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.

Greenhouse gas emissions hang heavy over COP27 proceedings

November 10, 2022 | France, Germany, Japan, Global donor profile, Climate | Share this update

As COP27, the UN Conference of the Parties (COP), continued into its 'Youth and Future Generations' and ‘Science’ Day, proceedings on November 10, 2022, CO2 emissions moved to the forefront of discussions.


Key Statements & Discussions

In a virtual address to conference attendees on November 8, 2022, the last day of the COP27 World Leaders Summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged world leaders to hold Russia accountable for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the war. The Global Carbon Project estimates the emissions from the war total nearly 100 million tons caused by gas leaks and the transportation of soldiers and refugees, for example–are roughly equal to the amount produced by Colombia or Bangladesh in a year. Zelensky’s plea gave energy to researchers calling for increased scrutiny of military emissions.

On the topic of tracking emissions, on November 9, 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the launch of the Climate TRACE Coalition’s emissions tracker. The tool provides data on the quantity and exact location of emissions, allowing leaders to develop informed plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Guterres was joined by Al Gore, who urged leaders to hold emissions producers accountable, while also using the data to inform transitions to clean energy.

On the same day, the Climate Action Network presented a ‘Fossil Award’ to Japan as the world’s largest public investor in fossil fuel initiatives. The CSO umbrella organization also criticized Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for failing to attend the conference.

Not only were emissions and fossil fuels present as topics of discussion, but representatives of fossil fuel interest groups attended en masse. According to analysis from Global Witness, released on November 10, 2022, the number of attendees with connections to fossil fuels groups increased from COP26 by 25%, to a total of about 600 delegates. The finding comes amid increased criticism from youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who expressed severe disappointment in the inability of policymakers to divorce themselves from fossil fuel interests.

While the November 10, 2022, COP27 proceedings held the theme of ‘Science,’ it had an additional theme of ‘Youth and Future Generations.’ While policymakers expressed admiration for the youth activists, the feelings were not mutual. Some youth attendees had very clear agendas, urging leaders to adopt adaptation plans and support loss and damage initiatives. However, in a day with a low volume of political and financial commitments, the most accurate barometer of COP27 success might be youth attendees’ ongoing cynicism regarding world leaders’ commitment to climate goals, and anger at their perceived lack of voice in policy forums.\


Key Financial Commitments

As COP27 continues, support for loss and damage has continued to grow: New Zealand pledged NZ$20 million (US$12 million) for loss and damage on November 9, 2022, joining a small but growing group of countries showing support for the topic. China has also expressed potential support.

Also on November 9, 2022, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) secured US$1 billion dollars to support renewable energy and decarbonization projects in low- and middle- income countries. The main financers included Masdar, a UAE renewable energy company; the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIiB); the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development; and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Finally, South Africa received loans from Germany and France to support its transition to clean energy. Specifically, the package comprised two loans of €300 million (US$302 million) from the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), a German promotional bank.


Tomorrow’s Agenda

As discussions continue to proliferate on the topic of emissions, COP27 turns to ‘Decarbonization Day’ on Friday, November 11, 2022. Sessions will cover topics including the future of oil and gas industries, revisiting the ‘Global Methane Pledge,’ and the needs of low- and middle- income countries for sustainable infrastructure development.

News article - Bloomberg News article - UN News News article - The Japan Times News article - BBC Twitter - Greta Thunberg News article - New Zealand Herald News article - Al Jazeera News article - ZAWYA News article - Bloomberg Twitter - Francesca Rocca Twitter - SZ Opu

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Sweden signals continuation of ODA priorities

February 20, 2024 | | Share this update

On February 14, 2024, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström presented the Government’s Statement of Foreign Policy in Sweden's Parliament, outlining the country's foreign policy priorities for the year.

The listed priorities included:

  • Unyielding support for Ukraine: Sweden has positioned itself as a steadfast supporter of Ukraine. The Swedish Government has pledged continued political, humanitarian, military, and financial support to Ukraine, demonstrating an enduring commitment "for as long as it takes." Since the onset of the full-scale invasion in the spring of 2022, Sweden has contributed approximately SEK30 billion (US$3 billion) in support, with 80% of this assistance provided under the current administration since 2022. The government has approved 14 military support packages and is preparing further assistance, signaling a deep commitment to Ukraine;
  • Modernizing development assistance: Sweden's approach to development assistance is undergoing a modernization process, aimed at creating better living conditions for those affected by poverty and oppression. The new reform agenda for Swedish development assistance policy emphasizes the importance of market economies, investment, trade, and education in alleviating poverty and integrating developing countries into the global economy. The agenda is focused on clearer results and transparency in ODA;
  • Global health: The government highlighted that global health remains an ODA and foreign policy priority, particularly in SRHR. Sweden will continue to be a vocal advocate for gender equality;
  • Countering democratic backsliding: Sweden highlighted that the promotion of democracy and human rights remains a top priority amidst rising concerns over democratic backsliding worldwide. Development cooperation is positioned as a crucial tool in combating these trends, with a particular emphasis on strengthening civil society organizations as indispensable partners in these efforts; and
  • Expanding climate assistance and humanitarian support: Recognizing the urgent need for environmental action, Sweden is expanding its climate assistance, making it more effective, and contributing to the acceleration of the green transition. As one of the world's largest humanitarian donors, Sweden is committed to continuing this assistance, including by addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement and fostering conditions for sustainable reintegration.
News article - Sweden - 2024 Statement of Foreign Policy

Australia announces new funding for major health challenges in Papua New Guinea, global vector control

February 19, 2024 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update

On February 19, 2024, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced Australia would increase its support for health programs in Papua New Guinea to address malaria, HIV and antimicrobial resistance.

Australia is also slated to support health research and training through the Institute of Medical Research in Papua New Guinea.

No specific figure was given for the support. The funds are to be drawn from the AUD620 million (US$410 million) Partnerships for Healthy Region initiative.

Wong also announced Australia would provide further funding for the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, which aims to develop new products to prevent dengue and malaria globally.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

European CSOs urge increased quantity, quality of EU ODA

February 19, 2024 | EUI | Share this update

On February 19, 2024, CONCORD Europe, the network of European CSOs focused on development, released an article highlighting the decline in the quality of the EU's ODA after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing the 2022 AidWatch Report, CONCORD underscored the EU's counting of vaccine doses as ODA, in addition to rising spending on IDRCs, as key challenges to meeting the 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio.

The organization also argued that EU assistance was not reaching those most in need, noting that only three of 45 so-called 'LDCs' were in the top 10 recipients of EU ODA. Furthermore, CONCORD's calculations indicated that only 0.12% of EU ODA went to the group as a whole.

The organization called for increased ODA volumes and quality to meet global needs, even in excess of the 0.7% goal.

News article - CONCORD Europe

UK, Qatar announce US$50 million co-funding initiative to tackle humanitarian, development crises

February 18, 2024 | UK | Share this update

On February 18, 2024, UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell and Qatari Minister for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater launched a US$50 million co-funding initiative to tackle humanitarian and development crises.

The funding will include assistance to Gaza. The initial funding for the initiative comes from the 2023 strategic development MoU signed by the UK at the 5th UN Conference on LDCs in Qatar.

The two ministers also agreed to hold a development dialogue in the UK in May 2024 to drive further development commitments.

The UK and Qatar have previously worked together on development projects in the Middle East and Africa through the Qatar Fund for Development.

Press release - UK Government

Norway emphasizes security and international development as integrated policy areas at the Munich Security Conference

February 18, 2024 | Norway | Share this update

On February 18, 2024, at the annual Munich Security Conference, Norwegian Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram and Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim emphasized how the Norwegian government sees security challenges intertwined with poverty and international development.

The ministers asserted that the defense policy and the international development policy together contribute to safeguarding Norwegian interests and national control. Both of them particularly highlighted food security as an example of the intersection between security and development assistance.

They noted that the war in Ukraine showed concretely how the security policy can directly affect food security and food prices in large parts of the world. The ministers noted that Russia has used food as a tool in its warfare by attacking Ukraine's grain exports while strengthening its export of grains and fertilizers to the African continent, which Gram and Tvinnereim described as having both development and security policy consequences. Gram and Tvinnereim underlined that food security must be seen as a geopolitical issue closely connected to the security policy.

Adresseavisa (in Norwegian)

Spain to co-chair UN working group on feminist foreign policy

February 17, 2024 | Spain, Gender Equality | Share this update

On February 17, 2024, the Spanish MAEUEC announced that Spain and Mexico will chair the United Nations’ Working Group on FFP+ in 2024.

The:abbrFFP+ group was launched in 2021 under the leadership of Spain and Sweden. It aims to foster gender equality at the global level, as well as to advance specific measures for a feminist agenda within the multilateral system.

In 2021, the Spanish government launched its Strategy for Foreign Action 2021-2024 and the Guideline for a Feminist Foreign Policy. Gender equality is among the top priority sectors of Spain’s development cooperation.

Press release - Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

South Korea, UNOCHA discuss humanitarian assistance cooperation

February 16, 2024 | South Korea | Share this update

On February 16, 2024, South Korea and UNOCHA held their 7th policy meeting to discuss ways to respond to the humanitarian crisis through development cooperation.

The policy meeting has been regularly held since 2015, based on the memorandum of understanding signed between the MOFA and OCHA in 2013

Director General for Development Cooperation at the MOFA Do-yeon Won and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator at UNOCHA Joyce Msuya led the meeting.

Won expressed that South Korea will increase the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance as a global pivotal state. Msuya praised the South Korean government’s efforts to strengthen humanitarian assistance and noted its partnership with UNOCHA is developing.

The policy meeting came as the South Korean government expands its contributions to the international community by increasing the quantity and quality of South Korean humanitarian assistance responding to complex humanitarian crises.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)News article - Yonhapnews (in Korean)

HIV/AIDS advocates raise concerns about being sidelined by PEPFAR

February 16, 2024 | US, Global Health | Share this update

On February 16, 2024, HIV/AIDS advocates, during a town hall with PEPFAR Head Dr. John Nkengasong, raised concerns that changes to PEPFAR COPs diminish the active role that civil society has historically played in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

COPs, which have been known for its intense planning processes on implementation of country activities, provide advocates with the opportunity to voice support for certain vulnerable populations. Growing threats of criminalization and stigma against these populations have particularly concerned advocates about changes to the plans.

PEPFAR changed COPs timelines from an annual to a two-year cycle in an effort to streamline the planning process during a midpoint review in early February 2024. While advocates agreed that the new planning cycle is a positive step, they expressed that they felt shut out from planning meetings as well as concerned that data was not provided in a timely way.

News article - Devex

South Korea, UNFPA discuss strategic collaboration

February 16, 2024 | South Korea, Global Health, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update

On February 15, 2024, South Korea and UNFPA held their first-ever policy meeting to address issues related to the global population and humanitarian assistance.

Regular financial contributions to UNFPA have been made by the Ministry of Health and Welfare since 1997, however, the UNFPA budget was transferred to MOFA since 2024.

Director General for Development Cooperation at the MOFA Do-yeon Won and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes at UNFPA Diene Keita led the meeting.

Won expressed the government’s strong vision to contribute to solving global problems as a global pivotal state with the expansion of the ODA budget. In particular, South Korea plans to strengthen humanitarian assistance and close cooperation with UNFPA.

Won and Keita shared strategies and policies of each to deepen mutual understanding and discuss future priorities for cooperation including the prevention of sexual violence in conflict situations as a part of the HDP Nexus. The meeting reflected the willingness of both sides to strategically and systematically develop cooperation between South Korea and UNFPA.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)News article - Yonhapnews (in Korean)

Norway, Tanzania strengthen collaboration

February 16, 2024 | Norway, Agriculture, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate, Agricultural R&D | Share this update

On February 15 and 16, 2024, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Norway for an official state visit, where the countries entered three new agreements on climate-adapted food production, soil health and research.

Norway and Tanzania have had a close collaboration for decades, with climate and food security being key focus areas.

Norway and Tanzania signed a cooperation agreement on climate-adapted agriculture and food security. Norway's efforts will support Tanzania's ambitions to produce 10% more food by 2030. In addition, the NIBIO and the TARI entered into a new agreement on soil health. NIBIO and TARI are slated to work together on methods to use less artificial fertilizer. Soil health is an important focus area for increasing food production and enhancing food security for smallholder farmers.

Norwegian Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim underlined that a close collaboration around research has become increasingly important. She emphasized this as a founding reason for why the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences have entered into a new agreement on research collaboration.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

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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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