Motion to Take Note
My Lords, I was delighted when I learnt that I had been successful in the ballot for today’s debate. It is a pleasure to see that my noble friend Lord Ahmad will respond for the Government today, and I am sure he will continue his excellent start on the Front Bench with his new portfolio. I tabled this Motion after receiving in March and April of this year two very disappointing answers to my Written Questions to DfID on our Government’s plans for engagement with the public, the private sector and here in Parliament on the shape and elements of the successor framework for the millennium development goals. The ministerial replies I received indicated that there were no plans to provide either House with an opportunity to debate this critical issue. Surely, on something as important as the millennium development goals, where the Prime Minister has a unique contribution to make on our behalf as co-chairman of the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and with Britain having the presidency of the G8 next year, the Government should not have had to be dragged to the Dispatch Box through a balloted debate. Parliamentary time should have been made available. The large number of noble Lords who are to follow my own remarks today show the necessity for the Government to do so. I hope that the Minister will reassure me that this will be the case.
I believe that the post-2015 goals require a redefinition of “development”. Development is about more than simply reducing poverty. At its centrepiece is the fight against corruption, the support of political and civil liberties, especially but not only for women, and access to public health for all—health that enfolds all diseases. The UK’s leadership on development should seek to strengthen the inclusion of values that we strongly support, such as the fundamental freedoms, rule of law and free market, and it must include a clear analysis of the distinctive nature of fragile and conflict-affected states. Unique targets for and within such affected populations are required in any post-2015 framework.
In the run up to 2015, we can rightly celebrate a number of successes brought about by the millennium development goals. They have taken development to the top of the global agenda. The target for halving the population of the world whose income is less than $1.25 a day has been achieved—a core goal in the overall UN strategy of poverty reduction in every country. The millennium development goals are also simple and easy to understand, communicate in every language and promote worldwide. However, these tangible successes must not divert us from the harder tasks ahead. Millennium development goal failings include the vast disparity between countries and the different goals in achieving the targets set. There is a growing cluster of countries that are being left behind. The millennium development goals were set by donors with little if any local involvement. This time round we must enshrine goals that respond to the demands, and meet the concerns, of the people we seek to support. What do these populations require? Overwhelmingly, they seek the fundamental freedoms: democracy, the rule of law, the development of the private sector, an effective fight against corruption and to lead their lives in an environment of peace and stability. In this light, I suggest that the narrow prism of development—as defined by the MDGs—is less than adequate for the tasks in hand.
This may be why a lopsided focus on certain development issues has emerged from the implementation of the MDGs so far. For example, the great expansion of global health institutions, such as the Gates Foundation, the GAVI Alliance—formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation—and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has been highly valuable, helping countless millions in extreme need to achieve freedom from pain and suffering. However, the near-messianic focus of these new and powerfully funded global health institutions on single diseases or single health tools—such as immunisation—has pushed aside the World Health Organisation’s topmost priority of access to affordable public health provision, both preventive and curative, for all humanity.
These fast-forwarding, vertical health interventions have not only drained funding from the World Health Organisation’s Health For All campaign, but it has also weakened and hollowed out local capacity to plan, administer and deliver public health on a continuing and sustainable base to local populations. This core weakness of the MDGs affects the global topmost priority of health. Primary health should become as strong a goal as primary education. Nor do the MDGs’ overall statistical analysis on health, as understood through DfID’s expenditure, highlight the health needs of acutely underserved populations in continuing complex emergencies, who are perhaps the neediest of all. The new framework for the MDGs should address these issues rigorously.
I turn to the millennium development goal for primary education. The Government have mentioned in the other place that the MDGs’ focus on quantitative results has skewed incentives, such as measuring school attendance rates rather than the quality of education actually received by those who attend school. Interestingly, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact has criticised DfID for that in two recent reports on its educational programmes in Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
I see four major gaps in the MDGs that need to be resolved in any successor framework: the fundamental freedoms, development of democracy, rule of law, development of the private sector and fight against corruption. I turn first to the fundamental freedoms and development of democracy. Our long-term aim in providing development assistance is to support the advance of a prosperous, well governed, democratic and stable polity that includes all its citizens equally in development. If that is the case, development cannot only be about poverty reduction. The problem is that the MDGs define development need through a poverty reduction lens, excluding such factors as human rights and corruption. In UK thinking, such neglect is accentuated by the lack of political economy analysis in our development policy, and because the FCO leads on human rights policy but not on all the related issues. This has resulted in a DfID development policy led by the MDGs that does not require the acquisition of a political understanding of the contexts in which it works. The lack of human rights in the MDG agenda needs to be rectified. Other national development agencies, such as Germany’s, have recognised the clear synergies between development and human rights, and development and democracy promotion. We are yet to set out a similar approach in the UK, leading to obvious concerns about their place in any post-2015 development framework. Will the Minister indicate in what way the Government intend to ensure that human rights will be central to any post-2015 framework?
A focus on the fundamental freedoms and the development of democracy highlights a more nuanced perspective of development need. Until now, the MDG agenda has focused largely on sub-Saharan Africa while neglecting areas such as the Middle East and North Africa. This is surprising, since the Middle East and North Africa suffers from structural violence, acute political repression and a severe lack of civil liberties, making it profoundly poor in terms of rights. The MDGs’ lack of focus on MENA arises from their privileging of material poverty over social and political change. Furthermore, despite the G8’s Deauville declaration in May 2011 that the Arab spring’s political movements,
“are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall”,
such rhetoric has not been fulfilled with the action and funding appropriate to the scale of transformation identified. Is it surprising that such glowing forecasts have not come to pass and show scant signs of doing so?
In the UK, DfID and the FCO have agreed to work together on a £110 million Arab partnership initiative from 2011-12 to 2014-15. In effect, we are providing across MENA, over a period of four years, a level of funding that is about one-third of what Ethiopia received in 2011-12, even though this funding is for a political and social transformation that we believe is on a par with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Frankly, that is nonsensical and underlines the lack of consideration that the MDGs provide toward human rights, political and civil liberties, and confronting deep-seated political, social and economic forces that support corrupt, deeply unequal and repressive states. A focus on poverty based only on income and on delivery of social services enables the sidestepping of such fundamentally challenging issues at the expense of the people who experience them.
I turn to the rule of law, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. The increasing stress on the need for poverty reduction on security grounds has been a pillar of the work of DfID and of many other aid agencies since 9/11. This rests to a significant extent on the work of Paul Collier, who has argued that:
“War retards development, but conversely, development retards war”.
This belief leads directly to DfID’s identification of 21 out of 28 priority countries as fragile and conflict-affected. DfID says this is to capture the multidimensional nature of fragility. I am not denying that it is multidimensional, but I believe that the concept is being stretched for the purpose of justifying poverty reduction on security grounds. This surely provides an exceptionally weak foundation, as the major body of evidence from the field shows that it is misleading to argue conflict is development in reverse. Perhaps surprisingly, human conflict has often been the engine of development and not the obverse. Nor does it fully capture the range of factors and dynamics driving poverty and insecurity, which I would identify as corruption, heavy discrimination against different faiths, the enforced lack of freedom of association, and the lack of employment and commercial opportunities to generate entrepreneurship and private sector growth, and other matters. Surely we can all agree that these fragile and conflict-afflicted states are in a special category of concern, and that each population requires tailored and not template solutions. In his reply, can the Minister identify how the Government will incorporate conflict and security, particularly human and personal security, into the post-2015 framework?
On the development of the private sector, it is almost impossible without huge oil reserves to become a middle-income country without an industrial or manufacturing sector, particularly as this is where jobs and futures are created. Yet the MDGs do not even mention the private sector and most development work, ours included, focuses on small-scale initiatives, which do not add up to a growth strategy. I would very much welcome the Minister indicating whether the Government are working to include in the post-2015 framework words such as “industrialise” or “exports”, instead of what the Prime Minister highlighted in his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, as the way to unleash the dynamism of developing economies. He said that it was,
“enabling farmers to access price information by mobile phone”.
While that is undoubtedly helpful, it is not a growth strategy that will lead to full-scale and long-term development. Can the Minister indicate whether the Government are considering how to integrate major trade preferences for developing economies into the post-2015 framework? Are they considering how to facilitate, rather than impede, migration, which has been shown to have positive development implications? After all, ODA is dwarfed every year by foreign direct investment and remittances. The post-2015 framework must harness and work with these financial flows.
On the fight against corruption, last year’s World Development Report made it clear that institutional legitimacy is the key to stability, while corruption has the doubly pernicious impacts of fuelling grievances and undermining the effectiveness of national institutions. Without comprehensive anti-corruption reforms, neither the long-term nor the immediate goals of development will be met. In his op-ed, the Prime Minister highlighted this point by mentioning corrupt elites and multi-national companies’ transparency but without putting any meat on the bones of how he intends to frame a post-2015 goal against such elites. Can the Minister suggest how the Government propose to develop a serious fight against corruption at all levels within the new MDG framework?
Finally, the four core pillars that I have identified require a broadly conceived post-2015 framework, where development does not solely mean poverty reduction but a redefined development of prosperity and freedom. I have raised many issues that have traditionally not spanned the majority of our development work on the ground. These involve the Foreign Office, UKTI and the British Council, among many more. It is essential that once the Government have developed our position towards the post-2015 framework, which will utilise large sums of UK taxpayers’ money and materially affect billions of people in the decades following 2015, that both Houses have the opportunity to debate this position. I look for a commitment from the Minister on this. It also indicates that we should begin a discussion here in Parliament on how best our ministries, agencies, and government-supported organisations should be shaped and led for the grave challenges that lie ahead for the rich and poor alike. I beg to move.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, and I pay tribute to way in which she has introduced the debate. I pay tribute to her work and understanding of these very important issues. She provided a comprehensive introduction. I support her call for greater time to be made available to debate these important issues. I hope that that message has been heard on the Front Bench and among the business managers. Perhaps there might even be a case for the Chairman of Committees looking at a special ad hoc Select Committee to look at the millennium development goals, supporting the work of the Prime Minister and the high-level panel, because of the wealth of expertise which exists in this House on this subject.
I will focus on one issue that the noble Baroness has already referred to: conflict and development. One of the elements that I have always found disappointing about the millennium development goals is that within the eight goals, within the 21 targets, within the 60 indicators, there is not one single mention of conflict prevention, or the essential condition of peace which precedes development in any country. Not a single low-income or fragile, conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single millennium development goal. Nine of the 10 poorest countries in the world are fragile states. It has been estimated that a civil war can cost 30 years of GDP growth in its impact on the economy. The noble Baroness mentioned Paul Collier who is highly esteemed in these areas and who said that war was “development in reverse”. One and a half billion people live in conflict-affected states: 60% of the refugee flows which are a prime cause of poverty are attributed to people fleeing violence. It is therefore essential that conflict prevention should be at the heart of the successor regime to the millennium development goals. I pay tribute to the Government for the way they are approaching this. They have led with documents such as the excellent Building Stability Overseas Strategy which shaped a cross-departmental approach to these issues and they have enhanced the Conflict Pool for conflict prevention. Prevention is always more cost-effective than intervention. If we have learnt anything over the past 10 years, we have surely learnt that by now. The expansion of the Conflict Pool up to £300 million in 2014 is very welcome indeed. Peace is the essential building block from which all else follows.
The millennium development goals were of their time. When they were conceived at the G7 conference—as it was then—in Cologne in 1999, the world was a very different place. It was a time of heady optimism between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the tragic terrorist attacks which occurred on 11 September and which slammed the door shut on a very optimistic view of how the world could develop going forward. I urge the Minister to feed back to the Prime Minister and to other departments that we do not just need to tweak the millennium development goals. They were of a time and of a place and we missed that opportunity because the successor to the Cologne agreement was the Monterrey development finance commitment where people said they would put up the money to make sure that the development goals were brought into reality. That has not happened and I am delighted that this Government, even in the toughest of economic times, are actually going to make good on that commitment by 2013. This gives tremendous credibility to the Prime Minister in advancing this case on the millennium development goals with colleagues at the G8.
Once we have peace and security and the aid and development are coming in, we must remember that the reason why most people have been lifted out of poverty over the past 10 years has not been as a result of any of that. It has been a result of the growth and dynamism of economies such as China and India. China has lifted more people out of poverty than any other nation in history. We need to remember the centrality of trade: trade liberalisation has been part of the drive for development. It is trade and it is aid, but it is all built on peace.
My Lords, I also thank the noble Baroness for initiating this very timely debate and for her wise words during her speech. In the MDGs, we have a common, agreed agenda. It is time-bound and measurable and includes priorities which have multiplier effects in other areas. Our obligation now, and post-2015, is to provide continuing leadership and partnership with developing countries on, for instance, child and maternal health, nutrition, education and gender rights. A huge amount is now at stake and we must work to accelerate progress towards meeting the MDG objectives before 2015. The framework we have had since 2000 has helped to raise global awareness of the interrelated and multi-dimensional nature of poverty. In addition, and importantly, MDGs have made the development process more understandable by both the public and policymakers. They are goals drawn up by 187-odd heads of state, so it was a challenging time. A global willingness to do more after 2015 will depend on the judgments that will inevitably be made about the MDGs’ achievements—essentially, a future framework will have to deal with the MDGs’ unfinished business.
Regrettably, the promise offered by the millennium declaration in 2000, which preceded the MDGs, has not been met. This declaration promised freedom, solidarity, equality, tolerance, the right to development and human rights, and that this would be for everyone. Together, these objectives spell out a firm commitment to social justice as the guiding spirit of the millennium declaration. However, that promise was lost in translation when the eight MDGs with targets and indicators were drawn up. Now we see clearly that the failure to retain an explicit commitment to equality has led to uneven progress and the persistence of inequalities and social exclusion. These omissions must be the major focus of efforts to devise a post-2015 programme.
In addition, the use of national averages to measure progress has meant that efforts have not been able to focus on the hard-to-reach poor, who are excluded because of ethnicity, disability, gender or location. We know that national ownership and leadership make the real difference and post-2015 these will absolutely have to be in place. The MDGs were primarily top-down; they were negotiated behind closed doors and then pushed through the General Assembly. A new post-2015 agenda must be grounded in human rights, reducing inequality and ensuring environmental sustainability, and the process has to be inclusive. It must be drawn up after a rigorous process of consultation and commitment to the concept of genuine partnership.
The challenges post-2015 are formidable but doable, and we can then hope for a green, inclusive and equitable world. Twenty years ago, more than 90% of the world’s poorest people lived in low-income countries; now 75% of the world’s poorest people live in middle-income countries. There is now a new geography of poverty, which will pose great problems in the discussions on the post-2015 arrangements. What we need to know, and to respond to, is how to deal with people who are systematically excluded and marginalised because of their social identities. We can tick the boxes when we use MDGs as our benchmarks, but social exclusion and environmental sustainability are not factored in and we must work out how these essential issues can be tackled.
As we look at the impact of the MDGs, it is also important to take into account the very different political and economic context of the post-2015 framework, as has been mentioned. A very important question is whether the UK is calling for data disaggregated by gender, disability and age. One of the problems we face is that we are unable to make those assessments. For instance, will there be an investment in ensuring that Governments in developing countries have the statistical support that they will need to provide these data?
Whatever else we do after 2015 we should not lose sight of working to meet the unmet promises of the MDGs, but we should also adopt an uncompromising position on finishing the job. In the months and years ahead, we must avoid a sort of Christmas tree approach, where we have a declaration haphazardly overloaded with goods like ornaments festooning the branches of the tree. We must stick with health outcomes such as child and maternal mortality, as well as literacy, respect of civic and political rights, a minimum of income as everyone’s right, meaningful employment, and goals that must survive after 2015. Global environmental sustainability also has to be a priority. This is a challenging list but one that, with political will, we can achieve.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lady Nicholson on an illuminating speech—I look towards her so that she can hear what I am saying. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, on her contribution, which I think I can build on.
There has been, I think, almost universal agreement that the MDGs have been successful in reaching most of the world’s poor. Sadly and frustratingly, they have not reached the world’s most poor. Forty per cent of the populations living in fragile states are living below the poverty threshold of $1.25 a day. A third of the world’s poorest live in the 45 states identified as fragile by the OECD. Not a single fragile state has met any of the MDGs.
World Vision argues that a new set of goals must first correct the development deficit in fragile states if global initiatives are going to address the root causes of poverty. They point out that, within fragile states, women and children suffer most from the lack of progress in the MDGs, with fragility being the key driver of the high death rates for preventable illnesses.
World Health Organisation statistics show that 14 out of the l5 countries with the highest neonatal mortality rates have recently experienced, or are in the midst of, a civil conflict. A child born in a fragile state is twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as one born in a stable, low-income state. They are five times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than a child born in a middle-income country. On average in a fragile state, 140 children die per 1,000 live births.
World Vision has pushed for a reduction in child and maternal mortality, MDGs 4 and 5, through its Child Health Now campaign. The United Kingdom has focused its efforts on securing a major push on MDGs concerning women and children’s health. More than a third of a million women have died during pregnancy or childbirth in the past year.
A number of strategies are being promoted to keep health high on the agenda post-2015. Save the Children, another well known charity, points out that there is a need to build on the health MDGs by first addressing their shortfalls. For example, the MDGs are aggregate targets and mask inequity within countries. The majority of MDGs could be achieved statistically by targeting only the “low hanging fruit”, the easy targets, without changing the situation of the poorest, the most vulnerable and the most isolated. The post-2015 agenda needs to ensure that health gains are further accelerated and sustained, with public health systems sufficiently invested domestically and through donors to serve the health needs of whole populations.
Our Prime Minister is now appointed to co-chair the high-level panel charged by the United Nations with addressing the post-2015 provision. He is in a prime position to lead the debate. We need the Prime Minister to ensure a specific focus on fragile contexts in the post-2015 framework in ways that draw on the principles of the new deal for fragile states, launched at the high-level forum at Busan, which builds on goals for peace-building and state-building.
In the post-2015 framework, we need to know what the thinking is about introducing overarching goals for health. How can the post-2015 development agenda both build on the successes and address the shortfalls of the health MDGs? What indicators would encourage a greater focus on equity and on reaching the poorest and most marginalised populations? Probably the most glaring omission from the MDGs has been a governance goal—the lack of a mechanism allowing citizens to hold Governments to account on the selection of development projects and the distribution of aid in health, education and so on, in their communities.
At the fourth high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan in December last year, a global partnership for effective development co-operation was unanimously agreed. It created a new partnership that is broader and more inclusive than ever before, founded on shared principles, common goals and commitments for effective international development. The post-Busan co-ordinating committee, of which our Secretary of State for International Development is a co-chair, is charged with developing global indicators for aid effectiveness. One of the most important is that dealing with ownership, results and accountability.
For the first time, Parliaments and local governments are recognised as playing critical roles in linking citizens with government and in ensuring broad-based and democratic ownership of countries’ development processes. This is the forerunner of a “governance goal”, with the target of accelerating and deepening the implementation of existing commitments and strengthening the role of Parliaments in the oversight of development processes, including by supporting capacity development, backed by adequate resources and clear, defined action plans.
My Lords, I too would like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, on securing this debate and on the comprehensive and wide-ranging way in which she introduced it. I also apologise that I was caught out by there not being a fourth Question today so I missed the first minute or two of her speech.
Discussion of the framework that should take the place of the MDGs when they run out in 2015 is now in full swing and it is good that the House of Lords should have an opportunity to put its two penn’orth in. I declare my interest as president of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, an organisation which is not very snappily named but at least has the merits of doing what its says on the tin—promoting the education of children and young people with visual impairment. As such, we have a clear interest in what the post-2015 framework has to say about both disability and education.
There is now a widespread sense that it needs a stronger focus on the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised and in this I very much echo what the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, said. The word “disability” does not feature anywhere in the millennium development goals. Disability may have been perceived as a niche issue at the time, but we now know that disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Disabled people make up 15% of the world’s population, yet it is estimated that 20% of the world’s poorest people are disabled.
While overall progress against the millennium development goals is being made, the most vulnerable are being left behind. According to the World Report on Disability, there are an estimated 1 billion people with disabilities across the globe. They face barriers to participation in society, such as in accessing development programmes and funds, education, employment, healthcare, communication and transport. People with disabilities and their families—80% of whom live in developing countries—are over-represented among those living in absolute poverty.
Furthermore, people with disabilities are particularly at risk from the effects of climate change, such as natural disasters and food insecurity. They are also more vulnerable in situations of conflict. They face discrimination on multiple levels yet remain absent in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of MDGs. This has been compounded by a lack of reliable statistics on people with disabilities.
The International Disability Alliance and the International Disability and Development Consortium have jointly developed recommendations for a more equitable and inclusive post-2015 agenda for people with disabilities. They say that the new framework,
“must enable a focus on the poorest, most marginalised groups, such as persons with disabilities, ensuring … full and effective participation for persons with disabilities”,
and their representative organisations at all stages of the process. Any new global partnerships and international co-operation efforts must be driven by a human rights approach and be compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including all projects and programmes, whether mainstream or disability specific, with equality and non-discrimination as priority themes. There should be a stand-alone goal on equality and non-discrimination, as well as the obligation to pursue these principles right across the new framework. All goals should be inclusive of persons with disabilities and measures of progress should be disaggregated to show impact on, and inclusion of, persons with disabilities within each goal. The current understanding and definition of poverty, progress and development should be revised to go beyond the most basic data of income, consumption and wealth.
I have not left myself much time to say why it is crucial for education to remain central to the post-2015 framework. However, education has been shown to be one of the most effective means of increasing the health, wealth and stability of nations. Now is not the time to move on from the focus of the education for all goals. The latest figures from UNESCO show that progress has stalled—more than 60 million children of primary school age remain out of school. Many young people lack even basic foundation skills. Around 775 million adults remain illiterate—two-thirds of them are women, which is only 12% down on the 1990 figure. Global inequality in learning outcomes remains stark. MDG2, like some of the other existing goals, has suffered from a lack of specific focus on reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised. Without needing to report progress in a disaggregated way across different sections of society, it was perhaps inevitable that people would focus on the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest to reach in the quest for results. Groups such as children with disabilities, being some of the hardest to reach, have thus been left behind. UNESCO estimates that a third of all children of primary school age who are not in school have a disability, and being disabled more than doubles the chance of a child never enrolling in school in some countries.
The Global Campaign for Education has made the following recommendations for education with a new framework: first, that there continues to be a central focus on the basic right to free universal and compulsory education; secondly, that the education provided in all countries is of high quality and that the children achieve learning outcomes relevant to their lives; thirdly, that education and learning are equitable and inclusive and that no population group is excluded from education or given substandard educational provision; fourthly, that there is a global recognition of the importance of a professionalised, properly qualified and supported teaching profession in order to achieve education for all; and, finally, that systems are developed effectively to monitor goals and targets and that the importance of accurate data collection is fully recognised as a means of ensuring equitable progress.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Low, and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, for achieving this debate. My friend, the Archbishop of Central Africa, Albert Charma, notes:
“The success of the MDG project is best witnessed through the eyes of a woman who can finally escape an abusive relationship because through her involvement in a microfinance project she can provide for herself and her children. It can be viewed also through the eyes of an orphaned child, who does not have to go to bed hungry and who can also attend school regularly”.
Success is about individual lives being transformed. The impact of the MDGs cannot be captured by statistical trends alone; context is everything. From the perspective of the Church of England, the development goals have provided a broad narrative from which we have been able to frame development. They have animated our networks and our relationships around the Anglican Communion and, on a day-by-day basis, our diocese networks and mission agencies have used the MDGs to mobilise parishes and clergy on global issues. They have also been taken up by our schools. Those most affected and likely to affect the future are taking part in the concerns of these goals.
Further, the MDGs have become a meeting place for faith communities, both here in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, to come together to campaign for the global common good and to share best practice. This is a very positive approach. It is an educational approach that has caught the mind and the public’s imagination and we should commend it. Of course, like other speakers before me, I am very conscious of the fact that the millennium development goals, as has already been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, have not impacted as well as they might on the poorest in the world. Nevertheless, there has been an extraordinary achievement in the period of time that we have undertaken them.
We are now looking forward to the post-2015 reality. We have recognised that the MDG process has sharpened political attention and public engagement with poverty reduction efforts. That is something that many of us have longed for over many years. I am absolutely sure that the post-MDG agenda should not be defined by a group of people who regard themselves as experts or technocrats. We do not need a donor-centric model. We have to work to something that enables and empowers right across the board. I believe that the consultation process regarding the post-2015 reality needs to be generally universal in nature. We should not be limiting this to low-income countries, nor simply to sub-Saharan Africa. We need to think more broadly than that. It is important, however, to retain a target-based approach post-2015 and it is always true that when targets are inspiring, clear and measurable, we get the best results. They need to be few in number but clear.
I was very grateful for the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bates, earlier in the debate for, like him, I believe that a key element of the future must be a commitment to peacebuilding through disarmament. We have only to look at the realities of our world today to see the impact of indiscriminate arms and the continual build-up and maintenance of weapons which we no longer need for the future of humanity.
I have already referred to my belief that we need to challenge the existing donor-centric model of development. We need a new timeframe in order to accomplish the major transformations that we envisage. We need to return to the millennium declaration and see it as something that was, as it were, setting out before us a wider vision. The millennium development goals show that a set of clear and measurable targets can be a driver of transformative change. Of course, the world will not achieve all the MDGs, but they have galvanised all sorts of people around the world and all sorts of political persuasions have been empowered to think differently. A target-based approach to 2015 ought therefore to be retained and it is important to remember that targets work best, as I have said, when they are clear and ambitious but feasible and, above all, measurable.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, for the comprehensive way in which she initiated this interesting debate. Despite the huge progress that has been made through the MDGs, hundreds of millions of people will still remain in desperate poverty after 2015. However, I am delighted that the Prime Minister’s role on the UN high-level panel will bring Britain’s first-class development expertise to bear in working with others to help shape the world’s future efforts.
The MDGs have shaped the world’s approach to international development for a generation, helping to put millions of children into school and save countless lives. They have focused international and country efforts on poverty eradication and have prompted an alignment of donor aid policies, giving time-bound and credible goals and targets for the world to achieve. We now know far more about the critical role that economic growth, trade, tackling corruption, effective government and open societies play in creating wealth and unlocking the potential of the poorest countries. Technology advancements that we could not have dreamt of even a few years ago are making it easier for Governments, business and society to share information. They are enabling citizens to use that information both to hold decision-makers to account and to make more informed choices in their daily lives. From understanding prices before you go to market to mobile phone banking technology and access to information, technology is driving transformational change.
It is also encouraging that the members of the high-level panel have a programme which involves listening to many more voices before setting out their ambitious new agenda for ending poverty in the years beyond 2015. In that context of listening, I would like to include a few remarks about young people and their role in this debate. Half the world’s population is under 25. Young people are the largest demographic bar none in relation to all facets of poverty. Indeed, young people are disproportionately affected by poverty across all indicators: 87% of young people live in the developing world and, globally, one-third of 15 to 24 year-olds currently live on less than $2 a day.
As we start to think about the successor framework to the MDGs, we must start to look at young people in a different way. They can no longer be viewed simply as beneficiaries of a new tranche of development assistance—still less as the problem. We must instead look at them as partners and leaders in the design and implementation of a new set of goals. The recent meeting here in London of the UN’s high-level panel included, for the first time in history, a session entirely dedicated to a dialogue with young people. The charity Restless Development, of which I am a patron, convened 23 young people from developing countries to come to share their ideas and thoughts on what should replace the MDGs after 2015.
Young people are a diverse demographic, affected differently by all the issues that the MDGs are targeting. However, they are all products of the MDG generation. There is no sense in discussing a future development framework without recognising the role that they can and must play as assets and problem-solvers.
I was present at a meeting last week hosted by the Conservative Friends of International Development, which I co-chair, and the ONE campaign, at which Justine Greening and Bob Geldof spoke. He reminded us of the conversation that he had in the 1980s with Margaret Thatcher, who told him that no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he had had only good intentions—he had money as well. This opinion, however harsh, contains a fundamental truth: it is difficult to make good on a promise to make someone’s life better if you do not have the resources to do so.
The intention of these goals is to ensure that billions of people across the world enjoy a better life by setting targets in health, education and so on that all countries should meet. Some countries will need those that have resources, like the Good Samaritan, to cross the road to assist them.
To many people in poor countries, the value of aid is obvious: at its most basic, such as through the supply of food or water, lives are saved. A more sophisticated use of aid, such as improving literacy and developing legal systems that underpin the rule of law, can foster economic opportunities. This creates not only a better life for those who receive it but business opportunities for companies from donor nations.
However, the current debate about the value of development aid is justified. No country wants to, or should, become dependent on the generosity of others. Aid should not be an alternative or a barrier to self-sufficiency, but a facilitator of it. What is certain is that the debate about aid needs to mature, so that we can have a serious discussion about how best to create new, stable trading partners that in turn can create opportunities and jobs in both emerging and donor countries.
There is a moral obligation to ensure that we support countries in their development, but there is also an economic interest. It is worth remembering that the Good Samaritan also benefited by crossing the road to help. He created the chance to work and trade with the person whom he assisted.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin of Kennington. In her emphasis on engaging young people in the shaping of the framework for the development goals beyond 2015, she makes an important contribution to our debate. I am delighted to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, for introducing this timely and important topic. I congratulate her on achieving this debate and, if I may say so, on making a characteristically clear and well argued introductory speech. As with others, I hope that she will forgive me if, in supporting the observation and arguments that she made, I concentrate on one issue in the comparatively short time open to me. I make no apology for concentrating again on the issue of disability, which the noble Lord, Lord Low of Dalston, has already comprehensively addressed.
I start these remarks in the same way that the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin, and my noble friend Lady Kinnock did, by reminding ourselves of the achievement of the millennium development goals to date. The fight against extreme poverty has made great progress under the millennium development goals since they were agreed in the 2000 UN summit but, as others before me have said, the record is mixed. They have succeeded in building consensus and focusing attention and resources on important issues and making significant progress. The targets-based approach of the MDGs, the continuation of which I support, is not perfect but has made it possible to hold both national Governments and donors to account for specific development commitments. Setting targets and, in particular, an end date, has created a sense of urgency that has galvanised and united civil society and other advocates with national Governments and donors in trying to achieve change. Unfortunately, though, as we have heard, inequality and social inclusion are widening within most countries; indeed, they are widening within 16 of the G20 countries as we speak. More than 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. None of the MDGs will be met completely, with some countries having made little or no tangible progress. Besides, while trying to achieve change, many Governments have focused on the targets that are easiest to reach rather than tackling the root causes of marginalisation and inequality.
Shaping the new framework needs to include those who were left out in 2000. I am thinking here in particular about people with disabilities. As the noble Lord, Lord Low of Dalston, reminded us, disabilities are not specifically mentioned in any of the eight MDGs or in the 21 targets of the 60 indicators. However, there is a strong link between disability and poverty. Disabled people are disproportionately represented among those living in extreme poverty. A recent World Bank comparative study of 15 developing countries found that disabled people were significantly worse off, were more likely to experience multiple deprivations and had lower educational attainment and employment rates than non-disabled people. The same study showed that disability also affects households and the wider economy.
Progress within the existing framework has not been equitable for disabled people because there is no requirement to include them or to address their needs. It has been assumed that the general development process will improve conditions for everyone. With the exception of MDG 3, which promotes gender equality, no incentive has been placed on development programmes specifically to address disadvantaged groups or to tackle issues of social exclusion. Therefore, disabled people represent many of the people who have not benefited from recent development gains. I think we should agree that intervention is needed when unemployment rate for people with disabilities in some African countries is 90%—a staggering figure.
I know that charities, such as Sense International, which supported me in my preparation for this debate and supports work placements for disabled people in countries across the world, are doing great work in this regard, but much more needs to be done. Disabled people’s economic contribution is as important as their work and their feelings of dignity, economic independence and self-confidence are to them. We know and understand that in this country, and it should apply across the world.
The problem of unemployment is also rooted in the fact that children with disabilities are still disproportionately excluded from school. Worldwide, there are approximately 106 million children with disabilities, and, while roughly 1 billion children are in school globally, the UNESCO report that has already been referred to estimates that, of the 61 million children now out of school, one-third have disabilities. This disproportionate exclusion means that disabled children miss out on education’s lifelong benefits: a better job, more social and economic security and more opportunities for full participation in society. This contributes to a cycle of intergenerational poverty as they establish their own households. All this means that disabled people are disproportionately represented among the 1 billion people who will continue to live in chronic poverty even if the MDGs are achieved.
Rather than concluding with a list that reiterates the remarks that other noble Lords have made, I request that the Minister addresses disability in his remarks and that disability should be included in the future development framework and should be mainstreamed across all the post-2015 development goals.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson. We share a background in the voluntary sector. I strongly agree that we need more time, as is evidenced today, for debate. She said that there are huge imbalances between and within countries. The main target, the halving of poverty, is certainly a milestone, but the noble Lord, Lord Bates, reminded us that it will be met not because the west has helped the south, but because millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, largely, in my view, by their own efforts. Not surprisingly, rural China remains poor. According to a Save the Children study, Born Equal, the urban/rural ratio of income in China has widened progressively to about 3:1 since 1990 and gender inequality there has also increased dramatically. The political climate in China, though restrictive, has certainly not inhibited urbanisation and entrepreneurial spirit, and the example of Mozambique shows that even communism can be adapted to some of the principles of smallholder capitalism.
The MDGs are primarily about aid to reduce poverty, but they should also be a catalyst to economic development, especially in agriculture. Oxfam rightly says that its influence on central Governments is fast diminishing. In itself, it makes a minute contribution in a country such as India. Of course, if aid misses its mark, it has to be our fault. While we cannot be blamed for the mistakes and corrupt practices of Governments, we are responsible for channelling our aid in the direction of the poorest and most vulnerable, and that is not something we are succeeding in.
It is said that OECD countries have not met the MDG targets in developing countries because they have not given enough. The $167 billion shortfall in development aid means that they have failed to meet the 0.7% target, and they will have to double their assistance even during a recession. As we are among a handful of countries trying to maintain or increase our aid budget, I agree with those who accept that aid must be value for money. I agree with the Prime Minister, who repeated that the coalition is determined to resist its Conservative Back-Benchers on this issue. Of course, none of this is as simple as it sounds. The public know there is corruption and bad governance out there. The aid agencies offer solutions, but their outreach is limited.
We have to convince the public that some aid is bound to be wasted, and that is difficult when we know there are hungry people in our midst. I would like to recommend a new MDG in public awareness. I have always believed that we know far too little in this country about other cultures, and in the US, the public know even less. How can we give more aid when we do not understand how its recipients live? It can be done through the media, educational exchanges and in many other ways, including through the MDGs themselves, as others have said. NGOs that are critical of the MDGs also admit that they have been a yardstick for educational purposes, although they are increasingly meaningless to academics since you can prove anything you like with statistics.
From an educational point of view, we should not complicate the present MDGs with human rights and governance tests that can scarcely be objective. After all, we are not free of corruption ourselves. I read recently that the EU gets only six out of 10 on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, with some member states scoring below five. I am convinced that NGOs in general are the best route to poverty eradication. Since the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, will speak later, I am glad to say that the LSE-based International Growth Centre lends economists to developing countries and shares experience gathered in those countries on subjects such as finance, banking, taxation and currency. Such NGOs can multiply the value of aid many times over.
Most NGOs that have kindly contributed briefings to this debate are concerned about inequality and the need to see in the post-MDG agenda a more universal recognition of poverty, with more benchmarks of progress. I strongly agree with those who say that gender disparity and inequality must be addressed, but across the whole spectrum of the MDGs, not as an addition to the list of new goals.
I was going to say a word about the health targets, but in this environment, it seems very appropriate that a Crisp should replace a Sandwich.
My Lords, I rise as requested to respond to my noble friend. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, on this important and timely debate and on setting out the big picture which, as I interpret it, is really about what sort of world we want to work towards. That is what this is all about. In that context, I am indeed going to talk about health.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of chairing two meetings of five All-Party Parliamentary Groups—Global Health, which I co-chair; HIV/AIDS; TB, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases; and Population, Development and Reproductive Health—where we discussed precisely this issue. What health targets should there be in whatever replaces millennium development goals? A number of noble Lords took part, including the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, and my noble friends Lady Hayman and Lord Low. We produced a list of principles at the end of the day, and I shall mention a few of them.
The first is that while the Government have talked about economic development being a golden thread throughout all development—and I think that is true—health is another golden thread. Disease, like conflict, destroys growth. It affects, and is affected by, all the other aspects of development. Healthy populations are more productive. We know that the scourge of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa has destroyed growth for many years and has reduced the output of that part of the world. We also know that, the other way around, 25% of diseases are affected by the environment and that, of the most effective interventions to improve health, the two perhaps most effective are the education of women and clean water, neither of which are immediately obviously health interventions.
In the meeting, I think that we all felt that health, because of its central role, must be explicitly mentioned in whatever replaces the millennium development goals. We need to maintain momentum on the MDGs. As many noble Lords have said, there is unfinished business. We need to learn the lessons. There has been measurable real value and impetus from the MDGs. But, as the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, and others have said, we must be sure that they do not override local priorities, that single-issue disease programmes do not destroy local, more generalised healthcare systems and that they also address the wider issues, such as non-communicable diseases and disability. There is a clear need for a global framework but we also need local decision-making.
Looking forward, the group which met yesterday made the very strong point that, in all aspects of development, we need to focus much more on what women can do and on raising the profile of women in all countries of the world. That was a very strong theme. Linked to it was the management of population growth and contraception. We also spent some time talking about equity and the inverse care law which so many people have mentioned; namely, that in any given population, the poorest, who have the most need, get the least access to services.
We felt, ultimately, that we need one explicit health goal, which may be linked to other goals in other sectors. We discussed universal health coverage—the idea that healthcare should be available to everyone in the world through local health systems. We have not yet resolved exactly how we will want to take this forward. Perhaps I may say to the Minister that we will meet again and will no doubt write to him as part of the contribution to the DfID consultation on this.
On two personal points, first, I echo all the points about disability. I chair Sightsavers, which works on blindness around the world. It is very clear that so much can be done very cheaply to support disabled people. Our research shows us that in Nigeria, for example, people who are prevented from going blind or are treated with cataract surgery return to full economic employment within one year. It is very directly related to economic development.
Secondly, I believe that the goals chosen should reflect the needs of the whole world. It is not just about the rich world looking after the poor world, if I may put it like that. This is one world and there needs to be one-world goals. My personal proposal for the future is that in health terms, we should be looking for a goal that is about improving the health of the poorest 25% in every country. The goal should be linked somehow to measuring this in terms of a healthy life for the poorest 25% in every country. That could link closely to similar goals in education and elsewhere, and would leave the choices of what to do locally. If you happen to be a country in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS would be the priority; in other parts of the world, other things would be the priorities. It involves us all and is outcome orientated.
In conclusion, let me return to the theme that the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, started with. This debate is about what sort of world we want to work towards. I believe that greater equity in access to healthcare is central to that.
My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady Nicholson for introducing this debate. By taking note of the progress towards the successor framework to the MDGs, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the International Olympic Committee’s adoption of the UN MDGs and its development of a partnership with the United Nations in the field of development through sport, education, humanitarian aid, health protection and the Olympic Truce, which I would urge the Government to take forward under the successor framework.
The partnership that has developed in the past decade between the world of sport and the UN is ipso facto recognition of the extraordinary power of sport, especially for young people, which is a key area of concern and was highlighted by my noble friend Lady Jenkin. It is a natural partnership, given the complementary nature of the UN’s objectives and the Olympic ideals for peace and human development. Essential sports values are very similar to the core values of the UN and, over recent years, the UN and sports governing bodies have worked increasingly closely together.
The IOC now has a longstanding record of pioneering work with the UN on the use of sport as a cross-cutting tool to promote peace, development and human rights, as has its work in advancing the purposes and principles of the UN charter and its fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility. UN and Olympic ideals have been linked in efforts to deliver tolerance and peace, which symbolically is reflected in the decision in 1997 to fly the UN flag at all Olympic competition sites.
The UN General Assembly resolutions endorsing the Olympic Truce have been sponsored by more member states than any resolution in the history of the organisation, including a record 193 nations for the resolutions ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The UN millennium declaration included a statement which urged member states,
“to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively, now and in the future, and to support the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic Ideal”.
In January 2006, for the first time, the UN Secretary-General met leaders of the IOC and agreed to strengthen co-operation in the use of sport as a tool to reduce tensions in areas of conflict. Co-operation between UN agencies and the world of sport has since been developed through a successful series of memoranda of understanding to undertake various activities worldwide in fields such as health promotion, humanitarian assistance, peace-building, education, gender equality, the environment and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
As a result, and in no small measure due to the active support and lobbying by the Foreign Office under the previous Government, in a historic milestone, in October 2009, the IOC was granted UN permanent observer status. This decision paid tribute to the IOC’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the UN MDGs and equipped the sporting movement with an authoritative voice within the international community as an advocate for the role of sport in the service of peace and development.
Embedding sport and recreation into development policies provides a large umbrella for action from the most basic and local levels to the highest level of political activity. Within these partnerships, even small and individual gestures can have a major impact. On the same day that the Olympic Truce resolution was adopted in October 2011, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, met my noble friend Lord Bates who had recently completed a “walk for truce” from Mount Olympus in Greece to London. The Secretary-General praised my noble friend for raising awareness of the truce and noted that it highlighted the fact that everyone could make a personal contribution to peace.
In laying the groundwork for a successor framework, I hope that the success of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games will act as a catalyst for the Government to contribute to a lasting sports legacy to the Games by seeking to increase the number of joint endeavours between the sports movement and the United Nations system in community development, education, health promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention, particularly in gender equality, environment and sustainability, humanitarian assistance and youth empowerment, as well as social integration of persons with disabilities, thereby directly contributing to the achievement of the MDGs.
Sport is, and always has been, one of the most effective tools for bringing together people for a common purpose. It is a cultural phenomenon which transcends entertainment. In its purest form, it is a triumph of the human spirit. It is about heroes and legends; nor are those heroes necessarily the ones who fulfil the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius”. I recall the truly inspirational Phil Packer, an injured Iraq veteran, who was told that he would never walk again. He showed enormous courage, determination and commitment in completing the 2009 London marathon in 13 days. We can all reflect on the remarkable abilities of our Paralympians this summer.
If these outstanding Olympic qualities of self-discipline, selflessness, fortitude and endurance were more widely replicated through sport, we would succeed in making the world a better place.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, for securing this most important debate at a very important time.
We have to ensure—through the UN, which has to agree to this—that all countries have to sign up to the millennium goals. We know that not all have done so. We also know that countries do not have to accept funds set aside for them through the goals. The World Bank has frightening figures showing that certain countries in Africa and Latin America are not taking up money that is available for education. I look to our Prime Minister and the negotiating team to ensure that this issue is addressed. We cannot force people, because that is not done, but we must make sure that there is a mechanism whereby they feel that they can take up the money, but not in a corrupt way.
I should like to consider the issues of natural disasters and conflict, because it is in those areas that health and education are abandoned. We know about the Security Council’s resolution that all women should have an opportunity and a right to be at the peace table and at the table when natural disasters happen. At present, women are not there and are far from being there. They are given just lip service. If women were there and were part of the millennium goals in the areas of conflict and resolution, things would be far different in terms of health and education. If we are not feeding children in the first 1,000 days of their lives, however much money we throw at or put into these countries, it will not help with education. We have to ensure that children get the correct food to enable their brains to grow. We have all seen the pictures of the brains of children of four or more that are not growing properly.
As regards natural disasters, schools are one of the places used for shelter because they are the best built and have the right facilities. However, the schools are then closed because of their use as shelters, and people cannot be educated. Education comes first after health and it is vital that schools are part of the refugee camps we establish following terrible disasters. At present, the schools come later, if they come at all. We cannot make up education. Also, if a child is out of school for a long period in certain countries, they never go back to school. That country then loses GDP and that child ends up working in forced labour. A girl is sold for marriage or for other activities. It is absolutely important to keep education at the front. If we educate a woman and she educates her children, their countries will benefit from their achievement of economic, social and political empowerment. There has to be a clearer vision for reducing inequality in education, and that should be a successor to the framework of the millennium goals. A number of Members have already made the other points that I wanted to make.
My Lords, I, too, am grateful to be speaking in this debate. The focus of the development agenda post-2015 should be on the empowerment of people in the developing world. There was always an element within the MDGs of top-down western Governments and NGOs saying what they believed was needed by the people in developing countries. Inevitably, it remains a problem in a debate such as this.
Of course, there was nothing wrong with the MDGs because they focused minds and, in some cases, produced excellent results. However, we are now in a new era. This is the era of mass communication, leading, I hope, to greater power to the people. An unpopular regime cannot last long if the whole community knows that the whole community knows it is against it. The power of Twitter and the like may be worrying for some of our leaders, particularly those at the BBC, but the implications for democracy in the developing world could be truly scene-changing.
Even now, the mobile phone is revolutionising life in Africa. Banking no longer needs a bank, or at least a bank building, and much needed information and knowledge is only a finger-touch away. People are already being empowered by modern communication and we must focus on helping that empowerment to enable them to get what they want. That should be our primary aim in the new era.
It is not all about votes and democracy. People also vote with their feet, or rather with their purses. Of course, any community in Africa or elsewhere will gratefully accept whatever is donated to them and, indeed, in some countries and regions there is a worrying dependency culture developing, which does no one any good at all. However, if families have to put in some of their own money, it is the women who will choose their priorities. Is it electricity or water? Is it transport or health? Is it education for their children? It is only the ability to make real choices that brings that sense of empowerment that leads in turn to self-confidence and even greater self-empowerment. It is a virtuous upward spiral that starts with economic freedom and can lead to greater democratic freedom.
I realise that such aspirations remain merely a dream to a huge number of people in the developing world. In many countries in Africa right now, the focus is purely on finding today’s food and water. However, we are talking here of tomorrow’s ambitions and what the long-term goals ought to be. We therefore need to look hard at how we can help the vast and growing numbers of Africans to find the means to take the choices to change their lives. I do not think we need to waste much time on seeking where to help. If 70%, 80% or even 90% of a country’s population are farmers, then teach them and help them to become profitable farmers. That is how to kick-start the rural economy. It is truly possible that Africa could not only feed itself but help to feed the world. With logistics, processing, packaging and retailing to serve the African urban food market, which is going to grow fourfold in the next 18 years, a whole new food economy could provide jobs and thus choices to a large number of people. By focusing on agriculture, countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia are already transforming lives. If you are worrying about the choices that the lady farmers of Africa might make with any new-found cash, fear not. I have yet to meet a single woman farmer in Africa who does not want to spend every penny that remains after feeding her family on educating her children.
How can we help and encourage better and more profitable smallholder farming in Africa? That is another whole debate, not for today, but there is no doubt that African agriculture is on the verge of a great leap forward, if it gets the right support. Furthermore, the rural economy, the rural environment, the status of women, the health and education of the next generation and, above all, the ability of people to make their own choices will depend on how successful we are in making profitable smallholder agriculture a reality over the next 15 years or so. It must be a key plank of any new development framework.
My Lords, the successor framework is vital to ensuring that we maintain and build upon the aims of the millennium development goals. The international community has made great efforts to fulfil the goals, with excellent progress in areas such as increasing access to primary school education and improving sources of clean water. Research by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund reveals that higher food prices increased the number of people living in poverty in the developing world. However, preliminary estimates suggest that the poverty reduction target is likely to be achieved ahead of 2015.
Millennium development goal 5, on improving maternal health, stands alone as the goal that has recorded the least amount of progress to date and it is far from reaching the 2015 target. Improving maternal health is not only a moral obligation, but is financially prudent. The United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health suggests that maternal health problems result in losses to productivity of up to $15 billion per annum. I would be grateful if the Minister would inform your Lordships’ House about the steps Her Majesty’s Government are taking, along with our international partners, to address the lack of progress in this vital area.
I support the view of the United Nations System Task Team that the successor framework should focus on four key areas: namely, social development, inclusive economic development, environmental sustainability and peace and security.
I have been to Bangladesh. It deserves praise for being on track to achieve millennium development goals 1, 2, 3 and 4, which relate to poverty, primary education, gender equality and child mortality.
The overall number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen. Research by the United Nations Development Programme, the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the African Development Bank suggests that. The region is off target in meeting millennium development goal 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, goal 4 on reducing child mortality, goal 5 on improving maternal mortality and goal 6 on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
I have spoken in your Lordships’ House and elsewhere about the importance of business and trade in the United Kingdom and in overseas countries. More business and trade uplifts people’s standards of life. I have travelled abroad to promote trade.
The change in Africa’s economic fortunes has been remarkable. The continent has even been referred to as “the next Asia” owing to its rapid growth. Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund suggest that seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa: namely, those of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.
However, many stumbling blocks remain for Africans. Average life expectancy is still only 56 years, child mortality remains high and overall literacy rates are only 67%. Africa’s economic growth is often described as “jobless” because of its failure to create jobs, in particular for the 60% of Africans aged between 15 and 24 who are unemployed.
In order to break the cycle of poverty, individuals need sources of wealth creation such as employment opportunities, access to trade and greater interaction with the private sector. In addition, measures must be taken to combat corruption. The UN System Task Team on the successor framework post-2015 development agenda published a report in June that noted the progress made in areas such as poverty reduction, but highlighted the deficiencies in areas including governance and accountability. It is a credit to Britain that the Prime Minister has been appointed as a co-chair of the high-level panel of eminent persons to advise on the post-2015 development agenda. This will ensure that Britain continues to take the lead on this vital issue.
The progress made through the millennium development goals has transformed the lives of the world’s least fortunate people. We have a moral duty towards these individuals to ensure that a successor framework is created that builds on the existing achievements.
My Lords, having had to take what the Americans euphemistically call a comfort break, I am sorry that I missed the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, in which he made reference to work going on at the London School of Economics. I assure him that I will read Hansard, and I thank him for the reference.
The UN report of 2012 on the MDGs shows a chequered picture that includes considerable successes, to which other noble Lords drew attention. However, it is important not to be intellectually lazy. We have no way of knowing how far changes happened because of the MDGs. Many of them might have happened anyway. At a minimum, we can say that it was an important consciousness-raising exercise on a global level—and probably quite a bit more than that. However, caution is needed in looking at the sources of the changes that happened around the world.
Today a much wider global discussion than at the millennium is going on about what the successor goals and strategies should be. This is one contribution to that discussion, as is right and proper. However, it is obvious that there are dangers as well as positives in this. For example, there could be a clamour to introduce multiple new goals, because everyone has their list of “musts”: must do this, must include that. So far in the debate I have listed 14 “musts” in what noble Lords said. It is clear that there should be some control over the list of “musts”, otherwise there is no chance of perpetuating a sustained programme. Noble Lords will remember the adage, “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority”. I will make three brief comments based on that.
First, we should be conservative about the number of goals and the range of countries to which they should apply. In this sense I disagree with quite a bit that other noble Lords said. There should be no going above the existing number, and the goals should apply only to countries that have a significant proportion of those whom Paul Collier famously called “the bottom billion”. Aspirational targets are of no value without metrics, kept and systematised by the UN. Again, this suggests a concentration on concrete and definable ambitions, partly because the methodology already exists and also because there is a sustained amount of information on the existing millennial goals.
Secondly, it is very important to note that the pursuit of the MDGs was facilitated by a relatively benign economic environment after the turn of the century. The next few years might not look at all like this. We live in an extremely iffy and perturbing world. The world economy is slowing down; there is gigantic debt in the West; the EU is poised on the edge of potential catastrophe; in spite of the good news this morning about a ceasefire, there is the possibility of extended wars in the Middle East; and food security is looming in public consciousness as a global problem in a way that it did not at the millennium. This means that we will have to build into our assessment of the MDGs a range of new risk factors. A lot of attention must be given to how this is done.
Thirdly, we have one MDG where, because I work in the field, my view is that we have made no impact at all. It is the goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. Rio+20 has been a flop; in 20 years, virtually nothing of substance has been achieved. There are very serious problems ahead, especially from unmastered climate change. The level of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is mounting every year. The world has made no sustained response of substance to this issue. Some people have suggested that sustainability should be folded across all the millennial goals. I disagree; it needs to be specified and it also needs metrics. For example, we need poorer countries to be able to jump technologies in the development process, as they did with mobile phones. I would welcome the Minister’s comments on any of these issues.
My Lords, I will restrict my contribution to considering one possible barrier to achieving the current goals: the lack of attention to mental health. This is not just another “must”. The current MDGs do not explicitly address non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease or mental illness. This may be because when they were agreed in 2000 it was believed that infectious disease, malnutrition and a safe childbirth were the most important health problems facing poorer countries. Mental health was not mentioned; perhaps it was not seen as relevant or because of the stigma of mental disorders. In 2005, the World Health Organisation presented a rather different view. It published a report called Preventing Chronic Diseases: a vital investment. It made the point that non-communicable diseases kill people at economically and socially productive ages and kill them mostly in the developing world: 80% of chronic disease deaths were said to occur in low and middle-income countries.
Neuropsychiatric disorders are non-communicable diseases and make up 13% of the global burden of disease. It is estimated that by 2020, 20% of the world’s population will experience depression—a treatable condition. In 2011 the WHO mental health atlas report showed that in most countries worldwide, there has been little progress in implementing mental health programmes. At the United Nations high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases in 2011, the political declaration concluded that,
“there is a need to provide equitable access to effective programmes”,
on mental health. At last attitudes to mental health across the world are changing. This year 500 organisations representing the mental health community and civil society worldwide signed up to the World Federation for Mental Health’s great push for mental health programme. A survey of these organisations demonstrated a high level of agreement on what they wanted the WHO to do to progress mental health globally. Ministers of health from many member states have prepared a comprehensive mental health action plan to be presented to the WHO executive in January next year. This draft action plan suggests targets for countries for mental health service development.
Mental health is now being recognised formally as important on the world stage—not just in the United Kingdom, where we now have a commitment to work towards parity of esteem between physical and mental health. Like other non-communicable diseases, mental disorders affect all aspects of life and frequently co-occur with physical illnesses. I suggest that mental disorders are relevant to all of the current eight millennium goals. I will give some brief examples to explain what I mean. For example, goal 1 aims to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. We know that acute and chronic mental disorders are associated with unemployment and a descent into poverty and thus treating mental illness as a root cause of poverty is key. Goal 3 aims to promote gender equality and empower women. We know that in most cultures women experience higher rates of mental illness than men, including prenatal and postnatal depression, and the emotional problems associated with domestic abuse, for example as a victim of violence, perhaps due to the mental health of their partners.
I take goal 4, reducing child mortality, and goal 5, about maternal health, together. Maternal depression affects birth weight and a failure to thrive in children. Mothers are more likely to cease breastfeeding early and their babies are more likely to develop serious diarrhoea and not complete their immunisations. Even with goal 7, ensuring environmental sustainability, we need to think about the mental health of migrants forced to leave their homes because of environmental disasters or war. Ignoring mental disorders is no longer acceptable. Mental health must not only be included in programmes serving the millennium goals, but must be seen to be included. Will the Minister indicate how the UK will contribute to making mental health a global priority in the development of successor millennium development goals, perhaps through advocacy but also through supporting alliances between economic, social, mental health and other stakeholders?
My Lords, when the millennium development goals were first promulgated at the millennium summit in 2000, it was easy and tempting to dismiss them as just another piece of UN flannel; more warm words designed to conceal a lack of action. It was easy and tempting, but quite wrong. In fact, the goals have proved to be a lot more effective than all the volumes of exhortations which preceded them in earlier years; also because they committed the Governments of developing countries—as well as those of donor countries—to implementing them. This provided that platform of equal and mutual commitment which was so often lacking in the past and which surely must be a clear part of any post-2015 system.
Of course, not everything has gone right with the development goals. Many donor countries have fallen short on their commitments and allowed their aid budgets to be squeezed by austerity. Many developing countries, particularly those in conflict zones, have made little, if any, progress towards achieving them; and the broad-brush approach used in 2000 has meant that the major achievements of a few populous countries in Asia in lifting tens of millions of their citizens out of poverty have masked the failures elsewhere. That is why the worst possible course of action would be simply to roll over the 2000 system and targets and then forget about them. We need to learn and apply the lessons of those first 15 years and that is the reason why I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, for initiating this debate and introducing it so well.
Here are a few thoughts for the future. First, any post-2015 system should focus much more specifically on what Professor Collier—already mentioned several times in this debate—has eloquently called “the bottom billion”. It is the plight of those people, wherever they may be found—and we should be wary of the sweeping classification of countries as poor or middle income—which needs to be addressed far more effectively than before. We should not turn our backs on the Dalits in India or on the street children of many Latin American countries. Secondly, we surely need far more rigorous systems for benchmarking progress—or the lack of it—in both donor and recipient countries and for naming and shaming countries on both sides of that divide who fall short of their commitments.
Thirdly, we need to bring the private sector, both business and the great philanthropic foundations, into the heart of devising and implementing the post-2015 MDGs. Too often they have been treated as add-ons and their contributions have not always fitted as well as they should with national Governments and the great intergovernmental institutions. This time, we need to do better than that and we should not forget what a crucial role business has to play in the fight against corruption, in particular through such schemes as the extractive industries transparency initiative. In that context, when the Minister replies to the debate will he report on the progress of negotiations within the European Union to make the EITI a mandatory requirement for European businesses?
Fourthly, we need to focus more effectively on the gender aspects of the post-2015 MDGs. It is not enough to have a single gender policy goal, or set of goals, because gender issues crop up in every one of the goals. Nor is it enough to say simply that gender issues are cross-cutting and then ignore and neglect them in their application. Somehow we need to resolve that paradox. I therefore hope that before too long, the Government will come forward with their thinking on the post-2015 MDGs in the form, perhaps, of a White or a Green Paper or a discussion document. We need to move the national debate on aid on to more positive and forward-looking territory and away from the well-trampled terrain of the ring-fencing of our aid budget.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, for raising the issue of the millennium development goals and for her perceptive speech and questions, so eloquently followed by other contributors to the debate. There are problems that are always inherent in goals and targets. Let me take the example of schools. Let us suppose that there are goals to reach certain standards in reading and mathematics. Schools in deprived areas will have more difficulty reaching the targets than those in affluent areas. As head teachers often say, it depends on where children start off, and success should be measured by what improvement has been made from the baseline of when a child enters school. Some countries, as we know, have horrendous problems around climate, poverty, disease, malnutrition, overpopulation, corruption and conflict. They will find it difficult to reach goals that others find much less so because the baseline varies in different countries. I support overarching goals, but I agree with the UK-based Global Health Network that we need to focus on inequity by directly targeting the groups, regions and countries that have fallen furthest behind in the development efforts related to the MDGs, and that we should build on vital unmet existing MDG commitments rather than seek to replace them.
I shall focus on the well-being of children, and I declare an interest as a trustee of UNICEF UK. Children are vulnerable. The Save the Children Fund points out that 200,000 Syrian refugee children are at risk of enduring freezing temperatures this winter. More than 50% of the population of Gaza are children. Children are the hope of the future. Another key consideration, one that is supported by Women and Children First, is ensuring the involvement at the local level of civil society, communities and affected populations in the design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of laws, policies and programmes; in other words, investing in people. A top-down approach, as my noble friend Lady Kinnock discussed so eloquently, may alienate and disempower the very people it seeks to help. Many women and children in communities must be enabled to have a voice, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin, said.
UNICEF is about to carry out a consultation with children about the successor framework. Helping and empowering children demonstrates how important are the links between education, health, poverty reduction and gender equality. Improvement in any one of these aspects helps to improve the others. In helping children, development becomes more sustainable. Countries cannot tackle diseases such as malaria and HIV, reduce poverty or improve the capacity of populations without investing in children.
Other noble Lords have talked about education in this debate. A focus on education, particularly of women and girls, should be paramount. The Millennium Declaration and the UNICEF “A World Fit for Children” declaration can serve as guidelines and incentives for future progress, but with the caveat I expressed earlier that more targeting on specific countries and populations in difficulty should be a priority, and children’s well-being must be to the fore. A UN summit held in September 2010 set a target to ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, would be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. In 2008, enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 89%, up from 83% in 2000. This rate of progress is insufficient to meet the MDG target of achieving universal primary education by 2015. Around 69 million school-age children are not in school, and almost half of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. I hope that the successor framework will address the shortfalls identified by Save the Children, which points out that there are inequities within countries which must be addressed.
However, there are many good examples of education initiatives which I hope will be shared so that good practice is developed across the world, particularly for women and girls. Can the Minister tell us how the successor framework is to be developed? What are the processes and who will have input into it? How will the UK contribute, apart from through the Prime Minister? Will voluntary sectors and local communities around the world be involved? Can the successor framework, while maintaining the ambitions of the MDGs, refocus within each of the eight goals in order to prioritise the most vulnerable, and be realistic about some of the threats to development such as conflict and overpopulation? That is not a must, but a should. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I, too, would like to congratulate my noble friend Lady Nicholson on securing this very important debate. It is widely accepted that the millennium development goals have concentrated the minds of donors on international development and it is acknowledged that some progress has been made. In declaring an interest as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, what is important is that we should bear in mind, when setting up the new frameworks, three overarching principles.
The first of these is sustainability. As the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, said, we need to address the effects of environmental change and global warming which, while they are caused mainly by us in the West, have a huge effect on people in the developing world. The second principle is that developing countries themselves, as was pointed out by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells, must be able to set their own agenda and priorities for the benefit of their people. They should not necessarily be completely bound by whatever replaces the millennium development goals or those vertical initiatives that we have seen from the donor community.
The third overarching consideration is population growth—I call it the elephant in the room. It is no good setting targets when the world population is still increasing by 80 million a year. That is the equivalent of adding another United States of America to the world every four years. The millennium development goals ignored population growth completely; it was not taken into consideration, although it is a huge challenge. A report published by our group three years ago, The Return of the Population Growth Factor, pointed out that in countries with high population growth, the number of school age children doubles every 20 years. Assuming a class size of 40, which is modest, this means that worldwide an extra 2 million school teachers are needed every year just to stand still, let alone to make any progress. The same problem affects other goals, of course. Population growth prevents progress. That is why I applaud the Government—yes, me, applauding the coalition Government—for prioritising maternal health and recognising at last that family planning is a human right. Our Government have recognised the fact that currently 222 million women around the world want to avoid pregnancy and need contraception. Coercion is not necessary, and religion and culture need not be a problem. Some countries have already achieved a reduction in fertility rates and falls in family size. Bangladesh has made great progress, as have Rwanda, Tunisia and countries in east Asia. What is surprising to many is that Iran runs an extremely good and successful programme for reproductive health and family planning for its women. We need to build family planning into the new post-MDG framework so that other countries can follow their success. Let us remember that if women are allowed to control family size and have the number of children they and their husbands want, there will be lower maternal mortality from unsafe abortion and unassisted childbirth, and all the complications that arise therefrom. Chronic ill-health in mothers who are too young or too weak to have large families can be prevented. Giving women access to family planning ultimately means fewer mouths to feed, less hunger and better food security—and that means less conflict. It means more girls and women in education and more women who are able to join the workforce. It cannot be repeated often enough that having educated women who can contribute to the economy means achieving the holy grail of economic growth.
My Lords, one of the benefits of the millennium development goals—alongside those of a sharpened public focus and broad narrative to which the right reverend Prelate alluded—has been the opportunity to learn sometimes what does not work and what does. The focus and funding that has come with these goals have allowed development agencies and countries to improve their performance in the areas of concern.
I use as an example the work done by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s maternal and child health unit and declare an interest because I chair its advisory council. With support from DfID and under the millennium development goal of improving maternal morality, they have found a programme that trains, in-country, workers and birth attendants dramatically to reduce maternal mortality. Of course when you reduce maternal mortality, you have a hugely beneficial effect, reducing maternal morbidity and child and infant mortality, all of which is ongoing. Recognising that a lot has been learnt and is still being learnt, when we look post-2015, is tremendously important. Some wheels have been invented but we do not want to start reinventing every wheel in the post-2015 framework.
In the three minutes left, I echo three themes—unsurprisingly, themes that were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, because I, too, was at the event yesterday. I turn to women first—and perhaps, in the interest of brevity, I should stop there. We have huge amounts of evidence that, by improving the health, education and economic opportunities of women, their freedom from violence and forced and early marriage, their access to family planning, we underpin national development across the board. Women are absolutely crucial to that. Secondly, we must reach out to the bottom 25% in whatever part of the world they exist. Making this a universal and international aspiration and set of goals—not simply something that the developed world is doing unto the developing world—helps with this. I could say the same about women’s empowerment but perhaps this is a delicate issue in current circumstances.
Thirdly, there is the idea of having a single goal on health post-2015. Health is crucial to all those other areas of development, as the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, said. The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, illustrated this in terms of mental health and the way in which not addressing mental health issues undermined achievement of the millennium development goals. As the House knows, my own interest is in neglected tropical diseases, which are not mentioned as such in the millennium development goals even within the health targets. Look at education, however. Children with worms do not go to school and, therefore, stop the achievement of the target. Look at economic development and the abolition of poverty. People who are blinded by oncho or trachoma are not going to be able to be economically active. Look at the reduction in HIV/AIDS. Women who have genital schistosomiasis are more likely to contract HIV and AIDS. Women with anaemia—because of neglected tropical diseases—are more likely to die in childbirth. Running through all those individual goals is the deleterious effect of neglected tropical diseases. You can go from that to health in terms of development. Having a single health goal—in terms of providing healthcare access, appropriate to that country, to everyone in that community—is one of the important overarching views going forward after the millennium development goals.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, for tabling this important and timely debate and for her terrific introduction, which focused our attention on the importance of the successor framework to the millennium development goals. I very much hope that the Minister will ensure that today’s debate feeds into the current listening process. I am proud that the Labour Government were at the forefront of establishing the MDGs and the global efforts to meet them. However, like my noble friend Lady Kinnock, I recognise that they sadly did not meet all the objectives of the excellent Millennium Declaration. I hope that we can return to that declaration in due course.
As we have heard, while targets have not been met in many cases, the MDGs have made a real difference to millions of lives. They were not just warm words but real targets, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said. They have also enabled millions of people in developing countries to better understand the challenge, and importance, of developments. With the Prime Minister as co-chair of the UN panel responsible for leading discussions on developing a successor to the MDGs, the UK has both a huge opportunity and responsibility to bring about a sustainable, inclusive and more equitable world. The successor framework post-2015 must build on the success of the MDGs and address the shortfalls. Decreases in maternal mortality are far from the 2015 target. Use of improved sources of water remains low in rural areas, and there are still 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 dollars a day, over 70% of whom live in middle-income countries such as India. That hunger remains a global challenge cannot be right in the 21st century.
Millennium development goals should, therefore, remain focused on ending poverty and retain a number of clear, measurable goals. We must evaluate and learn the lessons of the past 12 years. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, says, we must take from it what does and does not work. The global context has changed significantly since the MDGs were first agreed. Since 2000 we have witnessed global economic climate and political shocks. Technological advances have been made and environmental sustainability and governance have rightly moved to the forefront of development debates. We have also seen the rise of new development partners, such as China, and emerging economies and the shifting of power from small groups, such as the G8, to the G20. In order for any successor framework to be effective it has to take into account these evolutions, be rooted in today’s world and look to future challenges. A new agreement must encompass sustainability, a rights-based understanding of development and focus on growth, employment and inequality.
It is crucial that we urgently address rising levels of inequality. We on these Benches believe that it is important that our approach to post-2015 should be values-led, with the goal of tackling inequality at its heart. The gaps between rich and poor are growing rapidly both within and between a number of middle-income and developing countries. Gross inequality is wasting the talents of millions of our citizens, leaving behind individuals and groups in society and inhibiting growth globally. A recent discussion paper by the UN system task team highlighted a lack of focus on inequality as one of the weaknesses of the MDGs, while an October report by the ODI shows that MDGs did not incentivise a focus on the poorest and that targets expressed as national averages,
“can mask sometimes quite large inequalities within countries”.
At a recent parliamentary meeting on post-2015, there was a unanimous support from global civil society representatives for a greater focus on inequality and a successor framework to the MDGs. A recent briefing by Christian Aid found that, in Brazil, the proportion of malnourished children under five is 76.1% higher in the quilombola community—the descendants of slaves—than in the population at large.
Save the Children’s recent report, Born Equal, shows that inequality is especially hazardous for child well-being and development. In an analysis of 32 middle and low-income countries, it found that a child in the richest 10% of households has 35 times the effective available income of a child in the poorest 10%. In order to address inequality, there should be a focus on responsible capitalism—addressing tax dodging, fair trade, sustainable growth, decent labour standards and climate change; social justice, that is to say social protection, free access to education and healthcare; and human rights, that is to say human rights without exception, including women’s rights. Tackling inequality is about justice and fairness. Global growth should work for everyone.
The successor framework must—and I say “must” advisedly, because I believe that women’s rights should absolutely be at the heart of all MDGs—focus on gender inequality, violence against women and girls, and the role of women in peace-building. I take this opportunity to draw attention to legislation that is currently being considered by the Egyptian People’s Assembly, and note that the noble Baroness mentioned Middle Eastern countries. In Egypt at the moment, they are discussing a law that would reduce the marital age for girls to nine. That cannot be right. Such a move would violate all international agreements on children’s rights. Can the Minister assure me that our Government are making their views known on this issue?
Real progress has been made on girls’ enrolment in primary education, but huge challenges remain. According to a recent report by the Gender and Development Network, women are estimated to account for two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty. It showed that gender inequalities—the unequal control and distribution of resources, legal and labour market barriers, the lack of representation and gender-based violence, to cite but a few—leave women and girls disproportionately vulnerable to shocks such as rising food or fuel prices, natural disasters and conflict.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the post-2015 high-level panel, alongside the Prime Minister, said a few years ago that,
“for far too long, women’s will, women’s voices, women’s interests, priorities, and needs have not been heard, have not determined who governs, have not guided how they govern, and to what ends. Since women are often amongst the least powerful of citizens, with the fewest social and economic resources on which to build political power, special efforts are often needed to elicit and amplify their voice”.
Once women are given resources, however small, they use them to improve the lives of their families and communities, as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, suggested that they do in Africa. Women are powerful catalysts, but they need to be given the power in the first place. It is crucial that we tackle the abhorrent levels of violence still experienced by women in conflict situations and ensure that women have a greater role to play in peace-building and recovery. My noble friend Lady Goudie is right to say that women must be at the tables where conflicts are being resolved and peace built. Women should and must be part of the decision-making processes. Putting women’s rights at the heart of addressing the distinct challenges presented by fragile states must feature prominently in any new framework.
Provisions for an integrated approach to early childhood development should also be included in any new framework. This is based on our experience and on evidence that a joined-up approach to childhood development, which starts from when the child is conceived to when it enters school, and includes health and education provision, makes the greatest difference to a child’s life. Concern has been expressed about the absence of child protection in the current MDGs. Save the Children, for example, argued that there is evidence that the widespread violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation that children face is hindering progress on the current MDGs and the sustainable social and economic development of countries.
The current context in the UK, and in particular the recent report by the Children’s Commissioner, shows how important it is to focus our attention on, and listen to, vulnerable children. My noble friend Lady Massey of Darwen mentioned the Syrian children who are in refugee camps. Last week, I was in the Zaatari camp, where 55% of the population are under the age of 18.
A post-2015 framework has to be shaped in a more open, genuine and inclusive way, involving a wide range of actors in consultative processes. MDGs have received criticism for what has been described as a donor-driven approach and for not sufficiently involving all the actors of development. Gone are the days when developed countries can or should impose their will on the rest of the world. The new covenant must involve all countries, whether developed, developing or emerging, and all voices must be heard. It should not be directed at countries in the south, but instead reflect on behaviours in the whole world.
It is vital that any new agreement is developed through real partnerships between political leaders, civil society and the private sector in all countries. It could provide the opportunity for targets to cover national Governments, donors, regional bodies and the private sector. My own party is placing a big emphasis on co-ordination and co-operation. Indeed, we are in the process of organising a series of round tables with key stakeholders, which will inform our vision for a post-2015 international development framework.
In his statement after his appointment, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to listening to many voices. I welcome that. These voices must include, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin, so rightly said, young people, but also disabled people, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Low, and my noble friend Lord Browne. The successor framework is an opportunity to build a more just and prosperous world. It is our duty to grasp it.
My Lords, first, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions to this debate and, as all noble Lords have done, draw absolutely appropriate attention to the post-2015 development agenda. At this juncture, at the outset, I also thank my noble friend Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne for calling this debate on such an important topic and take the opportunity to commend her on her outstanding contributions in the area of international development. I am sure that your Lordships’ House will agree that her opening remarks demonstrated her true expertise in this most vital of areas.
As we approach 2015, securing global agreement on the new framework to replace the current millennium development goals is a key priority for the Government and one that was, indeed, restated by the new Secretary of State for International Development. I listened very attentively, as I do through all debates. On international development in particular, I am fascinated by the expertise and am always learning of new things, new initiatives, new experiences and, of course, new proposals, all of which I have listened to very carefully and will certainly pass on to and share with colleagues.
In terms of priorities, I stand here both as a Minister in the Government and as a business manager of the House and underline the fact that in the two months that I have been on the Front Bench, this is the second occasion on which I have led and responded to a debate on international development, following the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord McConnell. I hope that that underlines the priority that the Government continue to give to this most important of issues. Noble Lords can of course rest assured that this is not the last time that we shall return to this subject, about which we can learn a great deal from your Lordships’ House.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, talked about my right honourable friend the Prime Minister resisting calls from the Conservative Back Benches. Not so long ago, I was a Back-Bencher once—maybe I will be again, although I hope not too soon—and I assure your Lordships’ House that many on the Conservative Back Benches are 100% supportive of the Government’s stance. My noble friends Lady Jenkin, Lord Bates, Lord Sheikh and Lord Moynihan underline the quality and commitment that our Government, and the Conservative Party, have in respect of this important agenda. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said about being, as ever, short of time on debates but this is an important issue and we shall return to this subject.
What have the millennium development goals achieved thus far? As we have heard, there were eight goals, and there has been good progress against some of them. My noble friend Baroness Nicholson referred to these, and I will give two examples—the global targets for halving both the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day and the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water were both met in 2010. Advances in primary education completion and gender equality in primary and secondary education have also been encouraging. However, not enough has been achieved. The noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, also raised this issue and I will return to it in a moment.
I will reflect on the comments of my noble friend Lord Sheikh and the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge. They cited examples of certain countries where things are being achieved. It is right that we highlight some of these positive achievements such as those in Bangladesh, where issues such as infant mortality and family planning have been challenged and looked at, and we are seeing success in those areas. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, that women have been central to the delivery of those objectives in that country. Long may that continue.
However, I also accept that not all developments have been positive. Infant and maternal mortality and access to basic sanitation, for example, are lagging far behind in many countries. We accept that the MDG framework itself was not perfect. For example, the degree of national-level ownership of the goals and the extent to which MDGs were incorporated into countries’ own development strategies has been limited. In some cases, the framework’s narrow focus on quantitative results has skewed resource allocations; for example, focusing on getting children into school, rather than looking at the quality of those schools, has meant that what is being taught has perhaps not had the focus it deserved. As pointed out my by noble friend Lady Nicholson, countries being left behind must be looked at.
We still have three years to go until 2015 and, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said before at the United Nations, countries which are not yet playing their part must wake up and ensure that they do so. The noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, talked about leadership and partnership. It is important that the UK continues to be a partner in ensuring that countries progress to the next level.
As we approach 2015, the global debate about what should happen next is rightly gathering pace. As was pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, 1 billion people will still be living below $1.25 a day in 2015. The new framework must address the issue of poverty and build on the notable successes, some of which I have already highlighted, of the MDGs. Agreeing a development framework will be challenging; let us not ignore that. There are a number of issues and debates to consider.
First, there are important questions about what the post-2015 framework should cover. Any new development framework needs to tackle the root causes of poverty, not just the symptoms; as my noble friend Lord Bates said, we must look at prevention rather than intervention. It will need to put in place the building blocks for sustained prosperity, what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister refers to as the “golden thread of development”. This means focusing on key issues such as peace and security, the rule of law, property rights, jobs, strong institutions, the integrity of government and good governance. As many noble Lords have already said, these were not addressed in the current MDGs. It also involves a virtuous and upward spiral of empowerment, as aptly described by the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington.
My noble friend Lord Chidgey also raised important issues. For example, he asked about the post-Busan committee and the need to build on its work, especially as a governance indicator. We agree. The Government stand by this. As I have already alluded to, it is part of the Prime Minister’s golden thread agenda. The global partnership for effective development set up in Busan will be critical to the delivery of the post-2015 framework. The new framework will also need to address new challenges and opportunities that have emerged since the MDGs were agreed, including environmental sustainability—mentioned by several noble Lords—resource scarcity and urbanisation.
I will now dwell on some of the points raised during this excellent debate. First, the noble Lords, Lord Low and Lord Crisp, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, all talked about education, health and the important issue of women’s empowerment. A focus on the golden thread to which I have referred and the new emerging challenges should not be at the expense of human development. In particular, access to quality health and education is essential. The Prime Minister is committed to building on the MDGs and to “finishing the job” on education and health, as well as the empowerment of women and the assurance of clean water and sanitation. I assure your Lordships’ House that Her Majesty’s Government are committed to making this happen. We look forward to receiving contributions from all noble Lords, but I would particularly welcome proposals from the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on some of the health development issues.
The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, also talked about sustainability, and said that this should be specified with particular references. He has rightly reminded us of the fundamental importance of environmental sustainability, and this will be used as a central plank of the post-2015 framework. My noble friends Lady Nicholson, Lord Chidgey and Lord Bates all talked about conflict and security, and whether they will feature in the framework. Fragile and conflict states are the furthest, I agree, from reaching the MDG goals. It is therefore right that any post-2015 framework reflects their unique challenges. One way of doing this, perhaps, would be for the post-2015 framework to build on the peace-building and state-building goals agreed as part of the new deal for engagement in fragile states.
My noble friend Lady Nicholson and the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, raised the crucial issue of human rights, and whether they will be central to a new framework. Around the world, it is an unfortunate reality that human rights are not being safeguarded. I assure them that the commitment of the previous Government is retained by this one. The excellent work done in this area by the previous Government continues to be built on. The UK believes that human rights should be reflected as a new part of the post-2015 framework. Discovering how best to achieve this through indicators, for example, will require a process of broad consultation and negotiation among member states. It needs agreement. This is a sensitive political issue with some countries, as I am sure noble Lords will acknowledge. It will be important to find common approaches, but it is an issue that cannot be ignored. My noble friend Lady Nicholson also raised the issue of the private sector. I was reminded of an issue that came out of the high-level panel meeting, brought up by the president of Liberia, about bringing forward a compact of people working together from all sectors of society, including the private sector. I assure my noble friend that Her Majesty’s Government are committed to working with all partners in developing the post-2015 framework. There are two private sector representatives currently on the high-level panel, and the London meeting of the panel had a session specifically on private sector engagement. We will continue to develop a new global compact with civil society, business and Governments to ensure that the new goals which are set target issues such as industrialisation failure in the post-2015 framework.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells talked of the target-based approach and the need for it to be maintained. The existing MDGs have put particular issues on the agenda and it is right that we now build on them. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that a target-based approach serves as useful political advocacy to incentivise focus and action for Governments. It also incentivises a focus on measurement and, most importantly, is results-focused.
Above all, elements of the new framework, as many noble Lords have reminded us, need to be focused, prioritised and, most importantly—I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Giddens—deliverable. A long wish list of issues and themes will have little traction or political resonance, as opposed to a prioritised framework. Debates are ongoing about the broader architecture of the framework, which needs to have a clear and prioritised set of goals which is likely to have more political traction than any high-level narrative. How these translate into targets at a national level is also an important question. National targets need to be set: it is no good having high-level, meaningful targets if countries themselves cannot actually work with donor countries to deliver them. What fosters real country ownership and accountability is incentivised action and results on the ground.
The Prime Minister has talked about poverty and various noble Lords have reflected on it. I am reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi when he said that,
“poverty is the worst form of violence”.
What he meant was the need to empower people. Poverty is an evil which we need to eradicate and it is right that we remain focused on doing so. However, I accept that some goals will apply to some countries more than others. There are clear responsibilities for donor countries on, for example, the transparency of aid flows. Any goal on extreme poverty would be most relevant to poor countries. Targets on gender equality, mentioned by several noble Lords, should also be applied to several countries.
The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and other noble Lords, rightly raised and focused on the issue of inequalities. She is a strong advocate of women’s rights and we shared common ground on the issue in the previous debate. Her comments resonate with all in your Lordships’ House. I assure the noble Baroness that Her Majesty’s Government are absolutely committed to putting a central emphasis on women’s rights in any post-2015 framework. We know that this is a key issue, but it is also a key part of a country’s development. I will, of course, raise the particular issue of the proposed new marriage law with my noble friend Lady Warsi and we will write to her in this regard as well.
My noble friend Lady Nicholson also asked whether Her Majesty’s Government would work to facilitate migration through a new framework. Whether, and how, to address migration in a post-2015 framework will be dependent on the priorities and this will be discussed.
There are a number of possible frameworks. We also talked about other inequalities including the issue of disability, so eloquently raised by the noble Lords, Lord Low and Lord Browne. There are a number of ways to incorporate disability and other forms of inequality into the post-2015 framework. One solution could be simply to disaggregate the measurement of targets in the new framework, a point touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock. Another solution could be to set “getting to zero” goals and targets. Meeting these targets would require the needs of everyone to be met, including the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. A third option would be to focus on areas where inequality is particularly pressing. In this context, it is important to dwell on the words of my noble friend Lord Moynihan. I pay tribute to his efforts on the delivery of the Olympics and Paralympics which set a great example. They had the slogan of “Inspire a generation”: they inspired a nation and can perhaps inspire the world. Disability issues need to be central to any development goals and we shall be looking to raise them.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, raised the issue of mental health. Once again, this should be reflected in the millennium development goals, but it is an unfortunate reality that, in certain countries, the issue of mental health is not recognised or is even hidden away. It is important that education about mental health and acceptance that this is a challenge faced by these countries is brought to the forefront so that the issues and challenges can be rightly targeted and addressed. Mental health is a fundamental health issue in the developed and developing world and Her Majesty’s Government will work with all parties to ensure that it remains a key focus.
I am conscious of the time and that there is much to be covered in this debate. I can assure the House that these debates are part and parcel of the Government’s wider consultation on the post-2015 development network. In the time left, I will answer some of the other questions which were raised. The noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, rightly raised the issue of reproductive health and family planning. Access to family planning is a fundamental right for women and the millennium goal of universal access to reproductive health was not met. We therefore need to consider how this can be built into the post-2015 goals. The noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and my noble friend Lady Jenkin raised the issue of involving the next generation. Our children and young people are vital in determining the MDG goals post-2015. I can assure my noble friend and the noble Baroness that, in the final day of its London meetings, the high-level panel hosted a range of broad, in-depth consultations between high-level panellists, civil society groups, the private sector and young people. The young people meeting was crucial in hearing the particular perspective of youths, some of the key challenges of which were so ably and eloquently set out by my noble friend Lady Jenkin.
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, asked me about the EITI. Transparency, accountability and governance are important and, in the interests of time, I will write to the noble Lord in this regard.
As a spokesman on this issue I assure the House that this important issue is close to my heart and that the Government will continue to consult on it because of the wide range of experience and wisdom held within your Lordships’ House.
I finish by saying that the United Kingdom is committed to doing everything it can to deliver a bold, useful and realistic post-2015 framework that will drive poverty reduction and deliver real improvements in the lives of generations to come. As has been said by several noble Lords, a new framework needs to be simple, ambitious but, most importantly, actionable. It needs to reflect the diverse conditions of development and be relevant for low, middle and high-income countries as well as fragile and conflict-affected ones. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells rightly said that these particular goals should be about transformative change; I totally concur with those sentiments. However, I am sure that all will agree that this debate underlines yet again the true expertise and informed opinions of your Lordships from across the Chamber. As this fascinating debate was over lunchtime, it was also apt that we had references to Sandwiches and Crisps.
The Government continue to be proud of the role that Britain plays against global poverty. We will continue to live up to that reputation as we pursue the unique opportunity to be the generation that addresses this key issue and eradicates absolute poverty.
My Lords, I thank the Minister very much indeed for his full and detailed response. In this nation, with our wide, rich and varied experience and tremendously diverse but inclusive population, we have the most profound interest in the life and futures of the world. I mention the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, about the legislation which is now in front of the Egyptian Parliament. We are absolutely right to be concerned. It is a clear example of why your Lordships rose in such large quantities and with such a profusion of interventions in this important debate.
I am reminded of Pliny the Elder when he made his famous remark about Africa when I say that something new is always coming out of your Lordships’ House. The noble Lord, Lord Low, remarked that disability does not appear anywhere in the MDGs. What is this all about? The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, also remarked on the absence of mental health. This is simply not good enough. As the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, said, people need sources of wealth: they have to live and survive. We think, most profoundly, that the MDGs deserve a full-scale investigation in terms of the future post-2015 and we thank the Minister very much indeed for his commitment.
The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bates—that we should set up an ad hoc committee—might be a way forward and begin, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, by inviting the Government to contribute at least a Green Paper and, perhaps, a white one. Ministers know that this is an important topic and that this House, particularly, wishes to be heavily involved.