Party, Socialist Left Party, and Center Party are expected to meet for negotiations in the coming days, signaling the prospect of a new government formation.

The potential left coalition has cross-party support for global health initiatives and discussions on the use of multilateral funding mechanisms are expected, led by the Center Party. Agriculture is also expected to be a priority on the agenda.

Article - NRK (in Norwegian) 

Political Program - Center Party (in Norwegian)

Political Program - Labour Party (in Norwegian)

South Korea increases ODA by more than US$200 million in the Philippines for COVID-19 crisis response

South Korea's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) increased its official development assistance (ODA) in the Philippines, allocating an additional US$200 million concessional loan and US$2.5 million in grant assistance to enhance the Philippines' COVID-19 response.

South Korea also raised the concessional loan limit to US$3 billion for 2022-2026. The two countries additionally discussed large-scale infrastructure investments as well as digital and green new deal ODA projects for 2022-2026. One proposed project includes funding climate mitigation responses in the Pampanga province of the Philippines.

News article – Money Today News (in Korean)