politics

If Britain wants to set an example to the G7, it must restore its aid pledge | Andrew Mitchell


Ahead of this week’s G7 summit in Cornwall, illustrators of much loved children’s books have joined families across the UK in tracing their hands – raising them in unison to call for action from world leaders on the Covid pandemic, injustice, the climate crisis and nature loss. The Wave of Hope is supported by 75 civil society organisations in the Crack the Crises coalition.

On the high streets of my own constituency, in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, charity shops are also getting involved. This feels very different to Make Poverty History or the If campaign, which formed the backdrop to the last occasion on which Britain hosted the G8. This time, international development campaigners have joined the green movement and civil society to put their collective force behind the campaign.

Together, these organisations – including the Women’s Institute, the RSPB, Save the Children, Send A Cow, War Child and the Wildlife Trusts – represent tens of millions of ordinary people. This attempt to connect what Britain has been going through over the past year to what the rest of the world faces is a significant departure from campaigns of the past. The message – that we may all be in the same storm but we are not in the same boat – is likely to resonate because our experience of the pandemic has very much depended on our starting point.

For those of us lucky enough to have gardens and a spare room, the first lockdown was an opportunity for a spring clean and a bit of fresh air. But if you work, or run a small business, in hospitality or the travel industry the impact has been profound. For commuters, the opportunity to work from home saved the cost of the season ticket and offered an opportunity to spend more time with the kids, but for other families, isolation gave way to desperation and mental health deteriorated. Home school was a novelty at first, but became a test of endurance for many parents, and severely set back many less fortunate children.

Across the world, the impact has also been universal but profoundly uneven. The World Bank estimates that between 119 million and 124 million people have been pushed back into poverty: the needs of the poorest countries in the world have grown. Fragile health systems have been tested to their limits, as has our own NHS. While developed countries bore the brunt of the first global waves in 2020, developing countries – notability India and Brazil – have suffered worse outbreaks in subsequent waves during this year.

So too with the climate crisis. While we experienced record temperatures last yearand suffered repeated floods this year, island states and countries such as Bangladesh continue to be threatened by rising sea levels, while east Africa and the Sahel struggled with droughts and even locust plagues.

And fragile states, such as Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Ethiopia, continue to face a tragic combination of conflict, instability and poverty while they also try to deal with Covid.

These are systemic problems that require big solutions. They can’t be tackled by one country working alone. Rather, they require countries coming together and for multilateral institutions to function once more. Britain played a key role in establishing the rules-based system and our global architecture. And it is Britain that hosts the first G7 summit of the post-Trump era. We also host a pivotal global summit in Cop26, as time to reverse climate change and prevent species extinction is rapidly running out. The eyes of the world are truly upon us.

But in this moment Britain is found wanting, because we have removed a foundational piece of our own global leadership. Britain is the only G7 nation cutting aid this year. We are doing it at a time when both the need for aid around the world is rising and when other countries are stepping up. France is set to reach 0.7% of gross national income spent on overseas aid, Germany will exceed 0.7% this year and the US is increasing aid by $14bn.

The cuts are already having a devastating effect on the ground, with projects being cancelled, clinics being closed, teachers being sacked. In crisis situations, these cuts will result in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths. That is why the technical amendment that 30 of my fellow Conservative MPs have signed and put forward for debate on Monday represents one piece in the jigsaw that could create a far more positive picture for the rest of the world. Contributing our fair share of aid is essential for a successful G7 summit in which nations agree to share the cost of vaccines; and it is foundational for a successful Cop26 where nations agree ambitious targets for carbon reduction, accelerate paths to net zero and support developing countries with the costs of adaptation and mitigation.

Every single member of the House of Commons was elected on a very clear manifesto commitment to stand by the 0.7% promise. MPs have the chance to do the right thing in parliament, so that the prime minister can go to Cornwall as first among equals and deliver a G7 communique that rises to the occasion and cracks the crises of Covid, injustice, climate change and nature loss.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more