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EU countries have delivered less than 10% of pledged 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

The EU pledged to share at least 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021, but so far less than 18 million doses have been delivered. 

Only six million of the 18 million delivered so far have been sent through COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine facility.

While individual EU member states make decisions on shared doses, the European Commission has stated that member states are "on track" and that it is confident they will do what they can to hit the 200 million sharing pledge. 

Newsletter - Devex

News article - Devex

Portion of UK's US$15.6 billion climate fund should go toward family planning, say NGOs

Over 60 NGOs wrote to Alok Sharma, a UK Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party and the President of the UK-hosted UN COP26 Climate Summit in November 2021, calling for the UK to use some of its £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) climate fund for projects in low-income countries that are focused on family planning.

The demand arose as growing research demonstrates the link between poor access to reproductive health care services and environmental damage.

The UK government has committed to providing £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) for climate finance over the next five years. NGOs are calling for a change in fund access ahead of the UN COP26 to support family planning projects. Family planning programs have struggled following recent cuts to the UK development assistance budget.  

News article – The Guardian

 

Dutch Medical Care Minister resigns; position temporarily filled by Minister of Health

The Dutch Minister of Medical Care and Sports, Tamara van Ark (VVD), has announced that she is stepping down on health grounds.

Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, and Secretary of State for Health, Paul Blokhuis, will take over her duties until the position is filled.

Van Ark, who was the running mate of prime minister Mark Rutte in the VVD, is the ninth minister to have resigned from the third Rutte cabinet.

News article - dutchnews.nl

News article - nu.nl (in Dutch)

Spainish health minister calls for increased global COVID-19 vaccination distribution

The Spanish Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, called on the international community to accelerate the distribution of worldwide COVID-19 vaccines at the G20 Health Ministers meeting in Rome on September 5 and 6, 2021. 

Minister Darias emphasized that only 2% of the population in low-income countries has been vaccinated against COVID-19. To overcome the COVID-19 crisis and effectively respond to the pandemic, Darias urged G20 leaders to strengthen multilateral instruments such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’s (ACT-A) vaccine initiative, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX). In addition, Darias reiterated Spain’s engagement in the adoption of a new global treaty on pandemic preparedness.

Press release – Ministry of Health

Spanish Prime Minister meets Secretary General for Ibero-America

On September 6, 2021, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, met with the Secretary General for Ibero-America, Rebecca Grynspan, in Madrid; the leaders reviewed key global topics concerning the Ibero-American community such as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 28 Ibero-American Summit will take place in Fall 2022 in the Dominican Republic. Grynspan, who was elected in 2014 as Secretary General for Ibero-America, will leave the position in the coming weeks.

Press release – La Moncloa

G20 Health Ministers commit to vaccinating at least 40% of global population by end of 2021

The G20 Health Ministers met in Rome on September 5-6, 2021, and committed to vaccinating at least 40% of the global population by the year's end.

The Health Ministers' final declaration focuses on the fight against COVID-19 (particularly, the support of global access to vaccination) and the importance of preventing future pandemics, emphasizing the role of the One Health approach that includes animal and planetary health.

Final declaration - G20

Germany increases COVID-19 vaccine sharing commitment to 100 million doses

German health minister, Jens Spahn, announced that Germany will contribute 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 following the G20 Health Ministers' meeting on September 5, 2021.

Germany had previously committed to sharing 30 million doses, increasing its contribution by 70 million jabs. According to Spahn, the number of committed doses is equivalent to the number of doses that have been distributed to the German population. The G20 Health Ministers' goal is to vaccinate at least 40% of the world population by the end of 2021 in order to contain the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.

News article - Deutsche Welle (in German)

News article - Tagesschau (in German)

UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office loses 200+ development professionals following merger in 2020

A new analysis by Devex reveals that 212 development professionals left the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) following the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in September 2020. 

While the FCDO told Devex that the number of former DFID staffers who departed after the merger was similar to the previous year’s turnover, the Chair of the UK parliament’s International Development Committee, Sarah Champion, has expressed concerns over staffing. She indicated that the Committee's previous concern that the merger could lead to a development brain-drain from the FCDO is coming true. This staffing issue is of particular concern, given that the UK was renowned globally for its staff expertise in development. 

Staffing losses come as the FCDO faces increasing criticism for its management of the UK's withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab, has received significant criticism following revelations that an internal FCDO risk report predicted that the fall of the government in Afghanistan could be swift following withdrawal. This conclusion contradicted Raab’s statements that defended the UK's actions due to intelligence failures and lack of accurate predictions of quick government breakdowns. 

News article: The Guardian

South African COVID-19 vaccine exports to EU suspended

The EU and South Africa suspended an agreement that would have shipped Aspen Pharmacare's  Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from South Africa to the EU; doses that were already shipped will be returned and distributed to African Union member states.

Following the news that ten million doses of the vaccine would be exported to Europe from South Africa in August and September, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, met with European Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen, who suspended the deal.

News article - Devex

UK to invest US$1.0 billion in green projects in India

The eleventh UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue, which took place on September 2, 2021, resulted in a package of agreements between the two countries to address the climate crisis by increasing both public and private investment in green projects in India. 

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, attended the meeting, which builds on the UK-India 2030 Roadmap launched earlier this year. The roadmap intends to boost cooperation between the two countries on a range of issues.  

The package included an announcement that the UK’s development finance institution, CDC, would invest US$1.0 billion in green projects in India. An additional US$200 million in private and multilateral investments were confirmed for the joint Green Growth Equity Fund, which provides grants and equity to support low-carbon and climate-resilient platforms across the energy value chain. The dialogue also launched the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative, an Indian partnership aimed at leveraging private finance for sustainable infrastructure in India. The initiative is chaired by Michael Bloomberg, the UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions.

Press release – UK government

Sweden reallocates US$36 million for humanitarian support in Afghanistan

On September 2, 2021, Sweden decided to reallocate SEK 300 million (US$37 million) from its official development assistance (ODA) in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

To ensure that the Taliban regime does not benefit from Swedish ODA, Sweden stopped support for all state actors. The reallocated funds, which were previously channeled through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and managed by the World Bank, will now benefit humanitarian operations.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

Nigeria, Kenya, Niger to receive first of Canadian-donated COVID-19 doses through COVAX

The Canadian government pledged to provide Nigeria, Kenya, and Niger with more than 1 million COVID-19 doses through the COVAX initiative.

Nigeria will receive 801,600 doses, Kenya 459,300, and Niger 100,800.

Canada’s contribution comes as part of a recent pledge of over 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the COVAX initiative. Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, recognized Canada for its strong commitment to global public health. Canada has pledged over CA$500 million (US$399 million) to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC), CA$1.3 billion (US$1.0 billion) to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and 40 million vaccine doses to COVAX. 

News article - Gavi

Former senior Australian diplomat urges increased support for South-East Asia

Australia’s former Ambassador to Indonesia and head of Australia’s Mission to the UN in New York, Garry Quinlan, announced on a podcast that he believes Australia responded too slowly to the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia.

Quinlan was also concerned that Australia reduced its aid spending by 30% to South-East Asia. Speaking on an “ Australia in the World” podcast, the former ambassador said he would like to see an increased focus on Indonesia and South-East Asia through Australia’s development assistance program. He suggested the government increase development spending to buttress regional stability, and he believed that the overseas development program was a “fundamental arm” of Australia’s foreign policy.

Media report - ABC News

South Korea invests US$7 million in elimination of gender-based violence in Bolivia and Peru

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced that it will invest US$7 million and US$6 million in Bolivia and Peru, respectively, to help achieve gender equality in the two countries by addressing gender-based violence.

KOICA will cooperate with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to enhance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of female adolescents in Bolivia through 2025. In Peru, KOICA will partner with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for capacity building of the legal system.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

Dutch cabinet formation remains uncertain despite leaked coalition documents

On September 2, 2021, Dutch government coalition negotiator, Mariëtte Hamer, released a secret document outlining a coalition agreement between the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Democrats 66 (D66).

The two parties defined priorities for a potential coalition, which included free childcare and proactive governance on issues like healthcare, criminalization of espionage, and the climate crisis.

The document calls for increased support for the worldwide vaccination program COVAX and a relaunch of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The impact of this document is unclear because the VVD has eliminated the possibility of forming a coalition with left-wing parties like GroenLinks or the Labour Party (PvdA). Previous talks with Christian Democrat Christen Unie failed to result in a coalition agreement, making a minority government a more feasible option.

News article -  AD (in Dutch)

News article - nu.nl (in Dutch)

UK’s development superpower status under threat, warns Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a global development think-tank with an office in London, has published a new blog reflecting on the first anniversary of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCOD) following the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The blog argues that some of the UK's core development strengths under DFID have been eroded as a result of the merger, highlighting that the FCDO is less poverty-focused, its commitment to development effectiveness is weaker, and its expertise has declined. CGD argues that these trends, coupled with the substantial budget cuts to the UK development assistance budget, threaten the UK’s development superpower status.

CGD argues that the purpose of UK development assistance has shifted as a result of the creation of FCDO and is now more concentrated on meeting UK national interests than addressing poverty. CGD recognizes that this shift began prior to the merger, but notes that the merger has accelerated the move away from poverty reduction.

On development effectiveness, CGD argues that while it is too early to empirically evaluate how the merger has impacted the quality of UK development assistance, CGD predicts that it will further decline, especially in the category of transparency. A recent review by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), the UK’s independent development assistance watchdog, highlighted that the FCDO has been less transparent in its engagement with the ICAI than in prior years and the Chair of the UK parliamentary International Development Committee has criticized the UK government for a lack of clear information, particularly with regards to its spending plans.

Finally, on staffing CGD notes that when the merger happened, only 2 of the 7 initial appointments to the Management Board were former DFID officials. More recently, the FCDO has announced 20% cuts to its staffing costs, with most of the cuts likely to fall on staff managing development projects have been stopped due to cuts in the development assistance budget.

Blog - Center for Global Development

US Treasury approves license for continuation of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan

The US Treasury issued a special license to continue to allow the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan by both the US and its partners.

Such a license was necessary to clarify that, despite US sanctions on the Taliban as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, the US and related entities may legally provide humanitarian support. The assistance includes the provision of food and medicine, which is targeted at helping the people of Afghanistan. Assistance is not being provided to Taliban authorities. 

The license will expire on March 1, 2022, and is intended to prevent a worsening humanitarian crisis. The UN estimated that approximately half of the population of Afghanistan requires assistance, and half of the children under five years of age are acutely malnourished. A State Department spokesperson said that the US will continue to be a "very generous" provider of humanitarian support to the Afghan people. 

News report - Reuters

WHO opens Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin

On September 1, 2021, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, inaugurated a new WHO Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin.

Germany contributed US$100 million in initial investment to the Hub, whose mission is to better detect and respond to pandemic and epidemic situations by providing better data, analytics, and decisions on global disease threats. The Hub is a collaboration of countries and partners from across the world and its work will focus on increasing the availability of key data, developing analytical tools and risk analysis, and supporting the work of public health experts and policy-makers worldwide. Dr. Tedros emphasized the Hub’s contribution to detecting and assessing risks of disease outbreaks in their earliest stages when the impacts on health and social disruptions can be contained effectively.

The Director of the new Hub is the Nigerian epidemiologist, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who currently leads Nigeria’s health authority.

Press release - WHO

News article - Tagesschau (in German)

 

South Korean foreign ministry proposes 17% ODA budget increase for 2022

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of South Korea announced its budget proposal for 2022, which includes an official development assistance (ODA) budget increase of 17.3%, reaching KRW1.1 billion (US$1 million).

The decision stems from the increased need for global support to fight the COVID-19 crisis. MOFA also requested a KRW62.4 billion (US$57 million) budget increase for the Global Disease Eradication Fund to fulfill its commitment of providing US$100 million to COVAX Advance Market Commitments (AMC) for 2022.

The final budget for 2022 will be confirmed in December 2021 upon approval by the National Parliament.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

France hosts UICN World Conversation Congress

France hosted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Marseille from September 3-11, 2021.

The meeting, delayed in 2020 by the pandemic, precedes the UN summits on climate, COP26, and food systems, COP15. The conference provided the opportunity to take stock of the initiatives launched at the One Planet Summit in January 2021 in Paris, dedicated to biodiversity (especially the Great Green Wall and “The Mediterranean: A Model Sea by 2030” initiatives). It also prepared for the COP15 Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, which was postponed until 2022.

The conference focused on wildlife protection, habitat destruction, unsustainable agriculture, mining, and climate change, and mobilized heads of state, bilateral agencies, international organizations, private companies, and civil society organizations.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced that France will host a new edition of the One Planet Summit in the forthcoming months in order to prioritize nature internationally. The summit will build a foundation for a global biodiversity strategy, which includes the urgent need to phase out pesticide use, end plastic pollution, and eradicate the use of raw materials linked to deforestation of rainforests. He also emphasized that France will advocate for Earth’s polar regions to be recognized as common global assets.

Program: World Conservation Congress website

Opening ceremony: French Presidency (in French)