Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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Sweden pledges addition US$14 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan

December 5, 2023 | Sweden, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture, Agricultural R&D, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, WASH & Sanitation, Global Health | Share this update

On December 5, 2023, Sweden announced an additional SEK149 million (US$14 million) to address the escalating needs of the civilian population in Sudan amid ongoing armed conflict, which erupted in April and has severely impacted living conditions.

The additional funding brought Sweden's humanitarian assistance to Sudan in 2023 to SEK355 million (US$34 million). The assistance package is channeled through Sida and detailed the following allocations:

  • OCHA and UNICEF: SEK89 million (US$9 million);
  • Mercy Corps: SEK25 million (US$2 million). Mercy Corps is a humanitarian organization focused on food security. The funds are allocated to enhance the production capabilities and self-sufficiency of small-scale farmers, particularly women, and is expected to benefit 10,000 farmers; and
  • UNHCR: SEK35 million (US$3 million) will support the OHCHR in its efforts to monitor and document human rights abuses in Sudan.
Press release - Government of Sweden

EU provides US$156 million for Afghanistan

November 30, 2023 | EUI, WASH & Sanitation, Gender Equality, Education | Share this update

On November 30, 2023, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen announced EUR143 million (US$156 million) in support for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.

Prioritizing displaced and vulnerable populations, the package included assistance for education, WASH, health, and gender equality, including WEE. Under the heading of basic services, the assistance also included psychological care, educational incentives such as free school meals, and efforts to shore up local economies.

Press release - European Commission

UK launches new White Paper on International Development

November 20, 2023 | UK, Education, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, WASH & Sanitation, Climate | Share this update

On November 20, 2023, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launched a new White Paper on International Development, the first since 2009, which set out a progressive, whole-of-government approach to accelerate the delivery of the SDGs over the next seven years.

The White Paper provided a return to focusing UK development on the goal of eradicating poverty, which experts noted was largely neglected by previous strategies. It presented two further key goals: tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. The paper called for a new approach to partnerships based on country ownership, accountability, and transparency.

Though experts noted that the paper seemed to signal that the UK has recommitted to international development, it did not make new major financial commitments. The focus of the paper was on mobilizing resources beyond ODA for development, including the City of London’s private finance and expertise, stretching multilateral finance, and tackling trade, tax and illicit flows, as well as outlining policy priorities.

A return to delivering 0.7% ODA/GNI when fiscally feasible was mentioned briefly in the paper. Neither the Foreign Secretary nor the Minister for Development mentioned 0.7% ODA/GNI as a goal in their respective prefaces.

Six key themes from the paper included:

  • Mobilizing international finance (public and private) for climate and development with a focus that includes the City of London, pension funds, and investors;
  • Reforming the international system, with a strong focus on debt relief, trade, tax, and illicit flows, areas where the UK has in the past had strong expertise;
  • Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss and enabling sustainable economic growth;
  • Ensuring opportunities for all, including gender and broader equality and rights, global health, education, water, and social protection;
  • Tackling conflict, disasters, and food insecurity through preparedness and resilience. The only new financial commitment in the document reserved GBP1 billion (US$1.2 billion) in the budget for humanitarian spending each year, in line with current spending, and established a GBP150 million (US$179 million) disaster fund; and
  • Harnessing innovation and technology. R&D remains core to the UK offer on development, with a resurgence in interest in digital transformation and a strong interest in harnessing AI for development.

One of the most significant commitments was the aim to spend 50% of UK bilateral ODA in LDCs, prioritizing ODA resources to LICs. In 2021, the UK only provided 19.1% of resources to LDCs and has never exceeded 33% since 2013. A commitment to 50% is seen by experts as a monumental change in bilateral allocations. The White Paper also committed the BII to invest half of its resources in so-called poor and fragile states by 2030.

The 2024 UK election sets a narrow timeframe for the current Conservative government to implement the goals laid out by the paper. The progressive and broad framing, however, indicated to experts that the paper may not necessarily be jettisoned by a potential Labor government.

Development NGOs in the UK have been broadly welcoming of the document, but have criticized the government for ODA cuts and called for a return to 0.7% ODA/GNI.

Report - UK government Press release - ONE

Sweden pledges US$7 million to rebuild Ukrainian educational infrastructure

November 17, 2023 | Sweden, Education | Share this update

On November 17, 2023, in response to the devastating impact of Russia's 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which has led to the damage or destruction of over 3000 educational facilities, the Swedish government pledged SEK75 million (US$7 million) to the UNESCO Emergency Fund to renovate and reconstruct Ukranian educational facilities

This contribution is part of Sweden's broader development assistance to Ukraine, which has totaled over SEK3 billion (US$290 million) since the current government took office in 2021. The pledge is a direct response to the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science's request for assistance in rebuilding the education sector.

Sweden's contribution aims to enable thousands of Ukrainian children and students to resume in-person education and activities crucial for their social and mental well-being. The support is additionally slated to address the need for functioning shelters, which play a vital role in enabling parents to work while children are in school.

Swedish Minister for Schools Lotta Edholm emphasized the importance of ensuring that education continues without significant interruptions and that schools and preschools remain safe havens for children. The Swedish contribution will facilitate the installation of essential facilities for WASH services, heating, and insulation, as well as ensuring accessibility and providing psychosocial support and physical activities for children.

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

Norway increases support to humanitarian partners in Ukraine

November 13, 2023 | Norway, Education, WASH & Sanitation | Share this update

On November 13, 2023, the Norwegian Government announced that it will allocate NOK1 billion (US$90 million) to the Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People's Aid, Save the Children, NORCAP, and Caritas Norway.

The funding is slated to help Ukrainians that have lost their homes through shelter and WASH services, as well as education and healthcare.

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide noted that Norway, in line with its Nansen program for Ukraine, will continue to provide emergency assistance and protection to millions of Ukrainians living under perilous conditions.

Norway has contributed over NOK4.5 billion (US$406 million) in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and refugee response in neighboring countries since 2022. The assistance is channeled primarily through the UN, the Red Cross movement, and Norwegian and international humanitarian organizations.

The organizations receiving support have multi-year strategic partnership agreements with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The newly launched funding was allocated through the multi-year Nansen program for Ukraine, which is managed by Norad.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

European Commission releases 2024 budget

November 11, 2023 | EUI, Climate, Education, Gender Equality, Agriculture, Global Health | Share this update

On November 11, 2023, the Commission of the EU announced that the Parliament and Council of the EU had reached agreement on the 2024 budget.

Against the backdrop of the midterm review of the bloc's MFF, the 2024 budget included commitments of EUR189.4 billion (US$204.7 billion), a slight increase over the EUR186.6 billion (US$201.7 billion) budget for 2023.

Heading 6: Neighborhood and the World fell to EUR16.2 billion (US$17.5 billion) from EUR17.2 billion (US$18.6 billion) in 2023, a 5% decrease. Notable changes included:

  • Humanitarian assistance increased by EUR100 million (US$108 million) to EUR1.9 billion (US$2.1 billion); and
  • NDICI-Global Europe fell EUR800 million (US$864 million) to EUR11.5 billion (US$12.4 billion), emphasizing spending priorities of reducing drivers of migration.
Press release - European Commission

Norwegian opposition presents alternative 2024 state budget

November 9, 2023 | Norway, Education, Climate | Share this update

On November 9, 2023, the opposition Norwegian SV presented its highly anticipated alternative state budget for 2024 to negotiate with the current minority government.

It is common for opposition parties to draft alternative budgets before state budget negotiations begin in Parliament.

SV spokesperson on international development Ingrid Fiskaa highlighted the need for a revised international development budget from the government in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Panorama. She asserted that Norway must step up its international development ambitions, especially as Norway is generating large revenues from oil and gas sales. She made particular note of the current government's budget draft failing to meet the 1% ODA/GNI target.

However, SV party leader Kjersti Bergstø stated in an interview with Vårt Land that the SV does not see the 1% ODA/GNI target as a priority. She noted her belief that the government, not the opposition, should be responsible for achieving the target. Her comments received criticism from the opposition Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party, who noted that in times of severe global crises, it is disappointing that the SV is not prioritizing international development.

In the alternative state budget, the SV allocated an additional NOK8 billion (US$722 million) to the development budget. The budget also provided for the continuation of extra funding to LICs particularly affected by the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

The following increases were included in the alternative budget:

  • Human rights and civil society: NOK1550 million (US$139 million);
  • Palestinian refugees (via the UN organization UNRWA): NOK150 million (US$13.5 million);
  • Decentralized, small-scale renewable energy solutions: NOK220 million (US$20 million);
  • Long-term assistance to the Middle East, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Latin America: NOK190 million (US$17 million);
  • Education: NOK100 million (US$9 million); and
  • Support for Norwegian organizations' work against nuclear weapons: NOK10 million (US$903,000).
Press release - Socialist Left Party (in Norwegian)News article - Panorama (in Norwegian)News article - Vårt Land (in Norwegian)

Italy defines Mattei Plan governance

November 3, 2023 | Italy, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On November 3rd, the Italian Council of the Ministries approved the decree that defined the governance and the scope of the four-year Mattei Plan.

The Mattei Plan will aim to strengthen collaborative initiatives between Italy and African states to identify, define, and implement initiatives in the following areas:

  • International cooperation;
  • Imports, exports, and the promotion of investments;
  • Education, R&D, and innovation;
  • Global health;
  • Agriculture and food security;
  • Sustainable supply and use of natural resources, including water and energy;
  • Environmental protection and adaptation;
  • Modernization of infrastructure, including digital infrastructure;
  • Support for entrepreneurship, in particular, youth and women's entrepreneurship;
  • Tourism and culture; and
  • Prevention and countering of irregular migration and management of legal migration flows.

The decree established a Steering Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as vice-chairman. Included in the committee were other head ministers, the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Made in Italy, the President of the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces, the director of AICS, the President of the ITA, representatives from Italian MDBs, and representatives from publicly-owned enterprises, universities, civil society, and private entities.

The decree established that the Prime Minister's office would host the secretariat of the Mattei Plan. The secretariat will support the President to implement and coordinate the Mattei Plan and its updates, as well as lead the secretariat of the Steering Committee and prepare an annual report to Parliament.

Press release - Italian Government (in Italian)

Netherlands pledges US$76 million for humanitarian assistance, asylum reception, climate

November 2, 2023 | Netherlands, Education, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On November 2, 2023, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher sent a letter to the House of Representatives announcing the allocation of the recently approved extra EUR70 million (US$76 million) for the 2023 development budget.

EUR30 million (US$33 million) will go towards humanitarian assistance by the WFP, the Dutch Red Cross, and the Dutch Relief Alliance, including the recently announced EUR15 million (US$16 million) towards water, food, and healthcare in Gaza. The other half of the humanitarian funds will go towards other undetermined humanitarian needs around the world.

EUR20 million (US$$22 million) is allocated to the reception of asylum seekers in Pakistan, and “the Horn of Africa and the MENA region,” especially the education of children. EUR12 million (US$13 million) will go towards the UNHCR and EUR8 million (US$9 million) will go towards UNICEF.

Finally, EUR20 million (US$22 million) will go towards climate adaptation, with EUR10 million (US$11 million) towards the FMO’s Access to Energy Fund and the remaining funds going towards the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.

The extra EUR70 million (US$76 million) for ODA was a result of the Dutch House of Representatives approval on October 26, 2023, to bring forward part of the 2028 development budget buffer to reduce the previously proposed development budget cuts for 2023, known as a ‘cash move’. The additional funds will be processed in the Second Supplementary Budget 2023, which will be sent no later than December 1, 2023.

Letter - Dutch government letter (in Dutch)

Canada, UK announce US$51 million AI partnership in Africa

November 2, 2023 | UK, Canada, Education, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On November 2, 2023, Canada’s International Development Research Centre announced at the UK AI Safety Summit in London that it is partnering with the UK FCDO to launch a new phase of the AI for Development program, with an initial focus on Africa.

The new CAD70 million (US$51 million) partnership is intended to leverage the capacity of AI to reduce inequalities, strengthen health, education, and food systems, as well as adapt to climate change.

News article - International Development Research Centre






US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.

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