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ONE Responds to Government White Paper outlining updated vision for International Development

Today the Government published its White Paper “International development in a contested world” on the UK’s updated approach to how it will fight poverty and climate change globally. Reacting to the Paper, which was introduced by the Prime Minister, The ONE Campaign welcomed its release and the message it sends about the UK’s commitment to tackling global challenges:

Lis Wallace, Interim UK Director of The ONE Campaign, said: “Given the scale of global challenges at hand, the White Paper is an ambitious and comprehensive roadmap for a refreshed approach to development from the UK. 

“The refocus on extreme poverty and transparency sends a positive signal about the UK’s commitment to the SDGs. And it rightly recognises that the UK can go even further to mobilise finance and reform the international system to serve everyone.

“But, as ever, it comes down to three things – policy, money and delivery. This paper renews the policy, but without a boost in resources questions remain about how it can be delivered. They’ve picked their destination, but it’s not clear if there’s enough fuel in the tank to get there.”

The paper lays out several key points on how the UK is going to update its approach to international development and fighting extreme poverty, most notably:

  • A refocus on tackling extreme poverty, including a commitment to spend 50% of UK bilateral aid in low income countries. 
  • Including key language on the relationship between climate and poverty, and how the Government seeks to respond to them in a coordinated manner. 
  • Providing detail on the UK’s intention to modernise the global financial system through improving institutions like the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, with the potential to  mobilise significant sums of money.
  • A key point is the revised focus of British International Investment (BII) by making over half of its investments in low-income countries and fragile states by 2030.
  • Steps on how to go ‘beyond ODA’, meaning the greater use of specific financial instruments that can make existing money go further and effectively provide more funding to respond to global challenges. 
  • However, the reality remains that the actual aid budget will stay at its current level of 0.5% of GNI, reduced from 0.7%. Added to which £3.7 billion of the UK aid budget was spent on in-donor refugee costs last year. 
  • This means that although the vision outlined by the Government is ambitious, its delivery will have to take place in a resource constrained environment.