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Overseas Aid: Post-2015 Development Agenda

Volume 747: debated on Thursday 25 July 2013


Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to follow up the report of the United Nations High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

My Lords, the Government welcome the high-level panel’s report as an ambitious and practical starting point for negotiations on the post-2015 development framework. Over the next two years we will work internationally to seek to build momentum behind the panel’s recommendations and to ensure that the final framework is equally strong.

I thank the Minister for that Answer. Everyone in this House who has taken part in debates on this matter will welcome the very strong analysis and recommendations made in the report of the high-level panel on the issues of conflict, security and development. In fact, the recommendations are perhaps surprising given the hostility that there may be elsewhere in the United Nations system towards these issues. What action will the Government take to build a broad coalition in the United Nations and elsewhere to secure these recommendations and to make sure that the final report for the post-2015 development framework tackles the crucial issues of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction?

This report is remarkable. Many people felt that it would be very difficult to secure something as focused, streamlined and effective as this one is, following on as it does from the previous one, which was negotiated almost in isolation. Many different groups and organisations from countries across the globe have been involved, which is a good omen for taking this forward. However, the noble Lord is absolutely right to say that it is going to need a lot of work, and this Government will be putting that work in to ensure that what is finally proposed is as strong as this initial report.

My Lords, the Prime Minister is much to be congratulated on the report of the high-level panel, which he co-chaired, given its emphasis on no one being left behind and the recommendation that targets should be considered achieved only if they are met for all the relevant income and stakeholder groups. Given all of that and the fact that progress towards the current millennium development goals has been limited by the great increase in global inequalities, will the UK Government press for a stand-alone goal on equality in the post-2015 framework?

The noble Lord is right about how this proposal emphasises leaving no one behind and that targets can be considered achieved only when they are met across all social and income groups. That is essential in tackling inequality. It seems to us that challenging inequality runs as a thread through the whole report.

My Lords, I returned this morning from Myanmar which—although it was a fascinating week—is still in a very fragile state. It is one of the states that has failed to achieve any of the MDGs. It is still a very poor country where one in four people lives below $1.25 a day, and it has terrible capacity issues. Given the feeling of hope in that country now, what does DfID plan to do to support the Burmese people in the run-up to the 2015 elections?

DfID is a strong supporter of Myanmar and we recognise that it is a very fragile state. I think that my noble friend went with an all-party group, and we are delighted that such a group has been able to visit. We recently announced £10 million in funding to help with the 2014 Myanmar population and housing census which will help to underpin the information required for the elections. We will continue to help the Government and other organisations in other ways as well.

My Lords, the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, recently said:

“Rising income inequality is a growing concern for policymakers around the world”.

Why, then, has the high-level panel omitted any reference to this issue, and why does it talk only about equality of opportunity? Does the Minister agree that Madame Lagarde’s evidence-based statement that,

“more equal societies are more likely to achieve lasting growth”,

should be considered in any future discussions?

If the noble Baroness looks at the 12 goals, and I am sure that she has, she will see that they include the issues that need to be addressed. For example, goal 8 is to,

“create jobs, sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth”.

I think that that addresses the problems that she highlights.

Like other noble Lords, I applaud the Prime Minister’s initiative and leadership in this area and encourage him to press on. In view of the importance that the report attaches to gender equality and empowerment, can the Minister confirm that the Government will look to next year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, which starts in March, to build consensus among UN member states on this matter, ahead of any final negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda?

I can assure the right reverend Prelate that we are already doing that. A great deal of work went into ensuring that this year’s CSW could reach agreement. It required a lot of work but we were delighted that that agreement was reached. We are already working on the next one and are delighted that the second of the 12 goals is on gender equality.

My Lords, according to a report on under the headline “Brussels proposes pooling world aid development funding”, the EU’s Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, issued a statement on 16 July proposing that, post-2015,

“all types of development aid … be considered as ‘a whole’”,

including ODA for low-income countries. He described the statement as,

“another big step towards putting in place the … post-2015 framework”.

How can Mr Piebalgs’ initiative apparently to place world aid under a European Commission social development agenda be compatible with DfID’s vision of using ODA as a means of growing economies so that they can trade out of poverty? Will the Government be seeking clarification?

I have seen a copy of what Commissioner Piebalgs said and he was talking about all financing sources, which includes private finance flows, domestic resources and ODA. We quite agree that all those things can contribute to the relief of poverty. We work very closely with the Commissioner. I have certainly found, after meeting him many times, that he and DfID very much agree about how best to take this forward.

My Lords, given the huge success of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme, would the Minister not prefer to see it higher in the priorities for the post-millennium period, and is she surprised that it is not?

There are 12 goals, as the noble Earl will know, and I am very pleased that achieving universal access to water and sanitation is among them. I do not think that he should regard them as being in order of priority. The ones that are in there are very significant.