THE SHADOW SECRETARY OF STATE for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs set out Labour’s plans to modernise international development for the 2020s at the Annual Christian Aid Lecture, hosted by former Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu on 22 November.

David Lammy argued that in a world of acute humanitarian and climate crises which is increasingly dominated by the growing influence of authoritarian states, as well as following 12 years of failed Conservative leadership which crashed the economy and downgraded Britain’s role as a world leader on international development, fresh thinking, innovation and modernisation is needed.

In his speech, Lammy outlined Labour’s approach to international development, including:

  • Prioritising partnership and economic development over paternalism, by innovating the delivery of aid and sharing knowledge and innovation, using locally driven information to get people into decent employment and setting up a new taskforce to coordinate private sector support for development in line with the government’s priorities.
  • Modernising the mission of development aid for the challenges of the 2020s by legislating to put climate action at the heart of the aid budget and pushing for climate action to become a fourth pillar at the UN.
  • Restoring the UK’s international reputation by using new and old forums including Labour’s proposed UK-EU foreign and security pact, a clean power alliance of developed and developing nations, a global food summit, the Commonwealth, the UN, the G7 and the G20 to become one of the world’s leading conveners on international development.
  • Fixing the Government’s botched merger of DFID and the FCO by creating a new model for international development in government to meet the challenges of the 21st century, which recognises that development and diplomacy are related but distinct.

Lammy said: “In an age of authoritarians, and acute crises in poverty, conflict, global health insecurity and climate change, we need to modernise international development. Aid in the 2020s must not be patronising or paternalistic, and instead build new relations of equals, based on respect and mutual trust.

“Multilateralism, development and diplomacy are still the best tools in our shared aspiration for lives of dignity and opportunity, at home and across the world. But 12 years of Conservative government has broken our relationships and trashed our reputation as well as our economy, leaving Britain disengaged.

“The last Labour government made Britain a world leader in development, helping to lift 3 million people out of poverty each year. By innovating the delivery of aid, setting up a new taskforce to coordinate private sector support for development in line with the government’s priorities, legislating to put climate action at the heart of the aid budget, and leading internationally as a global convener in development, we will shine a light for human progress once again.”

Patrick Watt, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, added: “In places like East Africa, the climate crisis is triggering increasingly severe and frequent droughts and floods that are destroying homes and habitats. I therefore welcome David Lammy using Christian Aid’s annual lecture to reiterate Labour’s commitment to put climate action at the heart of development, including the importance he gives to loss and damage.

“The Shadow Foreign Secretary is also right to say we need a new vision for international development to meet the challenges of the 21st century. When poverty is increasingly concentrated amongst people who face exclusion and discrimination, we must do more to shift power and resources into the hands of affected communities. We look forward to working with David Lammy to inform that vision.”

* Source: Christian Aid