Back from New York, the fight continues
By now, you all know that the Global Fund raised USD $14.25 billion during its 7th Replenishment Pledging conference on September 21st 2022 in New York City. This is the largest amount ever raised for the Global Fund. As pledges were being made, GFAN and many of its members and allies expressed appreciation for increased funding that will save lives and have impact.
Many of us very publicly and very happily thanked those countries like Germany & Japan whose early 30% increased pledges provided significant momentum to lift advocates in other traditionally “large” donor countries like Canada and the European Commission whose leaders announced 30% increases in New York.
We all noted and sincerely thanked the US government for its intended pledge of $6 billion and strong leadership from the White House and State Department – not to mention incredible CSO colleagues based in the US – to elevate conversations before and in New York City.
We cheered for the South Korea pledge with its 300% increase from 25 million to 100 million. We noted that 19 countries in total met the target of a 30% increase from their last pledge, including 7 implementing countries.
These are all contributions worth recognizing and celebrating.
I know I cheered wildly in the room for many of these announcements that were in question right up until 24-48 hours before the pledging conference. What tremendous collaborations we saw in so many places, some unprecedented levels of global CSO collaboration and elevation of strategies and tactics, strong coordinated asks – something, frankly, I believe is a unique feature of this largely “virtual” replenishment.
And yet for all our joy and relief over the results of our collective accomplishments it must be said very clearly that we have failed to meet the minimum USD $18 billion target – by a very large margin – and we cannot let that stand.
We all know the reasons why we cannot let this stand – the people who benefit from Global Fund supported programs need us to stand up and shout from every rooftop we can clamber up on to, in any way we can – that we have failed to raise enough resources for the Global Fund to achieve the impact we hoped for in the next 3 years.
I have – as many of you have – always understood that $18 billion was a low, minimum target that did not meet the fair share contribution of the Global Fund to the global plans. At GFAN, we released our own ask of a core $24 billion – aligned with global targets – and an additional $4 billion for community systems strengthening to improve pandemic preparedness and response. This replenishment – this Investment Case – was always set up with what was believed to be a politically viable target instead of the fair-share target that was needed.
With the benefit of hindsight, knowing we failed to reach even $15 billion last week, talk of how $18 billion would not have been enough might sound ludicrous. It is – and yet, it is necessary.
It is important to note that the world of before February 24, 2022, when these plans were laid, was a very different place. The Russian attack on Ukraine on the very day the Investment Case was launched not only remains a tragedy for those in the region – whose partnerships with the Global Fund were rightfully front and centre at the Replenishment as an example of tremendous work under extremely difficult circumstances. It also worsened inflation globally, required immediate financial support and political energy from many of the Global Fund’s major donors and led to a foreign exchange crisis that hit first Sri Lanka in April, the eurozone in July and now the United Kingdom. These cost of living and inflation crises are not insignificant factors in why the Replenishment landed where it did and in the weeks and months that followed the Investment Case launch, it became less and less clear what the pathway to $18 billion for the 7th Replenishment could be because without a magic wand – the pathway simply was no longer there.
But that is no reason to give up or to be intellectually dishonest with each other about the failure of the 7th Replenishment to raise sufficient funds to meet the minimum target and it doesn’t change that the impact on those the Global Fund serves will mean set-backs.
All the right words were said in New York –the Global Fund, Heads of State, by Private Sector leaders, by CSO’s, and not least by Communities who were in New York to remind us all of why investing is so critical – but that still wasn’t enough to get the minimum ask.
So what do we do now? We had drafted a statement with multiple scenarios before we knew the results, but nothing felt quite right in the hours and days after the pledging conference.
This is why, I’ve taken to this blog format to share some thoughts because frankly, I think many of us are unsure and we still need some time to assess and unpack the outcomes.
A few thoughts from me on what we must do to go forward and aggressively push to meet that minimum $18 billion target:
- Getting the strongest possible pledge from the UK and Italy is critical in the short-term (because allocations will be set by the November Board Meeting and this will be the most important indicator to countries of how much funding they have for the 2024-2026 implementation period).
- Understanding the possibilities for additional funding with a strong resource mobilization plan in 2023 and 2024 is critical to ensure that by 2025, we have met the needed $12 billion from other donors to leverage the full intended US pledge of $6 billion.
- We need to understand why some donor governments didn’t pledge at all and why some important Private Sector & Foundation pledges didn’t meet the 30% target (Gates Foundation and RED come immediately to mind) but we also have to find new, significant donors.
- Going back to governments who did not increase by 30% is going to be needed. Going back to governments who didn’t pledge at all is going to be needed. And keeping governments who have already done their fair share apprised of the risk to their existing investments if others don’t step up, to maintain a high-level of political engagement, is going to be needed.
- Starting now and throughout the cycle, we need to have regular and transparent conversations with the Global Fund Secretariat to understand how the Secretariat is preparing for needed on-going resource mobilization. We need to establish how we can support these plans as advocates including getting clear information about forecasting, risks, how foreign exchange is predicted to behave, and how the Secretariat plans to assess its sources of funds and make allocations for new funding model 4 (NFM4). We also need to know how will it allocate the additional funds that it must now raise given that existing mechanisms do not really envision a situation where the Fund has so clearly failed to meet its minimum target for country allocations.
And I am sure there is a lot more that I haven’t even thought about yet.
I think it’s fair to say that just a few months ago, many of us didn’t know how we’d even reach $14 billion in New York. We did. Barely, but we did. We did because of investment of time, resources and dedicated focus from the Global Fund Secretariat on resource mobilization, because of high-level political support from key Global Fund partners and because as CSO’s we found ways to elevate our collaborations.
Some who are newer to the field and have only seen the 5th and 6th Replenishments which met their (minimum) targets, may not know that we have faced this challenge of failing to meet the minimum target more than not. Rather frankly though, we’ve never actually solved or really taken up the challenged having only ever achieved very anemic and weak additional resource mobilization in between pledging meetings.
This did change though between the 6th and 7th replenishments when during COVID19 the Global Fund – through extraordinary effort and focus – was able to bring in significant additional resources, over $4.6 billion to support the Global Funds C19RM mechanism. Whether this kind of ongoing resource mobilization is possible outside of the emergence of a new pandemic threat and an extraordinary effort and focus, however, remains to be seen but has to start with acknowledging that raising less than $18 billion is a failure and not one we can afford to celebrate for long.
We also have to ask why some donors who are in possession of such wealth don’t see a role for themselves to increase their commitments – this is true of some governments but also of the private sector and foundations. There were no shows among their ranks, or donors investing minimal amounts into bespoke initiatives that look good on their corporate social responsibility balance sheet and absolutely have the potential to have significant impact, but don’t follow the foundational principle of the Fund of country ownership and co-creation within existing structures like CCMs but also the technical review processes and yet are “counted” as Global Fund investments.
It’s also time to rethink the mechanisms in which public and private donors invest both during Pledging and in-between and ensure that country coordination mechanisms (CCMs) are fully resourced and empowered, with real inclusion of communities and CSOs and accountability. It’s time to explore those funding mechanisms that could address real fiscal capacity issues of implementing countries who face the triple threats of reduced fiscal space, increasing debt and rising interest rates while still ensuring decision-making power on how to address these issues rests with implementing countries and CCM’s.
It’s now as simple – and as complicated as well as utterly exhausting to contemplate – as keeping up the momentum, the collaborations and the high-level of engagement and exploring every possible mechanism and pathway to increase resources available to countries to invest in HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
So after we all take some time to reflect, maybe rest and we’ll be continuing as GFAN to find ways to support you all, to create the platforms and spaces for our discussions and collaborations to continue and to keep us laser focused on raising more resources for the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
And that’s it. That’s the statement. For now.