Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

WFP warns of growing hunger and desperation in Gaza, new investment in Ukraine supports local production and global action to turn cities into engines of sustainable development. Here is what you missed from last week’s headlines in the international development sector.

With conflict entering fourth week, WFP warns of growing hunger and desperation in Gaza

Thousands of civilians stormed a UN-run warehouse in Gaza’s middle area, where the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is storing some food commodities. The morning’s events followed a harrowing 24-hour communication blackout and persistent access challenges that brought all WFP operations to a halt, leaving staff and partners incommunicado.

The warehouse was used to store some of the supplies from the trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies coming from Egypt ahead of distribution to displaced families. The warehouse contained some 80 tons of mixed food commodities, mainly canned food, wheat flour, and sunflower oil.

“This is a sign of people losing hope and becoming more desperate by the minute. They are hungry, isolated, and have been suffering violence and immense distress for three weeks,” said Samer Abdeljaber, WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine. “We need a humanitarian pause to be able to reach the people in need with food, water, and basic necessities safely and effectively. Much more access is urgently needed, and the trickle of supplies needs to become a flow.”

New investment in Ukraine supports local production with a wider engagement of female workers

IFU has signed an investment agreement that will support the Ukrainian company Seguro-Thyregod LLC in further expanding its business and supporting the general macroeconomic development in the war-torn country. A grant from IFU co-finances an effort to recruit and educate female workers that can substitute staff being enrolled in the army.

Ukraine is a large agricultural nation producing and exporting a variety of agribusiness products. The sector is a large employer and has significant importance for export earnings in the war-torn economy of the country.

IFU has made a new investment in Seguro-Thyregod LLC, which is a Danish-owned subsidiary producing equipment for the agribusiness sector including tipping trailers and components for feed mills and biogas plants, for example. The production is for the Ukrainian market as well as for export.

UN calls for global action to turn cities into engines of sustainable development

Marking World Cities Day the UN Secretary-General emphasized the vital role cities play in sustainable development as catalysts for economic growth and innovation.

“World Cities Day is a time to consider the pivotal role cities play in sustainable development,” said António Guterres, setting the stage for a global call to action.

Cities, he noted, are not only engines of economic growth but are also at the forefront of the world’s most pressing challenges. From the climate crisis to widening social inequalities and political polarization, cities find themselves grappling with a multitude of complex issues.

DevelopmentAid Editorials

EU’s aid considered inflated amid spiking refugee costs

One-fifth of the Official Development Assistance disbursements reported by the European Union member states in 2022 was overstated and failed to meet the minimum requirements to qualify as development assistance, concludes a yearly analysis by an influential group of NGOs.

The authors of the AidWatch 2023 report published on October 18 by the European Confederation of non-governmental organizations, CONCORD, outlined their concerns regarding “more than 84 billion EURO ODA” whereby 22.1% of this “is not meeting the most basic criteria to be qualified as such” due to a spike in refugee costs, overcounting ODA loans, the calculation of the costs for students from partner countries, debt relief and, to a certain extent, private sector instrument reporting. At the same time, the authors believe that aid allocations are still influenced by the Union’s domestic and geopolitical interests.

Read the full article.

China’s Belt and Road, from lack of transparency to achievements

On October 17-18, 2023, Beijing played host to the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of what is now known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Twenty-three foreign heads of state, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, attended the forum as well as other prominent leaders such as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Secretary-General of ASEAN in order to discuss the progress made by the BRI in developing global infrastructure and the future of the initiative.

Read the full article.

Development aid for peace in fragile countries falls to 15-year record low

Despite humanity facing some of the most intense conflicts since 1946, the Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) for peace in fragile contexts plunged significantly in 2021, reaching a 15-year record low. A report by the OECD titled Peace and Official Development Assistance also shows that in terms of funding, DAC members did not make a strong distinction between developing and fragile countries with both receiving almost the same percentage of the total ODA for peace.

Read the full article.

What role does development aid play in global education?

Access to education is the fundamental human right of every person in the world and ensuring this is critical for the growth and development of any nation. Education fosters peace, supports gender equality, and increases a person’s prospects of benefitting from better life and career options. Nevertheless, despite its recognized significance, government spending on education across all continents is often very low and overlooked due to other priorities, while the monitoring of the quality of investment into this sector is often woefully inadequate.

Read the full article.

Here’s what else has happened

France: French Development Agency will support Innovative Solutions for India’s Solid Waste Challenge, furthering Team Europe participation in sustainable urbanisation in India.

British International Investment: British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor announced a US$26.5 million commitment to AFEX, Africa’s leading commodities platform, which currently operates over 200 warehouses in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda and serves over 450,000 farmers. The investment will support structural improvements in Africa’s agricultural industry, which will significantly benefit smallholder farmers and lead to improvements in food security.

Afghans: The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are warning of the rapidly rising numbers of Afghans returning from Pakistan and urging international donors to mobilise additional humanitarian funding to address their needs and avoid a new crisis. Furthermore, the three organisations call upon neighbouring countries to continue offering protection and refuge to all vulnerable Afghan refugees until conditions in their home country are conducive to a safe, sustainable and voluntary return.

World Bank: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $210 million for Bangladesh Enhancing Investments and Benefits for Early Years (BEIBEY) Project to provide cash transfers and counseling services to improve nutrition and directly benefit about 1.7 million pregnant women and mothers of children under 4 years of age in vulnerable households.

Timor-Leste: The Government of Timor-Leste, in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has issued an urgent Food Security Alert, mapping the increased risks of food shortages, exacerbated by El Niño against the backdrop of the country’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture.


7 ways UN DESA supports a rescue plan for people and planet

The latest UN DESA Annual Highlights Report showcases seven ways UN DESA supported Member States to advance the 2030 Agenda throughout the 77th Session of the General Assembly, despite a challenging global context and significant setbacks to SDG progress. Here’s what you need to know about UN DESA’s efforts.

Climate change is bad for health but climate services save lives

As the world warms at a faster rate than at any point in recorded history, human health is on the frontline.

Climate change threatens to reverse decades of progress towards better health and well-being, particularly in the most vulnerable communities. Scientific know-how and resources can help redress the balance, but are not sufficiently accessible or utilized, according to a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WMO’s annual State of Climate Services report this year focuses on health. It highlights the need for tailored climate information and services to support the health sector in the face of more extreme weather and poor air quality, shifting infectious disease patterns and food and water insecurity.

As climate impacts accelerate, finance gap for adaptation efforts at least 50% bigger than thought

Progress on climate adaptation is slowing on all fronts when it should be accelerating to catch up with rising climate change impacts and risks, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

Released ahead of the COP28 climate talks taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Adaptation Gap Report 2023: Underfinanced. Underprepared – Inadequate investment and planning on climate adaptation leaves world exposed finds that the adaptation finance needs of developing countries are 10-18 times as big as international public finance flows – over 50 percent higher than the previous range estimate.

WHO outlines crucial research priorities for better refugee and migrant health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its first-ever Global research agenda on health, migration, and displacement to guide research efforts to understand and address the health needs of migrants, refugees, and all forcibly displaced populations and shape responsive policies and practices worldwide.


Market Systems Symposium 2023

Market Systems Symposium 2023

📅 14-16 November 2023
Cape Town, South Africa

Empower your market systems development practice with inspiration, innovation, and connection.

Get ready to be inspired, equipped, and connected like never before at Market Systems Symposium 2023! Engage with industry-leading experts in Market Systems Development from around the world as we explore cutting-edge research, innovative strategies, and real-world application in this dynamic and engaging forum.

Key Themes:

Given the significant impact of climate change, conflict and food insecurity on our world today, the core themes which we will be discussing, debating, collaborating, and innovating around at MSS2023 are:

  • Climate Change & Adaptation
  • Conflict-Affected Contexts
  • Food Security and Food Systems


Paris Peace Forum 2023

Paris Peace Forum 2023

📅 10-11 November 2023
Paris, France

In a world dominated by a rising US-China rivalry, it is as urgent as ever to find common ground on the governance of global commons and global public goods in domains like climate change, outer space, or critical minerals. Facilitating dialogue, creating action-oriented coalitions, and defining norms or pre-norms is the way of delivering efficient responses to the urgent challenges of the time.

The 2023 Paris Peace Forum will convene representatives from states, international organizations, businesses, development banks foundations NGOs, and more from around the world.

This year, the Space for Solutions will showcase 60 projects and initiatives tackling the issues at the heart of the sixth edition. All of them will enjoy a dedicated space within the event venue, and a chance to take the floor to speak about their work and/or share their views on the issue in global governance that they are addressing.

Global Crop Diversity Summit 2023

Global Crop Diversity Summit 2023

📅 14 November 2023
Berlin, Germany

The world is facing a multitude of serious, interconnected challenges: climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality, food and nutritional insecurity, as well as increasing conflict and injustice. To face these challenges, the world must address the urgent need for more productive, sustainable, resilient, and healthy agri-food systems.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (International Plant Treaty), will promote action to transform the food systems by hosting an in-person and live-streamed Global Crop Diversity Summit on 14 November 2023 under the patronage of the German Federal President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Summit will be held at the Französischer Dom in Berlin and will raise political awareness of the important role that crop diversity plays in securing nutritious agri-food systems for the world, and strengthen cooperation among seed banks around the world to increase their impact.

The Summit will contribute to preparations for Climate COP 28 in December 2023 in Dubai, where the Crop Trust will present key findings on the importance of crop diversity for mitigation and adaptation to climate change to the negotiators.