Policy Updates

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German parliament passes motion for increased global health engagement

On May 28, 2020, the German parliament passed a motion submitted by the governmental parliamentary groups CDU/CSU and SPD, committing to greater engagement in the field of global health and explicitly supporting the WHO. The motion states that the WHO is "the only internationally legitimated authority on health issues" and should, as such, be “strengthened and sufficiently funded to meet the growing challenges". To this end, the motion explicitly calls for an increase in assessed contributions to the WHO. The Federal Government should promptly introduce the long-planned strategy for a global health policy and use the German EU Council Presidency from July to December of 2020 to elevate global health to a key priority within the EU.  

In the debate, the oppositional parties the Greens, the Free Democratic Party, and the Left called on the government to expand their engagement in health system strengthening in partner countries. The Greens and the Left advocate for Germany to spend at least 0.1% of its economic output on health-related development cooperation. 

Only the far-right party AfD fundamentally criticized the WHO and German health authorities during the debate, declaring them incompetent in their current COVID-19 response. 

News article – Tagesschau (in German) 

Press release  CDU/CSU and SPD motion on Global Health (in German)

Spain’s Foreign Minister hosts bilateral meetings with African ministers

On June 2 and 3, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, held several videoconference meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Mauritania. These meetings were aimed at reviewing and analyzing the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Minister González Laya conveyed Spain’s support for promoting bilateral cooperation and discussed other topics of mutual interest including democratic governance, human rights, security, and socioeconomic progress.

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Norwegian civil society receives payouts worth US$413 million to support on-the-ground work in low-income countries

Norwegian civil society organizations (CSOs) are now receiving payouts amounting to NOK4.3 billion (US$413 million). This is the largest total amount ever allocated to Norwegian CSOs. The funding aims to support civil society in low-income countries and strengthen their capacity to promote development in their own countries. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the strong belief that no one should be left behind are guiding principles for the cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CSOs. 

In recent years, numerous countries have introduced restrictions making it challenging for CSOs to carry out their work. As a result, the Norwegian government has prioritized partnerships with Norwegian organizations that have solid local networks and which collaborate with other organizations. Each organization went through a diligent application process to be recognized as a partner to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

Dutch Development Minister looks back on Netherlands’ support for EU development cooperation

On May 27, 2020, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, presented an annual letter to Parliament on Dutch efforts regarding EU development cooperation.  

The letter outlines the priorities of the Dutch cabinet (which include sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), combatting climate change, and international corporate social responsibility) as well as some reflections on recent developments and achievements. 

Kaag reflected on the Netherlands’ advocacy for the inclusion of SRHR topics during negotiations on the European Union’s ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ (NDICI) in 2019. The Netherlands also called upon other EU member states and the European Council to create an EU action plan on international corporate social business in November of 2019. 

The letter also notes the results of a large-scale study on the effectiveness of EU-development cooperation in the period of  2013-2018, solicited from the European Centre for Development Policy (ECDPM) and the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitiek (DIE) by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The study’s findings were generally positive and underlined the importance of the EU as a global actor for development cooperation. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Dutch Development Minister presents report on recent World Bank Group meeting, calls for World Bank to lead economic recovery efforts

On May 26, 2020, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, presented a report to Parliament on the World Bank Group’s April 17 Development Committee meeting. 
The Committee emphasized the importance of adopting a holistic, long-term strategy to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, which should be guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. The World Bank has reserved US$160 billion to implement this strategy over the next 15 months.
The Netherlands fully supports to this approach and, specifically, asked the World Bank to take a leading role in promoting the economic recovery of countries affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Netherlands strongly advocated for an emphasis on sustainability, education, and the provision of essential health care and food relief to countries in need. 
The Dutch government also supported the call of the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund for a temporary suspension of debt service payments to bilateral creditors by the poorest countries.


Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)
 

UK pledges additional US$199 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen

Ahead of the UN’s virtual High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen on June 2, 2020, the UK Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab, announced an additional £160 (US$199 million) in humanitarian assistance to the country. The funds are expected finance training of 12,000 healthcare workers on how to operate safely in a COVID-19 environment and the operation of nearly 4,000 health centers.  

With the addition of this new funding, the UK’s development assistance to Yemen now totals £970 million (US$1.2 billion) since the conflict began.  

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is currently the largest in the world, with more than 24 million people (over 80% of the population) vulnerable and requiring help. The new funding will mean the UK has provided a total of £970 million (US$1.2 billion) in development assistance to the country since the conflict began.  

Press release – UK government  

Spanish NGO platform holds annual general assembly

The Spanish development NGO umbrella organization ‘La Coordinadora’ held its 38th ordinary annual assembly through a videoconference, which was virtually attended by members from 76 partner NGOssalong with the Spanish foreign ministry’s Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno. During the meeting, La Coordinadora emphasized the importance of Spanish development cooperation and official development assistance (ODA) for effectively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary of State Ángeles Moreno reiterated the current government’s commitment to increasing Spain’s ODA to 0.5% of the gross national income by 2023.

Press release – La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

South Korean government commits US$15 million to Asian Development Bank’s Ventures Facility Investment Fund

The South Korean Ministry of Small Medium Enterprise and Startups (MSS) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that they will co-fund the Asian Development Bank’s(ADB’s) Ventures Facility Investment Fund with a total commitment of US$15 million. The funds will come from both ministries, with MSS providing US$10 million and MOEF providing US$5 million.  

Newly launched by the ADB, the Ventures Facility Investment Fund will mainly invest in clean technology, financial technology, agriculture, health, and other sectors relevant to the sustainable development of partner countries in Southeast Asia. The fund will also target South Korean startup companies that wish to venture into the Southeast Asian market. The fund has characteristics of a social impact fund, in that it addresses not just profitability but also social values such as gender equality, poverty, and climate change.  

The target amount for the fund was US$60 million; in addition to South Korea, contributions came from Finland (US$22 million), the Nordic Development Fund (US$10 million), and the Climate Investment Fund (US$13 million). 

Press release – Ministry of SMEs and Startups (in Korean) 

US’s announced withdrawal from WHO sends “wrong signal at the wrong time”, says German Foreign Affairs Minister

The US' planned withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked criticism from the German government. According to Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, the withdrawal sends “the wrong signal at the wrong time”.  The COVID-19 pandemic is the first truly global crisis of the century, he said, and global cooperation is needed to meet this challenge.  

German Development Minister Gerd Müller echoed the criticism, stating that the world needed more international coordination and cooperation, not less. To balance the US’ withdrawal, Müller called for increased EU engagement and funding in the field of global health, criticizing the fact that the EU’s COVID-19 protection shield has so far operated only internally.  Müller repeatedly called to elevate the WHO to a world pandemic center and to globally join forces in a worldwide vaccination campaign.  

On May 29, 2020, US President Donald Trump announced that the US’ relationship with the WHO had been severed. It is unclear as yet whether Trump can implement this immediately and unilaterally. The US president has accused the WHO of being under Chinese control and of responding improperly to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

News article – Tagesschau (in German)  

Press release – Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)  

OECD casts doubt on whether UK’s US$373 million for COVID-19 vaccine research can be counted as ODA

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which sets the international rules on what counts as official development assistance (ODA), not all funding for research for a COVID-19 vaccine will be counted as ODA. To qualify as ODA, funding for research and development related to COVID-19 will need to be assessed to determine whether it was spent with the economic development and welfare of low-income countries as the main objective. 

The UK has already committed £300 million (US$373 million) in ODA to supporting COVID-19 vaccine research, £250 (US$310 million) of which has been given to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). The OECD DAC has noted, that while core funding for CEPI will be counted as ODA in 2020 (given the institution’s focus on diseases that predominately impact low-income countries), all CEPI funding for COVID-19 vaccine research will need to be reported as earmarked funding for this purpose. It will subsequently be assessed to determine whether it meets ODA criteria. This is because the development of a COVID-19 vaccine theoretically benefits both donors and recipient countries alike. 

News article – Devex  

Australia’s leading NGO body calls for additional US$1.3 billion in ODA over four years after survey suggests high public support for international COVID-19 assistance

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is calling on the government to allocate an additional A$2.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) over four years to Australia’s development assistance program to cover the costs of growing challenges, arising as a result of COVID-19 crisis. 

ACFID’s call cites an earlier statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) regarding the scale of the COVID-19 crisis, which DFAT claims will “dwarf” Australia’s ODA program resources. It further references a survey conducted by ACFID, which indicates that 72% of the Australian public support the provision of increased financial assistance and expertise to the poorest nations, to assist their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Press release - ACFID 

Australia publishes new development policy focused on COVID-19 and abandons policy review

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has released Australia’s latest development policy outlining its two-year approach to international development. The policy is titled ‘Partnerships for Recovery’ and outlines a development cooperation program focused on stability, health security, and economic recovery in partner countries. The policy also reveals that Australia will continue to emphasize loans for infrastructure development in the Pacific over the next two years.   

The policy highlights the importance of equitable access to vaccines when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Australia commits to working with international and Australian partners — including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — to ensure that any newly developed vaccines are widely available. 

So far, commitments made in light of COVID-19 only drawing around 4% of Australia’s annual development cooperation budget, however, DFAT has indicated that the challenges associated with the COVID-19 crisis will dwarf Australia’s ODA budget. As a result, the government has abandoned its wider review of Australian development policy, which was due to be released in July 2020. 

Policy - DFAT 

News article - Devex 

Australia redirects US$176 million of its ODA to fund COVID-19 response in its immediate region

Australia’s Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, has announced her government’s plan to redirect funds from its annual ODA program to provide medical, humanitarian, and economic support to Timor Leste, Indonesia, and the Pacific. These funds will primarily be drawn from programs halted or slowed because of COVID-19, for example, ODA usually used for scholarships and volunteer programs. 

At least A$280 million (US$176 million) over two years will be redirected to support countries in Australia’s immediate region in their efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis. This will include A$6 million (US$3 million) in funding for the World Food Program, primarily for air transport and logistics services delivering humanitarian and critical medical supplies as well is assessments on food security for Pacific countries. 

Press release – Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Press release – Minister for Foreign Affairs 

South Korea commits US$3 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan refugees, migrants

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that it will provide US$3 million in humanitarian assistance to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 crisis. 

South Korea made the announcement at the ‘International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in the Countries of the Region amid COVID-19’. held on May 26, 2020, and organized by Spain, the EU, UNHCR, and IOM. The conference aimed to mobilize global support and contributions to the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis response amid COVID-19. The conference resulted in total donor pledges of US$2.8 billion, including US$653 million in grants.  

This support is part of the US$100 million humanitarian aid commitment made by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020. So far, South Korea has distributed around US$23 million in total, with US$17 million through bilateral channels and US$5.5 million to WHO and UNICEF.  

 

News article – ReliefWeb  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean) 

 

South Korean development NGOs announce plan to provide US$50 million to 64 countries to combat COVID-19

The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development (KCOC) announced its plan to provide US$50 million (KRW62 billion) to 64 partner countries to support their COVID-19 response. The plan, entitled the ‘KCOC appeal for the global community to overcome COVID-19’, is a detailed follow-up measure to the statement issued by KCOC in April that called for effective assistance for partner countries with weaker health and medical systems to fight COVID-19. 

Out of the total amount, US$25 million will come from KCOC’s own funds, with the rest coming from funds from external partners such as the South Korean government and private sector companies. The funds will include US$20 million allocated in Africa, US$23 million in Asia, US$6 million in Latin America, and the remainder in the Middle East. The total amount will be used to implement approximately 170 projects that target the prevention of infectious diseases, health and medical system support, and livelihood support for vulnerable groups. 

KCOC is an association of development NGOs implementing foreign assistance projects, with over 138 members located in South Korea.  

Press release – Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation (in Korean) 

Macron announces France's priorities to achieve SDGs

In a statement given during the UN High-Level Event on financing for development and COVID-19, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated France’s priorities for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 crisis should be seen as a demonstration of the need for more multilateralism and international cooperation despite the current challenges, he said.
Macron identified three priorities for France:

  1. Universal access to health In part through  France’s support for the ACT-A initiative, coordinated by World Health Organisation to respond to the pandemic by providing testing, treatments, and vaccines to countries with the most fragile health systems;
  2. Support to the most vulnerable countries affected by the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic: specifically through debt cancelation and debt restructuring particularly in Africa, for which the IMF, the G7, the G20, and China should be mobilized; and
  3. Climate and biodiversity: in the run-up to the COP15 on biodiversity and the COP26 on climate change, France will organize a ‘One Planet Summit’ in Marseille in January of 2021 with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and a summit of all 450 public development banks on November 12, as part of the Paris Peace Forum to build a new coalition to mobilize the private and public financial sectors to tackle climate change.

Macron also indicated that the Generation Equality Forum, originally planned for July of 2020 in Paris will be organized in the Summer of 2021.

Press release - French permanent mission to the UN

UK reschedules COP26 Climate Conference for November 2021

The UK has announced that COP26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, has been rescheduled to November 2021 as a result of COVID-19. The UK was originally set to host the event in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020. It will now take place on November 1-12, 2021.  

Twitter – Alok Sharma  

South Korea spearheads new UNESCO solidarity group on global citizenship education amid COVID-19 crisis

South Korea has led the establishment of a new group dedicated to solidarity and inclusion based on global citizenship education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The group will primarily focus on speaking up against inhumane acts and promoting international cooperation in the post-pandemic world. 

Entitled the ‘Group of Friends for Solidarity and Inclusion with Global Citizenship Education (GCED)’, the inaugural members include South Korea (chair), Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Serbia, and Senegal. 

According to the South Korean government, the group was envisioned as an avenue to address increasing hate, stigmatization, and discrimination amid COVID-19. The group issued a joint statement to this end and stressed building global mutual trust, collaboration, and cooperation based on the principle of human dignity. 

 

Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

 

European Commission and Global Citizen launch campaign for Global Coronavirus Response

The European Commission announced the next steps of the Global Coronavirus Response initiative by launching a campaign ‘Global Goal: Unite for Our Future’, with Global Citizen and other partners to continue mobilizing funds for new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The campaign will culminate in a pledging event on June 27, 2020, where everyone  –including philanthropies, people, and businesses can contribute to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator. 

 

Press release - European Commission 

Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign website - Global Citizen 

Video of campaign launch kick-off - European Commission 

 

European Commission boosts ODA and health research in updated EU 2021-2027 budget proposal, new EU recovery fund

The European Commission (EC) released an updated proposal on May 27, 2020, for the EU’s 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) along with a new proposal for an EU recovery fund to respond to the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis. The EC’s new proposals would boost funding for the MFF’s main development instrument, and research through the Horizon Europe program, particularly by scaling up funding for health and climate research. 

The new MFF proposal is worth €1.1 trillion (US$1.19 trillion). This amount is slightly lower than the EC’s 2018 MFF proposal but higher than the most recent draft from European Council President Charles Michel. The EC has also released a proposal for a new EU recovery instrument ‘Next Generation EU’ worth €750 billion (2018 prices), which will be provided as short term and frontload financing for the first few years of the MFF from 2021-2024. The instrument would also provide €500 billion (US$543.6 billion) in grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic and will make an additional €250 billion (US$271.8 billion) available in loans. These funds money will be raised via the EC borrowing on capital markets, which is to be paid back through future MFFs. 

  

 Press release - European Commission 

Recovery Plan Communication - European Commission 

EU Budget Communication - European Commission  

Staff working document - European Commission 

Website for the MFF proposals - European Commission