Shock and Gloom — But a Window of Political Opportunity?

The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meetings came back in full force and in person Oct. 10-16, with road closures and large black security vehicles once again clogging streets of downtown Washington, D.C. As a veteran of the meetings and a global health and development advocate the week left me in turn feeling depressed, bewildered, and cautiously hopeful.  

Here are my top 5 takeaways:

  • Shock and gloom. The revised projections for global economic growth from the IMF were pretty dire: a sharp slowdown from 6% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022, and set to decline again in 2023, with inflation rates higher than in several decades and triggering an acute cost-of-living crisis. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva minced no words about the dangers afoot, saying there has been “shock after shock after shock” leading to historic fragility, a likely recession, and expectations of a global output loss of about US$4 trillion (about the size of Germany’s economy) over the next four years. The new edition of the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report found that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, progress toward reducing global poverty has essentially halted and global inequality  increased. The headline on the World Bank’s own website — Development in Crisis — pretty much sums it up.
  • What pandemic? There was much hand wringing on what to do about the worsening poly-crises confronting the world today. Among the headlines were the launch of the IMF’s new Food Shock Window and the World Bank’s Second Ministerial Roundtable on Support for Ukraine, while the discussion at the Development Committee focused around two papers on the Food and Energy Crisis: Weathering the Storm and Achieving the Climate and Development Goals: The Financing Question. Notably absent from the conversations and commitments, however, was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (and when it did get a mention, it was mostly referred to in the past tense). A few important exceptions were the excellent speeches at the Center for Global Development delivered by three women leaders: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani, and German Minister for Economic Cooperation Svenja Schulze, all of whom highlighted the need to increase investments in pandemic preparedness. There was also a spotlight on the learning losses as a result of prolonged pandemic-related school closures.
  • Next generation of protests. Two decades ago, protests were a common sight outside the Spring and Annual Meetings, pressing for debt relief and an end to structural adjustment and globalization. In the wake of major policy shifts like the adoption of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, increased disclosure and stronger accountability mechanisms, and the inclusion of civil society in the Meetings which I was proud to help facilitate over time those protests had largely shifted to constructive dialogue. The protesters were back on the streets (and in the building) this year, once again demanding debt cancellation and climate action further fueled by World Bank President David Malpass’ widely criticized comments during the United Nations General Assembly.
  • A few billion here and there. Recent Annual and Spring Meetings had produced some significant commitments to help countries struggling to cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely through a general allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs) equivalent to US$650 billion and creation of a Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) at the IMF to be funded by channeling SDRs from wealthy countries to low- and lower-middle-income countries. Georgieva announced that the RST was now operational with US$37billion in pledges (of which US$20 billion has been delivered thus far) and that agreements had been reached for the first three countries — Barbados, Costa Rica, and Rwanda — to receive support from the RST. Also in September, the World Bank formally launched a new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Pandemic Fund). With less than US$1.5 billion pledged so far and a first call for proposals not slated until late this year or early next, the Pandemic Fund still has a long way to go to reach the annual financing target of more than US$10 billion to close critical preparedness gaps and achieve its transformative potential. We are told more donors and pledges are expected soon, yet discussions on a sustainable financing pathway are some months away. But, on the bright side…
  • Reform is in the air. An undercurrent across the Meetings was that the two Bretton Woods Institutions created in 1944, are no longer fit-for-purpose  in 2022 to address a “world on fire” as the Vulnerable 20 (V-20) group of nations put it at their ministerial. Secretary Yellen set the stage with her pre-Meetings call to action to “rethink our overall development finance strategy” and “evolve our multilateral development bank (MDB) system” to meet this moment of unprecedented global challenges with the highly interconnected threats of climate change, pandemics, and fragility topping the priority list. Variations on this theme were echoed throughout the week by an array of leaders including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Schulze, and many others. The wonky-sounding Independent Review of the MDB Capital Adequacy Frameworks, commissioned by the G20, gained support for a set of actionable MDB reforms that could unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in additional capital for global public goods. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley also doubled down on her call to leaders from the global South and North to come together and build a movement around the Bridgetown Agenda to modernize the international financial institutions with “the urgency of now”.   The conversation moved beyond the  rhetoric: A coalition of countries led by Germany G7+ Presidency requested the World Bank management to produce a roadmap for reform by December this year.

Will any of this actually lead to significant change? Time will tell, but something feels different. Pandemic Action Network is committed to heed Prime Minister Mottley’s call to action and help build the political will and the movement to make it happen. One thing we are sure of: From the climate crisis to the COVID-19 crisis to the next pandemic, the world can’t afford to wait.   

 

The Pandemic Fund Action Hub

 

The Pandemic Fund Action Hub

Track, Analyze, Engage

On June 30, 2022, the World Bank’s Board approved the establishment of a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) to mobilize new investments that strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) capacities at national, regional, and global levels, with a strong focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Such a decision — supported by multiple countries and experts — is a crucial step towards a future where pandemics no longer represent a global existential threat.

This nascent Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Pandemic Fund) was established on September 8, 2022, after a group of founding donors agreed on the minimum necessary aspects for its operation. The World Bank hosts the Fund’s secretariat with support from the World Health Organization. Further work and agreements are required to ensure this new financial instrument will deliver on its transformative promise to make the world safer from pandemics. Among these are its focus and scope, structure, operations, governance, and financing, which experts estimate needs to reach a minimum of US$10 billion annually.

Since the process of designing and establishing the Pandemic Fund is moving swiftly, Pandemic Action Network has set up this dynamic resource hub to organize and facilitate access to relevant information. Moreover, this Action Hub aims to inform our partners and any civil society group about key developments and opportunities to mobilize, collaborate and shape the Pandemic Fund’s design and future operations.

Key documents

In this section, you will find public and official documents related to the governance and operation of the Pandemic Fund. Some of them can be preliminary versions or drafts under review by the Fund’s Governing Board.

Fund Pledge Tracker

Pandemic Action Network and the ONE Campaign are keeping a record of the pledges made to the Pandemic Fund. The goal is to better understand its funding sources and sustainability and to promote transparency and accountability through regular monitoring.

Access the Pandemic Fund’s Pledge Tracker

Civil Society Organization (CSO) Consultation Process

For this new Pandemic Fund to be successful and sustainable — and achieve its transformative promise to make the world safer from pandemics — there must be an inclusive approach to the current design process. CSOs must have room to inform the design, governance, priorities, and stand-up process. While we are supportive of the promise of the Fund, CSOs and low- and middle-income countries should be co-creators and decision-makers at every step of the Fund’s design and operation in order to ensure its success. Evidence from other mechanisms where CSOs have played an active role shows their involvement and contributions strengthen their functioning and enhance participation, accountability, and representation of affected communities. 

To catalyze needed progress toward meaningful inclusion, Pandemic Action Network, together with partners, the Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI), the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO), and WACI Health, managed the official CSO consultation process to the Fund ahead of its establishment.

🗓️ Upcoming Sessions

    • None scheduled; please check back.

📚 Previous Consultation Outcomes

    • October 14, Civil Society & Communities Town Hall: Feedback from October 7, 2022 Pandemic Fund Board Meeting
      The Town Hall provided a readout of the October meeting of the Pandemic Fund Governing Board meeting on October 7, shared updates on decisions taken, tasks ahead, and invited feedback, reflections, and priority-sharing from civil society and community colleagues. The Town Hall also provided updates on formally establishing an active civil society and communities constituency, as well as a Civil Society Technical Working Group to facilitate regular, proactive channels for information sharing, and increase opportunities for experts from civil society and communities to inform technical decision-making around the Fund. 

      Readout & Notes

    • September 15, Civil Society & Communities Town Hall: Feedback from First Pandemic Fund Board Meeting
      During this meeting, interim civil society Board Members Jackline Njeri Kiarie and Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, along with alternate Board Members Nitish Debnath and Olya Golichenko, provided a readout of the first meeting of the Pandemic Fund Governing Board meeting (Sept. 8-9), shared updates on decisions and tasks ahead, and gathered feedback from civil society and communities colleagues.

      Presentation Deck (Sept. 15) | Readout & Notes

    • August 30 & 31, Second Round Consultations | Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages
      This document summarizes the discussions from August 30 and 31 and presents the ideas and recommendations emphasized by CSO participants on the scope and priorities of the PPR FIF. Annexes contain meeting notes, attendee information, and written feedback.

      Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages (Aug 30/31)

    • August 16 & 17, First Round Consultations | Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages
      This document summarizes the discussions from August 16 and 17 and presents crucial ideas and recommendations emphasized by multiple participants on three issues: governing board, civil society engagement, and technical advisory panel. Annexes also contain meeting notes and written feedback provided.

      Summary of Proceedings and Key Messages (Aug 16/17)

📹 Recordings

👥 Participation

Additional figures will be provided soon.

Interim CSO Representatives for the PPR FIF Governing Board

📢 Call for Nominations

Founding contributors in the new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPR) reached an agreement that its Governing Board should include two voting seats for civil society organization (CSO) representatives. Pandemic Action Network, the Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI), the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO), and the Platform for ACT-A Civil Society & Community Representatives initiated a civil society-led selection process and issued a global call for nominations to select two interim CSO representatives for the PPR FIF Governing Board on August 26, 2022.

This interim selection process took place on an abbreviated timeframe to ensure that the interim CSO representatives could participate in the first Governing Board meeting, scheduled for September 8-9, 2022. The application deadline was September 2, 12 pm ET, and the eligibility criteria and nomination form remain available for anyone interested.

👥 Selection Committee

The group of organizations and networks facilitating the civil society-led selection process believed it was key that the composition of the Selection Committee reflected regional and thematic diversity. With this in mind, the group agreed to integrate it with seven (7) members. They were:

    • Ashley Arabasadi, Management Sciences for Health
    • Harjyot Khosa, International Planned Parenthood Federation (South Asia Regional Office)
    • Lizzie Otaye, EANNASO
    • Mike Podmore, Platform for ACT-A Civil Society & Community Representatives/STOPAIDS
    • Nahashon Aluoka, Pandemic Action Network
    • Neil Vora, Conservation International/PPATS Coalition
    • Olivia Herlinda, CISDI

⏱️ Timeline

👤 Selected Representatives

On behalf of the Selection Committee, we are pleased to announce that Jackline Njeri Kiarie (Amref Health Africa — Global South) and Elisha Dunn-Georgiou (Global Health Council — Global North) were selected as interim civil society representatives for the new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPR) Governing Board. Nitish Debnath (One Health Bangladesh) and Olya Golichenko (Frontline AIDS, United Kingdom) will act as alternates. They have all accepted their positions.

This process has aimed to ensure that a diversity of civil society experience, global perspectives, and regional representation inform PPR FIF decision-making, starting from the first meeting of the Fund’s Governing Board, scheduled for September 8-9. These representatives will serve for an interim period of approximately six months until full-term CSO representatives are named through a longer-term, civil society-led selection process. 

While ensuring interim CSO representatives are in place for this week’s first PPR FIF Governing Board meeting required an extremely abbreviated timeframe, 66 submissions were received from 27 countries during the one-week open call for nominations. We are confident that the selected individuals will be strong representatives of the diversity of global civil society, advocate determinedly for community voices and priorities in the PPR space, and collectively demonstrate the vital and constructive role of civil society in global decision-making.

Analysis & Resources

Pandemic Action Network Statement on a New World Bank Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Statement by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds on the decision by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to establish a new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response: 

“Today’s decision by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to establish a new global pandemic fund is an important step forward to heed the hard lessons of COVID-19 and make the world safer from pandemics. The fund offers the potential to marshal significant new financing to help prevent such a deadly and costly crisis from happening again. As the fund moves from concept to reality, global leaders should seize this opportunity to ensure it is catalytic, inclusive, and accountable. 

“The COVID crisis has shown us that pandemic prevention and preparedness is in everyone’s interest, and it should be everyone’s business. The US$1.1 billion pledged to the fund thus far is still a fraction of the estimated US$10 billion annually that global health and finance experts agree is urgently needed to bolster the world’s pandemic defenses. We urge more governments, philanthropies, and other funders to seize this moment to pandemic proof our collective future by stepping up and investing in this new fund.” 

Launching a New Pandemic Preparedness Fund: A Crack in the Cycle of Panic and Neglect?

Read the full analysis here on csis.org.

We are in a fragile, yet promising moment when it comes to heeding the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis. But a chance to begin to break the cycle of crisis and complacency and strengthen global security is finally within our reach, with the emergence of an international coalition to increase financing for pandemic preparedness. A new CSIS commentary from Carolyn Reynolds and J. Stephen Morrison discusses how the creation of a new Pandemic Preparedness Fund offers a near-term opportunity to mobilize significant new investments that are unlikely to happen otherwise, by using catalytic grant financing to close critical gaps in preparedness. Pivotal decisions remain to ensure that the fund has clearly defined strategic priorities that advance shared security interests; expands the pool of funding available for pandemic preparedness and response by tapping creative additional sources beyond official development assistance; and is steered by a decisive governing body. Strong U.S. leadership and financial commitment, bridging the U.S. administration and Congress, and resting on a durable bipartisan consensus, will be the single most important factor in moving the fund from its infancy into an instrument with the long-term vision, clear and unique purpose, and legitimacy to deliver rapid and sustainable results. Just as the United States led the world two decades ago to launch PEPFAR and the Global Fund to combat the global AIDS crisis, the United States should now lead and rally the world to launch this new fund and help prevent the next pandemic.

Read the full analysis here on csis.org.

 

Falling Short: Pandemic Action Network Statement on the 2022 G7 Leaders’ Summit

G7 Leaders fell far short of what is needed to finish the job on COVID-19 and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders are facing compounding and intertwined crises, but this is no time to deprioritize health security, which is fundamental to addressing virtually every other crisis facing humanity. This year’s G7 Leaders’ Summit represents a missed opportunity to take decisive action and fundamentally shift the G7’s record on pandemic preparedness and response.   Instead, we saw more of the “same strategy but different day” cycle of rearranging recommendations and commitments.

On finance, G7 Leaders collectively failed to deliver adequate financing to fund the provision of tests and treatments and delivery of vaccines still needed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While we are pleased that the U.K. joined other G7 countries by pledging funding for the emerging global Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response fund at the World Bank, we need to hear that founding partners are committed to an inclusive, representative future fund which will include LMICs, communities, and civil society in its governance from the outset as well as equity in its decision-making. Overall, we need to see a commitment to investing in these ongoing priorities by growing the global pool of funding available for pandemic preparedness and response.

On governance, leaders also missed an opportunity to elevate leadership on pandemic preparedness and response by endorsing the creation of a Global Health Threats Council — as proposed by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response — and laying the groundwork for a broader coalition of countries and leaders. A political mechanism of this kind is essential to sustain action and investment across countries and advance ambitious proposals, such as those described in the G7’s Pact for Pandemic Readiness

As the G7 focuses on the world’s stability with commitments on climate and food security, proactively preparing for pandemics must be a part of that mix. These existential threats are interconnected. Accelerating climate change means the world is more likely to experience future outbreaks with more regularity. Whether such outbreaks become pandemics or can be quashed in time hinges on the political choices leaders are making right now. And today, the G7 chose complacency and stagnation over progress when it comes to pandemic preparedness.

We urge the G7 to take forward the Pact for Pandemic Readiness and turn it into action with urgency in the remaining six months of this year and beyond. The COVID crisis has laid bare the costs of inaction. We cannot afford to move on without learning the lessons over the last two years — particularly for the most vulnerable and LMIC populations, many of whom still lack access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines. 

The current and future G7 presidencies of Germany and Japan must prioritize getting bold pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 response action back on track as a key part of addressing the world’s interlocking crises — they simply cannot afford not to. Click To Tweet

What To Know Before the G7 Leaders’ Summit

The G7 Leaders’ Summit is just around the corner, and — as one of the five priorities of the German Presidency — pandemic preparedness and response is expected to have a central role in the meeting. In Germany’s own words, this year’s program aims “to expand the G7’s pioneering role in the commitment to pandemic prevention and control as well as improving the international health architecture.” While this might be a good omen for relevant agreements and commitments, the G7’s record on pandemics is not consistent and makes many of us wary. So, what do we need to know to understand the landscape and ensure this G7 goes beyond a series of photo ops and warm words?

A bit of historical background… Seven years ago, under the German Presidency as well, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa drove forward similar promises to those on the table in 2022. The 2015 Elmau Declaration contained crucial commitments, including support for the “World Bank to develop a Pandemic Emergency Facility” advanced by the G20 and strengthening of a mechanism for rapid response to pandemics. Side note, the 2015 declaration also includes clear language on “finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine.” Déjà vu, anyone? We know that over the following years, these commitments lost traction and their implementation lagged. The following declarations — 2016 Ise Shima Declaration, 2017 Taormina Declaration, 2018 Charlevoix Declaration, and the 2019 Biarritz Declaration — progressively erased pandemics off the agenda until it made it back in 2020, this time under an unprecedented global crisis.   

So, what tells us that 2022 could be different? Germany’s G7 leadership this year is a reason for optimism. The country has made significant contributions to the ACT-Accelerator, has supported and raised funds for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism, and also committed financial contributions to CEPI and the forthcoming new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund at the World Bank. Moreover, in preparation for the Summit, Germany has convened high-level officials to discuss pandemics and pave the way for the Leaders’ Summit.

The G7’s preparatory work in May provides some hints and insights about what agreements might be in the making. Here’s a summary of the outcomes and work of the following Ministers’ meetings:

  • Foreign Ministers. They have mainly focused on the G7’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on addressing gaps in the global vaccination campaign. On May 13, they released an “Action Plan on COVID-19,” which aims to align the group’s response efforts. In its last communiqué, they also noted that they are already working on “planning the ongoing COVID-19 response for 2023” but didn’t share specific details.
  • Health Ministers. Their last communiqué provides an overview of the issues and variables shaping the conversation and shows how the G7 is looking into preventing future pandemics and enhancing the world’s response to pandemic threats. Recently they released a concept note for a “G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness,” which has a strong emphasis on surveillance. It is unclear though if other essential aspects for pandemic preparedness will also be considered by the group and how.  
  • Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. As they are responsible for aligning commitments and funding, their last communiqué helps to understand what are the competing priorities. They expressed support for the establishment of the new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund, hosted by the World Bank, but they clearly stated that a broader group of countries should contribute financially as well. 
  • Development Ministers. This group has discussed the effects of COVID-19, as shown in their last communiqué, and has worked with Health Ministers to accelerate the G7’s response to ending the pandemic globally — putting emphasis on access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics — and increasing countries’ capacities on pandemic preparedness and response. It stands out that their support for expanding access to vaccines, testing, and therapeutics worldwide seems to rely only on voluntary technology transfer and not in more proactive measures. 

What’s missing, and what’s ahead? If after reviewing these different pieces you get a feeling that something is missing, you are not alone. So far, the information proactively disclosed by the German Presidency does not reveal specific actions or preliminary plans. It remains unclear how most of the commitments will be advanced and turn into concrete changes. With the information available up to this point, this next G7 Leaders’ Summit could yield good commitments but the risk of forgetting them in the coming years might be as present as in 2015. As such, the six months following the Leaders’ Summit will be critical to ensuring clear actions and setting the stage for Japan to pick up the G7 leadership baton in 2023.

If you are attending the G7, please let us know! Otherwise, stay in touch on social media.

Call for African Leaders to Support the Pandemic Fund

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the devastating impact that epidemics and pandemics can have on the health, security, and prosperity of Africans. It has accentuated the need for a New Public Health Order for Africa — championed by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) — not in the least because of the gross global inequities in access to medical tools including vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, personal protective equipment, and other lifesaving medical countermeasures and supplies that have played out during this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored the need for Africa to build more resilient health systems and collaborate across borders to be able to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging health threats while addressing ongoing health priorities. 

African civil society organizations (CSOs) have come together to urge leaders of African governments to pledge their support for the proposed new Pandemic Preparedness Fund at the World Bank and to ensure that the Fund advances the aims of the New Public Health Order for Africa through equitable and multilateral support. If well-resourced, the Fund has the potential to be a transformative new source of financing to advance Africa’s health security and to prevent the next pandemic. 

Read the full letter. If your organization is interested in signing on, please reach out to Hanna

 

Call for G7 Leaders to Take Pandemic Action!

Ahead of this month’s G7 Leaders’ Summit and in the face of multiple global challenges, civil society groups (CSOs) from around the world urge G7 Leaders to take action on pandemics to both align the global response to make COVID-19 a controllable respiratory disease across all countries and step up efforts to prepare the world against the next pandemic threat. 

While the outcomes of the last Global COVID-19 Summit and G7 Ministerial Meetings showed renewed political commitment and a much needed reset to the global response, ending this pandemic still demands further action. As noted in May’s G7 Foreign, Health, and Development Ministers communiqués, the pandemic won’t be over until it is over for all. Echoing their words, nearly 40 CSOs call on G7 Leaders to invest now to end the current crisis and prevent the next, including by addressing poverty and inequality as barriers to ending pandemics and through investment in national health capacity and community systems.

Three priority actions:

  1. Fill the financing gaps to advance the delivery of COVID-19 tools still needed such as tests and treatments, increasing transparency to foster coordination and enhance value for money. 
  2. Advance new, equitable, inclusive, and innovative sources of financing for pandemic preparedness and response, including through the new Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness Fund.
  3. Build on the G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness Concept Note of May 20 to drive support for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to pandemic preparedness.

The CSOs also strongly urge G7 Leaders to capitalize on the opportunity at the G7 Summit to publicly endorse the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s recommendation to establish a Global Health Threats Council and commit to advancing the proposal during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Read the full letter. If your organization would like to sign on, contact Hanna by June 21.