Thursday, September 19, 2019

Swedfund, NDF winners in Swedish budget. Funds for UN at a standstill

 
Swedfund is the winner in the Swedish aid budget proposal for 2020, which indicates a substantial scaling up in funding for the aid-financed investor and more in coming years. Sweden also wants to revitalise the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and to make oceans a new focus area for the fund. Core funding of UN agencies is at a standstill next year.
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Swedish agency agonises over SEK 10m carbon payment to Norwegian forestry firm

Already more than a year behind schedule, the Swedish Energy Agency continues to agonise over whether to issue its second carbon credit payment worth SEK 10 million for a tree farm in Uganda owned by the Norwegian forestry firm, Green Resources. The agency wants to ensure that its involvement improves the lives of people affected by the plantation, but an audit points to unresolved problems.
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Report - USD 1.8 billion investment needed to protect against climate change

Report - USD 1.8 billion investment needed to protect against climate change

A global commission led by Bill Gates, Ban Ki-moon and 20 countries calls for USD 1.8 billion in climate adaptation financing over the next ten years. Denmark’s representative on the commission, CEO of PKA Peter Damgaard Jensen, explains why investments in adaptation lag so far behind funding for mitigation measures.
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Gavi sets USD 7.4 billion replenishment target for next five years

Gavi aims to increase both the number of vaccines on offer from 11 to 18 and the number of children immunised to 300 million during 2021-2025. This expansion will be made possible in part by massive savings on pneumonia vaccine whose price is expected to drop dramatically.
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Sweden postpones carbon payment to Uganda tree farm where locals have been evicted

Sweden postpones carbon payment to Uganda tree farm where locals have been evicted

A planned disbursement of SEK 10 million by the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) for emissions reductions produced by the Kachung plantation in Uganda, owned by the Norwegian company Green Resources, has been delayed due to on-going concerns about the project. Development Today has learned that the Swedes were about to give a green light last week but put on the brakes.
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Trump aims for deep cuts ahead of Global Fund replenishment

As the Global Fund prepares for its sixth replenishment, the United States could stand in the way of reaching the USD 14 billion target.
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NOK 3 billion in unspent climate forest aid stranded at Brazilian bank

Since Brazil closed the steering committee of the Amazon Fund, which was set up to channel Norwegian financing of rainforest projects, the bilateral cooperation is in limbo, raising questions about what to do with NOK 3 billion sitting unspent in the fund. A lawyer at Norad says Norway has the right to demand that the money be reimbursed. 
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Finnish budget proposal 2020: slow climb in aid level

UN agencies, Africa and NGOs are the winners as the new Finnish government increases aid after four years of austerity and cuts. Finnish aid will reach 0.42 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) next year, but the long-term goal is to raise aid to of 0.7 per cent of GNI.
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Brazil forest deal in crisis. Norway says negotiations are still on-going

Following international reports that Norway has frozen its forest aid to Brazil, triggered by Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen’s comments to media in Oslo, the Norwegian Climate Ministry has issued a press release saying that “negotiations are still on-going.” A source at the ministry confirms to Development Today that Norway has made no decision to hold back its funding.
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New voting rules remove Green Climate Fund deadlock, pave way for donor pledges

The absence of decision-making rules within the Green Climate Fund board has been a sticking point for donors as they consider their pledging levels for the upcoming multi-billion dollar replenishment. Agreement on a “robust and transparent” voting mechanism has cleared away this hurdle.
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High expectations for new Finnish government’s first aid budget

As Finland’s new centre-left government prepares to launch its first budget later this week, a question mark hangs over whether the many promises of increased funding for NGOs, UN agencies, emergency operations and climate will be met. The aid level will likely reach about 0.44 per cent of GNI.
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New Gavi strategy targets children receiving no vaccines

In spite billions of dollars invested over 20 years by Gavi in vaccines for the poorest countries, immunisation coverage has stagnated, and millions have been left behind. In its new five-year strategy, Gavi will now focus on children who receive no vaccines at all. For the first time, Gavi is also considering supporting middle-income countries that have fallen behind in immunisation.
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Norway defends billion-dollar Amazon Fund as Brazilian minister threatens to exit

In response to reports that Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles is considering closing down the Amazon Fund, the centre piece of Norwegian climate forest partnership with Brazil, Norway’s Climate Minister Ola Elvestuen has issued a press release in defence of the fund and the partnership.
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Breakthrough in Norway-Guyana forest deal after eight-year delay

Norwegian aid funds amounting to NOK 600 million, which have been languishing at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), may soon be released to pay for a 30-40 megawatt solar energy project in Guyana. This will be Norway’s first payment to Guyana since 2011, as part of a climate forest agreement signed ten years ago. The long delay could cost Guyana over USD 25 million due to the weakened Norwegian currency.
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 Rasmus Prehn is Denmark’s new Development Minister

Rasmus Prehn is Denmark’s new Development Minister

Mette Fredriksen, the youngest-ever Prime Minister in Danish history, has announced her cabinet and selected Rasmus Prehn (Social Democrat) to be her Minister for Development Cooperation. The new Danish government will strengthen “green diplomacy” and develop a new development strategy with a focus on climate.
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Western NGOs ‘must downsize’ to let local actors play a bigger humanitarian role

Three years after Western emergency relief organisations agreed that Southern actors receive too small a share of humanitarian funding compared with the formidable work they do, the distribution remains badly skewed. Progress is slow, partly because changing the balance will mean that Western organisations must downsize.
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Report to Sida: share corruption risk with NGOs, nuance zero-tolerance messaging

A scrutiny of Sida’s risk management shows that the agency has more appetite for risk in fragile states but remains protective of its own reputation. The elephant in the room is corruption.
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Sida to triple multi-year funding for non-Swedish democracy NGOs

Non-Swedish NGOs working om democracy issues can look forward to a substantial increase in long-term funding from the Swedish aid agency Sida. New recipients of multi-year grants will be selected among organisations Sida already knows, and there will be no open call for proposals. In Finland, competition is the general rule.
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OECD praises Sweden’s aid, warns of too many partners and overstretched staff

The OECD calls Sweden an “adept, ambitious and influential” donor, a champion of multilateralism that is generous with the amounts of aid it gives and effective and principled when it comes to humanitarian aid. Sweden does fall short in some areas, however. Swedfund is not integrated into the broader portfolio, Swedish aid is still spread too thinly, and the aid administration is understaffed.
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Helsinki has no plans to use emissions trading income to boost Finnish aid

There is “huge disappointment” in Finland about the decision not to transfer income from emissions trading to the development budget as a way of boosting the aid level. The new government programme contains no concrete timetable for increasing aid to the UN-recommended target of 0.7 per cent of GNI.
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New Finnish government steps up aid, but at a slow pace

Finland’s new centre-left government promises to add EUR 500 million to the development cooperation budget over the coming four years with increases in financing for humanitarian aid, UN agencies and NGOs, and a renewed focus on rights and fighting climate change. The new government will hammer out a new Africa strategy and make the region the focus of Finnish aid.
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OECD to Norway: be more pragmatic when fighting corruption in aid

An OECD review recognises Norway’s multilateral efforts but warns that too many new global health instruments could undermine the UN and contribute to fragmentation. It also calls for a more “pragmatic and proportionate approach” to corruption, especially in fragile states. (To be updated)
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Sida opens SEK 1.9b NGO pie for competition

Sida is opening a funding pot worth SEK 1.9 billion to new Swedish NGOs. For almost a decade 15 organisations have had exclusive access to these multi-year grants. Joining this group can be highly lucrative and can mean hundreds of millions of crowns in stable, long-term financing. Access to this money for “new” organisations  has only been opened a few times over the past 20 years, and each time it has, the competition has been fierce.
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Denmark aims to be a ‘green pioneer,’ but falls short as donor to Green Climate Fund

While Sweden, Norway and Finland have been among the top donors to the Green Climate Fund, Denmark is far behind. In the upcoming replenishment of the fund, Denmark must increase its funding three-fold to cover its minimum fair share, according to an overview by Oxfam.
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Pledges to put Africa first and to stand firm against special interests

Pledges to put Africa first and to stand firm against special interests

Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norway’s freshman Development Minister, wants to reverse a decade-long downward trend by increasing Norwegian aid to Africa. To succeed, he will have to say ‘no’ to other priorities.
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Government talks are litmus test for scaling up of Finnish aid

Finland’s Development Policy Committee, representing all the political parties, calls for an urgent long-term pledge to raise aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI). The first test for the plan will be the on-going talks to form a new Finnish government in the wake of the election.
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Reliance on private capital makes IFU shy away from investments in poorest countries

Due to its heavy reliance on private capital, the Danish aid-financed investment fund (IFU) has shied away from risky investments and prioritised middle-income countries. The first evaluation of IFU in 14 years calls for a stronger focus on poor and fragile states.
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Billions in Swedish aid at stake as political strife clouds new OECD refugee reporting

As Sweden adopts the new OECD rules for reporting domestic refugee costs as official development assistance (ODA), a struggle within the Swedish government has broken out over how to fill gaps in the fiscal budget. Development Minister Peter Eriksson lost the first battle. Billions of crowns in future aid might be at stake as Sweden adopts new reporting rules for aid.
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Indian-made pneumonia vaccine is set to break Big Pharma’s hold on Gavi funds

By the end of the year, a new pneumonia vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India is set to enter the market at a much lower price than Gavi currently pays. Key vaccine actors call this a “game changer” that could reduce prices and save children’s lives.
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Finnish aid loans to IFC-funded climate projects in Nepal and Senegal

Finland is contributing USD 20 million in aid-financed loans to climate projects in Nepal and Senegal as part of a blended finance mechanism managed by the World Bank’s private sector arm, IFC.
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Funding target for Green Climate Fund still up in the air

There is still no clear picture about a realistic funding target for the upcoming replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. The most optimistic scenario from the World Resources Institute of USD 66 billion assumes that all countries, including the United States, follow Norway’s lead. A more sombre assessment suggests it will be hard even to reach the USD 10 billion mark from 2014.
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ODA in 2018: Decade-long decline in aid for Sub-Saharan Africa continues

Donors’ aid to Africa and the world’s poorest countries is falling as part of a decade-long trend, says OECD’s aid watchdog DAC. Development assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa fell by 4.4 per cent last year. Humanitarian aid is also shrinking.
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Ambitious plan to grow UN Peacebuilding Fund to USD 500m

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has hosted the first donors’ strategic financing dialogue for the UN Peacebuilding Fund aimed at realising UN Secretary General António Gutteres’ vision of tripling the size of the fund.
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UNEP on a tight leash in wake of travel audit

Months after a critical audit of UN Environment triggered the resignation of Executive Director Erik Solheim, donors are positive about his replacement Inger Andersen, but they continue to use the money weapon to ensure that the agency improves practice.
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Finland breaks new ground with loan for IFAD’s core activities

Finland becomes the first Nordic donor to provide a loan to finance a multilateral agency’s core efforts. A EUR 50 million long-term Finnish loan will fund the UN’s agency for rural and agriculture development IFAD’s efforts to support small-scale farmers increase their yields and adjust to climate change.
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New aid index measuring self-interest of donors gives Nordics mixed score

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has created a new aid index which measures the extent to which donors’ self-interest penetrates disbursement of aid. Three Nordic donors rank among the top ten.
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Nordics await due diligence before deciding on David Malpass as World Bank President

All the five Nordic countries confirm to Development Today that they will not take a position on David Malpass’ candidacy as President of the World Bank until the board has completed its due diligence and interview process. Malpass was nominated by President Donald Trump and is the only candidate for the job.
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Norway rewards Indonesia by leaving out peat burning from carbon accounting

By excluding massive CO2 emissions from peat burning in Indonesia, Norway recently presented a positive carbon tally and granted its first payment to the Southeast Asian forest giant for reduced emissions from deforestation. The NOK 200 million reward coincided with the 10th anniversary of the countries’ climate partnership. If emissions from peatlands had been counted, there might be no basis for payment at all, a scrutiny by Development Today shows.
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US nominee Malpass on track to become new World Bank President

David Malpass, 63, is on track to become the next President of the World Bank. As the deadline for nominations expires, he is the only official candidate for the job. It is now expected that the World Bank board will test his commitment to the Bank’s agenda on poverty, climate and multilateralism in the coming weeks.
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Brazil receives first Green Climate Fund grant for REDD+. Critics warn of ‘paper reductions’ with no real climate benefits

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved a USD 96 million grant for Brazil, a reward for reductions in emissions from deforestation achieved five years ago. NGOs warned of “paper reductions without any real climate benefits.” Germany and the US pushed for conditions to be attached, while Norway was keen to send a positive signal.
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Nordics pressed Trump’s candidate for World Bank Presidency on poverty focus

Nordics pressed Trump’s candidate for World Bank Presidency on poverty focus

The Trump administration’s candidate for President of the World Bank David Malpass met with Nordic-Baltic ministers in Reykjavik this week. He was pressed on issues like climate change, gender and his commitment to multilateralism. For now, Malpass is the only candidate in the race, but so far none of the Nordic countries has expressed their support for him.
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Replenishment delay has cost Green Climate Fund billions of dollars

Following its 22nd board meeting last week, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) announced it will hold its first replenishment in late October, a year and a half behind schedule. The delay has meant a loss of climate financing amounting to USD 4 billion.
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Iceland’s ex-PM Geir Haarde seizes Nordic-Baltic top position at World Bank

Iceland’s ex-PM Geir Haarde seizes Nordic-Baltic top position at World Bank

The former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, 67, assumes the position of the Nordic-Baltic countries Executive Director at the World Bank this summer, a spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry in Reykjavik confirms to Development Today.
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Humanitarians call for neutral aid and access to mitigate Yemen crisis

Nordic donors pledged USD 67.4 million for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen during a recent donor meeting in Geneva. This amounts to one-tenth of the OECD countries’ Yemen aid. Two Arab allies fighting in the war provided the lion’s share of funds, raising concerns about impartiality of relief aid.
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New Danish UNEP boss must regain donors’ trust after Solheim debacle

New Danish UNEP boss must regain donors’ trust after Solheim debacle

The Dane Inger Andersen has been chosen to restore confidence at UNEP in Nairobi after the former chief Erik Solheim was forced to leave three months ago. An audit revealed that he had travelled excessively and encouraged staff to “wilfully violate” UN rules, “encouraged a culture of impunity ... and weakened the control environment .”
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Tough competition for donor money: Global health agencies under scrutiny for inflating results

In an environment of fierce competition, global health initiatives like the Global Fund are making grand claims regarding the numbers of lives they can save if donors provide enough money. But in the new, more holistic SDG era, with an ambition of universal health coverage, researchers say that such claims are “misleading.” “We have to stop this game of trying to say exactly how many years or months or lives we can buy with one earmarked dollar,” says Gorik Ooms at the London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene to Development Today.
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Finnfund eyes record expansion. Doubts about risks and profit

Finnfund might soon receive its largest-ever injection of capital. It plans to focus on high-risk markets, double its investments and triple its impacts, while at the same time maintaining profit levels. An evaluation report warns that Finnfund will be hard pressed to tick all these boxes at once.
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Mutual distrust between donors and humanitarians, ‘opaque’ decision making on both sides

Humanitarian aid would stretch farther and respond better to those most in need if donors coordinated their allocations in a transparent manner instead of making funding decisions in isolation, but there is little appetite among donors to do so. This is one of the conclusions of a recent study on underfunded humanitarian appeals commissioned by the Swedish aid evaluation office, EBA.
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Norway doubles down on climate forest aid as deforestation continues to rise

Norway doubles down on climate forest aid as deforestation continues to rise

A decade has passed since Norway became the world’s largest forest donor. In an interview with Development Today, Climate Minister Ola Elvestuen sheds light on the status of the multi-billion-dollar climate forest programme in key recipient countries. In Indonesia performance-based payments could begin by 2020. The Amalia Falls hydropower dam in Guyana, which Norway has been pushing for years, is off the table. Regarding Brazil, Elvestuen shifts the Norwegian narrative, admitting it is impossible to say to what degree rainforest payments have contributed to reduced deforestation.
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Norway rewards Indonesia by leaving out peat burning from carbon accounting

By excluding massive CO2 emissions from peat burning in Indonesia, Norway recently presented a positive carbon tally and granted its first payment to the Southeast Asian forest giant for reduced emissions from deforestation. The NOK 200 million reward coincided with the 10th anniversary of the countries’ climate partnership. If emissions from peatlands had been counted, there might be no basis for payment at all, a scrutiny by Development Today shows.
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MARKET AND BUSINESS

Back to Bujagali. Stepping stone for SN Power to expand in Africa

The partly aid-financed Norwegian hydropower investor SN Power bought a major stake in Uganda’s Bujagali hydropower project in July. Fifteen years ago, SN Power turned down a World Bank offer to become an owner in the project, but now the company sees its newest acquisition as a stepping stone for expansion in the African market, CEO Torger Lien tells Development Today.

How Finnfund can take more risk in fragile states and pioneering projects

Finnfund raises half its project funding from private markets and is less capitalised than its Nordic sister organisations. A new special guarantee scheme is designed to make Finnfund able to invest in pioneer projects and fragile states, without jeopardising its trust with lending banks. 

An alternative DFI: FinnChurchAid kicks off new investment firm

In a pioneering move, the Helsinki-based NGO FinnChurchAid (FCA) has launched an investment company that will manage a EUR 16 million loan from the Finnish government to be invested in small businesses in African and Asian countries, the first of its kind in the Nordic countries.

Finnfund invests in multiple tree plantations in Africa and Latin America

Finnfund has committed USD 10 million to a new forestry fund, the Arbaro Fund, that will invest in industrial tree plantations in 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America over the next 15 years.

Tommy Thomsen leaves IFU, Huss to act as new CEO

Torben Huss will become acting chief of the Danish aid-financed risk capital fund IFU when the current CEO Tommy Thomsen leaves the organisation to take up a new assignment in the private sector.

Report: investment landscape turned upside down

Financial reform advocate Sony Kapoor says DFIs like Swedfund and Norfund can be important partners for forming bridges between Western institutional investors and promising emerging markets.