THE UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office published a White Paper on 20 November, saying it represented a “re-energised approach to international development”.

Responding to the report, Oxfam’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Katy Chakraborrty, said: “The Government’s promise to prioritise development again is not only welcome but crucial for any hope of meeting global poverty and climate goals. The white paper is clear on the challenges posed by climate and conflict and the need for strong international partnerships to get us back on track. Focus on resilience and funding women’s rights organisations is welcome. But without a realistic source of new money aimed at poverty reduction it won’t come close to meeting those challenges.

“The failure to acknowledge that the Sustainable Development Goals are so far off track because of staggering levels of global economic inequality is a glaring omission – one that matters because the solutions need to fit the scale of the problem.

“The Foreign Secretary is right to point out that development today cannot be about rich countries doing things to others but must be about working as partners with developing countries. But the government’s enthusiasm for private financing filling the gap left by broken UK aid commitments ignores that such approaches repeatedly fail to deliver the scale of funding claimed and come with huge risks of exacerbating poverty and inequality. The strong focus on using financial institutions like British International Investment is of real concern given the evidence that this is open to abuse and has caused real harm including the violation of rights in crucial sectors like health and education. Neither do they build the kind of economies that work for women.

“We should have seen more ambition on debt, where private creditors are not being forced to change, and on taxation where developing country governments are spearheading a new UN-led global approach.

“It is not good enough for the UK to continue to push its aid commitments into the future. If the government is serious about ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change, it needs to look at the root causes of global inequality and look for ways to raise money from those who have most and who have caused the most damage.”

Christian Aid’s Chief Executive Patrick Watt said: “Recent decades have seen remarkable progress in tackling global poverty. But entrenched inequality has slowed that progress and the climate crisis and conflict threaten to throw it into reverse. Eradicating poverty and tackling the climate crisis requires fresh approaches.

“At Christian Aid, drawing on our long experience with local partners, we strongly welcome the intention to invest more in locally-led approaches and to do more to champion the greater representation of low-income countries in global decision-making.

“However, the ambition of Ministers falls far short in far too many areas, most notably on the lack of commitment to legislation to address the global debt crisis. “Without mobilising more public finance through debt cancellation, through tackling the broken global tax system, and through restoring the aid budget, then the good intentions of the White Paper cannot be realised.”

* Read the white paper here.

* Sources: Oxfam GB and Christian Aid