19 Oct 2015
Call is endorsed by 270 CSOs
Australia and Denmark announce plans to scale back on development aid, but France says it will increase its aid budget

The Global Fund Advocates Network – following on from its successful Twitter conversation that called for increased donor and domestic funding to reach the SDGs (see GFO article here) – has sent an open letter to the Global Fund Board and executive director urging the Fund to aim higher than the $15 billion 2014-2016 replenishment goal.

(The Fund raised only about $12 billion for 2014-2016.)

The letter, signed by 270 civil society organisations, highlighted the need for the Fund to be bold in its funding ambitions so countries can maintain and accelerate scale-up through community-based services, innovation, re-alignment of programmes in-line with “best science” and a focus on efficiency.

Now that the SDGs have been adopted by UN member states, the question of how the seventeen goals and 169 targets will be financed is cause for serious concern, and is fuelling the civil society advocacy momentum.

The SDGs drafters were well aware that the ambitious SDG agenda would come at significant cost, and that this comes at a time when, globally, the volume of aid is falling increasingly behind the required resources. In acknowledging this paradox, the recent “Financing for Development” conference in Addis Ababa highlighted that “…significant additional domestic public resources, supplemented by international assistance…” would be required to achieve the SDGs. The scale of this funding is indeed substantial, with resources required just to end HIV by 2030 estimated to be $36 billion per year, double the current levels of funding. For many of the poorest countries, this is a worrying scenario, further compounded by the recent news that several countries are cutting back on their overseas development assistance (ODA).

Australia has already cut its aid budget by $1 billion for 2015-2016. Over the next three years, these cuts will continue and will result in Australia’s aid dropping to its lowest levels in history to 0.22% of gross national income by 2017-2018. Australia is scaling back most of its support from Africa and the Middle East, and instead will concentrate aid efforts across the Pacific Region closer to its shores. Support to multilaterals was also cut. UNICEF, for example, saw its funding reduced by 40%. Australia said that it will honour current Global Fund commitments, but what it might pledge for 2017-2019 is not known.

Following worryingly in Australia’s footsteps is Denmark, which recently announced that it would be slashing its ODA from 0.87% of GNI to 0.7%. While 0.7% remains in line with the UN target for developed countries development assistance goals, the cuts will affect civil society and bilateral programmes as well as the Global Fund. According to AIDS Fondet, Denmark will be reducing its contribution to the Global Fund for 2015 and 2016 from the planned $165 million per year to $100 million per year, and no funds will be pledged for the 2017-2019 replenishment [emphasis added].

GFAN was quick to react to Denmark’s announcement on the aid budget cuts. It has written an open letter to the Denmark’s Prime Minister, His Excellency Lars Løkke Rasmussen, calling on him to “live up to the promises made to meet the SDGs and reverse the cuts to HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund in the Finance Act.” GFAN called on its diverse network of CSOs to sign on to the letter.

GFAN is also planning to utilize World AIDS Day on 1 December to further advocate and generate renewed support for the Global Fund replenishment. Interested civil society partners are invited to join in on a GFAN call on 22 October in which representatives from the Global Fund Secretariat and UNAIDS will participate. Click here for further details.  

In other, more positive developments, President François Hollande of France has committed to increasing his country’s aid budget by € 4 billion by 2020. This is a complete turn around from the last four years of funding cuts. The 2016 aid budget will not be reduced from the 2015 level, thus stabilising the budget as a first step towards meeting the 2020 pledge. And African Union ambassadors meeting on 1 October in Washington pledged their support and advocacy efforts to ensure the Global Fund meets its replenishment goals. Nearly 70% of Global Fund resources fund HIV, TB, and malaria programs across Africa.

Ambitious goals require ambitious financing commitments. With two of the Global Fund’s top twenty donor countries already cutting their aid budget, civil society has taken up the challenge of taking world leaders to task and urging them to deliver on their SDG’s commitments to accelerate the end of the three diseases by 2030. 

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