Motion to Take Note
My Lords, on 2 August, the 193 member states of the United Nations agreed the outcome documents that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda. This ambitious agenda, with 17 new sustainable development goals, aims to end poverty, promote prosperity and people’s well-being, while protecting the environment, by 2030.
To put into perspective the aims and objectives of the new SDGs, we should reflect on the achievements of the MDGs, the millennium development goals—the targets set in 2000 to be reached by 2015. The global mobilisation behind the MDGs has produced the most successful anti-poverty movement to date.
The MDGs framework has helped to lift more than 1 billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger and to enable more girls to attend school than ever before. The MDGs galvanised public opinion and showed the value of setting ambitious targets. Yet inequalities persist and progress has been uneven, with, in 2011, 60% of 1 billion extremely poor people living in just five countries.
Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs are universal in nature, meaning that all countries and not just developing nations are committed to their implementation. The success of the agenda depends on swift, effective and comprehensive implementation, undertaken by all countries and with no one left behind.
This is not a pick-and-choose agenda and it would be disappointing if the Government treated it as such. Will the Minister give a clear commitment to reflect on all 17 goals and 169 targets within the UK’s domestic sustainable development plans?
Indicators for the goals and targets are yet to be agreed. Comparability between countries is an important aspect of monitoring progress against the goals, and many of the goals can be measured with indicators that are already widely measured under existing agreements. Will the Government therefore resist arbitrary restriction of the total number for the spurious reason of technical capacity?
A mark of the progress made under the MDGs is that the global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half. Some 84% of children worldwide received a dose of measles vaccine in 2013 and between 2000 and 2013, there were nearly 16 million fewer deaths. However, UNICEF reports that every five minutes a child still dies as a result of violence, making a strong case for the Government to make ending violence against children a priority within the SDG framework.
More than 6 million malaria deaths have been averted, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. TB prevention and treatment interventions saved some 37 million lives and the TB mortality rate fell by nearly half. Since 1990, 1.9 billion more people have gained access to piped drinking water and 2.1 billion more people gained access to improved sanitation, while the proportion practising open defecation has nearly halved. WaterAid points out, however, that the MDG target on sanitation was missed by over 700 million people while the MDG target on safe water was missed in the 48 least-developed countries, so will the Government take a lead in securing safe water and good hygiene as basic human rights in these poorest communities?
Much has been achieved in aspiring to meet the MDGs, with tangible progress evident in every developing country, but much remains to be done if the ambition to eradicate poverty is to be achieved. Despite many successes, the poorest and the most vulnerable are still being left behind. Progress towards the MDGs has been uneven across the regions and countries. Millions of people are being left behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or location. Targeted efforts in the SDGs are needed to reach these most vulnerable people.
Major gaps still exist between the poorest and the richest households and between rural and urban areas, with the result that in the developing regions, children from the poorest 20% of households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from the richest 20%. They are four times more likely to be out of school, and infant mortality rates among the under-fives are about twice as high in the poorest households. Climate change and environmental degradation undermine progress, and poor people suffer the most while conflict remains the biggest threat to human development.
Despite enormous progress, even today, some 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger. Over 160 million children under the age of five are stunted through malnutrition. Some 16,000 children die each day before celebrating their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable diseases. With global action, these statistics can be transformed and the successes of the MDG agenda have already proved that global action works. It is the way forward to ensure that the new sustainable development agenda really does leave no one behind.
Improved agriculture is the best route to fulfilling many of the 17 SDGs, including poverty eradication, food security and nutrition. Some 1.3 billion people are engaged in agriculture in developing countries and 70% of all Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. All too often, smallholder farming is seen as a source of poverty rather than a solution, yet investing in agriculture can play a transformational role in improving incomes and economic well-being. Improving agricultural performance and linking farmers to markets is the most powerful tool to end global poverty and hunger.
At the Addis Ababa development finance summit in July, a visionary yet costly SDG agenda was set out. The sweeping ambition of the post-2015 agenda called for a goal to end poverty and hunger and achieve sustainable development through providing inclusive economic growth, protecting the environment and promoting social inclusion. Financing must reflect those ambitions and it is worth reflecting on how much money is currently spent on development. Official development assistance, ODA, represents only 0.4% of total investment. In 2012, domestic investment accounted for a third of all funding currently available for developing countries. These domestic resources will be the largest single resource for funding development in most countries. They must not continue to be undermined by international tax evasion and avoidance, costing developing countries hundreds of billions of dollars every year. The UN estimates that the amount of money laundered each year globally is between $800 million and $2 trillion.
Concerted efforts will be required to reduce illicit financial flows, known as IFFs. Corruption, tax evasion and money laundering fund the engine of illicit flows. They drive resources from where they are needed into the hands of the corrupt. Addis Ababa set a clear objective to redouble efforts to substantially reduce IFFs by 2030, with a view to eventually eliminating them. To achieve this, much more co-operation is needed at the international level to, first and most critically, address the source of IFFs, thus reducing financial activity, corruption and tax evasion. Secondly, IFFs need to be halted to prevent illegal money from leaving the country. Finally, third parties, especially financial intermediaries, need to be stopped from accepting these assets.
I am grateful to the Bond organisation for helping to bring together the views of many leading NGOs engaged in aid and development. I am also indebted to UNICEF, for which I am a parliamentary ambassador, and to Save the Children, WaterAid, RESULTS, Malaria No More and many other NGOs for their views on the UN agenda for sustainable development. Save the Children strongly welcomes the agreement reached on the SDGs. If adopted and implemented, the goals and targets will represent a seismic shift in how the world tackles poverty. The agenda charts a new course to follow on from the MDGs with three major shifts of approach. First, the SDGs represent a real advance in how we will view success in getting to zero on extreme poverty and preventable child deaths. Secondly, the SDGs offer wins at some of the most progressive limits of development, in areas of governance, gender, sexual and reproductive health, ending violence against children, equity and climate change. Thirdly, the SDGs have been negotiated in a transparent and inclusive process over three years in the most participatory process in UN history.
Recognising these priorities, will the Government now set out clearly how, at the forthcoming UN General Assembly summit, they plan to deliver on the agreements made? In particular, as one of the leading and most powerful forces in the international development community, will HMG commit to, first, finishing the job of the MDGs, especially poverty reduction, children’s rights and development, and getting to zero on key human development outcomes? Secondly, will they commit to leaving no one behind by prioritising a reduction in all forms of poverty, including by disaggregating targets by gender, age, disability, ethnicity, location and income, and ensuring that no target is considered to be met until it is met for all social and income groups—that is, that the goals and targets must be met for all nations and for all peoples and for all segments of society? Thirdly, will the Government commit to addressing the substantive gaps in the MDGs at the goal and target levels, including the protection of children from violence, conflict and sexual abuse, open, transparent and accountable governance, more and better data, disaster risk reduction and inclusive and sustainable economic growth?
The SDG agenda is not legally binding, but it does apply to all UN member states and will be implemented globally from January next year. Implementing the post-2015 sustainable development strategies will require effective co-ordination between the many government departments, devolved Administrations and stakeholders which have roles to play across the new framework. Will the Government therefore confirm that they are establishing mechanisms to help co-ordinate between sectors and stakeholders to ensure ongoing monitoring and that adaptable plans are designed to achieve the established goals and targets? Will they embody an integrated approach to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development?
It is really important to note that while the MDGs were judged on what they have achieved for some, the new SDGs will be judged on what they achieve for all, which begs the question: how will the SDGs be judged and who will do the judging? It is clear that the only body which carries the mandate from a nation’s electorate over development and state expenditure is its democratically elected parliament. It is the only body that should carry the authority to monitor, approve and ratify state development programmes. Only parliaments can insist on transparency, accountability and probity from the executive branch of government on behalf of the people.
In this regard, the UNDP’s brief on parliaments’ role in defining and promoting the post-2015 development agenda is particularly encouraging. The UNDP recognises that in the MDGs agenda, the need for country ownership and government accountability were not sufficiently taken into account. In the SDGs, these were highlighted as requirements. Parliaments must be at the forefront of these imperatives because they play a crucial role in meeting those requirements through their law-making, budgeting and oversight functions. Parliaments have a clear role in monitoring and holding Governments to account for the international, national and regional commitments they have made.
Parliaments must become leaders in domestic accountability, with parliamentary reviews helping to ensure that adequate funding is allocated. Not just Parliaments but development partners, too, must recognise the crucial role of Parliaments and provide them with direct support. To that extent, how and when will the Government engage with parliamentarians of all parties in this new agenda?
The Government have been commended for the leadership they have shown in the MDG programme. The ambition of the 2030 programme for sustainable development needs to be matched by ambition and commitment to deliver. Will the Government therefore provide examples of the ways in which they will implement the agenda domestically and as a world leader in developments in the immediate and medium term? I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for introducing this debate. The millennium development goals have been largely a success: with levels of extreme poverty being reduced by 50%; with 42 million more children at school; and with the maternal mortality rate declining by 45%. However, we have to remember that about 1 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day—the World Bank measure on poverty; more than 800 million people still survive on very little food; there are still 58 million children with little or no access to education; millions of women still die in childbirth; and child mortality, although almost halved, still stands at around 6 million.
After 15 years there is still much to do, and the sustainable development goals have a much broader agenda. Point 17 of the draft resolution submitted by the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations states that the framework being announced,
“goes far beyond the MDGs. Alongside continuing development priorities such as poverty eradication, health, education and food security … it sets out a wide range of economic, social and environmental objectives. It also promises more peaceful and inclusive societies”.
More importantly, means of implementation are defined that focus on,
“interconnections and many cross-cutting elements across the new Goals and targets”.
There is no doubt that economic development is key to securing long-term peace and security as well as eradicating poverty; it is no longer about wealthy countries helping the poor but about partnerships across the globe.
After months of intergovernmental negotiations and the SDG outcome document, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there was an agreement by all 193 negotiating countries. The 17 goals—as opposed to the eight MDGs—and the 169 targets will most likely be formally adopted by world leaders at the special UN summit later this month. Some would say that there are too many goals, but Amina Mohammed, the UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on post-2015 development planning, said that it had been,
“a hard fight to get the number of goals down to 17, so there would be strong resistance to reduce them further”.
This broad agenda, while to be commended for including key issues of women’s empowerment, good governance, peace and security, also has to be strategic to be effective. We have goals underneath that are targets and underneath the goals there has to be a measurable indicator. Otherwise, we cannot monitor the progress that we make.
I draw attention in particular to point 53 of the draft resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which states:
“The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible”.
As a member of the advisory board of UNICEF in Scotland, I believe that that focus on children is key. Goal 16 is about society and governance, and target 16.2 is to,
“End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”.
This has been welcomed as a step forward in addressing the protection of children across the globe. The indicators are still being discussed by an expert group. Each indicator is being assessed for its suitability and relevance, as well as for how feasible it will be. These indicators are due to be finalised in March 2016. I would stress that the indicators must also include the number of children who experience violence from a care giver. I speak of children in the developed world—and of children here in the UK—as well as of the countless who face untold horror and violence in conflict zones around the world, or those who are trafficked and cruelly subjected to slave labour in the developing world.
The universality of the goals is possibly one of the most striking aspects of the new framework. On Tuesday, at the IDC session, the Secretary of State for International Development also mentioned the universality of the goals, stating that she will work with the Cabinet Office to ensure that the UK also plays its role. UNICEF has declared that the lack of global attention and commitment to tackle violence has made it impossible to deliver the millennium development goals in full, despite huge improvements in child well-being since the goals were agreed. Tackling the risk of violence must be a key priority if the other development areas, such as child mortality and education, are to thrive. For example, how can we expect children to learn if they are being abused at home?
The sustainable development goals will officially be adopted at a UN summit in New York this September and will become applicable from January 2016. The deadline for the SDGs is 2030. This means that we need plans and commitments at national levels from those that have signed up and a global partnership if we are to see the measurable results that we would wish to see 15 years hence. The sustainable development goals, like the millennium development goals, are to be celebrated as a noble effort to make this a better and fairer world, but they need the full support and commitment of the 193 Governments that have signed up, both in implementation and in financial terms. The SDGs are, after all, an aspiration—a beacon of light and hope for something better in what is otherwise, for millions on our planet, a very dark world.
My Lords, 2015 is in danger of being remembered in 21st-century history as a year when the poorest and most desperate people in the world—whether from northern Burma, Syria, Libya or Eritrea, or even recently from Burundi—either climbed on to boats with their children and took the terrifying journey to try to find peace and security elsewhere, or moved back into refugee camps in central Africa that we thought had been long closed.
But 2015 surely can also be a year when there is hope for our world, not just this great humanitarian crisis. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for securing this debate today, one week before the United Nations, we all hope, approves and moves forward with what I believe are to be called the global goals for sustainable development. I also thank and congratulate the United Kingdom Government on their role, not just the very public role of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, but also, in relation to statistics and data, the key role that United Kingdom officials have played behind the scenes in working out the detail of these goals and their implementation.
I specifically congratulate Amina Mohammed, the Secretary-General’s special adviser on the sustainable development goals. Given that four years ago it may have seemed an almost impossible task to pull together a global agreement on these goals, she and her team have done a phenomenal piece of work to get us to this stage and provide that perhaps one glimmer of hope in 2015 amidst all the darkness.
I look forward to going to New York next week. I refer noble Lords to my interests in the register —I support a number of charities and NGOs and hope to promote their case next week.
I also thank all those other NGOs and groups around the world that have been part of this historic process. These are not the millennium development goals and this is not the setting up of the United Nations, with a group of people meeting in a dark room somewhere agreeing what is best for the rest of the world; this has been a truly participative process, where Governments north and south and people from countries rich and poor have come together to try to forge a way ahead, set targets, however stretching they may be, and, I hope, now agree to work towards them.
None of this is perfect. The agreement reached at the summit on finance in Addis Ababa back in July took major steps forward, but it is not perfect. The global goals to be discussed next week will not meet with absolute approval from everybody. I am sure that the Paris summit in December will disappoint some but, I hope, enthuse others. However, what we do have is a global agreement for comprehensive goals that are universal in character and will, we hope, leave no one behind. We also have an ambitious target for 2030. We should make no apology for setting that ambitious target to try to end extreme poverty and help ensure that no child dies for reasons that could be avoided.
I want to focus my remarks on two issues in particular. First, on implementation, there are many examples, particularly over the last 15 years or so, of the UK Government and DfID in particular assisting Governments around the world in capacity building in their institutions, whether in relation to tax revenue, statistics, land registration, civil service and public service delivery or in many other ways. I believe there is a role here for the United Kingdom in leading the way in saying that every pound that we spend over these next 15 years in building capacity, in particular in the early years following the agreement in 2015, will reap dividends as we work towards achieving the goals by 2030. ODA, private donations and the expenditure generated domestically by the Governments of the south can be invested in building the capacity of public institutions to deliver public services, building a business environment that welcomes inward investment and ensures that jobs can be created, establishing public institutions which deliver justice for all and promoting the collection of data and statistics to ensure that we have the records that allow us to monitor the implementation of these goals. That investment would be tremendously helpful.
In particular, there should be an investment in the empowerment of women and girls. That is identified in these global goals, clearly and explicitly, as a key factor in delivering them as a whole. The empowerment of women and girls—their organisations, their education and their rights around the world—will be absolutely key to ensuring that the phrase “leave no one behind” is meaningful for everybody.
I particularly want to highlight global goal 16. I believe there has been a hard-fought effort to secure that goal and to make sure that it was there, right to the very end. I shall read it into the record here in your Lordships’ House. Global goal 16 is to,
“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable institutions at all levels”.
The millennium development goals were of their time. They were right to target education, health and clean water, maternal rights and all those other important issues, and to try to make specific progress on them. But it cannot be denied that, today, the people in the world in the most vulnerable conditions—those who have the least access to schools, hospitals, jobs, clean water and all the other things that we in the developed world largely take for granted; those who live in fear of their lives and have the least human rights—are those who live in countries which are affected by conflict and violence. The children affected by violence, both in countries affected by conflict and in others where children are terrified or trafficked on an almost daily basis, should be the number one priority of any effort to try to secure a better world.
Including that global goal 16 in the global goals is absolutely critical for ensuring that the global community’s effort does not just focus on the easiest places to build up the biggest numbers of people who are going to school, accessing clean water and hospitals or getting jobs but targets those who are most difficult to help. It should target those where the effort has to be most consistent and where we may fail but absolutely have to try. I want to ask the Government specifically about this issue and global goal 16. Will that goal lead to a review of the Building Stability Overseas Strategy by the UK Government? Will the UK Government retain their admirable commitment for these last five years to spend one-third of our ODA in conflict-affected and fragile states? Will they continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of not just UN peacekeeping but UN peacebuilding? I see on the news this morning that the Prime Minister may have something to say about peacekeeping in New York next week. Let us hope that he also has something to say about peacebuilding, because £1 spent on peacebuilding is worth £10, £20 or £30 spent on peacekeeping. Will the new Conflict, Security and Stabilisation Fund not only continue to exist but help drive this agenda and the implementation of these goals in the years ahead?
I believe passionately that education is the greatest liberation opportunity for children and that we have a climate crisis which we need to attack with the same ferocity as we would attack any other threat to the people of our planet. I also believe absolutely that global goal 16, with its creation of “peaceful and inclusive societies” and the tackling of opportunity for those who live in conflict zones, is central to leaving no one behind. This goal potentially creates safe havens in those conflict zones where children can go for education and health services—not to be taken to other places across the sea but to be safe and secure there, still accessing opportunities without losing a whole generation. I hope that the Government will agree.
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, who has demonstrated to the House the depth and breadth of his knowledge and experience in this area. I agree with many aspects of his contribution; indeed, he said many of the things that I am now having to think about saying differently in my contribution. Before I start, I wish to refer noble Lords to the register of interests. I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Chidgey, who introduced this debate with skill and detail showing that, as we all know on these Benches, his record speaks for itself. That the House has an opportunity to debate these issues, in advance of the discussion of the draft resolution, is a tribute to him for bringing it to us.
It is frequently frowned on, if not sneered at, when we hold to bold ambition. An air of cynicism often pervades much commentary when we talk about tackling the major global issues and a desire to resolve them. The seemingly intractable situation in Syria allows some to think that humanity cannot address its own deficiencies and that people need to come to terms with settling for their lot in the world. Even worse, some think that some in the world have a predilection to live in conflict, in poverty or without justice—that they are somehow not capable, as we are, of having a prosperous economy or a way of life based on western culture. Others take the view that if they simply learned to be like us and operate an economy like we do—overlooking our deficiencies in recent years—the issues would effectively solve themselves.
As we have witnessed the crises in recent weeks, we have seen the difficulties of many conflict areas but also the resilience of people seeking better lives for themselves and their families—the struggles that they go through and the lengths that they go to for a better life—which in many respects humbles those of us here. I hold to the view that bold ambitions are not just admirable things in their own right but are necessary in order to shape our thinking so that we can achieve great things. We must develop our hard policies to match them.
When I had the privilege of leading the then International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill through your Lordships’ House on behalf of Michael Moore in the other place, I cited the bold ambition, announced in 1970, that developing countries should by the end of that decade provide 0.7% of their GNP to support the development of other nations. It took much longer than it should have, and some of the richest countries in the world are shamefully far off meeting this ambition, but in this decade we in the United Kingdom have done so. Parliament has decided that we should do so year on year until we have made a meaningful impact on these global issues, so it is the law of our land that government should meet this condition to address the world’s problems.
A number of years ago, many would have said that this would have been unachievable; yet people came together and decided we would achieve it. The fact that we have done so gives us an unparalleled opportunity within the OECD and the wider donor community to shape thinking in the future and, indeed, to mould these priorities. We are assisted in this in having in the UK the development body most highly regarded in the world.
At the start of the millennium development goal period, many would have thought that eradicating malaria, for example, was similarly a worthy ambition but one hardly capable of being achieved—yet my noble friend indicated the progress being made. In a report published today and launched in another place by the Secretary of State for International Development as we debate this Motion, the results of such hard policy to meet bold ambition can be seen. Between 2000 and 2015, the rate of new malaria infections has reduced by 37% and the global malaria death rate by 60%. This is a profoundly strong record and one that simply could not have been possible without ODA, including, critically, that from the UK, working in partnership with our global neighbours afflicted by high levels of the disease. The ambition for a further 90% reduction in malaria incidence and mortality by 2020 is achievable, but only with additional resource. Critically—this is where I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McConnell—resource is needed now to create the impact for the future, rather than delay to the level of support.
I use the example of malaria as it highlights to me what can be achieved across all 17 goals. Increased ODA, with a bold ambition and clear and accountable work streams to deliver it, can see real impact. That is why I have been extremely disappointed with the position the EU as a whole has taken—on behalf of the richest region on the planet—that EU countries would only catch up with the UK by the end of the SDG period in 2030. This is shameful. Although I welcome the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the A4, the dispiriting part of it was the lack of ambition on finance from the most developed nations—critically, from the EU.
I know that the A4 is for the whole term of the SDG period, but I do not want this to be the final word from the EU perspective. The UK assumes the presidency of the EU in July 2017. I do not want it to be wholly subsumed by angst about our relationship with the EU. I want the first item for the UK presidency to be to convene an EU ODA finance summit where we have a new EU position to accelerate the delivery of the 0.7% target. I want it to be brought forward for each EU member by a decade. That means signalling to our neighbours now that they must commence political and parliamentary work to accelerate support between 2015 and 2020.
We know from our experience in the UK that this can be done. It is not easy; it is sometimes controversial. I saw that for myself having to respond to amendments during the Bill’s passage, but we in the UK must take the lead, and it must be ratified under our presidency.
The successful delivery of the goals will make a meaningful difference to humanity. Of course, it has not proved easy to agree on the 17, as indicated by the noble Lords, Lord McConnell and Lord Chidgey. Some have argued that 17 is too many. I want to focus on goal 16, outlined by the noble Lord, Lord McConnell. In many respects, all the other goals cannot be delivered and we cannot create the long-term basis on which development will be successful unless meaningful improvements are made within that goal.
Paragraph 16.7 of the draft resolution states that we must,
“ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”.
That is very welcome, but as the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, said, “parliament” is not mentioned. Interestingly, it is in the Addis action plan, as a footnote, but not in the goals themselves. The resolution does not draw sufficient attention to the necessity of each developing nation to have a functioning and supportive parliament. Without a parliament properly resourced, free to hold government to account and scrutinise priorities, and to debate and agree rule-of-law solutions to development issues, we will struggle to achieve meaningful impact of the SDG ambitions across all the different areas. Many of the barriers to the effective delivery of the SDGs—corruption, maladministration, poor decision-making, donor countries dominating the policy agenda over recipient countries—are often symptoms of the lack of a properly functioning parliament.
I understand why “parliament” was missing from the draft resolution, but I believe very strongly that building capacity and parliamentary strengthening is of major importance. It pained me to read the IDC report from the Commons in the previous Session, which highlighted the incongruity of the UK paying the US National Endowment for Democracy to deliver parliamentary strengthening work on behalf of the United Kingdom. That is not an appropriate answer.
Yesterday, I was at a very good parliamentary strengthening event where the CPA, the WFD, the British group of the IPU and others—parliamentary clerking staff and the National Audit Office—were together. We have the best foundations in the UK Parliament to develop much stronger support for parliamentary strengthening. It is a challenge to us in Parliament how we use the fantastic skills available to us.
I end on the second part of the goal, which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, mentioned, concerns abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. It is of course welcome, but there needs to be strong consideration of the detailed outcomes and how it will be developed. Too often, children are systematically used in areas of conflict or dispute by protagonists. It is one of the most insidious examples of war crimes. In some examples, we see children used politically, knowing that they are the next generation which can be targeted for future conflict.
Ten days ago, I was in the Occupied Territories in the West Bank, where the incidence of child detention by the IDF remains high. Children are arrested under security law, not civil law, often in the middle of the night. They infrequently have their rights read to them in Arabic, if at all. More than 90% have testified to being hand tied, and 80% hooded, in contravention of international standards and calls from our FCO that that practice end. As I left Hebron that evening, I saw a child of no more than 10 years old escorted away by three soldiers—something which would have an impact on any of us used to our approach in the United Kingdom.
Of course, there is the wider humanitarian aspect: 100,000 children born as refugees in the Syrian crisis; 5 million going without education; 10 million at risk in Yemen. None of these goals will be successfully achieved if we do not focus our resource on children and also on increasing the level of ODA support. We are less than 1% of the world’s population but we have a considerable role to play. I give the Government my full support in making sure that we work with our colleagues around the world to deliver on these goals.
My Lords, from these Benches I warmly welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for bringing it forward. I welcome the sustainable development goals and the Government’s commitment to them.
Like others, I was initially somewhat sceptical about a document that contains 17 goals and 169 targets. These are not even memorable or round numbers. However, I am inspired by the single vision for our world that drives and shapes these goals. That vision is set out in the ambitious declaration that forms a preface to the draft document to be considered and, we hope, agreed at the September summit. The language of the declaration is lofty—rightly so. It says:
“Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda”.
There is then the best sentence in the document, which says:
“We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet”.
The vision in this document is of sustainable development, a safer world with more resilient institutions where no one is left behind. It is one consistent with the Christian tradition and those of the major world faiths. I applaud it, believe in it and support it. However, that vision needs to be communicated well and carefully, and implemented with rigour. It is here that I will focus my remarks.
The single vision in the report is broken down into just five areas of critical importance. These five areas are easy to name, remember and communicate: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Preachers love alliteration. I would encourage the Government to place real weight on these shorter, more memorable and accessible headings, for the following reason. These visionary goals for our world will be realised only as they are widely understood and communicated. This compelling vision will never be realised if it is the vision only of politicians and NGOs. It must become that of the majority of people on the planet, a shared vision of prosperity, peace and partnership. These goals need to be spoken of in schools, universities and in the media. I wonder how many people even know that there is a summit in a few days’ time to agree this document. There needs to be international and local debate. Resources need to be invested here and elsewhere in education and building awareness of the values that underpin this vision which are no longer self-evident to many in our society or across the world.
I was a member a few years ago of the city-wide fairness commission in Sheffield—on a much smaller scale than this—attempting to articulate a vision. I assumed at the beginning of that process that fairness would be a shared concept among the population, that we were articulating something that people would understand. On the day of the report’s publication, I appeared on local radio. The bracing phone-in responses revealed that my assumption was wide of the mark. A big vision and detailed targets are both excellent but, in between, comes the harder task of transforming human attitudes and building deeper generosity of spirit, explaining the reasons why we seek a better world for all. The churches and faith communities have a key role here. We understand that we are global citizens, and we share the deeper values which lie beneath these goals.
To quote from the report again,
“we are setting out a supremely ambitious and transformational vision. We envisage a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive … A world in which every woman and child enjoys full gender equality … A just, equitable, tolerant and socially inclusive world”,
in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met, and a,
“world in which … consumption and production patterns … are sustainable”.
That vision is worthy of agreement, and it is worth sharing and communicating throughout our nation and beyond it. I hope that the Government will take this responsibility seriously. As other noble Lords have said, it is also a vision which calls for clear plans for implementation. Here, along with others, I encourage the Government to pay careful attention immediately to plans for enacting this ambitious programme and for scrutiny and review.
I have two specific questions for the Minister. Will the Government commit to promoting the vision of the SDGs and to implement the agenda in this country in full? If so, how do they plan to do this? Secondly, how will the Government use the high-level summit to build support for an ambitious global climate change agreement in Paris in November and December? What link does the Minister see between the two summits?
We all listen more to those who practise what they preach. The Government’s rhetoric on climate change in the manifesto for the election was strong, but their record on climate change since the election is becoming a cause of concern to many, myself included. The independent Committee on Climate Change has already raised the issue of a gap between the policies already in place and the policies needed to meet the climate change that the Government support. Many were therefore expecting after the election a series of positive policy announcements to close this gap and prepare the way for next week’s summit and for Paris. Instead, the gap seems to be widening; the Government have cut subsidies for solar and wind power and have privatised the Green Investment Bank, are getting rid of the Green Deal, have lifted the ban on certain harmful chemicals and have introduced a tax on electric cars. Can the Minister confirm that the Government will continue to hold to their commitments and support the positive and transformative vision of the sustainable development goals with consistent, prompt and long-term action, especially on climate change?
My Lords, I welcome this debate and thank my noble friend Lord Chidgey for securing such an important opportunity to discuss the forthcoming summit on the SDGs and the Government’s position. The UN is to be congratulated on the progress that it has made in creating the 17 successor goals, with 169 targets, covering five main areas to act as a springboard from the MDGs. David Cameron, our Prime Minister, has ensured that the UK has played a significant role in the groundwork around the formation of the SDGs by serving on the High-Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda, and is to be congratulated on this.
As we have heard from previous speakers, the UN is recommending 17 goals and 169 targets which relate to the five themes and cover many aspects: poverty, humanitarian, social, economic, climate and conflict. If all these goals and targets are implemented properly in the anticipated period of 15 years from 2015 to 2030 by all world leaders, I have no doubt that the world will be free of inequality, conflict, diseases and threats of climate problems.
Out of the 17 goals, I will focus on five which relate to women and girls. These are goals 1, 4, 5, 8 and 16. These goals are about achieving a better life and security for women and girls in the developing world. Many are often not able to access the means to enable them to improve their lives at all.
I will start with goal 16, which is to:
“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.
It needs to be attained in several regions before many of the other goals can be implemented, for without peaceful, inclusive societies there is little that can be done to improve the lives of those who need it most. This goal should be at the forefront of every goal.
For many women and children, goal 4 to:
“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”,
is but a far-off dream due to the conflicts and instabilities in many regions. The ongoing migrant crisis, resulting largely from conflicts, means that for many there is little hope of a life that is stable enough to allow them the opportunity to access any education, even if it is available for them. This is also true of goal 5 to:
“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”,
and goal 8:
“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
Goal 1 refers to ending,
“poverty in all its forms everywhere”,
and continues on from the first goal of the MDGs, which was to eradicate extreme poverty. The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 states that there is,
“greater risk of poverty among separated women, widows and single mothers”.
This report emphasises the importance of understanding what is happening in the world through data collection and analysis.
I am sure that your Lordships’ House is aware that I am committed to the welfare of widows and their children around the world. Here I declare my interest as founder and chairman trustee of the Loomba Foundation. The foundation commissioned a research study, the Global Widows Report 2015, which has revealed the growing numbers of widows and the struggles they face, especially in the developing world. There are now 259 million widows, up 9% since 2010, and 584 million dependants worldwide.
As noble Lords know only too well, since I and many others have said this in the House before, in the developing world widows suffer the double injustices of gender discrimination and widow discrimination. Widowhood is precisely the type of situation that the SDGs aim to improve. The humanitarian situation faced by widows and their children has worsened in the past few years, due to factors including armed conflict, instability in the Middle East and north Africa, the Ebola epidemic and increasing HIV infections. Conflicts have contributed to a growing number of widows, while UNICEF estimates that the Ebola virus has led to over 16,000 children losing one or both parents or their primary caregiver. Other estimates show that 17.7 million children under 18 have lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS.
These global challenges have resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis for widows and their children since World War Two. Making a specific focus of widows and their children part of the wider remit of the sustainable development goals, and the intention to probe more deeply into the problems that help create and sustain poverty, will serve women and girls much better. I understand that a global indicator framework to support the SDGs will be developed. Widows and their children in these indicators will ultimately have a far better life and status through the implementation of the five goals that I have referred to.
“Leave no one behind” is an encouraging goal. If properly implemented, it would help not only 259 million widows and 584 million children but more than 1 billion people on the planet when you add the number of dependants of these unfortunate widows. Will the Government encourage the UN to include widows and their children in the indicators that will follow after the adoption of the sustainable development goals at the forthcoming summit?
My Lords, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, on securing this debate on such an important topic for all our futures, I declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health.
It is widely accepted by the World Bank, other institutions and academics that there is a correlation between development and economic growth and the empowerment of women, a phrase that we hear much about. That is done by the reduction in family size and, subsequently, women’s access to education and training. Women can be empowered, though, only if they have power over their own bodies, and in many countries, developed and developing, women do not have that power. At this point I commend my noble friend Lord Loomba for the speech that he gave and for the work that he does in this field. It is much admired and appreciated.
I am sure that noble Lords all know the 17 sustainable development goals and the 169 targets attached to them. Personally, I have only just learned to recite the millennium development goals; now my failing memory has to cope with 17 SDGs and 169 targets, and I am not going to remember them. Can noble Lords recite them? Do your Lordships remember doing the catechism at school? Perhaps the right reverend Prelate remembers it; I never learnt that either, I have to say. Most important of all, for me, are SDGs 3.7, on good health and well-being, and 5.6, entitled “Gender equality” but dealing with women’s health and sexual and reproductive health and rights in particular. They do not deal with just maternal health, family planning and safe abortion but FGM, child marriage and violence against women generally, all of which are rife in this world and which must be eliminated. Here I must congratulate and thank the Government and the coalition Government before them on the continuing support on these issues and the high profile they have given them. Long may it continue.
My all-party parliamentary group recently produced a paper—here is a visual aid for noble Lords—following hearings on population dynamics and sustainable development. That is a rather clumsy title, but it is a good paper. It was chaired by the former MP Sir Richard Ottaway, who was one of my vice-chairs at the time. This paper deals with the advantages of reduced fertility rates—that is, family size—and links them to climate change, desertification and water shortages, which with large and often young populations lead to conflict and certainly to mass migration, which the world is experiencing now, not just in the Middle East but in Africa and Asia.
A friend on Facebook recently sent me an article. That is at least two times this week that Facebook has been mentioned in this House, I think, which may mean that we are modernising. This article was a very interesting one that I had never seen before, and gave a brilliant example of all these factors of population dynamics and climate change, and so on, coming together in the story of Syria. It was written a couple of years ago by William Polk, one-time professor of history at Harvard and I believe an adviser to the American Government, and was published in the Atlantic magazine. He describes Syria as densely populated in 2010, with a population of 24 million; one quarter of the land is arable, and the population is clustered in a very small area. He writes:
“Four years of devastating drought beginning in 2006 caused at least 800,000 farmers to lose their entire livelihood and about 200,000 simply abandoned their lands”.
In some areas there were 75% crop failures, and 85% of livestock died of thirst. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian farmers gave up and fled to the towns. Some noble Lords know this, I am sure. There they had to compete with refugees from Palestine and Iraq from previous troubles for water and food. Hostile groups formed. Representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Syria—I did not know this—turned to USAID and described the situation as “a perfect storm”. No aid was given; nobody took any notice. They left Syria to it. When a relatively small group gathered in Deraa to protest against the Government and their failure to help them, the brutal crackdown by President Assad’s Government started and, as we say, the rest is history. I tell that rather lengthy story to remind noble Lords because it is very important as an illustration of what sustainable development goals should all be about.
From countryside to cities and between countries, human beings are on the move. This is why we in the group concentrated on the term “population dynamics”, which encompasses the demographics structure of a society, ageing populations who have a shortage of working-age citizens, and populations which are predominantly young. We must take all these things into account. All these factors have been recognised by the latest document to emanate from the United Nations, which we have already heard about in this debate, entitled Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Paragraph 34, in a section on urban development, states joyfully:
“We will also take account of population trends and projections in our national, rural, and urban development, strategies and policies”.
The UN gets it—I must send it a copy of our paper.
Let me stress that we are not talking about population control, but giving women the choice and necessary commodities to decide how many children they have means that mankind benefits in many ways. Countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh are already benefiting. So are Rwanda, Tunisia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. Even Iran has reduced its fertility rate and the country has benefited as a result.
Finally, I thank the Government once again for their promotion of these issues and plead that when the Prime Minister addresses the assembly on the sustainable development goals in the autumn, he specifically mentions the benefits of the often marginalised subject of sexual and reproductive health and rights in his speech.
My Lords, I declare my interests as a trustee of UNICEF UK and a patron of Christian Blind Mission, which is the largest disability NGO worldwide. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Chidgey on securing this important debate. He spoke at the start of his contribution of the dangers of spurious targets. It is worth noting from the SDG outcomes document that:
“Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. Each government will also decide how these aspirational global targets should be incorporated in international planning processes, policies and strategies”.
I ask the Minister for the Government to ensure that we can see that clear link throughout everything this country does to fulfil the SDGs in the future.
One strength that we have developed globally over the 15 years of the millennium development goals is much more collaboration within the Government as well as with other Governments and others. It is clear from the SDGs that we will have to improve even that good level of working. At the international level, UK implementation of the target will involve DfID, the Ministry of Defence and the FCO; whereas some of the domestic implementation, particularly of goal 16.2 on violence against children, is likely to involve the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice. I therefore ask the Minister whether the Government are considering cross-departmental models for co-operation and development to ensure that, both domestically and internationally, our contributions are working at the most effective level possible.
In addition to interdepartmental and intra- departmental collaboration, we have moved into a world of multistakeholder global partnerships. Gone are the days when international development money was passed on to a Government to be targeted and delivered by them. The Government already use the private sector, civil society, faith-based organisations, philanthropists and other actors, who can connect and co-ordinate their efforts in pursuit of a common goal. A number of existing initiatives, such as Scaling Up Nutrition, Every Woman Every Child and A Promise Renewed have already demonstrated the importance and growing roles of partnerships in the delivery of international goals related to children. I ask the Minister whether the Government will continue to emphasise that these partnerships in delivering outcomes are vital and will play a central role in mobilising and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to make the SDGs a reality and go beyond just the traditional remit of government responsibilities.
We must celebrate the most successful parts of the millennium development goals. I also want to highlight some of the other headlines that we have heard in this debate. Between 2000 and 2012, the total number of out-of-school children worldwide declined from 100 million to 58 million, and child mortality has been almost halved. In 1990, 12 million children died before their fifth birthday. In 2012, that was down to 6.6 million, and it continues to reduce. That is a real statement of the success of the millennium development goals: 6.6 million children is still too high, but at least the numbers are now going in the right direction.
DfID needs to continue to promote child-related policies and programmes to further reduce child mortality and conclude this unfinished business. Can the Minister tell me whether there will be a real focus on ending violence against children, which has not been a major target in the past? It is vital that we reduce that inequality.
It is not just about violence against children elsewhere in the world. Violence against children here in the UK remains shocking. Statistics from the National Crime Agency show that, in 2013 alone, an estimated 602 children were trafficked into the UK. That is more than 10 children a week facing violence, exploitation and abuse. For far too long, the world has tolerated this epidemic of physical, sexual and emotional violence that leaves millions of children unsafe in their homes, schools and communities, including here in the UK. The inclusion of target 16.2, to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children, has to be welcome. It is a major step forward in addressing the protection of children worldwide.
I want to focus briefly on the coalition Government’s previous work to end female genital mutilation, sexual violence in conflict and online sexual child exploitation. Will the UK Government continue to make ending violence against children, particularly FGM and violence in conflict, one of their priorities when looking to implement the new SDG framework, both at home and abroad?
I congratulate the Prime Minister and the current Government on continuing the work of the coalition Government of aid in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. However, I have some concerns about the clear linking of the foreign policy of the Government with work in international development.
Dr Talaat Abdel-Malek, the former chair of the OECD DAC working party on aid effectiveness in the global development goals of 2014, wrote a very good article highlighting the factors undermining aid effectiveness, which include,
“the use of aid as a foreign policy tool; reluctance to untie aid; lack of transparency in aid allocation and management; lack of medium-term predictability of aid commitments … interventions in recipients’ use of aid funds”.
I have concerns relating to that last point. This Government have proposed very recently to support the 20,000 Syrian refugees who will be coming to this country over the next few years, which is absolutely vital. However, that money might come from the current DfID aid support in those refugee camps. That seems a somewhat short-sighted approach. I urge the Government to make sure that funding continues at the right level in the Syrian refugee camps.
Peter Salama, the UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and north Africa, has said:
“Every Syrian I spoke to has told me that they would have stayed in their own country if they were able to feel safe, live in peace, and be treated with dignity”.
Although 20,000 refugees coming into this country is a good start, it must be set in the context of more than 4 million Syrians, half of them children, having fled their country since the conflict started nearly five years ago. Turkey alone is now home to 2 million Syrians under temporary protection, more than three times the number at the beginning of 2014 and the highest number of Syrian refugees in any single country. In Lebanon, a country of fewer than 5 million people, 1.1 million Syrians are being accommodated, and Jordan is hosting well over 500,000 registered refugees.
Despite the enormous challenges facing those affected by the conflict, funding humanitarian assistance in those countries is not keeping pace with the needs. The one thing that this Government must not do is diminish the resources for those camps, when we could perfectly well provide that support from a UK budget.
My Lords, the SDGs are indeed ambitious and wide-ranging, perhaps too much so. Our Government are surely right to argue for a focus on a subset of them, especially on those with well-defined, implementable outcomes and targets.
I will focus my remarks on goal 7, which is to:
“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.
This is of course a key cross-cutting goal, because electricity is vital for economic development and quality of life. The phrase “sustainable development” was introduced by the Brundtland commission in 1987 and was defined as,
“development that meets the needs of the present”—
especially those of the poor—
“without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
The focus on future generations means that climate change must be held in check—and that is goal 13. Climate change will hit hardest those who have contributed the least to its cause. Heat stress will most hurt those without air conditioning; crop failure will most affect those who already struggle to afford food; and extreme weather events will most endanger those whose homes are fragile.
The eventual elimination of fossil fuels must be a worldwide imperative if climate change is to be controlled, but there is a special urgency to supply clean energy to the poorest in developing countries. Millions of such people have their health severely damaged by exposure to toxic fumes from stoves burning wood or dung. They lack even small-scale electrical power for lighting their homes and charging basic appliances. This can be supplied by solar panels and batteries, but a higher generating capacity will be needed to power transport and economic development. Unless the costs of renewables fall, developing nations will be under pressure to build polluting coal-fired power stations to supply this need.
The impediment to “decarbonising” our economy is that renewable energy is still expensive to generate. Moreover, power from the sun and wind is intermittent, so we need cheap ways to store it on a large scale. Fortunately, technology in solar energy and batteries is proceeding apace.
A group led by Sir David King and the noble Lord, Lord Layard, together with five other Members of this House, including me, is promoting a campaign to encourage as many countries as possible, especially those in the G20, to expand and co-ordinate publicly funded R&D into “clean energy”, especially into solar power, storage techniques and the design of “smart grids”. The faster this research proceeds, the sooner will the cost of power from “renewables” come down and become as cheap as coal-fired power stations. We call this the Global Apollo Program, to highlight an analogy with the American “Moonshot” programme, which exemplified how a spectacular goal could be achieved if the motivation were there. But whereas the original Apollo programme was fuelled by superpower rivalry in the Cold War, this programme will be international and co-operative. The target will be that new-build baseload energy from renewable sources becomes as cheap as new-build coal within 10 years.
Although wind, hydro and geothermal energy is the best choice in some locations, our focus is on solar. That is because the sun provides 5,000 times more energy to the earth’s surface than our total human demand for energy. It is particularly abundant in the developing nations of Asia and Africa, where most of the future increase in world energy demand will occur. There are two techniques: photovoltaics, which can be used on a small scale and does not need direct sunlight; and concentrated solar power, which is larger scale and requires direct sunlight. Unlike fossil fuel, solar energy produces no pollution and no miners get killed. Unlike nuclear fission, it leaves no radioactive waste.
If renewable energy is to become the primary source of energy, it must be capable of being stored and supplied when and where it is needed. There is already a big investment in improving batteries, but there are other possibilities, including thermal storage, capacitors, compressed air, fuel pumps, fly-wheels, molten salt, pumped hydro and hydrogen. The need is, therefore, to accelerate the development of cheaper solar generators, all storage methods and, thirdly, DC grids to transmit energy efficiently over large distances. This is an arena where public, private and philanthropic efforts need to mesh together, but the hope of those of us promoting the Global Apollo Program is that Governments joining it will pledge to spend an annual average of 0.02% of GDP as public expenditure on the programme from 2016 to 2025. The money will be spent according to each country’s own discretion. We hope that all major countries will join. This is an enhanced, expanded and internationally co-ordinated version of many national programmes.
Incidentally, there is a precedent in the semiconductor field, where since the 1990s the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors has identified the scientific bottlenecks to further cost reductions and has spelt out the advances needed at the precompetitive R&D stage. The Global Apollo Program will follow this model. It will be collocated with the International Energy Agency in Paris but may include countries not belonging to the IEA. All results discovered through the programme will be made publicly available, though patents for all intellectual property will be protected and will remain with those who made the discovery.
In terms of value for money, this Global Apollo Program is an essential component of any serious attempt to manage the risks of climate change, and is better value, incidentally, than subsidising existing forms of clean energy. At relatively small cost, it will contribute powerfully to a safer and better world. The proposed programme has one aim only: to develop renewable energy supplies that can be deployed as cheaply as fossil fuels throughout the developing world.
Solar energy is already competitive for thousands of villages in India and Africa that are off-grid, but in most parts of the world it is still more expensive than energy from fossil fuels, and it becomes economic only due to subsidies or feed-in tariffs. Eventually, these subsidies have to stop, so we are looking for the technologies with the greatest potential for falls in cost year after year. In addition, the materials used should not be constrained in supply nor toxic, the risks of price volatility should be low and the installation payback should be short.
We hope that this rapid development would allow developing countries to leap-frog directly to cleaner energy, just as they have leap-frogged to mobile phones and the internet, bypassing landlines. Speeding up the transition by public pump-priming to accelerate the rate at which these technologies develop is perhaps the only way that the world can reduce the risk of really damaging climate change by the end of the century. But it is hard to focus on benefits or threats so far ahead. For politicians, the immediate trumps the long term; the national trumps the global. Activists and experts by themselves cannot generate or sustain political will. Only if their voice is amplified by a wide public and by the media will long-term causes such as the SDGs rise high enough on the political agenda.
Here we can find powerful allies in the world’s religious faiths. The Catholic Church powerfully transcends normal political constraints. There is no gainsaying its global reach nor its durability and long-term vision, nor its focus on the world’s poor. It is hugely welcome that three months ago the Pope issued an encyclical on climate and environmental issues and that he is attending the UN summit this month. His influence on the meeting and on what happens in Paris in December could be immense, influencing both public and politicians in Latin America, Africa, east Asia and even perhaps in the American Republican Party.
To design wise policies, we need all the efforts of scientists, economists and technologists, but to implement them successfully we need the sustained commitment of our leaders and the full support of the voting public. Our responsibility to our children, to the poorest and to our stewardship of the diverse life on earth surely demands that we do not leave a depleted and hazardous world. That is why we should surely urge our Government to adopt a forceful stance at the UN summit in the hope of ensuring a sustained commitment to the SDGs and, in particular, to accelerating the development of clean energy, which should be high among the goals of that meeting.
I thank my noble friend Lord Chidgey for securing this debate and for opening it so effectively. I also thank the many NGOs, including Save the Children, RESULTS, WWF, Safer World and others for their engagement. I am proud of the fact that, under the coalition Government, we reached 0.7% of GNI on aid. As my noble friend Lord Purvis reminded us, it was he and my other Lib Dem colleague, Michael Moore, who took through the Bill that placed that in law. Now we must make sure that this aid is used effectively. Our debate yesterday on the refugee crisis, as people flee from war-torn and unstable regimes, underlined the importance of the global commitment to development. As my noble friend Lord Chidgey pointed out, conflict is the more significant cause of poverty. Therefore, development is something in which we all have an interest—not only moral but for global prosperity and stability. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield is right to remind us that we have to get across, not least in the United Kingdom, this sense of the global community and responsibility.
When the MDGs were first drawn up for the year 2000, it was largely the hand of one man, the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown. He did a pretty good job. There was clarity and purpose about the MDGs. That is why they have been so influential. Huge progress has been achieved in a number of areas as my noble friend Lord Chidgey and others have pointed out. Extreme poverty has been cut by more than a half; the number of people who experience extreme hunger has also been cut by almost a half. Primary school enrolment for children is now well over 90%. Hugely importantly, MDG3, the gender goal, has been successful in galvanising resources and political will for girls’ and women’s empowerment and gender equality. Progress has been made. Globally, more girls go to school, women are living longer, they are having fewer children, and participating in the economy more.
The UK, both under the Labour Government and the coalition Government, has been at the forefront of taking action to ensure that these goals are implemented. The UK has used its expertise across health, education, nutrition, women’s rights and many other areas for the benefit of the poorest and most vulnerable, as the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, indicated. We should be proud of that record. I certainly am. But the very success of the MDGs has brought international engagement in their replacements. I understand why the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, wondered whether the best thing would be to continue and simply tweak the MDGs. People had learnt that money and effort followed the MDGs, so this time it has not been the hand of one person. Everyone has wanted to make sure that their area, their perspective, their country, their region, their NGO might come within the new aims. It will be the new sustainable development goals that will help to determine where the money goes. So the danger was producing a Christmas tree.
The high-level panel to which my noble friend Lord Loomba referred was ably supported by Michael Anderson from DfID as it sought to come up with something effective and streamlined. Out of this came the proposal, still retained, to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and to leave no one behind. That is a brilliant encapsulation. After the report was given to the UN, it went out to regional groups with the danger that various aspects, especially the need to prioritise women or political accountability, would be knocked out as being culturally unacceptable, while pressures to add things in would also serve to dilute. Clearly, there are lessons that we needed to try to address, such as focusing on outcomes as well as access. It is one thing to get children into schools, for example, but ensuring that they receive a good quality education is a different matter.
It is also clear, as the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, and my noble friend Lord Purvis said, that the SDGs needed to address issues such as the rule of law and the vital importance of peace and stability. I note what my noble friend Lord Chidgey has said about money laundering and corruption. He is surely right. Can the Minister reassure us that in the United Kingdom the Serious Fraud Office, now investigating, for example, the role of Soma Oil in Somalia, will not be weakened? Will she dispel rumours that the Bribery Act 2012 will be weakened and confirm that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 will likewise not be weakened? DfID should be commended for its work with the Metropolitan Police in combating corruption. This good work could be countered by these other moves.
We also know that treating the environment and development as separate issues does not work; they are interrelated. The noble Lord, Lord Rees, is right about that, and we must surely harness new technology for sustainable economic growth, especially as we know that the poorest will be the first and the worst to be affected by climate change. Again I note that the right reverend Prelate said that we cannot advocate one thing internationally while doing something else at home, and the move away from leading on tackling climate change in the UK is of deep concern. I look forward to the Minister’s replies to these points.
The millennium development goals have been criticised for their focus on averages, and noble Lords have made reference to that. Countries have reported successes on many targets according to average figures while many of those who are hardest to reach have been left behind. These people are often the most vulnerable and marginalised: women, children, ethnic or religious minorities, the elderly and the disabled. It is right that we put a new focus on being inclusive.
Where are we now? We have 17 goals and, I think, 169 targets. The noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, rightly identified how difficult it has been to keep the goals even to this long list, and that it is indeed unwieldy. Like the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, I also pay tribute to Amina Mohammed for her efforts to ensure that the goals and targets are as focused as possible. For me, the critical elements of the new SDGs remain these: to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and to leave no one behind. This is about as comprehensive as it could get. However, I have heard it said that the SDGs themselves leave no targets behind, they are so long. I share the concern of my noble friend Lady Tonge that I will never remember them. I had a list of the MDGs stuck up on my fridge, and I had difficulty remembering those ones. All these goals and targets mean that the focus over the next few months must be on the technical details of how things will be measured and delivered. This is the key stage, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister about the details of what is being done here.
Most importantly, can the noble Baroness fill us in on gender? This issue has come up several times in the debate. I have mentioned the progress we have made on gender, but significant challenges remain. Some two-thirds of people who are currently living in extreme poverty are girls and women. Across 63 developing countries, girls are more likely to be out of school than boys among both the primary and lower secondary age groups. My noble friend Lady Brinton also made reference to this. Globally, at least one in three women is beaten or sexually abused by an intimate partner in her lifetime, although actually, evidence from the South African Medical Research Council shows that the percentage is much higher. Moreover, like my noble friend Lady Brinton, I urge a continued concentration on combating FGM. Gender equality is vital if we are to end poverty.
Evidence shows that where girls and women are “locked out”, economies and societies underachieve. We know that gender equality is essential to help economies grow. As my noble friend Lord Loomba so rightly emphasised, widows can suffer the double discrimination of being widows as well as women, and they must have the focus on them.
I turn to family planning and pay tribute to Andrew Mitchell MP for his brave and sterling work in this vital field, a point rightly made by my noble friend Lady Tonge. Women should be able to choose how many children they have. When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has fewer children, and her children are more educated and healthier. She, her family, her community and her country all benefit.
What we aim to do now is in many ways even more difficult than it was before. Addressing political structures, as the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, and my noble friend Lord Chidgey have outlined, is very challenging. Reaching out to the most marginal can be socially challenging. Later we will come on to a debate tabled by my noble friend Lord Scriven on the rights of LGBTI people worldwide. Further, as my noble friend Lady Brinton has flagged, disability can render people invisible. When she was at DfID, Lynne Featherstone—shortly to be my noble friend—rightly sought to shift the focus to ensure that those who were previously excluded and under the radar would receive the support that inclusive development demands should be the case. Perhaps the noble Baroness can update us on what is happening in regard to the emphasis on inclusive societies.
I should point out that the SDGs are applicable here, which is different from the MDGs, so how are we ensuring that the Treasury recognises its responsibility? When I was the Government equalities spokesperson and the spokesperson for DfID, I realised the read-across—I tried to get the Treasury to disaggregate data on policies affecting women, but it said that that would be too difficult. If we hold that view here, how can we expect developing countries to do so? Can the Minister tell me what progress we in the United Kingdom have made?
This has been an excellent debate and I thank my noble friend Lord Chidgey once again for tabling it. We should all be proud of the United Kingdom’s record. DfID is an outstanding department, making a huge difference globally. I know that the department will be working constantly to make sure that the new SDGs transform the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. I look forward to the noble Baroness’s update on how this will be taken forward.
My Lords, I, too, want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for initiating this debate and to pay tribute to his work generally on international development.
The year 2015 has been remarkable for international development, with the agreement on global plans for the next 15 years ready for approval by UN heads of states next week. Like my noble friend Lord McConnell, I strongly welcome the agreement and the Government’s part in helping to achieve it. I am proud, too, of our past achievements: the MDGs focused attention on poverty worldwide, galvanised political action and showed that immense progress is possible. As we have heard in the debate today, the agreement on 17 stand-alone goals and 169 targets differs because the framework will apply both to developed and developing nations alike. As my noble friend Lord McConnell said, by leaving no one behind we will be delivering change for all.
Labour’s priorities in delivering the sustainable development goals have been: rights—for women and children, workers, indigenous populations, LGBT groups and disabled people; universal health coverage; and climate change. What does the Minister see as the UK’s priorities within the expansive agenda that we now have? How does she intend to galvanise political will on her chosen concerns?
Making available an annual progress report would ensure that all Governments are fully accountable. They should fully engage with international review processes and set up national accountability systems. As noble Lords have stressed today, parliamentarians play a key role in this process, both at home and abroad. Will the Minister tell us to what extent—how and when—the Government will engage with MPs and Peers of all parties on this new agenda?
I welcome the Government’s push that has delivered an SDG framework with a strong and explicit commitment to gender equality. Sadly, however, as a Guardian headline put it this week:
“20 years on from the UN summit in Beijing, equality remains a … dream”
Critical issues such as maternal health, reproductive rights, sanitation and FGM fall between the remit of a range of UN agencies or between the cracks. MDGs helped focus attention on issues such as pregnancy care and childbirth, such that in the past 25 years maternal mortality has fallen globally by 45%, but developing countries still account for 99% of the deaths, with more than half in sub-Saharan Africa.
As highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, development goals will require effective co-ordination across government departments, devolved Administrations and stakeholders that have a role to play across the different goal areas of the new framework. Success in any one goal area will be dependent on progress in others. Strong co-ordination is particularly relevant for transnational issues such as violence against children, including trafficking, FGM and online sexual exploitation.
For example, as we heard in the debate, implementation of target 16.2 on ending all forms of violence against children will involve a wide range of UK government departments. To successfully implement this target, cross-departmental co-operation will need to be developed—as highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton—bringing together both the UK’s domestic and international contributions. Such a model can serve as a blueprint for other areas of SDG implementation. What mechanisms does the Minister envisage to help co-ordination between sectors and stakeholders to ensure ongoing monitoring, and to adapt to changed circumstances?
It is vital that the Government and DfID should continue to play a global leadership role on gender equality, as the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said. However, to deliver and sustain the necessary change, we need to fully back women on the ground. That is why I support the development by DfID—in partnership with, and implemented by, women’s funds—of a new strategic fund under SDG5 to provide core, flexible and long-term funding to women’s rights organisations. Will the Minister explain how DfID will ensure that all SDG5 target areas are equally and comprehensively addressed in DfID’s work to support women’s rights and gender equality under the strategic vision for girls and women?
Women who are the most affected by poverty have the least access to, and influence over, the decisions being made to tackle it. The Rana Plaza disaster which killed 1,129 people was a stark reminder of the human cost behind cheap fashion in our high streets. Some 3.6 million women work in Bangladesh’s garment industry, most of them in factories similar to the Rana Plaza. Progress has been made, with retailers signing up to legally binding building safety agreements, but Governments need to act, too. Will the Minister take the lead in advocating the change needed to protect the lives of workers around the world, including support for ILO conventions?
Although significant progress was made at Addis Ababa, as we heard, on financing for development—highlighted particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey—we still need global agreement on tax transparency to ensure that companies pay their tax in-country. We need to support Governments to collect their own taxes to reduce aid dependency and foster good government.
The UK already has a competitive advantage in global health, and the Government must continue this by prioritising SDG 3, on health. The three sub-goals that require particular focus are: target 3.2, to end preventable newborn and under-five deaths; and target 3.3, to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases. I urge the Minister to sustain and, where possible, increase the UK’s £536 million invested annually in malaria to achieve malaria elimination. Most importantly, on this side of the House we believe that the focus should be on universal health coverage, which will make countries resilient to health concerns such as Ebola before they become widespread emergencies.
Climate change hits the world’s poorest people the hardest, as they lack the resilience to cope with drought, flood and food insecurity. Goal 13 acknowledges this and makes clear that failure to properly address the issue will undermine the potential of the entire agenda. As the right reverend Prelate said, the means to deliver will be determined at the UN conference in Paris, but it would be good to hear from the Minister how the Government are co-ordinating their engagement there with the New York agreement, as the outcomes are so clearly dependent on one another.
This side of the House has been clear on our priorities: tackling inequality and the attainment of human rights; universal health coverage; and combatting climate change. I hope that the Minister is able to match our ambition in her response to this debate.
My Lords, I join all noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and congratulate him on securing this debate. I commend him for his long-standing commitment to international development.
This debate is extremely timely, as other noble Lords have said, with the UN summit in New York beginning a week tomorrow. I am also glad that we have another opportunity to discuss the sustainable development goals and I thank all noble Lords for their contributions and for their many questions. As always, I will endeavour to respond to them, but if I fail to do so I will write to noble Lords.
I join the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, in his observation that against the backdrop of many of the challenges that we face, there is some cause to celebrate—the coming together of countries globally to agree to this universal document of global goals. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, reminded us that we have cause to celebrate the 0.7% commitment and being the first of the G7 to put it into legislation. That demonstrates the UK’s own commitment not just to working in the UK but our commitment to our partners across the globe.
The House is aware that United Nations member states agreed on 2 August to the post-2015 outcome document, now entitled Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It covers the new sustainable development goals. That document will be formally adopted at the summit at the end of next week and will offer the international community a moment of both celebration and reflection.
I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, that we should celebrate the successes of the millennium development goals and the significant results that the international community has achieved over the past 15 years. As he and many noble Lords rightly pointed out, extreme poverty has been cut by more than half, more than 90% of children worldwide now have a primary education and child mortality is less than half what it was in 1990. The UK has played a crucial role in those successes and the lives of millions of people around the world have been improved because of the money that we have spent and the actions that we have taken.
However, we all know that our job is not done. Some 836 million people remain in extreme poverty and the challenges of development are more complex than they were in the past. We must consider how we will do development differently over the next 15 years to make extreme poverty a thing of the past and to build a safer, more sustainable future. We must also consider what the post-2015 agenda means for that.
The outcome document is the result of three years of painstaking consultations, discussions and negotiations that have brought together the widest possible group of nations, civil society organisations, businesses and citizens from every part of the world. The UK showed clear leadership from the beginning of this process, starting with the Prime Minister’s co-chairmanship of the UN high-level panel, which set the agenda for the debates and discussions that would follow. In particular it established many of the key principles that have endured to the final outcome document, such as the importance of including the issues of peace and good governance, and the need to leave no one behind.
The final result in the outcome document is an agenda that is unprecedented in its ambition. The sustainable development goals—or “global goals” as they are increasingly being known—are a huge step change beyond the millennium development goals. Our assessment is that they are a major step forward in four fundamental ways. First, they are universal. As noble Lords have said, the new goals were not dreamed up in a back room of the United Nations by unaccountable officials. They represent a universal and inclusive agenda, negotiated by all countries, for all countries. Developed and developing countries alike will deliver them, including the UK, and success will require the action of citizens, Governments and businesses.
Secondly, the global goals are comprehensive. They represent a broad set of priorities that match the development challenges the world faces. They bring together the challenge of finishing the job on the MDGs and ending extreme poverty with the ever-growing risks faced from climate change and environmental degradation, while addressing the underlying causes of poverty, such as conflict and corruption. The inspiring preamble to the outcome document defines the agenda around the five “Ps”: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. It is an agenda that people can truly get behind.
Thirdly, the goals are a step forward in the sense that the new agenda rests on the excellent agreement we reached in Addis Ababa in July to modernise the Financing for Development regime. UK aid will continue to be crucial, as will aid from all donors, but we will not be able to finance these goals with ODA alone. The Addis Ababa action agenda brings in the full range of financial and non-financial issues—including domestic taxation, foreign direct investment and, as noble Lords have said, tackling illicit flows and corruption—to marshal more resources to deliver the goals. This is a huge and crucial step forward.
Fourthly, and in many respects most importantly, a key principle permeates the fabric of the new agenda: that we must leave no one behind. This means that no target should be considered met unless it has been achieved by all segments of society. Progress against the goals must be measured by data disaggregated by age, sex, disability and other status.
Those four points will underpin the UK’s approach to the implementation of the global goals and our objectives at the summit. DfID will be the lead department in co-ordinating the UK’s international implementation of the goals. It is early days yet and the global indicators against which the agenda will be measured will not be ready until next year, but we are thinking now about how we will implement the agenda. The global goals will be the starting point for all DfID’s work. They will be built into our strategic objectives and inform the reviews of our work that are going on now, including the multilateral and bilateral aid reviews.
Over the coming months, DfID will make strategic decisions about how we will work with our partners. We will help to implement the goals where we have a clear comparative advantage and will encourage all our partners to plan and report against them. Increasingly, implementation of the goals will require a whole-government approach. This means working in partnership with other departments across all sectors in service of the goals—working in partnership with others to deliver the best of British expertise.
As a universal agenda, the UK will take the goals on board domestically. We are already compliant with many of them. We are still considering how this will be done, and are working closely with the Cabinet Office and the Office for National Statistics to determine how this can be co-ordinated and measured more effectively.
Our approach to delivery will feature strongly at the summit. The Government will use their influence at the highest levels to lead the world in implementing the global goals. We will encourage countries to take an ambitious approach to the delivery of the agenda and avoid cherry picking the goals and targets that are the easiest to achieve. We will celebrate and highlight some of the important aspects of the new agenda where the UK has shown and continues to show real leadership, not least on empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality, and on the role of peace, good governance and access to justice. These were major successes for the UK in the United Nations negotiations, and we should rightly prioritise them as we seek to inspire the world at the summit.
The summit is expected to be the largest gathering of world leaders in history. We will use the opportunity to communicate the global goals to the widest possible audience. Before the goals can be implemented they must be known by the world. The real prize is for citizens everywhere to embrace this agenda and use it to hold their Governments to account. The summit will be the starting point, kicking off a global effort that will last 15 years and beyond.
The UK, along with our partners, including Richard Curtis’s Project Everyone, will work to communicate the global goals to the whole world. Together we will emphasise the importance of implementation and the need for all actors to hold themselves and each other to account for delivering the goals. We will engage Governments, civil society, young people and the private sector throughout, generating the energy and momentum needed for the world to hit the ground running next year. As Save the Children said to the International Development Committee in the other place last week, this agenda is an incredibly inspiring declaration of intent, comparable with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its progressive vision for the future of humanity.
I turn to some of the points and questions raised by noble Lords. I hope that through my comments I have laid out a clear vision of the UK’s priorities. As I said, the Prime Minister’s role as co-chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was very much the beginning of that. We believe that the new agenda reflects strongly the priorities consistently identified by the UK, and that there are clear goals and targets on poverty, health, education, outcomes, gender, livelihoods and economic growth as well as governance, peace, security and justice for all.
Our main priority was for the new agenda to be clearly understood. As noble Lords said, it needs to be easily understood because if we cannot remember the 17 goals and the many targets, it will be very difficult for others to embrace, so we need to find a narrative around that.
The principle of leaving no one behind is one of the most important and potentially transformative principles of the post-2015 agenda by calling for all targets to be met by all segments. As the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, said, it is important that we do not lose sight of the very important phraseology of leaving no one behind.
Noble Lords including the noble Lords, Lord McConnell and Lord Loomba, the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, and many others focused on the agenda around girls and women. As noble Lords are aware, we at DfID have ensured that women and girls remain at the heart of all our programmes. Throughout the post-2015 process, our objective will be to ensure that there is strong and explicit commitment to achieve gender equality and the empowerment and realisation of the human rights of girls and women.
The outcome document includes excellent and hard-won targets on ensuring access to sexual health and reproductive rights and on tackling harmful practices such as FGM and child and early forced marriage. We are already making changes to the lives of girls and women, which has been a core priority. We launched the Strategic Vision for Girls and Women back in 2011. Since then, our country has helped to change the lives of millions for the better. We want to be much more ambitious. This is about increasing access to services and getting under the skin of the problem. We will make sure that the SDGs deliver for girls and women by tackling the discrimination they face throughout their life cycle from infancy to old age. The International Development (Gender Equality) Act imposes a legal obligation to consider how the UK’s ODA spend will contribute to gender equality. The multilateral and bilateral reviews will examine the extent to which we are reaching girls and women throughout their life cycle.
Issues around finance were mentioned. We can all be pleased at the outcomes of the conference at Addis Ababa and the action agenda that came forth from that. I hope that I referred in my opening comments to many of the points that were raised by noble Lords. The Addis tax initiative commits us to doubling our support for tax reform in the developing world by 2020 and ensures that developing countries can benefit from an international tax agenda.
I was asked how these provisions would be implemented domestically. I think I have made it clear that, along with other countries, we will implement and comply with the SDGs domestically. Her Majesty’s Government will have a co-ordinated approach, including through assigning lead departments to implement each target. In addition, we will identify interested departments. In July, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster wrote to all relevant departments asking how they would approach the implementation of the goals. We are currently considering those responses. The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is absolutely right: we have generated some extremely good partnerships across government and we need to build on those. However, we also need to develop greater partnerships with civil society organisations, other Governments and the private sector.
Noble Lords asked how we would monitor and review the outcomes of these goals. The outcome document states that there will be robust, voluntary, participatory and transparent follow-up and review frameworks focused around the UN High-Level Political Forum. The UK has pressed for robust accountability mechanisms that will drive implementation and will be rooted in data participation and the principle of leaving no one behind. This will give us the picture of progress that is essential if we are to identify whether countries are remaining on track to achieve these goals.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield spoke of involving faith groups in this field and the significant and distinctive part that they play with the SDGs and civil society. The UK intends to strengthen its relationship with faith groups. We have launched the Faith Partnership Principles paper. As a result, there is now a greater understanding of the need for us to understand the role of religion in development. We will be working closely with faith groups to put these principles into practice through building a better understanding of faith in development.
The right reverend Prelate and other noble Lords raised the issue of climate change. We are fully committed to tackling climate change. We welcome the integration of objectives on climate change and sustainable development into the global goals. My department has already begun integrating work on climate change into our development programmes as part of the international climate facility. Over the next spending review we will set up this work to ensure that our programmes across a range of sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, energy and social protection are climate-smart and take into account a changing climate.
The Government are committed to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions in the most cost-effective way for hard-working families and businesses. Our support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly and it has become easier for the renewables industry to stand on its own two feet without subsidies. Improvements in technology as well as a far faster growth in renewable-energy projects than anticipated has meant that renewables are generating more electricity requiring greater subsidies, so the Government are taking control to avoid overspending, which helps keep people’s bills down for both homes and businesses.
I have run out of time, although I still have a number of responses I would like to have delivered. I once again thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for introducing this debate. I agree with him and other noble Lords that these goals must mean something to everyone, which is why we must all push for a comprehensive and easy way to understand and deliver them.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for contributing to the debate. I particularly thank my noble friends Lady Northover, Lady Brinton, Lord Loomba and Lord Purvis of Tweed for their contributions. I thank the noble Lords, Lord Collins and Lord McConnell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, for their contributions, together with those of other noble Lords. I also thank and congratulate the Minister the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, on her response to this complex and wide-ranging debate. I feel sure that this will merely be the opening discourse in a continuing debate. I would like to think that today’s debate will become a check-list for progress in the future as time goes by.
In responding to the debate, perhaps I may make two or three points. First, there are those in our society who dismiss the aid and development agenda, saying that there is no point in the SDGs, that nothing has changed and that throwing money at the problem improves nothing. Let me be clear: since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has more than halved. It would be difficult to convince the more than 1 billion people who have escaped extreme poverty that nothing has changed, and even more difficult to convince the 1.2 billion people who still live on less than £1 a day that no more needs to be done.
With regard to value for money on DfID spending, I am convinced that no other government department requires such intense collaboration with international partners to get the best value for money for the British taxpayer. International development demands international co-operation. DfID goes to great lengths to hold the recipients of UK aid to account and often offers assistance where corruption is known to be an issue, specifically so that it can be avoided. Corruption kills people; it is as simple as that. Perpetrators of these crimes should be brought to justice under international laws applying throughout the EU and the USA. Nevertheless, it is shameful that the City of London is still considered to be the international destination of choice for laundering billions of pounds of untaxed illicit funds from developing countries—funds that should be invested in relieving poverty and saving lives among penniless citizens.
Finally, next week, as many Peers have commented, Presidents and Prime Ministers from 193 countries will meet in New York to agree global goals to end poverty by 2030. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for parliamentarians to take a stand for the future of people and the planet. It is an opportunity to let our leaders know that we are watching them and will hold them to account. I hope that your Lordships will agree.