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close this bookEliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century - White paper on international development (DFID - The Stationery Office, 1997, 86 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword by the Secretary of State for International Development
View the documentSummary
View the documentSECTION 1 - The Challenge of Development
Open this folder and view contentsSECTION 2 - Building Partnerships
Open this folder and view contentsSECTION 3 - Consistency of Policies
View the documentSECTION 4 - Building Support for Development
View the documentList of Abbreviations
View the documentBack Cover

SECTION 4 - Building Support for Development

We shall

· increase public understanding of our mutual dependence and the need for international development

· ensure that resources made available for development are used only for the purposes intended, and consider the case for a new International Development Act

· provide the necessary resources for the development programme: the Government will start to reverse the decline in UK spending on development assistance, and reaffirms the UK’s commitment to the 0.7 per cent UN target

4.1 International development cannot succeed without the necessary political will in the developing countries. Nor can it succeed without the full support of the international community. The British people have shown consistently through their support for the voluntary agencies who work overseas and their readiness to contribute generously to disasters and emergencies that they care about what happens in poorer countries. We propose to build on and respond to that support by increasing public awareness; by establishing a clear framework for the Government’s development programme; and by providing enhanced development resources.

4.2 Giving people in Britain the facts about the forces that are shaping the world - and their lives - will help strengthen support for this effort. The British people should have accurate, unbiased, accessible information about the causes of poverty and inequality in developing countries, and about what the international community can do. It is also right that they should understand the dangers for the future of their world of failing to address the problems of environmental degradation, overpopulation and the instability arising from extreme poverty and lack of access to basic resources. And it is right that we should be held publicly to account to show that their resources are being put to good use.

4.3 The Government therefore attaches great importance to increasing development awareness in Britain. Every child should be educated about development issues, so that they can understand the key global considerations which will shape their lives. And every adult should have the chance to influence the Government’s policies. Getting these policies right is essential if they are to fulfil their duty to hand on a better world to their grandchildren.

4.4 The Government will establish a working group of educationalists and others (including the business sector, trades unions, the churches, the voluntary organisations and the media) to consider and promote awareness and understanding. This group will be chaired by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. We will work to ensure that global issues are integrated into the national curriculum and that relevant teaching materials are available. We will examine ways of improving progress in other aspects of formal and informal education and youth work.

4.5 We will also establish an annual Development Policy Forum, chaired by the Secretary of State for International Development, to allow individuals and representatives of groups from all parts of society - academics, research institutes, the voluntary sector, the private sector and others - to share thinking and ideas for development and to draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience. Following the Forum, we will publish an Annual Report, which will explain how we are setting about the tasks described in this White Paper, and what progress has been made against the international development targets. To inform this, we are playing a full part in work which is going on internationally to agree indicators against which progress can be measured, recognising the difficulties of attributing outcomes to specific investments or interventions. We envisage that publication of the Annual Report could be an occasion for a Parliamentary debate on international development.

4.6 It is important to public confidence that there should be a clear and unambiguous framework for the use of our development funds. The consultation mechanisms described above will help to ensure this. We will also decide after consultation whether there is a case for the introduction of a new International Development Act when the legislative timetable permits which would provide a clear statement of our commitment to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development. All of the actions proposed in this White Paper can be put in place under the existing Overseas Development and Co-operation Act (1980).

4.7 We can help development by use of our international influence, by developing partnerships and by working for greater consistency in areas such as trade and agriculture, as described in Sections 1-3 above. But the poorest developing countries will require substantial concessional resource transfers until at least the end of the first quarter of the next century if they are to develop the capacity to carry through an economic growth and poverty elimination agenda by themselves. Our objective should be to achieve in that time-scale a world in which concessional transfers on this scale are no longer necessary. The 1997 UN Human Development Report estimates that the additional cost of alleviating income poverty and achieving basic services for all in developing countries is likely to be in the order of $80 billion a year. Total concessional resource transfers from the developed to the developing world are at present in the order of $55 billion a year.

4.8 The resources which the international community has made available to support the development process have declined over recent years. If we are to make progress towards our goals we must do better. We must demonstrate that we are serious and reliable partners. The previous Administration almost halved Britain’s development assistance as a proportion of GNP. In 1979, Britain’s net official development assistance was 0.51 per cent of GNP and rising. It is now 0.27 per cent of GNP and has been falling steadily. Britain’s development programme of £2.2 billion is the sixth largest in the world in terms of volume; but Britain ranks only 1 5th among the 21 donor member states of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in the proportion of its GNP devoted to official development assistance (see Figure 17).


FIGURE 17 - Net oda1/GNP Ratios for the UK

1. Official development assistance (oda) is an internationally comparable aid statistic.

Source: DAC Chairman’s Reports

4.9 As this White Paper makes clear, the Government will improve the quality of our development programme by refocusing our efforts on eliminating poverty. We are committed also to reversing the decline in the British development assistance budget and to the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. This year and next we have said that we will work within existing financial ceilings while conducting a comprehensive expenditure review to ensure that all our resources are used effectively and in accordance with our policy priorities. Having done so we can justify increasing our development assistance budget from 1999/2000. All our future assistance to developing countries will be on grant terms. The development programme will remain a vital mechanism in achieving the key objective of poverty elimination.

4.10 Sustainable international development is central to the Government’s position of building a new society. Not just a new society in Britain, but a new global society. If we do not succeed, the consequences for succeeding generations could be catastrophic. But we can succeed. In spite of setbacks, the lessons of development in recent decades give us real grounds for optimism. There is an encouraging consensus about what is needed to eliminate extreme poverty from the planet. This country is uniquely well placed to develop the partnerships with developing countries, within the UK and within the international community necessary to turn this aspiration into reality. The Government commits itself to this high endeavour.