Corruption report: World Bank blacklisted only one firm last year
The World Bank sanctioned just one firm, Lahmeyer International GmbH of Germany, last year compared with 133 blacklisted firms three years ago. The Bank’s anti-corruption body urges the leadership to put in place a new sanctions system to make it possible to proceed with cases in the pipeline for such action. The delay in sanctioning firms has dampened the interest of multinational companies in joining the Bank’s disclosure programme.
Norway’s government almost triples support for security efforts financed from next year’s aid budget and hikes funding for vulnerable states. The government’s proposal for total aid next year amounts to NOK 35.1 billion or 1 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI), a NOK 1.3 billion increase from the current year.
In a major overhaul of EU development policy, the European Commission is pushing to let development assistance finance the strengthening of military capacity in developing countries under exceptional circumstances.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s announcement of his selection of Patricia Espinosa Cantellano to be the new UN climate executive paved the way for Erik Solheim, the former Norwegian Aid and Environment Minister, to be the Secretary General’s choice as head of the UN environment agency UNEP in Nairobi.
The Finnish aid-financed investment fund Finnfund is suspending disbursements to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, 12 days after the murder of Berta Cáceres, a leading opponent of the project.
A ministerial meeting at the OECD Development Assistance Committee in Paris concludes that strict rules for what security costs can be reported as official aid will be maintained, following tough negotiations among donors.
Major breakthroughs have been made for raising funds to provide education for millions of children in conflict zones, starting with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, said UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown at a conference in Oslo this week.
In a tender for consultancy services on evaluations, Sida has violated principles of transparency and equal treatment in the Swedish Public Procurement Law, the Administrative Court in Stockholm has ruled.
Global official development assistance (ODA) remained at an all-time high of USD 135 billion last year with Nordic countries providing almost 12 per cent of the total, the OECD reports. But aid to LDCs continued to decline.
In spite of tough economic times, the vaccine alliance GAVI managed just to surpass its fund-raising target of USD 7.5 billion for the next five-year period, with substantial increases in contributions from many government donors and the Gates Foundation. (To be updated)
Norwegian Development Minister Heikki Holmås has challenged the wealthy daughter of Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos to open her accounting books and prove that “political power has not been misused”. The American magazine Forbes announced this week that Isabel dos Santos is Africa’s first female billionaire.
At an appeals court in Oslo a prosecutor has called for Norconsult, which faces corruption charges related to a World Bank project in Tanzania, to pay a fine of NOK 4 million. The defense called for acquittal of the firm.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry proposes to close down the aid evaluation agency SADEV by the end of the year, following the publication of two critical reviews that point to serious weaknesses in the agency’s work.
Staff at SADEV are “shocked and frustrated” by the sudden announcement, and the ministry’s failure to acknowledge what they see as the agency’s main problem, its management, a union leader said.
Norway’s innovative and ambitious forest climate agreement with Brazil is caught in a time lag, with political events overtaking the terms of the deal.
As Norway announces another NOK 1 billion in aid for past reductions in deforestation, the Brazilian Senate passes a law that opens for massive clearing of the Amazon.
For the first time, Norway has become the largest Nordic donor, due to billions of crowns slated for climate aid, mainly in Brazil. Norway is also the world’s top aid performer, measured as a share of the economy, OECD figures released Wednesday show. Sweden is Nr 3 on the list, followed by Denmark.
The alleged payment of kickbacks by the Swedish truck maker Scania to the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq took place too long ago for the case to be investigated in the United States, DT has learned. However, the Swedish police probe into Scania and Volvo continues.
The Swedish biofuel company SEKAB wants a Sida loan guarantee for its operations in Tanzania. An initial figure of USD 20-25 million (about SEK 200 million) is indicated. SEKAB also wants aid-financed investment funds to provide almost half the equity for its investments over the next 20 years.
The Foreign Ministry is considering closing down the Norwegian untied mixed credit scheme, an idea originally proposed in a report by the consultant Econ Pöyry. Stakeholders strongly object. GIEK says the consultant does not provide a sufficient basis for making changes in the private sector schemes.
An evaluation of Norwegian aid to the hydropower sector over a quarter-century concludes that Norway has been a consistent, predictable donor. Tied aid has until recently laid the groundwork for the long-term involvement of Norwegian private and state actors. But environmental concerns have taken a back seat. According to the report, Norwegian environmental guidelines are outdated and implementation of existing rules has been weak.
Norway is ready to provide budget support unilaterally to the new Palestinian government formed by Fatah and Hamas without any new conditions, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced Thursday.
Global aid is falling and support for Africa is basically flat, despite donors’ promises to double aid to Africa by 2010. Sweden is now the world's top donor, while Norwegian aid dropped to 0.89 per cent of GNI, according to figures released by the OECD.
A report commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for “a clear separation" between security and humanitarian mandates in Faryab province where Norwegian forces are located. It warns against the emergence of a “Norwegian province" in Afghanistan.
US financial muscle in the World Bank has shrunk and it is no longer the largest donor in the Bank’s most important tool for channelling money to poor countries, the soft loan arm, IDA. The United Kingdom has bypassed the United States as the top WB donor. Still, after Paul Wolfowitz's forced resignation last week, US President Bush clings to the outdated American prerogative to appoint an American as head of the bank.
Robert Zoellick, the US candidate to take over as World Bank President, currently in Oslo, has received Nordic blessing for the job. Support for his candidacy expressed by Denmark and Norway in late May effectively undermined the possibility of promoting alternative candidates.
Norway has transferred USD 10 million for salaries to Palestinian officials to a new bank account, which is not affected by current US bank restrictions on the Hamas-led government. Norway is the first Western donor to transfer money into the account. Sweden considers following suit.
Six governments in the Horn of Africa agreed last week on a road map for tackling the root causes of hunger in the drought-stricken region.
Frustrated by past funding shortages, UN Special Humanitarian Envoy Kjell Magne Bondevik now challenges donors to put financial weight behind the new plan.
Three former ministers, two former state secretaries, two ambassadors and a dozen business leaders are among the 55 people who have applied for the job of Director General of Sida. DT has learned that a parallel non-open search conducted by a recruitment firm has produced another 50 names.
Norway is offering to finance a study on tax havens and capital flight. The Norwegian Development Minister Erik Solheim has in a letter to the new World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick asked the Bank to carry out such a study. An answer is expected next week.
The Swedish government this week launched the most significant change in aid policy in decades, dramatically reducing the number of recipient countries by half and potentially freeing resources of up to SEK 2.2 billion over the next few years. Minister Carlsson says reforms in Swedish aid were long overdue.
Eighteen new NGOs are competing for a share of Sida’s special SEK 1.3 billion budget for multi-year NGO grants - the so-called framework agreements. This budget is currently divided among 14 other Swedish NGOs.
An investigation by the Swedish National Audit Office of aid channelled through non-governmental organisations finds irregularities in most of the projects reviewed. Sida is harshly criticised for having insufficient internal control systems that allow the misuse of aid funds to continue undetected.
The Swedish government has appointed the Swede Anders Nordström, currently Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, to be the new Director General of Sida. The government points to Nordström’s experience in “change management" at the UN agency as an important qualification for his new job.
Of 21 Swedish NGOs that have applied to Sida to become framework organisations - thereby eligible for large, multi-year grants - just six have made it past the first screening round, according to a Sida document obtained by Development Today. Médecins Sans Frontières Sweden and the Swedish Afghanistan Committee are among the 15 that were dropped.
The Nordic donor block’s share of World Bank funding over the next three years will drop. But a sharp rise in Finnish funds will soften the fall, Development Today has learned ahead of the final negotiations for IDA 15 in Berlin, December 13-14.
The authority of the new World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick is at stake as donors meet in Berlin to finalise negotiations about the next three years of funding for the International Development Association (IDA).
Following a positive audit report, Sida has now decided to release funds to the Africa NGO Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), which was hit by a corruption scandal in its Angola office last year.
Norway should phase out in-kind donations through the export facility NOREPS over the next five years, according to a new evaluation. This would mean a further untying of Norwegian humanitarian aid, and could jeopardise the position of some Norwegian suppliers’ in the emergency relief market.
The Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit is in the final phase of investigating the involvement of Swedish companies in bribery related to the UN-financed oil-for-food scheme in Iraq. Christer van der Kwast, Chief Public Prosecutor, tells Development Today that efforts are being focused on “some larger companies".
Sida’s practice of transferring billions of crowns in aid assignments to other Swedish state agencies violates both Swedish public procurement law and EU procurement directives, a report by AffärsConcept AB concludes. As a general rule, such assignments should be tendered competitively.
Norway and the World Bank have agreed to arrange a joint conference this fall on illegal capital flight from developing countries. The initiative comes after Norway gave up trying to convince the World Bank to do a study on the role of tax havens in illegal capital flight from developing countries.
The Swedish Auditor General casts doubt on the independence and quality of a forensic investigation of NGO aid commissioned by Sida. Audit Director Gina Funnemark is concerned about the biased presentation of the report reflected in the Swedish media. Magnus Lindell at Sida rejects the criticism.
The deadlock between Denmark and Sudan took a new turn at the Sudan donor conference in Oslo this week, where Denmark refused to pledge future development assistance for the country. Sudan has urged for a global boycott of Danish goods and is not allowing Danes to enter the country, following a reprint of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish media earlier this year.
The Nobel Prize winner Médecins Sans Frontières says a USD 1.5 billion aid deal to develop new vaccines for poor countries is much too lucrative for the drug industry. MSF has estimated an earlier version of the scheme to be overpriced by USD 600 million, but has been denied basic facts about the latest proposal. DT has obtained a confidential document about the scheme sent to donors last month, which shows GlaxoSmithKline walking away with almost the whole prize. Donors are expected to settle the deal next week.
Norway keeps core funding of UNDP at the same level as last year and refuses to pledge multi-year funding of the agency in an effort to push UNDP to give high priority to human rights and good governance in its new strategic plan.
After working on the Karuma power project in energy-hungry Uganda for more than a decade, the Norwegian developer Norpak folded its cards this month following a protracted conflict with the World Bank. The Ugandan government now takes over Karuma.
The Swedish Competition Authority has delivered an unambiguous ruling on the close cooperation between the mapping agency National Land Survey and the consulting firm Swedesurvey in carrying out Sida-financed projects.
The Swedish government has launched a new private sector scheme for untied soft loans and subsidised guarantees in its aid budget for 2009. It also proposes drastic changes in UN funding, where UN Development Program (UNDP) is the loser. Sweden continues to prioritise Africa in its bilateral aid.
The Norwegian government increases the aid budget to 1.0 per cent of GNI next year with the lion’s share of the record high growth in the budget to be spent in Norway and Brazil. Africa’s relative share of Norwegian aid is going down, in sharp contrast with the priorities of Swedish and Danish aid.
Norfund has agreed with SN Power to commit USD 700 million (NOK 4.9b) in equity for a new hydropower investment company targeting Africa and Central America.
The commitment is part of a deal where Norfund sells a 10 per cent stake in SN Power to Statkraft for NOK 1.1 billion.
Norwegian MPs criticise the government for counting almost NOK 1 billion in acquisitions made by the hydropower company SN Power as aid. They say that reporting these capital injections in the Philippines and Peru as aid to the OECD contributes to "bending" the rules.
Three and a half years ago, Denmark pulled out of the Nordic Development Fund, and the owners decided to close it down. Now, under pressure from Finland, a proposal is on the table to revive NDF as a grant-based fund focusing on climate projects. EUR 90 million is likely to be available and the pipeline is empty.
Swedish Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson has quickly established networks in the new US administration ahead of Sweden’s EU Presidency. She has co-chaired a task force on closer cooperation between the United States and Europe in the development field.
The cash-strapped Swedish biofuel company SEKAB AB has asked for Sida’s help to rescue its controversial biofuel project in Tanzania, Development Today has learned. A figure of SEK 100 million was mentioned by SEKAB.
A major new study funded by Sida and written by academics from three Tanzanian universities points to the far-reaching impacts of large-scale biofuel plantations in Tanzania. The report warns of land grabbing by foreign investors and water shortages, and calls for a moratorium on biofuel projects until a new legal and policy framework is in place.
The Norwegian aid-financed risk capital fund Norfund has requested an extraordinary NOK 1 billion injection of capital to invest in Sub-Saharan Africa to counter a downward trend in foreign investments in the region following the international finance crisis.
The Tanzanian government has suspended implementation of all biofuel projects that have yet to receive approval from vital institutions such as the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) and the Tanzania Investment Center.
The Swedish biofuel company SEKAB has been unable to find a new investor for its planned biofuel plantation projects in Tanzania, and has turned to Sida for an aid-financed credit guarantee. Sida says issues like untied procurement and environmental impact need to be considered, and the final decision rests with the Foreign Ministry.
Norwegian UN Ambassador Mona Juul slams UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s performance in a secret memo to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the daily Aftenposten reveals. Ban is scheduled to visit Oslo later this month.
In 2010, Norway will become the largest Nordic donor, bypassing Sweden. But there is growing criticism of Minister Erik Solheim, who spends all fresh funds on refugee costs in Norway and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. Aid to Africa is cut.
The economic crime unit of the Norwegian police will take the consultancy company Norconsult to court after the firm refused to pay a NOK 4 million fine for its involvement in a corruption case in Tanzania. (Updated)
Norway has committed USD 110 million in additional support to train Afghan security forces and the police, the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced at a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama in Oslo Thursday. Norway and the United States will cooperate on deforestation and global health initiatives.
In his acceptance speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo Thursday, US President Barack Obama called for an adherence to international standards, strong international institutions and he argued for the universality of human rights. Aid is not charity, he said, and he called for the world to fight climate change as a matter of common security.
Four days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in absentia to Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, Norway’s Development Minister Erik Solheim says that if the UN had a peace and development prize it should go to Deng Xiaoping.
The Norwegian hydropower investment company SN Power will likely give up its planned USD 600 million investment in the Trayenko dam project in Chile, following years of protests from Mapuche indigenous communities.
Denmark is ready to release aid to the Zambian roads sector frozen in 2009 due to suspicions of corruption. The Danes hope to spend the remaining DKK 270 million by 2013 when Zambia will be phased out as a recipient country.
The justification for the Amaila Falls hydropower dam that Guyana plans to build in the Amazon rainforest is unconvincing, says a water resources expert hired by the Inter-American Development Bank to assess the project. Guyana plans to spend most of the USD 60 million Norwegian climate aid funds for 2010-11 on the Amails Falls project.
Norwegian officials are racing against time to set new terms for Norway’s forest climate aid agreement with Guyana worth USD 30 million a year; the deadline is March 31 when Minister Erik Solheim arrives in Georgetown.
After five years of conflict with Mapuche indigenous people, the Norwegian hydropower investment company SN Power has decided to abandon the Trayenko project, a series of four dams to be built in Central Chile.
UN agencies operate increasingly as agents of a handful of donors, carrying out missions based on earmarking financing. Core funding for UN agencies is dropping sharply across the board making them less independent.
A Norwegian court has found three consultants who worked for Norway’s leading engineering firm Norconsult on a World Bank project in Tanzania guilty of corruption. They have been given suspended prison sentences of between two and six months. The company was also on trial, but was acquitted. The court’s ruling took into account the dramatic consequences a guilty conviction would have had for the firm – debarment from public procurement in Norway.
The aid agency Sida invites Swedish organisations to apply for multi-year funding grants under the new criteria for framework agreements that have just been finalised.
International organisations will for the first time be eligible to apply for multi-year agreements for humanitarian activities.
The Swedish government has announced a SEK 1.45 billion aid package for private sector development over the coming three years. The bulk will be channelled through the aid-financed investment fund, Swedfund, with the rest supporting innovative business initiatives.
Norway is in a delicate dispute with the Paris-based watchdog OECD about how to report its controversial rainforest aid to Brazil as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Norway may have over-reported assistance to its largest recipient Brazil by more than NOK 2 billion over the last two years and received too favorable a ranking in the overview of donor performance for 2011, published by the OECD. (Updated)
An appeal court has convicted the leading Norwegian engineering firm Norconsult of being complicit in bribing officials related to a World Bank-funded project in Tanzania. The firm must pay a fine of NOK 4 million.
Former Norwegian Environment and Development Minister Erik Solheim has been appointed Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), according to a press release from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. He takes over from the American Brian Atwood, who steps down at the end of the year.
The OECD peer review of Finnish development assistance commends Finland for its new focus on human rights and for continuity in its aid policy. However, specific targets and goals are not clearly enough defined.
A Swedish prosecutor is taking two employees of the Swedish truck producer Scania CV AB to court on charges of violating UN sanctions against the Saddam Hussein regime by paying kickbacks related to the UN Oil for Food Programme.
Mark Dybul, the American physician who helped create and lead former President George Bush’s giant AIDS initiative PEPFAR, has been named Executive Director of the Global Fund, the board announced Thursday.
Norway has over-reported its aid to the Paris-based aid watchdog OECD by billions of crowns since 2010, and must now reduce its aid level for the last three years.
Brazil has been wrongly reported as being Norway’s top aid recipient for this period, and Norwegian aid statistics will have to be revised. (Updated)
The Norwegian Supreme Court has agreed to hear the corruption case against Norway’s leading engineering company Norconsult, Development Today has learned. If acquitted, Norconsult could avoid debarment from public procurement in Norway.
Assessments have been completed of 14 organisations competing for Sida multi-year frame grants - both NGOs that have received frame funds for years and “new” NGOs trying to get a foot in the door. Now it’s up to Sida to decide who’s in and who’s out.
Read the conclusions of the consultants’ reports.
The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm is breathing a sigh of relief as the four-party coalition government approved new country strategies for two key recipients, Tanzania and Zambia, on Thursday. The decision represents a breakthrough for Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson who has come under heavy criticism for severe delays in the process of revamping Swedish aid policy.
Revelations from a secret report showing that a quarter of a billion crowns in Norwegian aid are spent each year on US think tanks have sped up a revamp of guidelines for such support. In future more funds will be directed to research institutes in other parts of the world and foreign think tanks will have to find partners in Norway.
Sida’s allocation of SEK 1.5 billion in NGO funding for 2013 has been finalised this week. Two of the newest members of the group of 15 Swedish NGOs that receive Sida multi-year grants for development work – Plan and WWF – have seen spectacular increases in funding over the past five years.
A former employee of Norfund has launched a fierce attack against the fund’s leadership in a book launched this week. He claims Norfund ignored its obligation to protect him as a whistleblower and that he was forced to leave the aid-financed investment firm, the last of four whistleblowers to do so, triggering a process that led to former Norfund chief Per Emil Lindøe stepping down.
The day after Sweden got Hillevi Engström as its new Development Minister, the aid budget for the coming year has been presented. The Swedish Centre-Right government keeps aid at 1 per cent of GNI with primary focus on child mortality, maternal health and Africa.
The Finnish Development Minister Heidi Hautala (Green), who is also responsible for state enterprises, was forced to resign Friday due to her handling of a Greenpeace demonstration against the state-owned firm Arctia Shipping which is carrying out ice breaking to facilitate oil drilling in the arctic, the public broadcaster YLE reports.
Norway has transferred almost NOK 3 billion in aid funds to Brazil after renegotiating a new bilateral agreement on rainforest protection, according to the budget proposition for 2014 presented Monday morning.
The management of Norwegian rainforest assistance to Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo has come under heavy criticism from the Auditor General. Problems with the programme have not been reported to the Parliament. The new government has reacted immediately to the findings of the report.
The Danish Development Minister Christian Friis Bach (47) has resigned after providing wrong information to Parliament regarding the alleged misuse of Danish aid funds by the Korea-based Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).
Sida is phasing out humanitarian funding to the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) following an assessment that revealed weaknesses in internal management and control systems. The move is part of a long-awaited decision announced last week naming 11 new strategic humanitarian partner organisations.
The Social Democract Mogens Jensen has been named Minister for Development and Trade by Prime Minister Helle-Thorning Schmidt, replacing Rasmus Helveg Petersen (Social Liberal), who becomes Minister for Climate and Energy.
The Sanctions Board at the World Bank has decided to debar Norway’s leading engineering firm Norconsult for six months for involvement in “corrupt practices” related to a water and sanitation project in Tanzania. This is the first time the World Bank debars a Norwegian firm for corruption.
Both Denmark and Norway took immediate action, halting government-to-government aid programmes after Ugandan PresidentYoweri Museveni signed a law Monday against homosexuality despite strong warnings from donors.
The Swedish aid agency Sida announced Friday it will provide a credit guarantee worth SEK 120 million to the Swedish-owned company EcoEnergy which plans to establish a sugar cane plantation and ethanol production facility in Tanzania.
The World Bank announced Friday that it has debarred the Swedish engineering consultancy firm SWECO Environment AB and its affiliates for three years following the company’s acknowledgement of misconduct related to a water and environment project in the Ukraine.
All Nordic donors increased their aid last year and total aid from the region now amounts to almost USD 16 billion. Norway had the highest aid level among Western countries, but was outpaced by the United Arab Emirates, a non-OECD member, which reported aid at 1.25 per cent of GNI.
The results of Norway’s multi-billion-crown clean energy programme have to only a small extent benefitted poor people in recipient countries, according to a report released Wednesday by the Norwegian Auditor General's office. “Substantial changes are necessary,” says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.
Norway is the world’s largest donor in the field of forest climate assistance and has, since 2007, pledged almost NOK 20 billion to countries, multilateral institutions and civil society organisations for saving tropical forests, according to a new evaluation.
Denmark keeps its aid level unchanged, but gives priority to education and women’s health in its budget for 2015. It makes huge new commitments to African countries like Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania and pledges to engage both Danish companies and public agencies more in aid.
Norway’s aid-funded investor Norfund is preparing to invest billions of crowns in African energy projects in the coming years as it expands business to gas power plants and signs a joint company with the solar energy firm Scatec Solar to multiply investments in the region.
Using funds from the aid budget, Norway has paid consultant rates of up to NOK 30,000 (almost USD 5,000) a day in a project that aims to make White House staff and Congress double US funding of global forest aid. Norwegian aid officials were deeply sceptical about using aid funds for these purposes, but they were overruled, documents obtained by Development Today show.
Isabella Lövin, a prize-winning environment journalist turned Green Party politician, has been appointed Development Minister in the newly-announced Swedish government of Stefan Löfven (Social Democrat). In Finland, Pekka Haavisto steps down.
In its budget proposal for 2015, Norway's Blue-Blue minority government aims to phase out aid to 32 countries, focusing assistance on 84 countries following several rounds of criticism from the OECD for spreading aid too thinly.
A long-awaited report by the Swedish Auditor General criticises the Foreign Ministry for lax handling of the SEK 10 billion in aid resources spent annually as core support to UN agencies, the World Bank and global funds.
As the global climate summit gets underway in Lima, the Norwegian government announces Friday that it is doubling its pledge to the UN’s Green Climate Fund from NOK 200 million to NOK 400 million for 2015.
The new rules for aid accounting were agreed upon following unusually tense negotiations in the Paris-based OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which monitors Official Development Assistance (ODA) and regulates the definition of aid.
Most of Finland’s aid partners must prepare for cuts in funding as the incoming Center-Right government pledges to slash aid by EUR 250-300 million annually, while scaling up private sector support. The current Trade Minister Lenita Toivakka will take over the development portfolio.
The gap among Nordic aid performers grows with Sweden increasing its aid next year, and Denmark and Finland making deep cuts. Swedish aid surges to most recipients like UN agencies and governments. A notable exception is the vaccine alliance GAVI which takes a hit in the 2016 Swedish aid budget.
Germany has endorsed Achim Steiner, head of the UN environment agency UNEP, as its candidate to become the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, contesting the nomination of former Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
While Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen basked in the limelight of the UN gathering in New York, his political handymen in Copenhagen prepared an unprecedented reduction in Danish aid, amounting to EUR 770 million.
Norway scales up humanitarian aid by NOK 1 billion next year in response to the Syria crisis, but critics say it has the financial muscle to do more. Norwegian NGOs take the biggest cut in the government’s aid budget proposal for 2016.
Norway cuts NOK 4.2 billion in next year’s aid budget to fund costs related to a sharp increase in the number of refugees coming to Norway. The cuts hit NGOs, UN agencies, renewable energy and climate projects.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed the Italian UN diplomat Filippo Grandi as the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, dashing the hopes of Denmark’s candidate for the post, former Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt.
Two former Nordic environment ministers have joined a crowded pack of contenders in a race for the helm of the Nairobi-based UN environment agency, UNEP. The list of applicants is not public, but sources close to the process have confirmed the names of key contenders to Development Today.
The Finnish aid-financed investor Finnfund expresses shock following news that the Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who has led a protest movement against a hydropower project the fund has invested in, was murdered in her home on Thursday.
A new study of hydropower projects on the lower Mekong River by DHI Consulting predicts that dams would “substantially and permanently” alter natural systems that millions of people in Cambodia and Vietnam rely on.
The OECD, which monitors official development assistance (ODA) spent by donors, will contact the Danish government following concerns that funds used for language and job training for asylum seekers in Denmark may have been wrongfully reported as aid, Development Today has learned.
Citing Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, The Citizen reported recently that the sugar and biofuel project which the Swedish firm Eco Energy Tanzania has for years been trying to realise has been “axed”. But Executive Chairman of the company Per Carstedt says the article is mistaken and his company remains “fully committed to carry out this project.” [Updated]
A cooperation agreement between Norway and the United States was signed in Oslo today deepening the two countries’ collaboration on climate forest issues. Washington’s political backing for the Norwegian forest initiative is a breakthrough, but no new US funding for forest initiatives was announced. [Updated]
The Finnish government proposes to increase aid by EUR 66 million next year to EUR 876 million.
According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, this will amount to 0.4 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI), up from 0.38 per cent this year.
Sweden’s domestic refugee costs are expected to grow again in next year’s aid budget due to a strong increase in expenses related to people seeking asylum in the country. Domestic refugee costs eat up almost the entire growth in the budget.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has just issued a legal greenlight for a private museum focusing on the United Nations to be based in Copenhagen. The announcement was made in a press release on October 24, UN Day. A key driver of the museum project Jan Mattsson, retired Executive Director of UNOPS, says the approval from Ban is “very significant … it is a milestone.”
Somalian civil society advocate Degan Ali is proposing a new funding structure that addresses the inherent biases in the international humanitarian system where local NGOs do much of the work but receive almost none of the funding.
The owners of the Bagamoyo sugar and ethanol project in Tanzania have closed down all operations after the government cancelled the company’s land title on short notice. The Swedish aid agency Sida has provided a SEK 54 million guarantee for the project and risks losing the money.
Over just a few months, Norway has made its second u-turn regarding the funding of a Clinton Foundation energy project and has now given a go-ahead for the funding. The move comes as the foundation and its founders are no longer at the eye of the election storm in the United States.
The Copenhagen-based firm Consia Consultants ApS has been debarred from doing business with the World Bank for 14 years. The Bank’s Sanctions Board has concluded that the company paid bribes related to two projects in Vietnam and Indonesia, while evidence presented by investigators concerning three more projects was found to be insufficient.
An internal Sida report obtained by Development Today strongly criticises the agency’s decision to grant up to SEK 120 million to keep Bagamoyo EcoEnergy (BEE) afloat in Tanzania. BEE, which now owes Sida SEK 54 million, had little equity of its own, and “no track record” of running large agricultural projects.
At the launch of the new Danish foreign affairs and security policy strategy, Development Minister Ulla Tørnæs issued a thinly-veiled warning that Danish aid could be cut in recipient countries that refuse to take back asylum seekers rejected by Denmark.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg raised concerns about increased destruction of the Amazon during her meeting with Brazilian President Michel Temer Friday, and was given assurances that his government has tightened control measures to combat deforestation. Temer left a joint press conference without taking questions.
Today the Finnish Parliament will discuss the aid budget which, due to a standstill in resources, will roll back EUR 21 million in bilateral aid to expand the funding of multilateral agencies. Afghanistan is likely to be the largest country recipient, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the main UN agency recipient.
Many recipients of Swedish aid can expect more funding next year as the budget increases and the number of refugees coming to Sweden is at a record low. Aid resources available for efforts abroad will increase by billions of crowns.
A new global platform for promoting tenure reform in forest areas, theInternational Land and Forest Tenure Facility, has been launched in Stockholm. Norway has pledged USD 20 million and Sweden is likely to provide funding as well. (UPDATED)
There are intense talks ahead of a high-level donor meeting later this month to solve a bitter dispute over how to count private sector efforts and in-door refugee costs as aid. Some donors hint that they might abandon the OECD’s joint reporting system for Official Development Assistance (ODA) unless an agreement is reached.
Founder of the New Delhi-based Humanitarian Aid International Sudhanshu Singh says Indian NGOs are struggling for resources while Western NGO brands take over fund raising in the burgeoning Indian economy.
The tribunal that will handle Bagamoyo EcoEnergy’s complaint against the government of Tanzania regarding the company’s cancelled sugar and ethanol project could take three years to reach a decision. Sida, which is owed SEK 54 million by the company, tells Development Today it will await the outcome of the case to reclaim its funds.
Under Climate and Development Minister Isabella Lövin’s watch the Swedish aid budget has increased by more than SEK 10 billion. Now the minister aims to strengthen aid diplomacy to make Sweden a major global player.
A new global platform for promoting tenure reform in forest areas, the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, has been launched in Stockholm. Norway has pledged USD 20 million and Sweden is likely to provide funding as well.
In a meeting at the OECD in Paris this week, Finland’s Minister for Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen told reviewers that the massive cuts in the aid budget were unfortunate, but that economic trends are now looking more positive.
After four years with a Blue-Blue government Norwegian aid creeps closer to Europe’s doorstep with migration and security interests becoming key areas of fucs. Education and health efforts have been expanded, while UN agencies and the World Bank are the big losers.
At the UN’s pledging conference for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, USD 344 million in funding was promised by the international donor community. Two Nordic countries - Sweden and Denmark – were among the top donors and covered 10 per cent of the total USD 434 million appeal.
At a ministerial meeting in Paris Tuesday the OECD donors agreed on new common rules for reporting domestic refugee costs as Official Development Assistance (ODA). But they failed to solve a long-lasting dispute about how to report private sector aid.
Sweden puts plans for state aid to Myanmar on hold after hundreds of thousands of Rohyingya have fled from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh over the past two months. Sweden was a top donor at the recent UN Rohingya appeal.
The level of Norwegian support for the Rohingya refugees has so far been more limited. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik urges Norway to give more humanitarian aid.
Claims in the Israeli government report, “The Money Trail,” that EU-funded NGOs have ties to terror are forcefully rejected by the European Union, donors and NGOs. An EU spokesperson says to Development Today that Israel’s accusation that the EU supports terror is “unfounded and unacceptable.”
The use of tax havens by two Nordic aid-financed funds is under scrutiny after leaked confidential documents known as the Paradise Papers show that their investments in a joint forest plantation investment in Asia were routed through Cayman Islands.
The branch organisations for European development finance institutions (DFIs) have drafted six new principles for responsible tax in developing countries. The advocacy research group Tax Justice Network is “shocked at how weak” the proposals are.
The medical humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières has taken the Indian Patent Office to court over a patent it recently granted to Pfizer for the pneumonia vaccine, Prevenar 13. MSF argues that the patent will stifle competition, blocking the development of cheaper, generic versions of the vaccine.
On Sunday the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. It is a slap in the face for Norway’s Blue-Blue government which brought the organisation to its knees two years ago by cutting all its funds. Norwegian aid accounted for almost 90 per cent of ICAN’s budget.
Two Danish branches of international NGO alliances, Plan Denmark and BØRNEfonden - Children and Youth Foundation, have merged to form the largest privately-funded development NGO in Denmark. Though both currently draw most of their income from child sponsors, they are looking to expand support from government donors.
Massive cuts have pushed Finnish aid to its lowest level in a decade, reports the OECD peer review of Finland. The Paris-based aid watchdog calls on the Finnish government to produce a roadmap for restoring support to the poorest countries and raising aid to 0.7 per cent of GNI.
MSF’s unprecedented legal challenge of the patent on Pfizer’s pneumonia vaccine Prevenar 13 in India is a “rational … coherent” strategy which, if successful, could save lives by opening the way for cheaper vaccines, a WHO vaccine expert tells Development Today.
Despite several years of diplomatic efforts, Norway has failed to convince the OECD to allow disarmament efforts to be reported as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Norway has nevertheless spent hundreds of millions of aid crowns to fund its Humanitarian Initiative on Nuclear Weapons, in violation of repeated rulings from the OECD.
Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of the vaccine alliance Gavi, says Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s legal challenge of a Pfizer patent in India could, if successful, contribute to making the pharmaceutical market more “healthy.” Revoking the patent would break Pfizer’s monopoly on pneumonia vaccine, opening the way for cheaper generic copies to enter the market.
The OECD has rejected a Norwegian bid to have NOK 54 million in funding for the transport of natural uranium from Kazakhstan to Iran approved as Official Development Assistance (ODA). The project was connected to the international agreement to downsize Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium.
Sweden is dragging its feet on implementation of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention. Despite “repeated calls for action” following a review in 2012, Sweden has not yet put in place laws on corporate liability for bribing foreign public officials, the OECD states.
Norway’s Conservative Party takes a stronger grip on development policy, appointing one of its top politicians, Nikolai Astrup, to be the party’s first Development Minister. The appointment is part of a government reshuffle, where the Liberal Party joins the minority government. The new minister now promises sweeping reforms of the Norwegian aid administration.
The Swedish government decided this week that the headquarters of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is to be moved out of central Stockholm to the municipality of Botkyrka, 20 kilometres southwest of the city.
The Nordic Development Fund (NDF) is in discussions with several European donors to provide funding for a new trust fund for innovative climate projects in Southern and Eastern Africa. The trust fund opens a window that allows NDF for the first time to seek funding outside the Nordic region.
For the last seven years Norway has received a clear message from the OECD that nuclear disarmament efforts cannot be reported as Official Development Assistance (OECD). Norway has repeatedly tried to change the OECD’s rules, but without success.
The Norwegian aid-financed investor Norfund expects to present a surplus of about NOK 2 billion for 2017, after taking full control of the hydropower investor SN Power last fall, a result of strong disagreement with the co-owner Statkraft about investments in Africa.
Denmark is for the first time directly linking development funds with the return of migrants whose applications for asylum have been turned down. So far DKK 50 million in aid have been allocated to facilitate the return from Denmark of 198 rejected asylum seekers to six countries, including Nigeria, Somalia and Afghanistan.
As a first step in an ambitious plan to scale up multi-year flexible funding for several UN agencies, Sweden has entered into a four-year agreement with the World Food Programme worth SEK 3 billion (USD 370m).
Compared with a decade ago, the global outlook today is somewhat pessimistic, and Sweden has become more isolated. This is the reflection of Carin Jämtin, the new Director General of Sida. She left her post as Minister for International Development Cooperation in 2006 and now looks back on that time as a more hopeful period.
When the innovative USD 1.5 billion financing mechanism, the AMC, was launched by Gavi ten years ago, it was expected to do two things: accelerate the distribution of pneumonia vaccine among children in poor countries and incentivise more suppliers to enter the market, thereby increasing competition and pushing prices down.
The AMC succeeded on the first but failed on the second.
Increased donor earmarking of funds to WFP makes it more difficult for the world’s largest humanitarian agency to respond rapidly to crises that are outside the limelight of global politics. Funds that WFP can use freely have dropped from 12 to 6 per cent of its total budget over the last seven years.
The Indian pharmaceutical company Serum Institute says its pneumonia vaccine will be ready for sale in developing countries by 2020 at a fraction of the going price. This places Serum in direct competition with two Western drug manufacturers, GSK and Pfizer, which have dominated the aid- financed pneumonia vaccine market for the last decade.
In a fierce power struggle over emergency relief funds, Western NGOs have secured a loophole in the agreement on reforming the humanitarian system that would allow their own affiliates in developing countries to tap into some USD 5 billion earmarked for local NGOs.
While Western governments invest billions of foreign aid dollars in programs aimed at reducing the flow of migrants into the United States and Europe, the evidence suggests that such efforts can be futile, and even counter-productive. Two researchers at Center for Global Development argue that a smarter approach would be to manage migration for the benefit of all sides, instead of trying to halt it.
Anne Birgitte Albrectsen, the Danish CEO of the 80-year-old organisation, says Plan’s current way of working is out of date. She wants to see several new branches established in developing countries within the next five years, and calls for a re-think of the child sponsorship model. “Business as usual is not an option,” she says.
In an effort to pressure Kinshasa into revoking three “illegally allocated logging concessions,” Norway is withholding the equivalent of a billion crowns in promised aid funding for forest protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Danish aid-funded investor IFU has, together with six Danish pension funds, raised DKK 4.1 billion for investments in developing countries and promotion of Danish technology and know-how. The investors expect a net yield amounting 10-12 per cent.
Several donors are wielding the money weapon over Oxfam following allegations of sexual exploitation at offices in Haiti, Chad and elsewhere. Donor funding amounting to at least EUR 100 million has been held back from Oxfam as a direct result of the scandal.
The Helsinki-based Nordic Development Fund (NDF) has acquired a niche as an effective provider of grants and loans for climate projects. The board has now asked the management to present options for strengthening the fund.
A three-year humanitarian aid grant to Oxfam, frozen by Sida last month in response to allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam’s Haiti office several years ago, has now been approved. Development Today is told that Sida is satisfied Oxfam has taken the issue very seriously and the agency has decided to proceed with the agreement, which is worth SEK 104 million.
The Swedish aid agency Sida points to the former head of its Humanitarian Department as being responsible for not informing Oxfam ten years ago about a sexual abuser in Haiti, the focus of intense media scrutiny since early February. The former Sida staffer, Per Byman, tells Development Today that he raised the matter internally at the time, but never received advice on how to handle the matter.
As the result of an unprecedented political feud in Norway over immigration and anti-terror measures, two aid organisations MSF and Plan found themselves at the centre of events. Rage donations, seen as a US phenomenon in the Trump era, entered the peaceful Norwegian aid community with full force.
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a major Nordic recipient of US aid grants, has agreed to pay a penalty of USD 2 million in a settlement with the US Department of Justice under the False Claims Act. The case exposes the far-reaching political conditionality for European NGOs that take US grants. NPA has in the past assisted Iran and Hamas in violation of US terror laws, according to the settlement.
Official development assistance remained stable last year at USD 146.6 billion, according to fresh statistics from the OECD. A slight increase in overall aid to the poorest countries was offset by a large increase in loans to middle-income countries. Humanitarian aid and in-donor refugee costs continue to dominate donors’ budgets.
During Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s visit to Colombia, she promised total payments of up to NOK 4 billion by 2025 for forest conservation efforts, making the South American country a key climate forest partner for Norway.
NGOs are reviewing the terms for USAID grants after Norwegian Peoples’ Aid (NPA) had to pay a USD 2 million penalty for allegedly violating US terror laws related to Norwegian-funded projects in Gaza and Iran carried out several years ago. Some NGOs fear the American grant terms could jeopardise both their independence and their humanitarian principles.
The World Bank has blacklisted the Swedish consultant Hifab International AB and two employees for taking part in “corrupt practice,” providing a USD 38,800 vehicle to a public official in Laos, according to World Bank sanctions documents obtained by Development Today.
The joint Nordic aid agenda is breaking up. Where poor developing countries, especially in Africa, once dominated aid portfolios, security and migration concerns now determine where the Nordics share common priorities for their aid disbursement.
Afghanistan and Somalia are the only two countries on the four Nordic donors’ top-ten bilateral aid recipient lists, a review carried out by Development Today shows.
A Swedish report shows that only one in ten cases of reported fraud originates from UN agencies and other multilateral organisations. The UN’s own watch dog has warned of systemic under-reporting of corruption in the UN which could be causing “substantial monetary losses.”
Historically, the Nordic donors have operated as a block on the global development scene with joint efforts built on common values and a focus on the poorest countries, especially in Africa. They have also worked closely in multilateral fora like the UN and the World Bank.
Norway’s Development Minister Nikolai Astrup will strengthen his day-to-day access to the competence relevant for his portfolio by moving staff from the aid agency Norad to the Foreign Ministry. Norad will be streamlined to handle grant management. The move has been met with strong resistance from the opposition.
The Norwegian government’s claims that a climate project in Tanzania successfully helped farmers to adopt new agricultural techniques as part of a forest conservation scheme, have no basis in empirical evidence, according to new research.
A new evaluation proposes a giant capital injection for Swedfund, the smallest Nordic aid funded investor. Operating in some of the world’s most difficult markets, Swedfund is vulnerable and has presented deficits amounting to SEK 500 million for the period 2009-2016.
A defiant Climate Ministry in Oslo rejects key conclusions of a report by the Auditor General on the prestigious Norwegian rainforest programme, which finds that the scheme is delayed, results are unsure and anti-corruption efforts are weak. The ministry disagrees with the criticism and insists that important results have been achieved.
Researchers and international environmental activists have critically scrutinised Norway’s massive climate forest initiative, while Norwegian NGOs are largely silent. Now they are charged with being too cozy with the Climate Ministry in Oslo, which is a main funding source. Rainforest Foundation Norway says it is a “strategic choice” not to criticise the initiative in public.
A proposal to merge three Helsinki-based institutions into a Nordic Green Bank has been put on hold because the current Swedish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers is too busy with other tasks. The reform proposal includes the aid-financed Nordic Development Fund.
A venture capitalist with a soft spot for smallholder farmers in Africa and a strong stomach for risk taking,Tellef Thorleifsson has taken over the helm of Norfund, the 22-billion-crown aid-financed investment fund in Oslo. His first task is to oversee a new Norfund strategy.
Norway has decided to pay USD 70 million (NOK 600 million) to Brazil for reduced emissions from deforestation in the Amazon in 2017, the Climate Ministry announces in a press release. Climate Minister Ola Elvestuen calls the climate forest cooperation with Brazil a “great success,” but says recent trends give “reasons for concern.”
The REDD+ concept, which was based on the deceptively simple idea that giving cash to forest-rich countries would incentivise them to protect their forests, raised huge expectations a decade ago. With USD 2.7 billion committed, 60 per cent of this from Norway, REDD+ has not slowed deforestation, a team of researchers conclude in a new book published by CIFOR. Still, they say, REDD+ should not be abandoned.
When a conventional approach to promoting private sector aid failed to produce long-lasting results, Danida came up with a new model for stimulating good business ideas and jobs in developing countries - with NGOs as a key part of the equation. The reaction from the Danish private sector is mixed.
A new, tied aid-financed scheme for infrastructure projects is in high demand among Finnish export firms. Only one in six projects made it through the needle’s eye this year. NGOs and the OECD have criticised Finland’s practice of linking aid to its own exporters.
Donors refuse to ring-fence the remaining money in a billion-dollar pneumonia vaccine fund and give it to an Indian pharmaceutical that can push down the price dramatically. Most of the money has gone to the two big pharma companies, GSK and Pfizer, which dominate the market and, critics say, prevent price competition.
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.