Final stretch at COP23, Global Fund's new director, and a coup in Zimbabwe: This week in development

A venue at the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany. Photo by: Max Thabiso Edkins / Connect4Climate / CC BY-NC-SA

The United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, entered their final stretch, with both success and frustration after nearly two weeks of negotiations. The Global Fund had a bumpy selection path for its new director, and at the Reaching the Last Mile Summit in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the Gates Foundation partnered to mobilize resources to eliminate infectious diseases. This week in development.

The United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, have entered their final stretch, with both success and frustration to show for nearly two weeks of negotiation. Heads of state and ministers have now joined their delegates at COP23 to share their visions for what the world must do to mitigate climate change, adapt to its impacts, and maintain a fragile agreement between high-emitting and highly vulnerable countries. Some issues have advanced farther than others. Negotiators agreed to tackle immediate climate change commitments that aren't covered under the Paris Agreement, made crucial strides in tackling issues at the intersection of agriculture and climate change, and saw high-level support for climate risk insurance initiatives. There has been less progress around meeting commitments for climate finance and exploring options for providing assistance to countries that suffer loss and damage due to climate change. The United States’ imminent departure from the Paris Agreement has loomed over these talks — but a shadow delegation of American politicians, business leaders, and activists has sought to convince the global community that they are "still in."

The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria selected Peter Sands as its new executive director. The choice was in some ways a surprise, following a strange few days before the decision, which capped a controversial selection process that had to be restarted after a failed first round. Three days before the board was scheduled to meet, Devex learned that Sans, a Harvard Kennedy School fellow and the former CEO of Standard Chartered PLC, had asked to pull out from the race, only to request to be reconsidered again the day before the election. Because of the confidentiality of the process, it wasn’t clear whether the board allowed Sands to officially get back into the race until Tuesday afternoon, when the Global Fund announced he got the job. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Devex almost immediately after the announcement of his victory, Sands shed light on his decisions prior to the board meeting. He also laid out his vision for the fund in the next four years.

Henrietta Holsman Fore will likely be the next executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Devex reported this week. Multiple sources told Devex that

Fore, an American businesswoman and former U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, has been unofficially floated as the U.S. choice for the job. Historically, the top job at UNICEF has gone to the U.S. pick. Still, sources told Devex, her selection is not yet a done deal, both because UNICEF had yet to receive her formal nomination, and because there is an ongoing selection process. A job ad has been posted publicly, which will be followed by an interview with a panel selected by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who will ultimately make the decision. The application deadline for the job is Nov. 20, and the new hire will take the reins from Executive Director Anthony Lake in January.

A new, $100 million Reaching the Last Mile Fund launched to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis on Wednesday at the Reaching the Last Mile Summit in Abu Dhabi. The joint initiative between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to curb these two parasitic diseases, which have been largely brought under control and are now candidates for total eradication. Housed at the End Fund, a multi-donor platform, the 10-year fund will support tailored interventions to move from disease control to elimination in key countries in Africa and the Middle East. Both diseases are treated with the same combination drug regimen, donated by pharmaceutical companies Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. In addition to the fund, Wednesday’s summit also saw the announcement of the creation of an institute researching innovations for neglected tropical diseases, to be housed in Abu Dhabi. The Gates Foundation is among the numerous global health advocates who now see the Gulf and China as the most promising new donors and partners, officials told Devex.

Robert Mugabe's 37-year-long reign appears to be nearing its end. On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's military leaders seized control of the southern African nation, placing longtime leader Mugabe under house arrest. The apparent coup comes after Mugabe, 93, fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and purged other key officials in an apparent attempt to clear the path for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take power. Mnangagwa, who fled following his dismissal, is widely expected to return to the country to claim power, but many in the international community now hope the military could, under a certain amount of pressure, cede power to a transitional authority ahead of elections next year.

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