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International Development White Paper

Volume 741: debated on Monday 20 November 2023

In 2015, the world gathered at the United Nations to agree the sustainable development goals—a development framework for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership for development to 2030. Now at the mid-point of the SDGs, and in a more divided world, this development progress is at risk of reversal. Only 15% of the SDG indicators are due to be met. The covid pandemic, the rise in conflict and instability, food insecurity caused by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss and the lack of affordable finance, are all examples of the resounding challenges we now collectively face in delivering the SDGs.

Today the Government have published an international development White Paper that makes a powerful and I hope persuasive case for a renewed global development partnership and a reinvigorated role for the UK in delivering the SDGs.

The global context for development has changed. The UK’s approach to development needs to change with it. Developing countries want and need a different development offer, based on mutual respect, powered by development finance at scale, and backed by a more responsive multilateral and international system. This White Paper is our pledge to take a patient, partnership-based approach to development—an approach that looks ahead to the longer-term challenges we face and can readily adapt to the ongoing global changes confronting us. We will bring together a whole-of-UK effort, capitalising on the integration of our diplomacy and development expertise, to achieve greater impact and address the links between extreme poverty and climate change effectively.

In this spirit, the White Paper has been built on extensive consultation: here, in the UK, with right hon. and hon. Members across this House—foremost with the International Development Committee—and the other place; with our charity sector, of course; with academia; with business; and with our global partners. It sets out a road map that galvanises progress in tackling the universal challenges of poverty, climate change, insecurity, and delivering sustainable growth and wellbeing for all, and we will see a step change in the domestic understanding and support for this work. Similarly, it should help spur action internationally. This paper is built on listening to and drawing on the voices of our friends all around the world. It is clear that trust has weakened; and only by listening and acting can we start to rebuild it.

We have set out seven priorities in the White Paper. These priorities matter to our partners and we consider them to be critical in achieving the SDGs through collective global efforts.

First, we must mobilise more money and impact from international financial institutions and increase private sector investment in development to end extreme poverty, tackle climate change and power sustainable growth.

We must reform and strengthen the international system to improve action on trade, tax, debt and tackling dirty money, and deliver on global challenges. We must ensure that the multilateral system is more responsive, inclusive and effective.

We must tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and their impacts, while delivering sustainable growth and economic transformation.

We must ensure opportunities for all, putting women and girls centre stage, and investing in education and health systems that societies want, while also standing up for our values, for open, inclusive societies, and preventing the roll-back of rights.

We must tackle conflict, disasters and food insecurity, anticipating and preventing conflict and humanitarian crises while building resilience and enabling adaptation for those affected by disasters and climate shocks, and strengthening social protection and disaster risk financing.

Lastly, we must harness innovation and digital transformation, making best use of new technologies, science and research to deliver the greatest and most cost-effective development impact.

The White Paper explains how we will advance all seven of these priorities.

We believe that a world where developing countries are more resilient, more prosperous and secure is in everyone’s interests. Global development co-operation is essential to achieve this vision. Together with our partners, we will get the SDGs back on track to 2030. The White Paper sets out our commitment to do so.