Policy Updates

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Macron announces France's priorities to achieve SDGs

In a statement given during the UN High-Level Event on financing for development and COVID-19, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated France’s priorities for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 crisis should be seen as a demonstration of the need for more multilateralism and international cooperation despite the current challenges, he said.
Macron identified three priorities for France:

  1. Universal access to health In part through  France’s support for the ACT-A initiative, coordinated by World Health Organisation to respond to the pandemic by providing testing, treatments, and vaccines to countries with the most fragile health systems;
  2. Support to the most vulnerable countries affected by the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic: specifically through debt cancelation and debt restructuring particularly in Africa, for which the IMF, the G7, the G20, and China should be mobilized; and
  3. Climate and biodiversity: in the run-up to the COP15 on biodiversity and the COP26 on climate change, France will organize a ‘One Planet Summit’ in Marseille in January of 2021 with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and a summit of all 450 public development banks on November 12, as part of the Paris Peace Forum to build a new coalition to mobilize the private and public financial sectors to tackle climate change.

Macron also indicated that the Generation Equality Forum, originally planned for July of 2020 in Paris will be organized in the Summer of 2021.

Press release - French permanent mission to the UN

UK reschedules COP26 Climate Conference for November 2021

The UK has announced that COP26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, has been rescheduled to November 2021 as a result of COVID-19. The UK was originally set to host the event in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020. It will now take place on November 1-12, 2021.  

Twitter – Alok Sharma  

South Korea spearheads new UNESCO solidarity group on global citizenship education amid COVID-19 crisis

South Korea has led the establishment of a new group dedicated to solidarity and inclusion based on global citizenship education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The group will primarily focus on speaking up against inhumane acts and promoting international cooperation in the post-pandemic world. 

Entitled the ‘Group of Friends for Solidarity and Inclusion with Global Citizenship Education (GCED)’, the inaugural members include South Korea (chair), Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Serbia, and Senegal. 

According to the South Korean government, the group was envisioned as an avenue to address increasing hate, stigmatization, and discrimination amid COVID-19. The group issued a joint statement to this end and stressed building global mutual trust, collaboration, and cooperation based on the principle of human dignity. 


Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs 


Spain's Sánchez calls for global solidarity in COVID-19 response

Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, participated in the 'High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond', which was virtually hosted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Prime Minister of Canada - Justin Trudeau, and Prime Minister of Jamaica - Andrew Holness.

The only way to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sánchez said, is through international cooperation, multilateralism, and solidarity. He underlined that his cabinet is fully committed to supporting such international efforts and outlined Spain’s strategic priorities to address COVID-19 in middle- and low-income countries; which include provisions for strengthening public health systems, protecting human and social rights, and supporting social protection, particularly focusing on gender equality.

Press release – la Moncloa (in Spanish)

European Commission and Global Citizen launch campaign for Global Coronavirus Response

The European Commission announced the next steps of the Global Coronavirus Response initiative by launching a campaign ‘Global Goal: Unite for Our Future’, with Global Citizen and other partners to continue mobilizing funds for new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The campaign will culminate in a pledging event on June 27, 2020, where everyone  –including philanthropies, people, and businesses can contribute to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator. 


Press release - European Commission 

Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign website - Global Citizen 

Video of campaign launch kick-off - European Commission 


European Commission boosts ODA and health research in updated EU 2021-2027 budget proposal, new EU recovery fund

The European Commission (EC) released an updated proposal on May 27, 2020, for the EU’s 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) along with a new proposal for an EU recovery fund to respond to the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis. The EC’s new proposals would boost funding for the MFF’s main development instrument, and research through the Horizon Europe program, particularly by scaling up funding for health and climate research. 

The new MFF proposal is worth €1.1 trillion (US$1.19 trillion). This amount is slightly lower than the EC’s 2018 MFF proposal but higher than the most recent draft from European Council President Charles Michel. The EC has also released a proposal for a new EU recovery instrument ‘Next Generation EU’ worth €750 billion (2018 prices), which will be provided as short term and frontload financing for the first few years of the MFF from 2021-2024. The instrument would also provide €500 billion (US$543.6 billion) in grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic and will make an additional €250 billion (US$271.8 billion) available in loans. These funds money will be raised via the EC borrowing on capital markets, which is to be paid back through future MFFs. 


 Press release - European Commission 

Recovery Plan Communication - European Commission 

EU Budget Communication - European Commission  

Staff working document - European Commission 

Website for the MFF proposals - European Commission 



Myanmar moves forward with proposals to receive COVID-19 funding from Japanese development agency, IMF

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has offered to grant an emergency loan of official development assistance (ODA) to Myanmar to financially support their response to COVID-19. A proposal to borrow ¥30 billion (US$278 million) from JICAwas recently approved by parliament. The funds will be managed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry.
Parliamentarians advocated for the funding to be allocated to those sectors that require the most support, specifically targeting farmers at low-interest rates to secure more workers and ensure high crop quality.
JICA’s loan has a 40-year payback period, including a 10-year grace period, at an interest rate of 0.01pc.
Myanmar also plans to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), since IMF loans have lower rates and longer terms compared to government-issued bonds. Myanmar has already received US$50 million from the World bank and will receive US$200 million more to strengthen its agricultural sector.

News article – Myanmar Times

Canada announces US$19 million for Venezuelan refugees

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced CAD27 million (US$19 million) in assistance to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 crisis. TheUN estimates that to date, five million people have fled Venezuela in search of safety and protection; the majority are being hosted in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating the challenges faced by these migrants and refugees including access to food, shelter, health care, and work. 

Gould announced this funding at the online International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean. The European Union and Spain convened the conference and it was attended by more than 40 countries. As a result of the conference, countries pledged a total of US$2.8 billion toward efforts to protect Venezuelan refugees of which US$653 million will be disbursed as grants.

News article – CBC

Priorities of upcoming EU Council presidencies include COVID-19, health collaboration, support for African partner countries

Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia have agreed on their priorities for their upcoming six-month presidencies of the Council of the EU over the next 18 months. The priorities will focus on the COVID-19 crisis and will include provisions for increasing EU health collaboration, supporting the global pandemic response, and boosting health system capacities in partner countries across the African continent. The trio has provisionally agreed on an agenda to be adopted by EU ministers on June 6, 2020, outlining their program from when the German presidency starts on July 1, 2020, through Portugal’s presidency starting on January 1, 2021, and through Slovenia’s presidency beginning on July 1, 2021.  

The agenda calls for: 

  • supporting the global COVID-19 response through collaboration on new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines;  
  • supporting health, water, and sanitation systems as well as mitigating the socioeconomic impacts in partner countries, including in Africa;  
  •  increasing health collaboration in the EU via stockpiling health materials; and 
  • increasing cooperation in health research, improving drug supply chains, and increasing joint procurement and manufacturing of vaccines and antimicrobials.  

The agenda also includes other priorities such as on the EU long-term budget negotiations, Brexit, rule of law, climate, trade, research, and digitalization. 


Draft DE-PT-SI Trio Program - Council of the EU 


Sweden to analyze impact of COVID-19 on development assistance, propose new initiatives for proactive pandemic measures in partner countries

On May 14, 2020, the Swedish government instructed the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to author a report analyzing the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak for the agency’s support to low-income countries. A first draft of the report is due on July 31 and should be finalized by October 15.  

Sida will also propose how Swedish development assistance initiatives could be reprioritized to enable Sweden to proactively address the pandemic in its partner countries, in the medium and long term.  

“In several developing countries, people are at risk not only of COVID-19 but also of food shortages and of a severe deterioration in the economy as a result of the crisis," said Peter Eriksson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation. "Swedish aid must change in order to respond effectively to both the urgent needs and the risks we see in the long term." 

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish) 

US development experts scratch heads as Trump grants DFC domestic supply chain investment powers

In a move that surprised development experts, US President Trump gave the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC) the power to invest in domestic supply chains. The agency, which just opened its doors in January 2020, is supposed to focus a significant amount of its investments in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Under the new executive order, the DFC will now have a separate unit to provide loans and make purchases to improve the US supply chain related to COVID-19. 

The executive order invoked the Defense Production Act and will expire in two years. Development experts questioned why this new agency, which is still not fully operational, would be tapped with this domestic function.    

News articles - Devex 

France to maintain planned increase in development spending despite COVID-19 crisis

During a discussion between the French NGO umbrella organization ‘Coordination SUD’ and French Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Le Drian indicated that France will maintain its planned financial trajectory until 2022. The planned increase in official development assistance for 2021 of € 988 million (US$1 million) will also move ahead.

Le Drian informed French NGOs that the new Development and Orientation Law on Development, which should have been debated in the first semester 2021, will be debated in September. Coordination SUD took this opportunity to advocate for flexible and additional funding to tackle the pandemic at the national, European, and international levels. The NGO collective also pointed out the financial threat the pandemic poses to the whole NGO sector.
Press release - Coordination SUD (in French)

2019 report released on Ibero-American South-South cooperation

The Secretary General for Ibero-America (SEGIB), an international support organization for the 22 countries Ibero-American countries, launched its annual report on ‘Ibero-American South-South Cooperation 2019’. SEGIB’s new report analyses up to 1,310 projects carried out in 2019 between Ibero-American countries under bilateral and triangular modalities. The report discovers that  the largest number of the projects (105 in total) were carried out in the haealth sector, mostly focusing on  on public health systems strengthening and epidemic preparedness.   


Press release – SEGIB (in Spanish) 

Sweden initiates work on new development cooperation strategies for Kenya, Bangladesh, Mali, and Liberia

On May 14, 2020, the Swedish government commissioned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to develop the basis for new strategies for development cooperation with Kenya, Bangladesh, Mali, and Liberia. The strategies will cover the period 2021 to 2025 and all drafts are due in September of 2020. 

For Kenya, the new strategy will be based on existing objectives: democracy, the rule of law, and gender equality; environment, climate, and sustainable use of natural resources; and inclusive economic development. In particular, the strategy should focus on how democracy can be strengthened through support for Kenya's decentralization process and efforts to reduce corruption. Sida will also explore options for strengthening the focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the strategy. 

As the situation in terms of democratic social development and the state of civil and political rights have recently deteriorated in Bangladesh, the new strategy there will increase focus on the rule of law, democracy, and human rights, prioritizing women and youth as well as anti-corruption measures. In particular, Sida has been instructed to clarify how support for the Rohingya refugees and host communities can be consistently integrated into Sweden’s development assistance to Bangladesh. 

Aside from being one of the world’s poorest countries, Mali is also characterized by persistent instability and a complex security situation. Reports of human rights violations are common and gender inequality is very high. To address this situation, Sida, in collaboration with Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), will develop a new strategy focusing on strengthening democracy and equality, increasing respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as support for a peaceful and inclusive society. In addition, the strategy should encompass support for the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. 

The peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another in 2018 provides a unique opportunity for Sweden to continue promoting the peace-building process in Liberia and further strengthening democratic development. Therefore, Sida and FBA have been charged with developing the new strategy based on existing objectives, such as democracy, human rights and gender equality, peaceful societies, inclusive economic development, as well as with an increased focus on the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. 


Press release (Kenya strategy) – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish) 

Press release (Bangladesh strategy) – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish) 

Press release (Mali strategy) – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish) 

Press release (Liberia strategy)– Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish) 

Japan to strengthen disaster resilience in Nepal

Japan has announced that it will provide 1.2 billion (US$11 million) for the Project for the Development of Digital Elevation Model and Orthophoto.

Nepal is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its underdeveloped infrastructure. During the rainy reason, chronic floods do significant economic and social damage. For example, in the Terai region of southern Nepal, which serves as a contact point for transportation and logistics with India, heavy rain severely damages industry and infrastructure.

Therefore, these funds aim to strengthen disaster resilience in the country’s southern region by developing a Digital Elevation Model and by providing Orthophoto. The Digital Elevation Model represents topography in digital format, and Orthophoto is a computer-generated composite image made up of aerial photographs with distortions caused by terrain relief and camera tilts removed. The Digital Elevation and Orthophoto will cover more than 300 square kilometers and will contribute to the creation of an approximately 500 square kilometers hazard map. This is expected to increase the Nepalese government’s capacity to identify expected flood areas and implement flood controls such as dikes and retention ponds.

Press release – the Japan Agency of International Cooperation

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

South Korean Research Investment for Global Health Technology Fund emphasizes global solidarity in supplying COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries

Chairman Moon Chang Jin of the South Korean Research Investment for Global Health Technology Fund (RIGHT Fund) emphasized global solidarity in providing vaccines worldwide for sustainable global health security, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Chairman Moon stressed the importance of providing a sustained fund to infectious disease over a longer-term period. According to Chairman Moon, it is likely that a new infectious disease to emerge after COVID-19, and as COVID-19 has shown, the government budget is very much affected by the current events. However, he stressed that support for infectious disease control should continue even after COVID-19. He also mentioned the importance of private sector companies investing in infectious disease R&D, since such diseases will affect the private sector regardless of the industry. Lastly, he emphasized the importance of supplying COVID-19 vaccines at a lower price to partner countries, since health inequality and human rights issues will emerge due to differences in access once vaccines and therapeutics are developed. He stressed that the situation will be particularly more challenging for partner countries if vaccines are provided at a higher cost, and thus global solidarity and cooperation will be needed to help partner countries fight infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Established in 2018, the RIGHT Fund is dedicated to supporting global health R&D to address disease burden worldwide. It also provides funding to the development of vaccines as well as therapeutics and diagnostic equipment. The Fund is supported by the South Korean government who invested US$20 million (KRW25 billion) between 2018 and 2022 and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who invested US$10 million (KRW12.5 billion). During a call in April with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates announced the foundation’s plan to double its contribution to the RIGHT Fund.

News article – Kookmin Ilbo (in Korean)

Canada's Trudeau convenes high-level event on financing for COVID-19

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, in collaboration with the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, convened an event focused on development financing during the COVID-19 crisis. The event was attended by over 50 leaders.

The event focused on six key areas of finance mobilization for the global response to and recovery from COVID-19:
1.    Liquidity in the global economy;
2.    Debt vulnerabilities;
3.    Private sector engagement;
4.    External finance and remittances for inclusive growth and job creation;
5.    Illicit financial flows; and
6.    Alignment of recovery policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Press release – Prime Minister of Canada

Japan to provide US$3 million to improve mental healthcare in Yemen

Japan has announced that it will provide ¥328 million (US$3 million) to improve mental healthcare in Yemen.

Currently, Yemen is facing a serious humanitarian crisis and about 24 million people (approximately 80% of the population) require some form of humanitarian assistance. In the northern region, more than 5 million people are need of mental healthcare.

For every 100,000 patients, there are only 0.2 psychiatrists/psychologists currently available in Yemen, and only 20% of health facilities provide mental healthcare services. Japan’s funds will provide emergency mental healthcare services, improve mental health facilities, supply pharmaceuticals and equipment, and train staff on mental health in eight northern provinces (Sana’a, Sa’da, Hajjah, Amran, Al Mahwit, Ibb, Dhamar, and Baida), one southern province (Aden) as well as the provinces of Al Hudaydah and Taizz.


Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Sweden invests US$39 million of official development assistance in international COVID-19 response

Sweden, one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors, announced on May 25, 2020, a SEK 380 million (US$39 million) support package to further support the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The funding has been allocated from the regular official development assistance budget and will be disbursed through the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (SEK 100 million; US$10 million), World Food Program (SEK 100 million; US$10 million), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SEK 100 million; US$10 million), World Health Organization (SEK 50 million; US$5 million), and International Monetary Fund (SEK 30 million; US$3 million).  

"The cost to life and health and to the world economy will be greater if we do not act quickly in support of the international humanitarian response,” said Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment and Climate. “Through our support package, Sweden takes joint responsibility for helping the worst affected and helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

The Swedish government will make a formal decision regarding the support package on June 17.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)  

Spainish Prime Minister Sánchez joins launch of 'Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator'

Together with other world leaders, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez joined the 'Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator', an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) aimed at coordinating efforts on the development, production, and distribution of COVID-19 health tools. 

In his speech, Prime Minister Sánchez praised the ACT Accelerator as a unique coordination mechanism for advancing research and development of affordable biomedical tools to address the pandemic. Sánchez underscored the importance of guaranteeing universal access to new COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics and reiterated Spain’s strong commitment to UN institutions and the WHO.

News article – El Diario (in Spanish)

Twitter - Pedro Sánchez