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UN: Global Goals

Volume 765: debated on Thursday 29 October 2015


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will publish their plans to deliver the global goals for sustainable development agreed by the UN in September 2015.

My Lords, DfID will champion the SDGs internationally, encouraging the implementation of the framework in its entirety. DfID’s existing portfolio is highly relevant and we will support the countries that we work in to implement the SDGs, using our commitment to 0.7% as a strong foundation. Our strategic objectives will be finalised after the spending and strategic defence and security reviews, alongside the bilateral aid, multilateral aid and civil society reviews, which will provide an opportunity to refine our approach.

My Lords, the goals are indeed ambitious, which is welcome. Particularly important is goal 16, which reflects the importance of peace and justice if we are to truly leave no one behind. That is a welcome addition to the old millennium development goals. Do the Government intend to ensure that the objectives of goal 16 are reflected in the new national security strategy and in those other plans that the Minister referred to so that it reflects not just the work of the Department for International Development but that of the Government as a whole?

My Lords, the noble Lord raises a really important point. But we will not be able to put the plans into action until we have the indicators. I know that the noble Lord is very interested in this area, so he will be aware that they are not expected to be finalised until March or April next year. We look forward to working closely together on this issue because I absolutely agree with the noble Lord that goal 16 is equally as important as the other millennium development goals to ensuring that we deliver good governance and justice to the poorest in the world.

My Lords, of course the SDGs apply to all countries in the world, including our own. Does the Minister remember that when we were both Ministers in the Government Equalities Office how difficult it was to persuade the Treasury to work out the impact of policies by gender? Have her colleagues managed to persuade the Treasury that they must now do this?

My Lords, the noble Baroness and I worked very closely on these issues. I can assure her that both domestically and internationally, this is cross-government and will be led by the Cabinet Office. All departments will ensure that, as we have shown, they are implementing many of the goals and targets that are within the 17 SDG goals.

My Lords, can the Minister say something about UK plans for supporting countries in delivering universal health coverage, and in particular whether those plans will take account of the UK’s enormous strengths in health systems, especially the professional education and training of health workers, which is done both in this country and abroad?

The noble Lord is absolutely right, and we are really pleased to see that one goal is focused on health outcomes. In its important pledge, it encompasses the principle of leaving no one behind. The noble Lord has brought in the need to ensure that all the goals have been agreed universally for that outcome. We are making sure that every country is signed up to strategically developing health outcomes that are beneficial, particularly for the poorest and the least accessible in the world.

My Lords, is it not the case that sadly the millennium development achievements generally fell far short of the targets? Is she aware that if the sustainable developments goals are to be achieved, that urgently needs a great deal more money and commitment than has hitherto been the case?

My Lords, I think I disagree with the noble Lord that the millennium development goals fell short. They focused minds in countries around the world and we did see at least half of the world’s children who were not going to primary school now attending. We have seen malaria deaths halved globally and we have seen numbers of those living in extreme poverty more than halved. The SDGs allow us to focus on the fact that this is a universal agreement; 193 countries have come together, and with them civil society organisations and business. This is something for which we all have ambitions to develop and achieve, so I think that this is a game changer for the world. We should celebrate what has been achieved and build on that to make sure that, going forward, we really do eradicate extreme poverty. That is incredibly important.

My Lords, given DfID’s focus on women and girls, I am sure that Her Majesty’s Government particularly welcome goal 5. Will Her Majesty’s Government be lobbying to ensure that the right indicators are in the goal when they are ready so that no one is left behind? I mention especially widows and disabled women, along with indigenous women, who suffer so much in developing countries?

My noble friend is right to highlight goal 5. But all the goals are important and that is why we will be pushing for them to be implemented in their entirety. As I said earlier, we in this country are to be congratulated because we have already been working incredibly hard to ensure that we are implementing the goals and helping others to develop their plans for putting women and girls at the heart of all programmes.