Displaying 121 - 140 of 6666

Japan to contribute US$10 million to UN Peacebuilding Fund

On January 26, 2021, Japan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs Uto Takahashi expressed Japan’s commitment to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), noting the increasing need for peacebuilding in light of the COVID-19 crisis and announcing that Japan will provide US$10 million for the Fund’s 2020-2024 Strategy.

The PBF is the UN's "financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict" which can include cooperation with "UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations".

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Spain’s new 2021-2024 foreign strategy draft prioritizes strengthening of development cooperation

On January 26, 2021, under the leadership of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved the first draft of the ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’, which outlines Spain’s foreign priorities and goals for the next four years.  

Sustainable development has been outlined as a core instrument to achieve Spain’s foreign goals. The new plan underlines the current administration commitment to increase Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) by 2023, to reform the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and to provide the Spanish development cooperation system with a new and reinforced vision including the following priority interventions.

Vertical axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Tackling extreme poverty by fostering nutrition, water and sanitation, and global health;
  • Addressing the negative effects of climate change;
  • Fostering global education; and
  • Promoting socio-economic development.

Horizontal axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Deploying feminist development cooperation;
  • Protecting human rights;
  • Strengthening humanitarian assistance; and
  • Developing innovative public-private partnerships.

The new ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ draft, which will be ratified in Parliament during the coming weeks, defines four guiding principles for Spain’s foreign policy: more Europe, better multilateralism, strategic bilateralism, and solidarity commitment. In addition to that, it outlines different strategic priorities articulated around four areas of intervention:

  1. Promotion of human rights, human security, democracy, and gender diplomacy;
  2. Economic diplomacy to end inequities and advocate for a new socio-economic model globally;
  3. Climate diplomacy for Spain to champion global efforts against the climate crisis; and
  4. Multilateral diplomacy to strengthen international institutions with a special emphasis on global health governance.

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Japan provides additional US$763 million for international cooperation on COVID-19

Japan’s House of Representatives, the Lower House, agreed on a supplementary budget of US$185.0 billion to counter the COVID-19 crisis, and US$763 million will be used for international cooperation to tackle the pandemic.

The US$763 million will be used on projects such as strengthening COVID-19 countermeasures abroad including in countries such as Afghanistan, as well as investing in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Unitaid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and other research and international cooperations working on addressing the crisis.

News article – The Japan Times

Press release – Ministry of Finance (in Japanese)

Press release – Ministry of Finance (in Japanese)

Without "internationalist" COVID-19 response, low-income countries may go unvaccinated until 2024, say Canadian academics

In an op-ed, Canadian academics Dr. Marie-Joëlle Zahar and Dr. Maïka Sondarje challenged the notion that COVID-19 is a "great equalizer", arguing that COVID-19 and its impacts will be "experienced differently by the Global North and South".

Despite statements from many countries supporting universal vaccine access, there is a risk that some low-income countries will not receive COVID-19 vaccines until 2024, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A "nationalist" approach to COVID-19 is limited in its ability to address the pandemic's consequences. The authors suggest that Canada take a truly "international" approach by:

  1. Temporarily suspending intellectual property rules; 
  2. Advocating for migrants' and refugees' access to healthcare;
  3. Raising budget allocations for international assistance portfolios; 
  4. Preventing violent conflicts; and 
  5. Supporting international organizations.

Op-ed - Open Canada

UK development assistance could fall by US$5.8 billion in 2021, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development, a global development think tank, has released a new report assessing the impact of the UK’s proposal to temporarily reduce its official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income in 2021.

The report notes that the proposed cut, which requires parliamentary agreement, could result in the ODA budget falling by £4.5 billion (US$5.8 billion) in 2021 or by 30%, relative to 2019 UK ODA levels.

The report is also highly critical of the rationale provided by the UK government for the cuts, which centers on the need to reduce the ODA budget due to the significant fiscal challenges facing the government as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, noted that the UK would go back to providing 0.7% of its national income as ODA when the fiscal situation permitted, but the government failed to provide a clear benchmark as to when this might be. The report highlights that, according to existing government plans, the current deficit is only expected to return to near-2019 levels in 2025. The report estimates that if the annual saving of £4.3 billion (US$5.6 billion) is maintained for the five years, this would only amount to savings worth only 1% of the UK government's debt.

Finally, the report explores the potential impact of the cuts on programming. It argues that if spending commitments on addressing the climate crisis, supporting refugees, and some other key areas are protected, remaining bilateral assistance could fall by over 50%. It should be noted that information on which programs will be cut has yet to be released by the government.

Report - Center for Global Development

Germany pledges US$268 million at Climate Adaption Summit to support climate resiliency in low-income countries

At the Climate Adaption Summit (CAS) on January 25, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged €220 million (US$268 million) to support the lowest income countries’ efforts to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. Germany will take joint responsibility for strengthening the resiliency of low-income countries, Merkel said in a video address.

Parts of the funding provided by Germany will support the expansion of climate risk financing and insurance to protect 500 million of the world's poorest people annually against climate risks, such as floods or crop failures, by 2025 as part of the InsuResilience Global Partnership. The other funding will be channeled to the Least Developed Countries Fund which supports the lowest income nations in efforts to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. The funds are drawn from the German Development Ministry’s (BMZ’s) budget.

According to Development Minister Gerd Müller, the funding provided will allow Germany to expand its cooperation on adaption measures in regions most affected by climate change, especially on the African continent. Activities include measures in the agricultural sector, such as developing climate-resilient plants and increased cooperation in coastal protection.

CAS was seen by many as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the upcoming major UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will take place in November of 2021 in Glasgow.

Press release – The Federal Chancellery

Press release – BMZ

US formally steps back into global climate action conversation, currently working on new Paris Agreement commitment

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate action in November 2020. US President Joseph Biden, however, has made the climate crisis a major priority of his new administration. Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been named as Biden's climate envoy with a seat at the National Security Council.  

In his remarks to the virtual Climate Adaption Summit, Kerry told world leaders that the US was rejoining the global climate conversation. “We’re proud to be back. We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years, and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it,” he said.

Kerry stressed that addressing climate change, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, needs to be treated as an emergency, and he pledged that the US is working on its new nationally determined contribution (NDC) to be submitted to the UN as part of the Paris Agreement. Kerry also stated that the US would provide "financial assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable" and will "make good on our climate finance pledge.” 

News article - The Guardian

Australia to develop new national climate resilience and adaptation strategy in 2021

Addressing the Climate Adaption Summit hosted by the Netherlands on January 25-26, 2021, Australian Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley indicated that Australia will develop a new national climate resilience and adaptation strategy during 2021.

Ley also announced that Australia will join the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, an initiative of COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November 2021.

Australia will join the signatories to 'A Call for Action: Raising Ambition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience', being promoted by the UK and signed by over 118 countries.

Press release - Minister for Environment

New investment policy of Dutch development bank includes plan to phase out fossil fuel investments

The Dutch Minister of Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, responded to parliamentary questions about the new investment policy of the Dutch development bank, FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V.), stating that FMO did not vote on a new investment policy in 2020 and is rather working towards a more sustainable policy that phases out investments in fossil fuels.

The final decision is expected to be made by FMO in the first quarter of 2021. If adopted, this means the bank will not make any new direct investments in fossil fuels, with a temporary exception for natural gas if no other sustainable alternative is available.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Emphasizing transformative power of global education, Spain holds meeting on private sector involvement in digital schooling

On January 24, 2021, in acknowledgment of the International Day of Education, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, published an op-ed in the newspaper ‘El Confidencial’, underlying the importance of fostering quality education systems to effectively advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Moreno reiterated Spain's engagement in global education and digitalization, which have been listed among Spain’s priority interventions to help address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in low- and middle-income countries. Moreno mentioned the potential of Spanish private companies in supporting digitalization programs in partner countries.

On January 25, 2021, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation met in Madrid to discuss the private sector engagements in digital education interventions in low-income countries. Participants included the director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) Magdy Martínez Solimán, other government officials, and representatives from Spanish private companies and foundations such as Teléfonica, Microsoft Ibérica, and Fundación Pro-Futuro.

Op-ed - El Confidencial (in Spanish)

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

Feminist former Dutch Development Minister elected new leader of Labour Party following predecessor's scandalous resignation

On January 23, 2021, the Dutch Labour Party voted on their definitive candidate list during a digital party congress and officially elected Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, as their new party leader. 

Ploumen succeeds Lodewijk Asscher, who stepped down on January 14 due to his role in the decade-long, racially-motivated tax fraud scandal which recently broke, leading to the resignation of the entire Dutch cabinet in a dramatic show of political remorse.

Ploumen is the first female leader of the Labour Party and is known for founding the She Decides campaign, which raises funds for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in low- and middle-income countries. Before this, Ploumen worked for various NGOs such as Mama Cash and Cordaid.

News article - BBC

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Canada launches investigation into UNRWA educational materials

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has issued a statement of concern regarding educational materials used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that "contained references that violated UN values of human rights, tolerance, neutrality and non-discrimination."

These educational materials were given to Palestinian refugee children in the West Bank and Gaza when schools were closed during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in the Gaza Strip, was quoted as saying that hostile parties have been "spreading misleading materials and news about UNRWA or circulating existing facts out of their true context." The organization has been struggling financially since the Trump administration cut funds from the US, previously the largest individual donor, to the agency in 2018, and in the meantime, the number of refugees continues to rise.

Canadian officials are currently investigating the UNRWA.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

UK Foreign Minister visits Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, signs new agreements on healthcare, climate crisis

UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Development Dominic Raab visited Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia on January 20-22, 2021, and signed a series of new agreements on healthcare and the climate crisis, alongside discussions of ongoing economic and security issues in the region.  

In Kenya, Raab held meetings with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe, and Defense Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. The meetings aimed to bolster UK-Kenya trade and also resulted in the announcement of £48 million (US$62 million) in new UK climate initiatives for Kenya and a new health partnership to maximize knowledge-sharing between health practitioners in the UK and Kenya. Raab visited the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Laboratory in the capital city of Nairobi to see how Kenyan and British scientists have worked together to develop the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Raab also met with soldiers attending the UK-supported Humanitarian Peace Support School to hear about joint counter-terrorism efforts.  

In Sudan, Raab met with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Foreign Minister Omer Gamereldin, and the Chair of the Sovereign Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Raab confirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting Sudan’s democratic transition and noted that the UK stood ready to provide a £330 million (US$429 million) bridging loan to clear the country's arrears to the African Development Bank if Sudan continues to abide by the economic reforms agreed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Raab also confirmed that the UK will provide £40 million (US$52 million) to the Sudan Family Support Programme.

In Ethiopia, Raab visited a school with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde to showcase the UK’s ongoing efforts to support girls' education in the country. He also spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on finding a solution to the rapidly escalating conflict in the Tigray region and enabling humanitarian support to the resulting crisis. Finally, Raab signed a climate partnership agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen for collaboration between the UK and Ethiopia ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 climate conference.

While in Sudan and Ethiopia, Raab toured World Food Programme (WFP) sites to see how UK development assistance is contributing to nutrition projects.

Press release - UK government

Italy supports Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund in response to crisis due to conflict in Tigray region

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that it donated €500,000 (US$608,349) to the “Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund”. 

Established in 2006, the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF) is a multi-donor fund managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to provide humanitarian support in the country.

The money will be used to provide food security, health care, and protection, especially in the Tigray region where a recent conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Japan to provide US$4.5 billion to low-income countries in 'COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan'

On January 21, 2021, the 17th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting was held to strengthen competitiveness and international cooperation among the 35 participating countries.

Japanese Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Konosuke Kokuba emphasized the importance of strengthening international cooperation and achieving universal health coverage.

Kokuba also affirmed that Japan will support various efforts to counter the COVID-19 crisis, stating, "to bolster economic activities in developing countries, Japan is implementing the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan of up to ¥500 billion, or US$4.5 billion, over the course of two years."

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Statement - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs responds to new European Commission Gender Action Plan

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, responded to Gender Action Plan III of the European Commission to promote gender equality. He stated that the cabinet endorses the plan and thinks it is in line with the governments’ Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy that focuses on the promotion of global gender equality.

Blok’s response emphasized the commitment to the empowerment of women and girls and the promotion of equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people worldwide. The government wishes to achieve these goals through gender diplomacy, gender-specific programs, and gender mainstreaming.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Pressures of COVID-19 crisis could mean higher Australian ODA is here to stay for now, say academics

Commentators from academia and the media pointed to the prospect of Australian official development assistance (ODA) remaining above the government’s target of A$4.0 billion (US$3.0 billion). Professor Stephen Howes from the Australian National University calculated that Australia’s ODA has risen 9% over the previous year in nominal terms and has effectively returned to the level of 2015-16.

While the government has said the increase is "temporary and targeted", Howes believes it would be difficult internationally for the government to cut foreign assistance in the next few years. In addition, the government has commenced increasing ODA to Southeast Asia after heavy cuts.

The Sydney Morning Herald also commented that the government has been able to cut other parts of its foreign assistance budget to focus on the Pacific Islands. However, the newspaper concluded that this strategy is not possible in the future and Australia needs to increase its overall ODA budget, particularly in the context of a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

Report - Development Policy Centre, Australian National University

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

EU to set up COVID-19 vaccine sharing mechanism

The European Commission released a set of non-binding recommendations for the EU’s pandemic response on January 19, 2021, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on January 21, which included setting up an 'EU Vaccine Sharing Mechanism' to share vaccine doses with partner countries, possibly via the COVAX Facility.

The mechanism would structure the provision of EU member states’ vaccines to partner countries by acting as a single point for requests and a pipeline through which initial doses can be provided. It would prioritize health workers and humanitarian needs in countries in the Western Balkans and Africa, as well as European Neighborhood Policy partners.

In oral conclusions drawn by European Council President Charles Michel, EU leaders on January 21 “reaffirmed their solidarity with third countries” and said that “effective support should be delivered as soon as possible”, but they did not mention the vaccine-sharing mechanism or endorse collaboration with COVAX specifically.

Commission policy paper - European Commission

Press release - European Commission

Press release - European Council

Biden's US will remain member of WHO, join COVAX Facility, repeal 'global gag rule'

Appearing before the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and now the Chief Medical Officer to US President Joe Biden, announced a range of commitments on behalf of the United States.

As expected, Fauci told the Executive Board that the US would remain a member of WHO, which will include full payment of all dues and working with WHO members on reforms. He also announced the intent of the US to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), a global partnership to coordinate tools to fight COVID-19, and to join its COVAX Facility, a global vaccine procurement mechanism.

Fauci also announced that, as part of the US commitment to support sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, Biden would be revoking the infamous Mexico City Policy, otherwise known as the 'global gag rule'.

News article - Reuters

Press release - US Department of Health and Human Services

South Korea announces five-year ODA strategy for 2021-2025

Prime Minister Sye-kyun Chung of South Korea announced the mid-term strategy for 2021-2025 on official development assistance (ODA) at the Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC) meeting.

The strategy is framed to achieve four strategic goals of practicing prosperous and inclusive international development cooperation based on partnership, and it has twelve priority goals including strengthening global health risk response, increasing humanitarian assistance, promoting South Korea's Green New Deal, diversifying development finance, and strengthening partnership with the civil society. The strategy also states that ODA will be closely aligned with South Korea’s foreign strategy including the New Southern and the New Northern Policies.

Budget-wise, South Korea’s ODA budget for 2021 increased by 8.3% from 2020, resulting in a total of KRW3.71 trillion (US$3.2 billion). South Korea will double the ODA budget between 2019 and 2030. It will also continue to increase assistance for global health, especially until 2022 in light of COVID-19. The share of grants and loans will be around 60% and 40%, respectively. South Korea will also aim to raise the share of untied grants to 95% and loans to 60% by 2025.

The country's list of priority partner countries was also updated, with a total of 27 countries for 2021-2025. South Korea will allocate 70% of the total ODA to these 27 countries, with twelve from Asia, seven from Africa, four from Central Asia, and four from Latin America. It will also allocate more ODA to low- and lower-middle-income countries that are more in need of assistance.

Press release – Prime Minister’s Office (in Korean)