ACT Alliance concerned about the negative effects of cuts in development assistance to Global Health [Press release WHA75]

The World Health Organisation opened the 75th World Health Assembly yesterday on Sunday, the 22nd of May, 2022.  

Tomorrow, the Assembly will discuss WHO’s work in health emergencies and the plans to improve pandemic preparedness.

Four regions are currently experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases, and the number of deaths is on the rise in Africa. The pandemic is not over, while the attention and the funding seem to be fading. 

Governments in Europe are cutting their aid budgets including funding for global health. While the WHO is calling for adequate resources from States to meet its crucial mandate, some traditionally key donors are channelling less than expected funding into its structure, and other global health initiatives.

The update submitted to the assembly from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness is worrying. They argue that progress is slow and, in their words, at the present pace “the world is laying the groundwork for failure and the risk of a new pandemic with the same devastating consequences”.

“If confirmed, these budget cuts are worrisome especially at a time when we should redouble our efforts to prevent future pandemics, not reduce them. The humanitarian impact of outbreaks like the COVID-19 has a negative effect not only on community and global health but also on justice and human rights. I trust that governments will reconsider these myopic cuts and work collectively to strengthen and support WHO’s work”, says the General Secretary of the ACT Alliance Rudelmar Bueno de Faria.

“Now is the time to build WHO stronger, not to weaken this important tool for pandemic preparedness”, says Dagfinn Høybråten, General Secretary of Norwegian Church Aid, a member organisation of the ACT Alliance.

“We are concerned of the overall cuts to development aid, including cuts to important global health work such as the Global Fund as seen in Sweden. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the world was not on track to reach the SDG 3 on health and wellbeing. A strong and ongoing investment in global health is crucial to build back better from the pandemic.” says Erik Lysen, moderator of the ACT Alliance and Director of Act Church of Sweden.

For media enquiries please contact: 

Daniela Varano, ACT Alliance, or

Dr Marianna Leite, Global Advocacy and Development Policy Manager, ACT Alliance,

ACT Alliance is a global network of religious organisations and churches operating in more than 145 countries worldwide working on humanitarian relief, migration and displacement, climate and gender justice.

Local churches are frontline response for 10 million displaced Ukrainians

Joint media briefing ACT Alliance and World Council of Churches

During a 22 March press briefing, a delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance shared their observations from a recent trip to Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, where they witnessed firsthand both urgent humanitarian needs and a robust church response.

“You see the consequences of war which is forcing millions of people to leave their land,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT Alliance general secretary, noting the heightened risk for human trafficking and forced labor.

“We heard from ACT members and from church workers that the first wave of refugees were mainly people with healthy financial situations and good connections in Europe,” he said, while a second wave comprised people with fewer resources.

“The third wave we are facing now is of people without any resources,” he said. “During the visit we could see the distinctive role that church and faith-based organizations played in the emergency response so far.”

Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, said that the reason church response is able to happen is because many churches are well-equipped structurally to quickly turn compassion into actions that address human need, wherever it occurs.

“When in Hungary and in Romania, we heard the churches telling us that they were among the first ones to respond to the crisis at the borders,” she said. “For me, it’s not so much the churches responding to this particular issue—it’s because they already have structures in the churches to respond to any humanitarian need.”

Those structures have been used with a sense of caring and mission by churches that have responded, for example, to COVID-19 and other disasters, she added. “They are using the same structures to respond now to the humanitarian needs of the refugees coming out of Ukraine.”

Peter Prove, WCC director of international affairs, commented on the large dimension of this humanitarian catastrophe. “I think the latest figures we have heard from UN sources are something approaching 10 million people are displaced as a result of this conflict, both refugees crossing the borders into other countries, and internally displaced within Ukraine.”

That amounts to one quarter of the population of Ukraine, he said. “That really sets the dimensions of this crisis in perspective,” he said.

Prove took a moment to celebrate the response of local churches. “This welcome, organized at the local level by local communities and local churches, is incredibly warm and incredibly hospitable, and that is very much to be celebrated,” he said.

All three speakers emphasized the need for the same level of hospitality and care for people of color and others who are not receiving equal consideration as they, too, flee Ukraine.

The press briefing was moderated by Simon Chambers, director of communication ACT Alliance and Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of communication.

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Time to depoliticize women’s access to health – Global Gag Rule risks to the global development agenda


GENEVA, April 6, 2017– The United States administration’s reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule” in early 2017 undermines crucial funding to a broad range of sexual and reproductive health services and ends up risking advancement of the global development agenda. The US decision to deny future funding for actors like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a major concern, says global church-based network ACT Alliance.

The polarization over the political and practical support to sexual and reproductive health is likely to reduce access to health services and may end up risking lives. It is high time to depoliticize women’s access to health, says ACT Alliance.

The growing political divide over the goals of the global development agenda, less than two years after Agenda 2030 was endorsed by the United Nations member states, risks little progress being made on a number of Sustainable Development Goals.

Good health and well-being for all cannot be secured without adequate access to family planning, age-of-consent minimums, access to sexual and reproductive health care and context-appropriate comprehensive sexual education for all, says ACT Alliance.

ACT Alliance goes regional to have a stronger voice in Africa

Gez in the launch”Economic growth in many African countries is risking coming at the expense of the poor. Despite a decade of high growth across the African continent, the wealth created is not being adequately shared. This continues to limit the progress for human development in Africa and could risk achieving agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals just approved by global leaders”, said Ms. Pauliina Parhiala, Director of ACT Alliance, during the launch of the ACT Alliance office for Africa in Nairobi.

Inequality within nations is in increase. Growing inequalities, unaddressed, could end up excluding people, provoking conflict, reducing opportunities for sustainable development and undermining democratic processes. ACT Alliance with faith and civil society partners have been calling for a global development agenda which would leave no one behind. The agenda 2030 needs to ensure that full attention is given to the poor and most marginalised communities through integrated agenda that looks at the issue across economic, social and environmental perspectives, with dignity and human rights at its heart.

Also climate policy needs to address inequalities. Climate change disproportionately impacts poor and marginalised people and communities, women and girls and is a major driver for forced displacement.

”Addressing climate change is primarily a moral issue. Addressing it requires human decision and human action. Never before have our communities needed us as now”, said Rev. John McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service, ACT Alliance member, urging faith leaders and civil society movements to be increasingly proactive in demanding change. He is also Global Climate Change Ambassador for the USA.

“Today we mark the presence of ACT Alliance’s global secretariat in Nairobi. The decision to decentralize the ACT secretariat to several offices is an intentional effort to bring closer proximity to the membership of the Alliance but also to transfer resources increasingly to the accompaniment of the Alliance members in the regions to learn, work and innovate increasingly together. This allows us to be more responsive to the needs and circumstances in the African context”, said Mr. Gezahegn Gebrehana, Regional Representative of ACT Alliance for Africa.

Guests who spoke during the event include Reverend Canon Peter Karanja, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and Reverend Dr. Andre Karamanga, General Secretary of All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). About 100 guests from United Nations agencies, international organisations and ecumenical partners, ACT Alliance members and ACT Forum in Kenya were present.

ACT Alliance office for Africa was launched in the context of Pan-African Faith Leader’s Summit just prior the arrival of Pan African Cycling Caravan to Nairobi. ACT Alliance calls for ambitious and just climate agreement from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) starting in few weeks time in Paris.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and faith-based organizations working together in over 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality in keeping with the highest international codes and standards. Currently, ACT Alliance has 46 members in Africa and its members convene in 20 country forums and two sub-regional forums.


For further comments, please contact

Director Pauliina Parhiala, ACT Alliance, +41 79 963 5333,

Regional Representative Gezahegn Gebrehana, ACT Alliance +254 726 478 062,

Paris agreement should address weak climate pledges

The climate summit in Paris must agree on an international agreement which will be effective in fighting climate change. The biggest priority for the summit will be to develop such an agreement with the necessary elements to progressively increase ambition in the coming years and decades.

The UN aggregate analysis report of the national climate contributions shows that the world is on track for even more dangerous impacts of climate change than estimated up to now. It is imperative that the Paris Agreement puts in place frameworks that will help countries review and increase their climate action and commitments.

As a global alliance of faith-based development and humanitarian NGOs, ACT Alliance has quite some experience with communities suffering from challenges related to global warming – and the future is frightening.

The analysis shows how governments have made very different plans, hence making comparison difficult and essentially hindering global cooperation to raise ambition.

According to the co-chair of the ACT Alliance advisory group on climate change advocacy, Mattias Söderberg, we need an agreement based on transparency and accountability, with clear rules in the implementation. “Countries must agree on how to focus, so that cooperation can be promoted.” 

Considering the need to scale up ambition, the time frames for national commitments become crucial.

The analysis underlines the need to have a short revision and commitment period. There is a need also to reconsider and scale-up national actions, and therefore the agreement must not lock in low ambition for many years”, Mattias Söderberg continues.

It is important to note that the actions of developing countries should be supported and boosted by financial support from developed countries.

According to Söderberg climate finance is urgently needed.

“It is evident that the full amount of actions needed, will not happen unless concrete support is provided. The Paris agreement must include a strong finance element, ensuring scaled up finance in the coming years.’’


For further comments, please contact the head of the ACT Alliance delegation, Mattias Söderberg, tel.: +45-29700609, email:

Death toll rises to over 360 from earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan

More than 360 people are reported dead, mostly in Pakistan, after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan on Monday. At least 2,000 people were injured, with casualty figures expected to rise as rescuers begin to reach more remote areas.

According to ACT Alliance members and partners, earthquake-affected communities are in dire need of food support, winter kits, emergency health assistance and non-food items. Many have lost their homes, in addition to personal belongings and food stocks, as freezing temperatures affect the northern parts of both countries. Many areas are still inaccessible due to landslides, road damage and disrupted communication networks.

ACT Alliance Global Humanitarian Coordinator, Reshma Adatia, reinforces the struggle of reaching the hardest hit areas. “Many villages even in regular circumstances are one or two hours from proper roads. Accessing those communities in order to assess the needs and provide humanitarian assistance will be a major challenge.”

According to the US Geological Service, the earthquake was 196 kilometers deep, with the epicenter 82 kilometers southeast of Fayazabad, Afghanistan, in the district of Jurm, in the Hindu Kush mountain range.

“The worst affected areas are in remote areas of the Hindu Kush range and the full extent of the damage and causalities is difficult to estimate accurately at such an early stage,” says Anoop Sukumaran, ACT Alliance Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Some of the affected areas are also affected by ongoing insecurity and conflict, both of which exacerbate the impact of the quake.”






Notes to editor:

Anoop Sukumaran, Regional Representative, ACT Alliance

Email: anoop.sukumaran(at)

Phone: +66 (0)2 214 6077


ACT Alliance opens a presence in Latin America and the Caribbean

Several high level events took place in San Salvador, El Salvador on the occasion of the launch of the regional presence of ACT Alliance for Latin America and the Caribbean end of October. As an outcome, it is expected that climate justice will be at the heart of the work of the ACT Alliance in the region.

“The goal of our work on climate justice is to protect lives,” said ACT Alliance General Secretary John Nduna during a public event held at the ministry of foreign affairs of El Salvador. The event was part of the launch of the regional office of the ACT Alliance in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nduna’s speech at the public event highlighted the need for strong regional cooperation around the two demands that ACT is putting forward to the global leaders that are expected to sign a climate agreement in Paris later this year.

“We want to see ambitious and strong climate actions at national and international levels, adequate to stop climate change and keep global warming well-below 1.5 degrees Celsius, that also delivers and scales up public finance to enable the poorest to adapt to climate change and continue to develop in a low carbon sustainable way,” Nduna said.

ACT Alliance has been engaged in initiatives worldwide around the “Act Now for Climate Justice” campaign, such as the Pan African Cycling Caravan, in which cyclists covered over 6500 kilometers from Mozambique to Kenya raising awareness about climate change. In Sweden, Norway and other European countries, ACT campaigners coordinated advocacy actions towards their respective governments.

In El Salvador and other Latin American countries, an ACT youth network has been working hard to engage communities, churches and other sectors of civil society around the two climate justice demands.

During the event at the Salvadorean chancellery, ACT’s regional representative Mr. Carlos Rauda collected the signatures of the vice-minister for cooperation and other government representatives and congressmen.

The campaign has an additional target of collecting one million signed petitions that will be delivered to leaders that will gather for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the French capital between November 30 to December 11.



UN climate talks: Close, but yet so far

While the number of hours left for climate negotiations are rapidly shrinking, the actual draft agreement is making little progress. The UN climate talks are expected to deliver a global climate agreement at the climate summit, COP21, in Paris in December, and the negotiations in Bonn this week were meant to advance the draft agreement.

ACT Alliance is a global network of churches and faith-based NGOs, working with development and relief, in 140 countries around the world. The General Secretary of the ACT Alliance, John Nduna, says:

“The people we meet on the ground are facing daily challenges due to the effects of climate change. We try to support them in their struggle to develop and build resilient livelihoods, but the increasing effects of droughts, floods and other climate related weather events hinder their efforts. Lack of meaningful progress towards the agreement is a big disappointment for the poor and vulnerable people who are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

The UN negotiations in Bonn end today, but after a week of negotiations, there is still a lot yet to be done. The head of the ACT Alliance delegation to the talks, Mattias Söderberg comments:

“Everybody knows that these negotiations are serious; they are not only about our own future, but also about the lives of poor and vulnerable people who are affected by climate change already today. I am deeply concerned about the slow progress and I urge negotiators to make a final effort to change their approach. All parties need to leave their comfort zones and start to look for agreeable solutions, which can foster a fair and ambitious agreement in Paris.”

Söderberg continues:

“There is no agreement about climate finance, the major questions of who should provide the finance, how much, and to who remain unanswered. The poor and vulnerable community remain confident that these questions will be answered in their favour, considering the fact that they are already affected by the impacts of climate change.”

“We know lack of action to reduce emissions will lead to a greater need for adaptation. However, with lack of finance for adaptation we will face even greater loss and damage. The logic is clear, but still developed countries refuse to give loss and damage proper attention.”

“Considering the lack of ambition in climate pledges made by countries during the past months, it is worrying to see the difficulties to reach agreement about mechanism to increase the ambition in the coming years. With no strong review possibilities and no agreed formats or accounting systems, low ambition may be locked in for decades”, adds Söderberg.

Earlier in the week, a statement signed by more than 150 faith leaders from different religions and countries was handed over to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. In the statement, the leaders encouraged governments to seriously consider the moral imperative of protecting the poor and most vulnerable in the climate change negotiations. ACT Alliance, General Secretary, John Nduna, concludes:

“We have faith and believe that world leaders can show leadership and take the necessary bold decisions. The climate summit in Paris is getting closer, and it is now time for ambitious action.”



For further comments, please contact the head of the ACT Alliance delegation, Mattias Söderberg, tel.: +45-29700609, email:


154 religious leaders from all world regions call for a zero carbon, climate resilient and equitable future

Today a statement signed by 154 religious leaders from different faith groups has been handed over to the Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres.

While negotiators representing 194 countries gather in Bonn this week to work on a draft text for December’s climate conference in Paris, religious leaders are issuing this call for an ambitious climate agreement, remind all governments to commit to emission cuts and climate risk reduction, and pledge important contributions from their own faith communities, including divestment from fossil energy.

Among the signatories are: Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Church of South Africa, Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno, speaker of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), Imam Ibrahim Saidy, and Sulak Sivaraksa, International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

Coordinated by ACT Alliance, CIDSE, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Religions for Peace, and the Word Council of Churches, a common statement has been published today in Bonn, Germany. The statement was handed over to Ms. Christiana Figueres by Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, Director of Bread for the World, Germany, Karin Kortmann, Vice President of the Catholic Lay Council of Germany.

“We urge governments to commit to building climate resilience, phasing out fossil energies and reaching zero emissions by mid century. We call for a robust mechanism to review and ratchet up ambitions, transparency and accountability rules applicable to all, and the provision of finance and support to poor and vulnerable countries”, said Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel.

“Guided by our religious beliefs, we as faith leaders have come together to call for an ambitious Paris outcome. In the past month the UN family has decided to take responsibility for both, environment and humankind by approving the Agenda 2030. In Paris the heads of states and governments have the chance to give evidence, how serious they are. The survival of millions of human beings depends on them,” said Karin Kortmann.

This call builds on a growing number of calls from faith groups made throughout the last 12 months, such as the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’, the declaration of the New York Interfaith Summit, the Lambeth Declaration, and the Islamic declaration on climate change. Such calls also mark the engagement of different faith groups working together towards the same goals. The message from faith groups is now unequivocal.

The declaration is available in COP21_Statement_englisch
French COP21_Declaration_french

The statement is available in English
in French PR Faith Leader Statement_FR
Spanish Draft press release faith leader statement_ACT_ESPAÑOL
and German COP 21 Kirchen Klima-Erklärung.

Notes to editor:
Mattias Söderberg, ACT Alliance, +45-29700609

Concrete commitments needed to safeguard migrants’ rights says ACT Alliance


More legal channels for migration are needed to ensure refugees’ protection, and help migrants have access to decent work in destination countries, international humanitarian and development network ACT Alliance has said.

As the Global Forum on Migration and Development came to a close in Istanbul, Turkey, last week, ACT Alliance said that there is a clear need to address the systemic issues underlying the global migrant and refugee crisis debate to ensure a rights-based approach to related policy.

The Global Forum, which met from 14-16 October, brought together governments and civil society to discuss migration issues tied in to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, recruitment reform, migrants in crisis and related xenophobia.

“States have to protect human rights and labour rights, which form the cornerstone of fairer migration policies by ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,” said Sophia Wirsching, Chair of the ACT Alliance Community of Practice on Migration and Development. “This provides the means and the guidance to transform rights into effective tools to promote broader prosperity and realize sustainable development and ensure dignity for all, including for migrants.”

While the alliance welcomed the inclusion of migrants and migration in five of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals, it also stated that there was an urgent need for civil society to be effectively included in the formulation of indicators for the relevant targets, which are due in March 2016.

“The joint civil societies’ position for goals and targets of the global development agenda follows a human-centered, rights-based approach,” said Wirsching. “Migration is not a singled out phenomena but is linked to various dimensions of peoples’ struggles for equality, dignity, decent work and human rights. For these issues to be effectively addressed and resolved it is imperative that we have far more regular dialogue between civil society and governments on issues of migration and development. This is what will lead to more substantive engagement and sustainable results.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. ACT Alliance is a network of over 140 church and faith based organisations working together in 140 countries to achieve sustainable change in the lives of people affected by crisis, disasters, poverty and injustice.
  2. For more information about this issue and for interviews contact Sophia Wirsching at
  3. For more information about ACT Alliance visit