Following two general elections in 2019, a new government came into office in January 2020. This is based on a coalition between the socialists, the left-wing Podemos party, Basque and Catalan parties and minority regional forces. Support for conservative and far-right parties has however grown exponentially in the country.
Since the 2018 socialist government, Spain has been increasingly committed to greater international leadership. The global challenges of COVID-19 have reinforced the need to promote an active role for the country in solving global challenges and promoting global public goods at the multilateral level.
In this context, the government launched the 'Spanish Cooperation Joint Strategy to Fight COVID-19', a strategic plan aimed at responding to COVID-19 globally. The plan will focus on humanitarian and emergency assistance, multilateralism, and capacity building in middle- and low-income countries, with an indicative ODA budget of €1.7 billion to be spent in the period 2020-2021. With immediate effect, Spain has identified resources to face the crisis for an initial amount of approximately € 318 million in 2020 in grants, plus € 1.35 billion potentially of reimbursable financial cooperation.
Priority interventions outlined in this plan include, among others, strengthening public health systems, guaranteeing universal access to essential health goods such as SRH/FP services and supporting the most vulnerable populations, with a special focus on gender equality. The "new vision", which will be "feminist, defender of human rights and humanitarian", in the words of the minister of Spanish cooperation, passes through the approval of a new international cooperation law and "a profound change in the institutional model".
In October 2020, the Spanish cabinet approved the state budget bill for 2021, which will be discussed and eventually approved by the parliament by the beginning of next year. According to the budget bill, ODA funding packages at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation would increase by 21% compared to the current ODA budget for 2020. Part of this ODA increase, amounting to € 62 million, will be dedicated to multilateral funding to agencies such as UNFPA, UNICEF, UN WOMEN and UNDP, as these have been traditional partners to Spain.
In July 2020, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the 2020's annual ‘Progress Report of the 2030 Agenda’. In Spain, the 2030 Agenda institutional architecture is now the responsibility of the Vice Presidency for Social Rights, who oversees a Delegate Commission, with the participation of all Spanish Ministers, and a new Long-term Prospective Commission.
Policies & funding
In 2019, Spain’s ODA stood at 2.59 billion, making it the 13th-largest OECD donor, but representing only 0.21% of the country’s gross national income (GNI). Spain is hence far from reaching its legislative target of 0.5% by 2023 and the supposed international leadership in the sustainable development agenda. Due to long-standing political deadlocks, the Spanish government has been unable to secure parliamentary support for its budget plan since 2018. Until Spain passes a new budget, spending levels established in the 2018 budget will remain in effect, which are equivalent to €2.6 billion.
SRH/FP funding and policies
Spain´s masterplan of development cooperation 2018-2021 stresses the importance of mainstreaming issues such as human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity and environment, in line with the 2030 Agenda. It also establishes seven strategic goals, including health and sexual and reproductive health. The current government is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment, with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Overseas Development having consistently expressed commitment to SRH/FP, a feminist approach in international cooperation and the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets 3.7 and 5.6.
In 2019 Spanish support to SRH/FP amounted to € 4.23 million. This represented a decrease mostly observed in core multilateral funding, even though core contributions to UNFPA and UNICEF were kept at the same level. Specific support to UNFPA Supplies Programme has doubled, amounting to €200.000. Spanish support to SRH/FP had increased continuously on a yearly basis since 2016.
In July 2020, Spain approved a € 2.75 million contribution to UNFPA to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in health systems and guarantee the response to sexual and reproductive health needs.
Following the Nairobi commitments, the Basque Country Government continues to support the Joint Programme on Essential Services for GBV and will start to contribute in 2020 to UNFPA programmes ‘We decide’ and ‘Addressing GBV and SRH needs of women and youth as part of mixed migration humanitarian response’ in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In 2019 and 2020, the Spanish government strengthened language on SRH/FP and its own position among likeminded countries in UN processes. Its role in the promotion of SRHR is supported by a vocal All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Population, development and sexual and reproductive health, which was re-constituted after the 2019 general election.
During the plenary session of the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2020, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for strengthening international cooperation and multilateralism in order to effectively address the most pressing current global challenges. Sánchez advocated for strengthening and prioritising the World Health Organisation, and proposed to launch a "Global Health Deal” to advance epidemic preparedness standards and universal health coverage worldwide. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also launched a position paper outlining Spain’s priorities for the UNGA, which included a special focus on women's and girls’ empowerment.
Consistent with the importance that Spain attaches to gender equality and the protection of the environment, President Sánchez also spoke at the UNGA high-level meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Women’s Conference.
- Masterplan of international cooperation 2018-2021
- National action plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda
- “Gender in Development” Strategy of the Spanish Cooperation
- Health strategy of Spanish cooperation
- Progress report on SDG – 2019
- Humanitarian Action Strategy of the Spanish Cooperation 2019-2026
Updated January 2021
Beyond 2020 Roundtable: European donor support to SRHR and FP... January 12, 2021
Rights under pressure September 14, 2020
- European Institutions
- United Kingdom