Policy Updates

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Sweden bolsters humanitarian assistance to Gaza with additional US$11 million

May 17, 2024 | Sweden, Nutrition, Education, Gender Equality, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Climate, International development | Share this update

On May 17, 2024, the Swedish Government introduced a significant aid package totaling SEK120 million (approximately US$11 million) directed towards UNICEF, UNFPA, and WFP to help alleviate the pressing needs of the Gazan population.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell emphasized the gravity of the situation, highlighting the severity of the crisis and Sweden's role as one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Gaza. He noted that Sweden is further increasing the humanitarian support with a focus on addressing hunger and protecting women and children, and advocated for greater humanitarian access and the release of hostages.

This latest initiative brings Sweden’s total humanitarian contributions to Gaza to over SEK520 million (US$49 million), reinforcing its role as a major supporter of humanitarian efforts in the region. The most recent funds are slated to be allocated as:

  • UNICEF: SEK20 million (US$2 million) to support children's needs, counter malnutrition, and provide access to clean water and healthcare. Additionally, UNICEF will focus on education, psychosocial support, and financial assistance for families;
  • UNFPA: SEK20 million (US$1.9 million) to maintain SRH services, including maternity and neonatal care. Efforts will also target the prevention of SGBV and support for survivors; and
  • WFP: SEK80 million (US$8 million), with SEK29 million (US$3 million) specifically for Gaza and SEK51 million (US$5 million) as core support. This wil help ensure food and nutritional assistance reaches those facing imminent famine in northern Gaza and improve logistics of assistance delivery.
Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

Canada’s IDRC announces US$51 million for AI research partnership

April 8, 2024 | Canada, UK, Sweden | Share this update

On April 8, 2024, Canada’s IDRC announced a new CAD70 million (US$51 million) partnership with the UK's FCDO to fund the AI4D partnership.

The partnership builds on the IDRC’s AI4D Africa partnership with the Sida, which has worked closely with African communities since 2020 to support AI development through high-quality research, responsible innovation, and talent strengthening.

The research is slated to focus on innovative, sustainable, and responsible AI that supports the establishment of research networks and policy labs. It will also help mitigate the risks of this disruptive technology, including the identification of existing biases in AI systems.

Press release - International Development Research Centre

Sweden contributes US$11 million to WFP

April 2, 2024 | Sweden, Nutrition, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems | Share this update

On April 2, 2024, Sweden earmarked SEK120 million (US$11 million) to assistance in Gaza, Sudan, and Ukraine via the WFP, expressing deep concern over looming famine threats in these regions.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Johan Forssell emphasized the significance of WFP's role in saving lives. The grant, announced during WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain's recent visit to Stockholm, underscored Sweden's commitment to combating hunger and supporting emergency operations. The contribution is part of Sweden's broader assistance to the WFP for 2024, totaling approximately SEK1.3 billion (US$121 million).

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

Sweden ends ODA agreements with 20 CSOs

March 27, 2024 | Sweden, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, WASH & Sanitation, International development, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On March 27, 2024, Sida announced the cessation of its agreements with about 20 CSOs by the end of 2024.

The move is part of a broader shift towards a new ODA distribution model emphasizing a more open and competitive application process, slated to commence on January 1, 2025. This restructuring was a direct response to governmental mandates aiming to enhance the efficiency and reach of Swedish development assistance.

The abrupt end to these longstanding partnerships sparked a wave of concern and criticism among the affected organizations and their global partners. With a current budget of SEK1.8 billion (US$15 million), these strategic partnerships were a cornerstone of Sweden's development assistance, extending support to nearly 2,000 organizations worldwide. The collaborations spanned a diverse array of sectors, including labor unions, faith-based groups, environmental advocates, and human rights organizations, primarily targeting support in low- and middle-income nations.

Critics, including CONCORD Sweden, argued that the sudden shift jeopardizes the sustainability of critical development projects and undermines the implementation of ongoing initiatives. This, according to critics, not only threatens the continuity of vital programs but also risks the effective use of Swedish taxpayer contributions to global development.

News article - Article - CONCORD Sweden (in Swedish)

EU provides US$290 million for social services in Latin America, Caribbean

March 21, 2024 | Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, EUI, Global Health | Share this update

On March 21, 2024, the EU announced a contribution of EUR268 million (USS$290 million) at the EU - LAC High-Level Event on Inclusive Human Development and Equitable Access to Health Products.

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Uprilainen announced the investment, made in cooperation with France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, and Sweden. The finance aims to mobilize EUR1 billion (US$1 billion) to support access to basic social services and rights and increase the transparency and accountability of government agencies.

The contribution was made in line with broader :abbrEU - CELAC cooperation, which aims to mobilize over EUR45 billion (US$49 billion) from 2024-2027 to support the SDGs and other efforts in the region.

Press release - EU Commission

Team Europe launches health partnerships at EU-AU event

March 20, 2024 | EUI, Sweden, France, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Global Health | Share this update

On March 20, 2024, the EU and the Belgian Council presidency announced a joint contribution of EUR14 million (US$15 million) for the African Medicines Agency and launched three global health partnership programs.

The support, announced at the high-level event on EUAU partnership on Global Health for equitable access, comprised EUR10 million (US$11 million) from the Commission and EUR4 million (US$4 million) from Belgium. The support aims to advance the establishment of the African Medicines Agency, particularly as an end to strengthening vaccine production and health innovation.

In addition, the event marked the launch of three Team Europe initiatives on:

  • Sustainable Health Security, which aims to increase PPR among African partner countries, with a specific focus on AMR and other infectious diseases, and will receive EUR128 million (US$129 million) from the 2021-2027 budget;
  • Support to Public Health Institutes in Africa, which aims to bolster UHC and reduce health access inequalities and received an allocation of EUR50 million (US$54 million) from 2024-2027; and
  • Digital Health, focusing on reducing health disparities and advancing UHC and PPR through technological and practical innovation, which received EUR87 million (US$94 million) from 2024-2027.
Press release - EU CommissionPress release - EU Commission

Sweden reinforces development cooperation ties with US

March 18, 2024 | Sweden, US, Education, Agriculture, Climate, International development, Global Health, Nutritious Food Systems | Share this update

On 13 March 2024, Sweden announced a new agreement between Sida and the USAID, which is set to advance sustainable development initiatives, prioritizing local initiatives and engaging the private sector closely.

The agreement was officially sealed in Washington DC on 4 March by Sida's Director-General Jakob Granit and USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman.

The agreement, slated to span the next four years, introduces new focus areas including digitalization, cybersecurity, the enhancement of global public goods like food security, climate action, and the improvement of transparency and oversight in development.

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

Sweden resumes support for UNRWA

March 9, 2024 | Sweden | Share this update

On March 9, 2024, the Swedish government announced its decision to allocate SEK200 million (US$20 million) to the UNRWA.

The funding was allocated to address the urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza and UNRWA's commitment to enhanced transparency and governance, as outlined in a conditional agreement with Sweden. UNRWA's commitments include permitting independent audits, bolstering internal oversight, and implementing more rigorous staff vetting processes. Sweden, having received a formal acknowledgment of these commitments, which mirror the conditions agreed with the European Commission, will continue its support contingent on the fulfillment of these conditions.

The Swedish government has earmarked a total of SEK400 million (US$39 million) for UNRWA in 2024, with the announced funding representing the first installment. Sweden aims to disburse additional financial support will be released over t2024 as UNRWA demonstrates progress in enhancing its internal oversight and control mechanisms.

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden launches new strategy to bolster democracy and support for human rights

February 5, 2024 | Sweden | Share this update

On February 5, 2024, the Swedish Government announced the launch of a five-year strategy for enhancing development cooperation, with a budget of SEK900 million, (US$86 million) in 2024, centered on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

The plan represents a pivotal component of Sweden's broader ODA reform agenda and underscored the significance of democracy, human rights and freedoms, and the rule of law as essential principles for freedom, security and societal progress in ODA. The new plan has arrived at a critical juncture for the development community, as democracy globally has faced a downward trend for the 17th year in a row, exemplified by crises such as the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The strategy contains enhanced support for human rights defenders, democratic processes, free elections, and independent journalism. The launch highlighted the increasing threat posed by authoritarian regimes that seek to erode basic human rights and employ digital technologies for suppression and to spread disinformation.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell emphasized the strategy's focus on supporting individuals worldwide who tirelessly advocate for their freedoms under oppressive regimes. Acknowledging the concerning trajectory of global democracy, Forssell expressed Sweden’s commitment to supporting those who champion democratic values and principles.

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

Sweden revises international assistance strategy, phases out certain bilateral relationships

January 16, 2024 | Sweden | Share this update

On January 16, 2024, the Swedish government announced the discontinuation of international assistance to Cambodia, South Sudan, Mali, and Burkina Faso by the end of 2024, while maintaining a reduced assistance program for Guatemala.

These decisions are part of a broader strategic adjustment outlined in the latest directive to Sida.

All Swedish development activities in Cambodia are set to conclude by December 31, 2024, marking an end to financial commitments after this date. Similar terminations are planned for the development strategies with Burkina Faso and Mali. Both programs are scheduled to conclude by the end of 2024, aligning with the financial cutoff deadline.

The assistance strategy for Guatemala initially faced uncertainty, but was announced to continue with a funding cap of SEK90 million (US$9 million) for 2024. The Swedish government advised minimizing new agreements or extensions, indicating a possible reassessment of this commitment in the future.

Temporary extensions of assistance programs until December 2024 were granted for development programs in Somalia, Syria (as part of a regional strategy), Sudan, Myanmar, Uganda, and Zambia.

Report - Government of Sweden (in Swedish)

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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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