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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UK government to strengthen management of Blue Planet Fund, ensure poverty focus

January 19, 2024 | UK, Agriculture, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate | Share this update

On January 19, 2024, the UK government announced that it has accepted all the recommendations made by the ICAI's review of the Blue Planet Fund, which included GBP500 million (US$599 million) in ODA for a DEFRA-managed fund aimed at protecting the marine environment and reducing poverty in low- and middle-income countries.

The review also recommended:

  • Improving DEFRA management of the fund and appointing more staff to manage the fund;
  • Strengthening cross-government strategic oversight over the fund. The UK government will conduct a rapid review to explore how to strengthen the functions of the JMB, the FCDO and DEFRA body responsible for oversight of the fund;
  • Focusing all programs under the fund are focused on poverty reduction as their primary focus. DEFRA has committed to commissioning a review of the global evidence base on the linkages between poverty, and protecting and restoring the marine environment; and
  • Ensuring greater effort is made to engage partner stakeholders in the programming process. DEFRA is committed to ensuring that partner voices are heard in all future programming.
Press release - UK government

UK pledges US$80 million to IFAD replenishment

December 27, 2023 | UK, Agriculture, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate | Share this update

On December 27, 2023, the UK government announced that it would commit GBP67 million (US$80 million) to the 2025-2027 replenishment of the IFAD.

IFAD is a UN agency dedicated to supporting those living in extreme poverty in rural areas. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in rural areas, and smallholder farmers produce 70% of the food in low- and middle-income countries.

UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell stated that the funding will boost food security, help alleviate poverty and support the environment. The UK has been a strong supporter of IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program, which enables smallholder farmers to gain access to climate finance to support adaptation efforts and protect biodiversity.

Press release - UK government

FCDO publishes 2023 Global Food Security Summit Policy Paper

December 19, 2023 | UK, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate | Share this update

On December 19, 2023, the UK government released a new policy paper entitled Global Food Security Summit 2023 Chair's Summary: towards zero hunger and ending malnutrition, which provided a summary of the key outcomes and announcements of the UK-hosted Global Food Security Summit, held in November 2023 in London.

The summit was organized around three key themes:

Thematic Area 1: New approaches to ending preventable deaths of children.

This session highlighted that nutrition is an essential part of UHC and called for the need to integrate nutrition services into primary health care. The session also called for a more coherent approach to addressing early prevention and detection of child wasting and highlighted the need for more sustainable financing to address the issue. Associated announcements at the Summit included:

  • The inauguration of Child Nutrition Fund, a new financing mechanism to scale up funding for child wasting. The UK pledged a further GBP16 million (US$19 million) to the Fund and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives gave an additional US$8 million;
  • The publication of new WHO Guidelines on the Prevention and Management of Child Wasting;
  • The UK's announcement of a doubling of support under the Child Wasting Innovation Program, bringing their contribution to a total of GBP61 million (US$73 million). The program will run until 2030;
  • The UK's announcement of an additional GBP38 million (US$45.5 million) in investment in health and nutrition in Somalia over the next three years; and
  • The UK’s White Paper on International Development, published on the same day as the summit, also committed the UK to championing a new Global Compact on Nutrition.

Thematic Area 2: Anticipating and preventing famine and food security crises.

This session focused on the importance of prevention and anticipation strategies in countries facing the intertwined impacts of climate and conflict and the need to mainstream early warning systems. It also highlighted the need to scale-up disaster risk finance for fragile and conflict-affected states and ensure that flexible social protection systems are in place that can respond to shocks. It recognized the crucial role of civil society in crisis response and women’s empowerment as key to tackling food insecurity. Associated announcements included:

  • The UK's commitment of up to GBP100 million (US$119 million) to respond to food security crises and their impacts on the world’s hunger and malnutrition hotspots;
  • The UK's commitment of GBP100 million (US$119 million) to improve climate resilience in Somalia;
  • The UK's commitment of GBP77 million (US$92 million) of humanitarian support to DRC’s food security crisis;
  • The UK's and other countries support to drive forward a process for unlocking International Climate Adaptation Finance for fragile and conflict-affected states;
  • The UK's and other countries support developing a partnership with the World Bank to better link Humanitarian Assistance and Social Protection to collectively address food insecurity; and
  • The UK’s White Paper also announced a new Resilience and Adaptation Fund to act alongside its humanitarian support.

Thematic Area 3: Building a climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture and food system.

This session focused on the need to support the transition to sustainable nutritious food plans, and systems via country, region-led and global initiatives, plans, and platforms. It also noted the need to use evidence-based approaches based on what has worked and called for more climate finance to be mobilized for agriculture, with a particular focus on supporting small-holder farmers. Associated announcements included:

  • The signing by the UK and other key governments of the COP28 Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action;
  • The UK's further contributions to the GAFSP;
  • The UK's commitment of up to GBP45 million (US$54 million) in support over the next 5 years through the Just Rural Transition Support Program, in partnership with the World Bank
  • The UK's commitment of up to GBP39.1 million (US$47 million) for the Just Transitions for Water Security Program.

Thematic Area 4: Harnessing science and technology for food security.

This session highlighted the importance of science and innovation in supporting food security and nutrition and called for improved accessibility to the benefits of scientific and technological advancement. It focused on the need to support sustainable scaling up of research and innovation through consistent, stable political and financial support and innovative finance models. Associated announcements included:

  • The launch of the new virtual UK- CGIAR Centre for Science Collaboration and a UK commitment to provide an additional GBP45 million (US$54 million) of funding for the CGIAR, taking UK funding to a total of GBP110 million (US$132 million) for CGIAR over the next 3 years;
  • The announcement of a new program focused on Scaling Agriculture Investment in Digital, AIand Innovation;
  • New support to the Animal and Plant Health Innovation and Evidence Delivery Platform (GBP29 million (US$35 million)) including with CABI; and
  • The creation of a new Nutritious Food Systems Policy Research Platform to grow a global network of researchers and strengthen the evidence on improving nutritional outcomes throughout the food system (GBP25 million (US$30 million).
Government document - UK Government

Oxfam calls for UK Labour to center global solidarity in international development vision

December 13, 2023 | UK, Gender Equality, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, Climate, Global health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On December 13, 2023, departing Chief Executive of Oxfam Great Britain Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah called on the UK Labour Party to ensure it puts global solidarity at the center of their international development policy.

Sriskandarajah noted the need to target ODA where it is needed and supporting strong public health systems. He advocated against UK ODA being used as a foreign and trade policy instrument and also advocated against the practice of counting in-donor refugee costs as ODA.

Sriskandarajah also called on the Labour Party to stop addressing development, climate, and migration as separate policy areas rather than interlocking issues. He recommended that Labour should work to dismantle vested interests blocking efforts to cut emissions, invest in helping refugees, and find innovative ways of raising funding to tackle big climate issues, including through fair-share pollution taxes and increased wealth taxes.

Sriskandarajah also called on the Labour Party to show leadership on debt relief for poor countries by enforcing private creditor responsibility through changes to UK law, supporting a new convention on tax to reduce tax avoidance, and responding constructively to growing calls for reparations by forging partnerships based on the pursuit of equitable development and racial justice.

The Guardian

Review of UK Blue Planet Fund finds lack of coordination, coherence

November 30, 2023 | UK, Nutritious Food Systems, Agriculture, Climate | Share this update

On November 30, 2023, the UK ICAI released its rapid review of the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, which criticized management that has led to duplicated work in some areas and gaps in delivery in other areas.

In January 2021, the government established the GBP500 million (US$599 million) Blue Planet Fund, to support low- and middle-income countries reduce poverty and protect ocean biodiversity. The fund is managed jointly by the Defra and the FCDO, with Defra in the strategic lead.

The review found that key management processes were missing, including establishing monitoring, evaluation and learning processes, and that there had been inadequate consultation on country and regional needs. It also found that there was a lack of coordination and coherence between Defra and FCDO, which resulted in duplicated work in some areas and gaps in delivery in others. The review also noted that it was not always clear how the fund was contributing to poverty reduction, and raised concern about administrative costs being charged by Defra’s arms-length bodies to deliver parts of the fund, which were higher than the international development norm.

The review recommended that formal core central management functions be put in place and that cross-government oversight of the Fund be strengthened.

Report - ICAI

UK hosts Global Food Security Summit

November 20, 2023 | UK, Agriculture, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate | Share this update

On November 20, 2023, the UK partnered with the government of UAE, who are the forthcoming hosts of COP28, and the government of Somalia to host a Global Food Security Summit in London.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri opened the summit. They were officially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CIFF.

The summit gathered representatives from more than 20 countries. It had the stated goal of focusing international attention on the increasing global good security crisis and boosting action against hunger and malnutrition, including through innovations in science and technology. Almost 1 billion people were severely food insecure in 2022, and more than one in three people in the world were not able to afford a healthy diet in 2023.

The UK government launched its new White Paper on International Development at the summit, and also announced:

  • Up to GBP100 million (US$120 million) to respond to food security crises and their impacts in the world’s hunger and malnutrition hotspots, including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Sahel, Afghanistan, and Malawi;
  • Up to GBP100 million (US$120 million) to build resilience to climate shocks and provide food security for the most vulnerable families in Somalia to avert future humanitarian crises; and
  • An extra GBP16 million (US$19.2 million) for the Child Nutrition Fund, inaugurated at the Summit, which is a new UNICEF initiative aimed at coordinating national governments and CSOs against child malnutrition.

The summit also saw the launch of the new CGIAR UK science center to develop new climate-resilient crops and identify risks to global food systems. The new virtual hub will help to link UK scientists with global research initiatives to develop climate- and disease-resistant crops.

The end of the summit produced a joint Ministerial Statement by the UK, UAE, and Somalia that urged the international community to address underlying causes of food insecurity, act earlier to prevent crises, and work towards delivering more resilient agriculture and food systems in the face of climate change. The declaration called on governments to sign the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action ahead of COP28 in UAE on November 30, 2023, in order to support policy tools and resources needed to enable a transition to sustainable food systems.

Press release - UK government Press release - Ministerial Statement

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

UK pledges US$46 million to AI-powed development partnership in Africa

November 1, 2023 | UK, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, Agricultural R&D, WASH & Sanitation, Climate, Global health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On November 1, 2023, the UK government announced that it will provide GBP38 million (US$46 million) to a new GBP80 million (US$96 million) global initiative to speed up the use of AI to support international development.

The announcement was made at the inaugural AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, UK. The initiative, which is also being supported by Canada, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the US, and partners in Africa, aims to utilize AI to combat inequality and boost prosperity, primarily in Africa. It will focus on building the capacity of and supporting African AI expertise to address long-standing development challenges.

The UK’s funding will come from a new phase of the UK AI for Development Programme. The following goals were listed as priorities until 2028:

  • Funding post-graduate training and fellowships in AI in African universities;
  • Investing in innovators building models with data that accurately represent the African continent;
  • Fostering responsible AI governance to help African countries mitigate the risks of AI; and
  • Enhancing the Sub-Saharan African voice on how to use AI to further the UN SDGs.
Press release - UK government

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