From a landmark human rights ruling for the climate emergency to WHO’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled it is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives are threatened by the climate crisis, a judgement experts say represents a legal ‘tipping point’ that ‘opens the doorway’ for future protection claims from people forced to flee from the worst effects of the climate emergency.

Related: Food prices shot up’: floods spark a scramble for survival in east Africa


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pulled back from declaring the coronavirus outbreak in China a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ (PHEIC) so its expert committee can discuss more evidence from its teams on the ground.

Related: 2019-nCoV outbreak — a timeline


Climate Activist Greta Thunberg criticised attendees of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for their continued inaction on Climate Change as she spoke at a panel discussion on the subject at the event. Thunberg called for an immediate end to investment in fossil fuels, saying ‘our emissions have to stop’ if the world is avert the worst effects of climate change.

Related: Greta Thunberg’s Remarks at the Davos Economic Forum


Aid groups and African civil society organisations protested the British Government’s U.K.-Africa Investment Summit this week, saying they have been excluded from the event amid concerns over its transparency and focus on trade. The summit had been organised by the UK’s development agency the Department for International Development (DFID) leading aid advocates to question whether the summit is an appropriate use of the UK’s official development assistance budget and what the summit’s private sector focus says about the UK’s aid priorities under the current government.

Related: UK-Africa summit ignored gender, climate, and poverty concerns, advocates say


The CDC Group has announced £2 billion in investment in African businesses over the next two years at the UK-African Investment Summit.

Related: UK plans African cities centre


Artelys, an independent data science company, says the European Investment Bank (EIB) risks wasting €29 billion by overinvesting in natural gas projects over the next two years. The EIB announced plans at the end of last year to end support for fossil fuels by the end of next year, but 32 gas projects are still eligible for funding before the cut-off date, projects Artelys says will become ‘stranded assets’ in the move to cleaner energy.

Related: ‘Hypocrisy’: 90% of UK-Africa summit’s energy deals were in fossil fuels


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the government of Myanmar to protect the Rohingya from genocide. The ICJ imposed emergency ‘provisional measures’ on the country, instructing the government of Aung San Suu Kyi to respect the requirements of the 1948 genocide convention.


New EU President Ursula von der Leyen is encountering resistance from the European Commission’s development department over her request to have ‘a new comprehensive strategy with Africa’ ready to be presented to EU leaders on March 10th. Von der Leyen reportedly wants to be able to claim the new strategy as one of the achievements of her first 100 days but officials say that this timeline leaves little time to consult with African leaders, an essential part of developing any joint strategy for the two continents.


World Bank President David Malpass’s decision not to attend the World Economic Forum has thwarted hopes the annual event at Davos could be used to help forge a new international consensus to tackle poverty and the climate crisis. Past Bank presidents have played a prominent role at the event, but Malpass turned down an invitation to attend in what sources say is a reflection of Malpass’s go-it-alone approach for the Bank.

Related: Court Quashes Youth Climate Change Case Against Government


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the creation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Agricultural Innovations, or Gates Ag One, a new nonprofit ‘to bring scientific breakthroughs to smallholder farmers whose yields are threatened by the effects of climate change.’ Gates Ag One will be based in St. Louis, Missouri, and led by Joe Cornelius, who is currently a director within the foundation’s Global Growth & Opportunity division.

Related: New impact fund could put smallholder finance on path to asset class


Asset manager BlackRock says it has entered a Climate Finance Partnership (CFP) with France, Germany, and the Hewlett and Grantham foundations to accelerate the flow of capital into climate-related investments in emerging markets, with a priority focus on Africa. The vehicle will feature a first-loss tranche of at least $100 million in catalytic capital, anchored by government and foundation partners, that BlackRock will use to mobilize a goal of at least $400 million in institutional capital commitments.

Related: Oceans, biodiversity, deforestation: what’s on the climate agenda for 2020?


GAVI saw two major funding commitments from donors announced at the World Economic Forum this week as German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Germany will commit €600 million to GAVI for the 2021-25 five-year period at the event, and the Gates Foundation announced it will renew its USD $75 million contribution to the Gavi Matching Fund.

Related: Q&A: New MSF President Christos Christou sets out his leadership priorities


Emma Mawdsley, an academic at the University of Cambridge who focuses on the politics of aid, says the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of gross national income (GNI)on overseas aid should be split up to safeguard funds dedicated to poverty alleviation. Mawdlsey suggestion, which proposes the UK dedicate 0.5% of its GNI to poverty reduction and another 0.5% to ‘economic diplomacy’ projects, comes amid fears in the development sector that too much of the aid budget is being used to support private sector projects and trade partnerships.


US aid experts believe the increased scrutiny the impeachment trial of President Trump has put on the process by which US foreign assistance is approved and appropriated by Congress could potentially put an end to the White House’s attempts to use budgetary mechanisms to go around Congress to cut the US’s aid budget. The past two summers the White House has tried to use a process known as ‘rescission’ to cut billions from the US’s budget only to back down in the face of bipartisan pressure but some experts believe in the wake of the impeachment trial the Trump Administration would be reluctant to take such an action again given the likelihood any effort to interfere with the foreign assistance budget would be heavily scrutinised by observers.

Related: Delayed Trump administration WPS implementation plans to be released soon


George Soros has announced the creation of a new university network to better prepare students for current and future global challenges. Soros will endow the new Open Society University Network (OSUN) with USD $1 billion and has asked other philanthropists to contribute.