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Canada's International Development Platform recommends Canada make four immediate commitments to international development

Canada's International Development Platform (CIDP) suggests four commitments that Canada should make on international development immediately. CIDP makes the case for Canada to:

  1. Preserve and codify recent additions to the International Assistance Envelope base;
  2. Take a leadership role on the four deliverables outlined in the International Monetary Fund's 'Mobilizing with Africa' agenda;
  3. Publish a comprehensive accountability report that consolidates Canada’s international COVID-19 response; and
  4. Incorporate the clear evidence of the COVID-19 crisis' gendered impact and the emerging evidence of regression on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators in an updated development portfolio risk assessment.

Analysis - CIDP

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency seeks to increase field offices' staffing

In its final report of a series to the government on the COVID-19 crisis' impacts on official development assistance (ODA), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) announced it would like to increase its staffing in field offices. In the report, Sida recognized the difficulty of following up on projects and actions in the field, particularly due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic.

In order to remain in close dialogue with partners and other actors, going forward, Sida would like to have more staff in the field, both Swedish as well as local employees. According to the report, additional field staffing would improve local knowledge, increase the capacity of local actors, and strengthen the follow-ups of specific projects.

Carin Jämtin, Director-General of Sida, pointed out that the need for greater fieldwork could be established through partner organizations, Swedish civil society organizations, and other third parties, both digitally and on-site.

Since August and with the exception of Guatemala, a majority of Sida staff members have returned to the field offices around the world.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

African leaders disagree with US warnings on Chinese investments; Senegalese president advises partners to listen closely to African nations

At an investment conference with African leaders in Washington DC, the US announced a series of new deals and partnerships with African countries. Robert O’Brien, the US White House national security adviser, remarked that China "pushes unsustainable and opaque loans" which results in "erosion of national sovereignty", while the US's financing allows for "independence" and "sovereignty". US warnings on China, however, faced pushback from African leaders including Senegal's President Macky Sall, who disagreed that China's investments were a threat to the "sovereignty of Africa".

According to Sall, since Africa never had any Marshall-type plan that Europe benefitted from, it needs the long-term funding that China provides. He advised that partners would "gain a lot in listening, listening deeply to Africa and Africans.”

Multiple leaders expressed that their nations want to partner with the US as well as with others and would like to see more investments that lead to fast growth. While these include big energy projects, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi pointed out that these should also include other important sectors, such as agriculture.

News article - Devex 

UK parliament launches global health security inquiry, accepting written submissions until early December

The UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee has announced it will be holding a new inquiry into global health security. This follows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that he wants to use the UK's G7 presidency in 2021 to drive a new global approach to health security. 

The inquiry will assess the role of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in delivering a new global approach to health security and will explore, among other things:

  • The lessons that the COVID-19 crisis has taught the world about the need for international collaboration against biosecurity threats;
  • How effective the UK’s current approach to global health security is;
  • The exact role the FCDO should play in resolving the COVID-19 crisis and preventing future pandemics;
  • What role the FCDO should be doing to support the research and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring that the COVAX Facility (a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual COVID-19 vaccines) is successful; and
  • What a ‘global pandemic early warning system’ would look like and what the role of the UK is within it.

The Committee is calling for submissions of written evidence until December 2, 2020.

News article - Foreign Affairs Select Committee

UK government calls for more comprehensive debt deal, for World Bank to ensure COVID-19 response helps most vulnerable

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, called for a more comprehensive debt deal and for the World Bank to ensure its COVID-19 response targets those most in need.

Speaking at the World Bank’s 102nd Development Committee, Raab welcomed the recent G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). However, he noted that it needed to be extended to 2021, and he highlighted that for some countries, debt relief will be required. He also encouraged the participation of all private and official creditors and encouraged the World Bank to work with others to strengthen the sovereign debt resolution architecture.  

Raab set out the UK’s vision for the World Bank’s response to COVID-19, noting that the UK expected all of the World Bank’s arms—including International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), and International Finance Corporation (IFC)—to work together to provide additional support to help countries recover and rebuild. In particular, Raab noted the following:  

  • The IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) should use their financial capacity to provide liquidity and counter-cyclical support to the private sector to tackle problems facing low-income countries including capital outflows, lower commodity prices, and the loss of revenues in key sectors;
  • The World Bank should focus on global food security and risks of famine given predictions of rising numbers of people hungry in 2020 (Raab noted this would mean delivering funding quickly, strengthening social safety nets, building more climate-resilient food systems, and improving food markets);
  • The World Bank should use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to build back in a sustainable and green manner in low-income countries; and
  • The World Bank should focus support on the most vulnerable and excluded people who have been often more heavily impacted by the crisis.

Press release - UK government

France to increase anti-hunger funding by 30% in 2020

On World Food Day, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that France will increase its funding to tackle the food crisis by 30% in 2020.

Prior to this decision, France has already allocated a total of €565 million (US$668 million) per year to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dutch government publishes new international corporate social responsibility policy

Dutch development minister, Sigrid Kaag, sent Parliament a note on the results of the current policy in the field of international corporate social responsibility (ICSR), as well as an outline of the new policy.

The new policy includes a broad due diligence obligation. This measure replaces the transparency obligation in the current policy which has had a limited effect on ICSR.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Hunger relief, sustainable food initiatives will be top priorities at G20, says Italy's Conte

On October 16, 2020, commemorating World Food Day and the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, shared on Twitter that Italy will make anti-hunger and sustainable food initiatives top priorities in the framework of its G20 presidency in 2021.

Conte also promoted the 'Food Coalition', a project spearheaded by Italy through FAO, to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on agriculture and nutrition.

Conte congratulated the FAO on its anniversary, saying Italy was proud to celebrate the organization in Rome.

Twitter - Giuseppe Conte

US House Democrats push for more foreign assistance for COVID-19

A group of Democrats from the US House of Representatives are pushing for more foreign assistance for the global COVID-19 response. Led by Congressman Joaquim Castro, who is seeking to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, the proposal would address both vaccine distribution and poverty alleviation. 

Castro believes that the US needs to reassert its position as a global leader and is worried that the current stalemate over an additional pandemic relief bill would further damage the prestige of the US. Castro specifically criticized the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 crisis, including the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization. 

News interview - Foreign Policy

UK government signs new agreement with UNFPA Supplies to support family planning

The UK government on October 15, 2020 signed a new agreement with UNFPA Supplies, pledging £425 million (US$558 million) to ensure that 20 million girls and women will have access to family planning every year up to 2025.

UNFPA Supplies is the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA's) thematic program for expanding access to family planning, such as through providing contraceptives and maternal health medications, as well as helping strengthen health services. 

This is part of the UK’s commitment in 2019 to provide £600 million (US$788 million) for family planning to an array of organizations including the UNFPA.

Twitter - Baroness Sugg

Press release - UNFPA

US Development Finance Corporation releases first development strategy

The United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC) released its first development strategy which outlined its priorities for investments and targets through the year 2025. The new development finance institution set goals of investing US$25.0 billion and mobilizing US$50.0 billion from the private sector, as well as being more risk-tolerant and investing more in low-income and fragile states. 

The framework prioritized a number of sectors including energy (US$10.0 billion) and financial inclusion (US$6.0 billion). Commitments to food security and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), however, were much smaller at $US500 million and US$250 million respectively. The strategy also included attempts to better measure impacts on people and to track metrics.

News article - Devex

UK development minister's ongoing refusal to comply with oversight requests "feels like contempt of Parliament", says International Development Committee Chair

Sarah Champion (Chair of the UK's parliamentary International Development Committee) has accused Dominic Raab (Secretary of state for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs) of avoiding parliamentary oversight. The Committee members have repeatedly invited Raab to appear before them, but they have been repeatedly met with refusals. The Committee has also been unable to question other senior officials in the newly founded Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FDCO), who have also declined requests to appear.

Champion, in a strongly-worded statement, noted that for as long as the Committee exists to oversee government development assistance spending, ministers "have a duty to be accountable to the Commons. Failure to do so feels like contempt of Parliament".

Her statement comes as she fights for the continued existence of her Committee. The government originally indicated following the merger of the former Department of International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that it would like the Committee to be closed down and its functions merged under the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. However, the decision is ultimately in the hands of the parliament which has yet to vote on the issue. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stated that he welcomes parliamentary scrutiny of the UK’s development assistance budget and would leave the matter to parliamentarians to decide.

News article - The National

Press release - International Development Committee

UK’s largest civil service trade union expects 20% staff cuts in new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

The UK’s largest civil service trade union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), expects up to 20% of staff cuts in the newly formed Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, following the merger of the Department of International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth office, according to Devex.

Devex, which obtained the document produced by PCS, noted that PCS anticipates the cuts to start in November at the director level. While the UK government has insisted there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the merger, the union anticipates that those on fixed-term contracts are the most at risk. The document says that 359 former FCO staff members who are on temporary fixed-term contracts have "missed out on more secure employment" due to the merger, and it highlights that 70% are under the age of 30. The PCS also notes the vulnerability of non-UK nationals.

News article - Devex

As pandemic threatens to undo decades of anti-poverty work, role of ODA is even more critical, says Sweden

In its final report to the Swedish government on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, published October 15, 2020, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) noted that, since the start of the pandemic, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased dramatically and progress made over recent years at reducing poverty is currently at risk. As a consequence, Sida highlighted that the role of official development assistance (ODA) has become increasingly important for Sweden’s partner countries.

Director-General Carin Jämtin of Sida underlined that the pandemic "is not just a global health crisis, but a wider global crisis that exacerbates an already strained situation in many countries", and that many people in low-income and conflict-affected countries are at risk of falling back into poverty. Thus, Jämtin emphasized that Sweden needs to support long-term and environmentally-sustainable recovery in partner countries in order to be better equipped for future crises.

By September 2020, Sida had allocated SEK 1.3 billion (US$149 million) to combat the effects of COVID-19, and a large proportion Sida projects have been adjusted in dialogue with partners to take the pandemic into account. About half of this amount has been allocated toward strengthening health systems and alleviating the direct consequences of the COVID-19 virus. The remaining half has been allocated toward tackling the indirect consequences of the pandemic, e.g., effects on economic development, employment, and poverty.

Examples of Swedish support to combat the effects of COVID-19 include programs implemented by the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and UN-Habitat. 

Examples of Swedish support that have been adapted include programs implemented by the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Assessment of Australian development assistance performance in 2018-19 shows most targets met

The final report under the Australian government’s development performance framework, 'Making Performance Count', has been published. Nine of the government’s ten performance measures were met in 2018-19. The gender equality performance target had not been met but was improving, particularly in education.

This is the sixth and final performance report under the 2014 policy framework for the Australian development assistance program.

A new performance system will be used in the future, as announced in May 2020. This will be in line with the new Partnerships for Recovery policy for the Australian government’s development assistance program.

News article - Reliefweb

Dutch parliamentarians call for additional US$573 million ODA package to compensate for COVID-19 response costs

On October 15, 2020, Tom van den Nieuwenhuijzen, a Dutch member of parliament (MP) of the Green Party (GroenLinks), put forward an amendment to increase the development cooperation budget by US$573 million for the years 2021 to 2025.

The amendment would add US$126 million to the budget in 2021 in order to counteract the proposed cuts to the development budget and to prevent the international approach to COVID-19 by the Netherlands from coming at the expense of other current development cooperation priorities.

The amendment was co-submitted by fellow MPs Kirsten van den Hul (Labour Party) and Mahir Alkaya (Socialist Party). The amendment has not yet been brought to a vote.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

With eye toward zoootic disease detection, Japan announces technical support for veterinary clinical studies in Zambia

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced plans to strengthen the capacity for clinical studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia.

In the Republic of Zambia, about 60% of the working population is involved in the agricultural sector, of which more than 70% have at least one kind of livestock. However, outbreaks of animal diseases and zoonoses (infections or diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) can affect farmers' livelihoods and threaten human health.

While the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zambia has cooperated with Japan to further clinical research, most of their equipment is degraded and the educational system needs improvement, according to JICA. Therefore, JICA will strengthen teaching capacity and help improve lectures and practical classes to produce skilled veterinarians.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Spanish NGOs ask for US$1.1 billion increase in development spending in 2021 budget

While the Spanish government announced the 2021 budget bill would be presented on October 27, 2020, the development NGO umbrella organization, ‘La Coordinadora’, released a policy paper analyzing recent financial trends of Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) and underlining the importance of development financing during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to La Coordinadora, the Spanish general state budget for 2021 should include a €900 million (US$1.1 billion) increase in development spending in order to pave the way for the government’s target to build Spain’s ODA to 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2023. Development NGOs have also urged the government to increase humanitarian assistance and multilateral development assistance contributions.

Press release - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Report - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Canada's IDRC approves new research initiatives on COVID-19, food security in sub-Saharan Africa

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has approved five new research initiatives related to COVID-19’s impact on food systems, nutrition, and food security in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, in West Africa and the Sahel.

The below 12-month projects were selected for "their capacity to document interventions in real time and share lessons widely for effective responses from government and donor agencies" to the COVID-19 crisis. 

  1. 'Initiative prospective agricole et rurale' (IPAR) will assess the role of social protection and strengthening local food systems in Niayes, Senegal; 
  2. 'Conseil ouest et centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricoles' (CORAF) will explore the impacts of the pandemic on "food systems and livelihoods" in the Sahel;
  3. 'Association pour la promotion de l'élevage au Sahel et en Savane' (APESS) will support the livestock sector in West and Central Africa;
  4. Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) will examine the political economy of African food systems during the pandemic; and
  5. Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) will research "opportunities for reconfiguring unequal gender relations" in Burkina Faso and Senegal.

News release- IDRC

Additional US$33.0 billion in yearly funding could end global hunger crisis, says Ceres2030 study; German Development Minister calls for green agricultural revolution to reach goal

During World Food Week, German Development Minister Gerd Müller convened a conference on October 13, 2020, to present the findings of two new studies on how to end the global hunger crisis. One study was undertaken by Ceres2030 (a partnership between academia, civil society, and economists), and the other was done by the University of Bonn's Center for Development Research (ZEF) in cooperation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to the studies, US$33.0 billion a year will be needed in additional funding to eradicate hunger by 2030. The experts involved in the studies believe that donor countries could realistically contribute an additional US$14.0 billion a year, while low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could provide US$19.0 billion. Currently, donor countries contribute US$12.0 billion per year to food security and nutrition, thus, they would have to double their commitments. The additional funding could prevent 490 million people from suffering from hunger, double the incomes of 545 million small-scale producers in LMICs, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture to levels below the Paris Agreement commitments, the studies say.

Pointing to the studies’ findings, Müller emphasized that a world without hunger would be possible with a green agricultural revolution and additional funding. He urged that “we must not fail for a lack of political will” and announced that Germany will increase funding to fight the hunger crisis. Currently, Germany annually channels around €2.0 billion (US$2.3 billion) to food security and rural development. Highlighting that the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN World Food Programme “sends the right signal at the right time”, Müller called on other donor countries to live up to their commitments, to together end the global hunger crisis by 2030.

Press release – German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Report – Ceres2030

Report – FAO, ZEF