Europe remains the world’s leading donor of development aid

The European Union and its Member States continue to be the world’s leading provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) with an overall amount of €75.7 billion ($93.7 billion) in 2017, confirm the newly released figures by OECD.

The EU collective constituted 57% of Official Development Assistance globally  in 2017.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “The EU and its Member States continue to provide over half of the total Official Development Assistance globally, investing in people, stronger institutions and societies.”

“However, I am strongly concerned about the decrease of EU collective ODA and of development assistance worldwide. Achieving sustainable development requires a persistent collective effort. We know we need to do more. As the world’s leading ODA provider the EU must show leadership and responsibility.”

The EU and its Members States have been consistently in the lead of global efforts on development financing.

[Source: Europa.eu]

How to track the UN’s 17 Developmental Goals

This Sustainable Development Goal Tracker is a public tool to follow the progress of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015, found here.

The U.N. affirmed 2030 as the deadline for the international community to achieve significant growth toward these goals:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

Bill and Melinda Gates accomplishments from giving away over 40 billion dollars

It’s been 18 years since Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they intended to give away their fortune—now an estimated $91 billion—to better the planet, along with the lives of its most vulnerable inhabitants. Since then, they’ve hired over 1,400 employees and spent $40.3 billion to tackle some of the hardest-to-solve problems—like healthcare, poverty and education—in both developing countries and here at home.

“The human condition, by all key measures, has improved dramatically,” says Bill. “People are living longer and less children are dying; the death rate for children under five has been cut in half over the last 15 years.” Adds Melinda: “Last week I was in West Africa and Kenya. The amount of entrepreneurism and people lifting themselves up is palpable. The world is changing for the better and we want people to know that.”

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Bill: Global health is our biggest area, and it’s going well. With any luck we’ll have the last polio case this year.
Melinda: There are literally millions of children alive because of the vaccines that we’ve been involved with.
Bill: And there are things that are much longer term, like getting an HIV vaccine done, which unfortunately will probably take another decade. Eradicating malaria will probably be a 20-year quest.

Q: You often bring your kids on your humanitarian trips to the Third World. What have they learned?
Melinda: All three of our kids have spent a lot of time in the developing world, not just on nice safaris but sometimes living with these families. So it’s become central to our lives and, I’d say, has changed us all for the better. I think it will probably affect the path they’re each on in life. It certainly grounds us in what’s important.

[People]

The forgotten man: The refugee forced to flee, and then vilified in the media and politics

The humanitarian community presently faces a mammoth funding shortage for the problems it already faces, let alone being able to mitigate against new disasters, said Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the crowd gathered at Davos. “We are confronted in 2018 with a big gap between needs of people and the capacity of the international system as a whole to respond,” he said.

“Historically, migration has a positive force in societies and economies around the world,” said William Swing, the director general of the International Organization of Migration. “We need to recognize that migration is not an issue to be ‘solved.’ It is a human reality that we need to manage, humanely and responsibly.”

But that’s simply not happening in most Western countries. “People look to their leadership, and there just isn’t a lot of political courage and leadership on the issue of migration right now,” Swing said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamented the disillusionment seeping into the West. “Many societies and countries are becoming more and more focused on themselves,” he said. “It feels like the opposite of globalization is happening. … Everyone is talking about an interconnected world, but we will have to accept the fact that globalization is slowly losing its luster,” Modi said. “The solution to this worrisome situation against globalization is not isolation. The solution is in understanding and accepting change.”

Valter Sanches, the general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents about 50 million workers in more than 140 countries, said that the chasm between rich and poor was only growing wider. And the politics of the moment don’t seem capable of breaching the gap.

[Washington Post]

10 ways basic living standards have risen for billions of people

  1. The International Energy Agency announced that nearly 1.2 billion people around the world have gained access to electricity in the last 16 years.
  2. In February, the World Bank published new figures showing that 20 years ago, the average malnourished person on planet Earth consumed 155 fewer calories per day than they needed. Today, that number is down to 88.
  3. Since 2000, life expectancy in Rwanda is up from 49 to 64, child mortality is down more than two-thirds, maternal mortality is down nearly 80%, and HIV/AIDS prevalence is down from 13% to 3%. Mail & Guardian
  4. In the last three years, the number of people in China living below the poverty line decreased from 99 million to 43.4 million. And since 2010, income inequality has been falling steadily. Quartz
  5. 275 million Indians gained access to proper sanitation between 2014 and 2017. Gates Notes
  6. In 1991 more than 40% of Bangladesh lived in extreme poverty. The World Bank said this year that the number has now dropped to 14% (equating to 50 million fewer people). Quartz
  7. The United States’ official poverty rate reached 12.7%, the lowest level since the end of the global financial crisis. And the child-poverty rate reached an all time low, dropping to 15.6%. The Atlantic
  8. Between 2005 and 2017, Afghanistan built 16,000 schools, the nation-wide literacy rate increased by 5%, and the youth literacy rate increased by more than 16%. USAID
  9. In October, a new report by the International Labor Organization revealed that global child labor has plummeted. In 2016, there were 98 million fewer boys and girls being exploited than in 2000. CS Monitor
  10. Global deaths from terrorism dropped by 22% from their peak in 2014, thanks to significant declines in four of the five countries most impacted: Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. ReliefWeb

[Quartz]

Some of the best things that happened in 2017

If you’re feeling despair about the fate of humanity in the 21st century, you might want to reconsider. Among other things, it has been an incredible year for global health:

  1. This year, the World Health Organization unveiled a new vaccine that’s cheap and effective enough to end cholera, one of humanity’s greatest ever killers. New York Times
  2. Cancer deaths have dropped by 25% in the United States since 1991, saving more than 2 million lives. Breast cancer deaths have fallen by 39%, saving the lives of 322,600 women. Time
  3. Zika all but disappeared in 2017. Cases plummeted in Latin America and the Caribbean, and most people in those places are now immune. Science Mag
  4. A new report showed that the world’s assault on tropical diseases is working. A massive, five year international effort has saved millions of lives, and countries are now signing up for more. STAT
  5. Soft drink sales in the United States dropped for the 12th year in a row, thanks to consumer education and new sugar taxes aimed at stemming obesity and diabetes. Reuters
  6. Trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, was eliminated as a public health problem in Oman and Morocco, and Mexico became the first country in the Americas to eliminate it. NBC
  7. Meet Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin, two eye doctors responsible for helping restore sight to 4 million people in two dozen countries, including North Korea and Ethiopia. CBS
  8. Premature deaths for the world’s four biggest noncommunicable diseases­ — cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory — have declined by 16% since 2000. World Bank
  9. Global abortion rates have fallen from around 40 procedures per 1,000 women in the early 1990s, to 35 procedures per 1,000 women today. In the United States, abortion rates have reached their lowest level since 1973. Vox
  10. In July, UNAIDS, revealed that for the first time in history, half of all people on the planet with HIV are now getting treatment, and that AIDS deaths have dropped by half since 2005. Science Mag
  11. There were only 26 cases of Guinea worm in 2017, down from 3.5 million cases in 21 countries in Africa and Asia in 1986. Devex
  12. The United Kingdom announced a 20% fall in the incidence of dementia over the past two decades, meaning 40,000 fewer people are being affected every year. iNews
  13. Thanks to better access to clean water and sanitation, the number of children around the world who are dying from diarrhoea has fallen by a third since 2005. BBC
  14. Leprosy is now easily treatable. The number of worldwide cases has dropped by 97% since 1985, and a new plan has set 2020 as the target for the end of the disease. New York Times
  15. In October, new research from the Center for Disease Control revealed that between 2000 and 2016, the measles vaccine saved 20.4 million lives.
  16. And on the 17th November, the WHO said that global deaths from tuberculosis have fallen by 37% since 2000, saving an estimated 53 million lives.

[Read full Quartz article for more good news]

Trump Administration’s threats to retaliate after UN Jerusalem vote concerning

CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, has voiced its deep concerned by the Trump Administration’s recent stance that countries should not receive U.S. development assistance because of their differing views on the location of the U.S. embassy in Israel.

While any such move will be subject to congressional checks and balances, CARE believes that American leadership is reflected by full funding for international programs, particularly where there is the greatest need.  U.S. foreign assistance has saved lives, reduced poverty and limits the spread of disease; and in turn creates a safer, stronger, and more prosperous world.

[CARE.org]

Partnering for the health of people and planet

Climate change has far-reaching impacts on human health and well-being. Changing temperature and rainfall patterns impact crop yield, food and water security, and nutrition. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme events can cause not only injury, but also increase the risk of water-borne diseases (diarrheal disease, Hepatitis A and E, bacterial diseases such as cholera), diseases associated with crowding (measles, meningitis, acute respiratory infections) and vector-borne diseases (malaria, dengue), as well as psychological and emotional distress related to traumatic events.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, just considering risks from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

Health impacts from climate change are exacerbated in countries where health systems already struggle to manage existing health risks, and capacity to adapt to additional climate change-related health risks is limited.

Only through critical partnerships between governments, civil society, UN agencies, and global environment and health organizations, support can be provided to countries in responding to the health impacts of climate variability and change by working at the nexus of health, environmental sustainability and climate change, disaster risk reduction, gender equality, and poverty alleviation.

[UNDP]

Why Humanitarian Aid Matters

From an interview with Gregory Gottlieb, former acting assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance:

President Donald Trump has made it clear that foreign aid is not a top priority for his administration. His 2018 budget proposal includes steep cuts to the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations. That policy change could have lasting impact on humanitarian efforts worldwide.

The United States has really helped to build the international system of humanitarian relief. We have been the biggest giver, the donor of last resort in many respects. And if you want to change that, you don’t do it by saying we’re going to cut our budget by 40 percent overnight. That is just going to damage the system. Right now, we—all donors—meet only about 62 percent of what we think humanitarian needs are. You can’t just cut our budget and hope that other nations step in to make up the difference.

“Soft power” like humanitarian aid can be very beneficial and serve as a tool for political advantages. After the tsunami in Asia in 2004, the fact that we supplied humanitarian assistance allowed our military to collaborate with Indonesia’s military. That kind of broke the ice and improved relations between our countries. If you looked at how people there viewed the United States, our ratings went way up. The same in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake—the military did a fantastic job of delivering things, despite what was going on in Afghanistan. Some of the people who did that work are still incredibly well thought of. In South Sudan, our humanitarian assistance opened up a better dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan as they were forced to negotiate about how to move food across the lines.

[Tufts University]

Why do nations invest in international aid? Ask Norway. And China.

Norwegian aid and Chinese aid pursue widely different strategies. While Norway provides substantial funding for budget support and funds civil society organizations, China offers a combination of grants and concessional loans and prioritizes infrastructure development in poor countries.

Given its size and lack of military might, Norway has actively tried to promote the virtues of the Nordic model — a peaceful, rule-based, globalized and prosperous world. It has done this through offering a generous amount of aid, consistently giving away more than 1 percent of its Gross National Income. Such acts of generosity give Norway a seat at the table usually reserved for the bigger players in peace processes or efforts to promote development and reduce poverty around the world.

With China, little distinction is made between grants and loans, and it does not offer detailed information about aid disbursements at country level. In turn, it expects poor countries to offer access to such natural resources as oil, minerals, and agricultural products, which China needs for its own development. China’s approach is characterized by pragmatism. It does not believe in offering aid conditioned on improving local governance or combating corruption. Unlike Western donors, China controls the implementation process by bypassing the public administration of recipient countries, and awards contracts to Chinese companies.

[Washington Post]