Mover: Layla Moran (Spokesperson on Development).
Summation: Alistair Fernie.
Conference notes that:
- The UK Government announced in June 2020 the integration of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) into a new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; the decision was taken with little sector consultation and in advance of the Government's 'Integrated Review' of its international policies.
- The '2020 Aid Transparency Index' found that DFID is one of the world's most transparent donors, rating it as 'very good'; but other ODA spending government departments do not meet the same standards.
- The UK Government announced in November 2020 its intention to renege on its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and introduce legislation to reduce this to 0.5%, despite the reduction resulting anyway from the fall in GNI.
- Coronavirus poses particular challenges to development, not least in potentially reversing decades of progress in reducing poverty.
- Mitigation from, and adaptation to, Climate Change, while recovering from the consequences of the pandemic, places enormous additional financial pressures on all countries, particularly the poorest and most climate-vulnerable. Without international support, these countries will find themselves in permanent crisis mode.
- The UK can play a key role in supporting developing countries to address the immediate consequences of the pandemic - through providing humanitarian aid and support for health system. strengthening - but also in supporting their longer-term recovery, which has important implications for our own future prosperity.
- A high-quality international development programme, as part of an open, generous, globally-engaged UK will not only be of direct benefit to those who need that support, but also sends an important message about our values and priorities, and a recognition that many of the challenges we face can only be addressed as a global community.
- The Liberal Party committed in 1970 to 0.7% gross national income (GNI) aid spending, the first UK political party to do so; and it was the Liberal Democrats who enshrined this commitment in law while in Coalition Government.
Conference restates the Liberal Democrat belief that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long-term continuity of life in all its forms.
Conference reaffirms its commitment to:
- Retaining DFID as a separate Department of State with its own Cabinet Minister.
- Maintaining the UK commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA, recognising that the programme will reduce substantially anyway in the short term as a result of the overall reduction in GNI caused by the impact of coronavirus.
- Ensuring that the UK plays a significant role in supporting developing countries address the economic and health consequences of coronavirus, including through playing a proactive role in debt forgiveness and relief initiatives.
- Ensuring that the UK plays a global leadership role in increasing funding to developing countries to help mitigate and build resilience against the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss.
- Ensuring that the use of ODA continues to be consistent with the OECD/DAC rules/guidelines, and with UK legislation, and in particular its primary purpose should remain the economic development of, and poverty reduction within, the partner country.
- Ensuring that a Parliamentary select committee with a remit of examining all British Government ODA expenditure is retained, as well as the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI).
- Ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed in September 2015, lie at the heart of the UK's international development policy, recognising that the five 'Ps' of Prosperity, People, Planet, Peace and Partnerships provide an overarching framework for progress.
- Reinvigorating internationalism and multilateralism, noting that challenges like climate change and pandemics have no respect for national borders and can only be addressed by countries working together.
- Re-establishing the development education programme, linked to the SDGs, to increase public understanding of the links between progress elsewhere and the UK and the universal nature and applicability of the SDGs.