Global Fund claims last-minute victory on $14B replenishment target

U2 singer Bono, Bill Gates, and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Sixth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Lyon, France. Photo by: Sandrine Thesillat

LYON, France — The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said it secured its $14 billion funding target at its replenishment conference Thursday, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the French government upping their earlier pledges to get donors over the line.

“We have today secured pledges and commitments for $14.02 billion,” Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands told journalists. It was a “pretty intense 24 hours” to get there, he told Devex.

On Thursday afternoon, France and the Gates Foundation both added $60 million on top of their pledges announced earlier in the day. That saw France increase its contribution by 20% compared to the 2016 pledging conference, to €1.296 billion ($1.4 billion). The Gates Foundation pledge came to $760 million.

But total pledges were still shy of the target. To get over the line, French President Emmanuel Macron, Gates, and U2 singer Bono then also “committed to raise at least a further $100 million during the [three-year] replenishment period to achieve a total of over US$14 billion,” the fund said in a press release. Macron said the $100 million commitment was an undertaking to find that amount from others by Dec. 1.

Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the ONE Campaign, which was co-founded by Bono, called the result a “huge victory for humanity, which means millions more people will get a real shot at life. Now we have to seize on this momentum and make sure we end these diseases for good.” 

Sands welcomed 20 new or returning donors who had not contributed to the previous round. There were also donations from 23 African countries and $1 billion from the private sector, including contributions from six new private donors. Eleven private sector donors agreed to provide in-kind and co-investment contributions.

After initially announcing on Thursday morning that France and the Gates Foundation would increase their contributions for the 2020-2022 period by 15%, Macron spent much of the rest of the day calling other heads of state to try and pry loose more money.

“No one will leave Lyon without us having the $14 billion,” Macron told delegates Thursday morning, pounding the lectern in a speech that ran 20 minutes over time and ended with a standing ovation.

He also took the unusual step of publicly calling out Japan, Australia, Norway, and the Gulf states as those which he would like to see increase their planned pledges.

After a call from Macron to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Canberra pledged AUD 242 million ($164 million), a 10% increase on its 2016 pledge — more than the 7% increase Australia had been planning, Macron told reporters. The Norwegian delegation said that it would pledge NOK 2.04 billion ($220 million), rather than the NOK 2.02 billion initially announced last month, compared to NOK 2 billion in 2016.  

At the closing press conference, Macron said Japan’s 5% increase made it the laggard among G-7 countries, and that he believed it could be convinced in the coming weeks to donate more.

Macron contrasted Saudi Arabia's $30 million with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which upped their pledges to $50 million, saying with a smile that Riyadh could contribute “perhaps a little more.”

Macron also drew attention to the absence of South American countries, saying he intended to try and engage those leaders.

Asked by a reporter why Russia did not contribute to the Global Fund, Sands answered: “Good question.”

“There a lot of countries, which are still not partners of the Global Fund and we are looking to broaden the donor base,” Sands said. “Particularly [for] countries like Russia which have significant disease burdens of their own, it does make sense to engage with the Global Fund."

Updates, Oct. 10 and 11, 2019: This article was updated to include new information and comments, and to clarify that the pledges are for the 2020-2022 replenishment period.

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    Vince Chadwick

    Vince Chadwick is the Brussels Correspondent for Devex. He covers the EU institutions, member states, and European civil society. A law graduate from Melbourne, Australia, he was social affairs reporter for The Age newspaper, before moving to Europe in 2013. He covered breaking news, the arts and public policy across the continent, including as a reporter and editor at POLITICO Europe.