Labour’s Post-2015 Vision: Equality 2030
Thank you for the introduction Ben and the Bond Beyond 2015 UK Group for hosting this event and all of you for turning up this afternoon.
When I made my speech at CAFOD in January I laid down some key elements of Labour’s vision for the new post-2015 development framework. Since then, we have engaged in an unprecedented number of consultation sessions with key stakeholders – in total 15 events over an intensive eight-week period. These sessions were a genuine attempt to do things differently, demonstrating what a new kind of politics really means. We have worked together in “brainstorming” sessions which recognise the expertise, energy and conviction many of you in this room bring to some highly complex issues. We have also studied findings from the IDS/Beyond 2015 study ‘Participate’ to ensure the voice of the poorest in the south are central to our conclusions. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your engagement with us.
You can continue to share your thoughts on our policy review process through the Labour Party’s Your Britain website.
Today, I want to share with you more details of our vision of Equality 2030. ‘A new social contract without borders’ which builds on the existing MDGs but reflects the big changes which are necessary if the scale of our ambitions are to match the scale of the challenge. As I said in January, we Progressives didn’t come into politics to explain the world as it is but to change the world. Ed Miliband has made it clear that to respond successfully to the great challenges we face this needs to be the era of big economic and social change, not tinkering around the edges.
I’m delighted Mary Creagh and Briony Worthington are joining me this afternoon. Further evidence of our joint commitment to working together in opposition, a commitment we intend to make a reality in Government. Delivering a joined up approach to sustainable development. We are agreed that the current parallel but separate processes considering the implementation of the UN’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and a new MDG framework must be brought together if we are to tackle the world’s most urgent priorities.
Before laying out our post-2015 vision I want to address the increasingly challenging domestic political context which is raising serious concerns about the direction of UK development policy. I have consistently welcomed this Government’s decision to honour Labour’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA this year. It is a historic achievement which should make people of all political affiliations and none feel proud to be British. However, instead of championing our development commitment as the right thing to do in terms of our contribution to global social justice and our long term national interest, in the face of an emboldened right wing and the rise of UKIP, David Cameron and Justine Greening appear to be seeking to appease opponents of increased aid through a series of off the record briefings and ad hoc policy announcements.
It has been suggested that in the future UK aid will be used to replace cuts to the defence budget and promote British trade interests. Ending our aid programme to South Africa was spun initially as a decision agreed by the South African Government – this patently wasn’t the case. Putting the Government’s desire to get a positive media headline three days ahead of local elections before the needs of South Africa’s poor, our foreign policy interests and relationship with a country which is central to progress in Africa and the wider world. Justine Greening has serious questions to answer. She and I share a desire to end aid dependency – the difference is I want to do this when people have the dignity of self-sufficiency and I am confident there are plans in place to end poverty for the poorest, while she wants to use development as a sacrificial lamb in the civil war which is today’s Tory party.
Last week we also saw the Government confirm they have no intention of honouring their Manifesto and Coalition promises to enshrine 0.7 in law. Once again, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems remained silent. In my view, these attempts to pander to the right are also a crude attempt to create dividing lines with Labour and suggest we are not committed to securing best value for money.
So let me be clear where Labour stands.
On diverting aid spending to plug holes in the defence budget – we will abide strictly by OECD rules which limit ODA funding to be used for peacemaking and peace building not core military activities. Of course security is essential to development and we welcome the Government’s decision to build on our work and seek a more integrated approach. Indeed, I together with Shadow colleagues Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy have jointly commissioned a policy development process chaired by Lord McConnell to consider how we can transform rhetoric which commits to bringing defence, security and diplomacy together into a genuinely fresh approach in fragile and conflict states. But militarising aid is not only contrary to defined global standards it risks the safety and effectiveness of our aid workers in often very challenging environments.
On partnership with UK business we will never retie aid to trade. We agree the private sector has a central role to play in supporting jobs and growth in developing countries. However, unlike this Government, a Labour DFID will lead the way working in partnership with business to put Ed Miliband’s vision of responsible capitalism into practice. We will seek to create transparent criteria to govern new partnership arrangements. Businesses will have to demonstrate their activities are sustainable and make a positive contribution to the environment. They will be required to show they are paying fair and transparent taxes both in the UK and in developing countries. Also, against the background of the recent horrendous factory tragedy in Bangladesh, they will be expected to demonstrate a proactive commitment to decent labour standards throughout their supply chain.
That is why I have asked the TUC and private sector to undertake a substantive piece of work, bringing together representatives from the trade union movement and business to examine what the UK government is doing to support the creation of decent jobs by the private sector in the developing world and what steps will be necessary to ensure this becomes a key element of future UK policy. To be clear, a Labour Government will reinstate DfID’s support for the ILO.
As for ensuring value for money, it was Labour in Government which led the world on securing agreement to greater aid transparency. We will not make promises that we can’t keep which is why I have made it clear we will not be able to reinstate the over 2 billion pounds lost to the aid budget due to downgraded GDP over the past three years which has largely happened as a result of this Government’s failed economic plan.
But we will go much further. We will strengthen the independence and remit of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to cover all UK development activities. It will be a truly independent inspectorate with the teeth to shine a light on the use of UK taxpayers’ money and hold ministers and senior civil servants to account for spending and policy. We will also introduce greater transparency to the way ‘value for money’ performance of specific programmes and DfID country offices is assessed. We will maintain a focus on results but ensure a new framework recognises the importance of sustainable change. We will find new ways of ensuring the communities who receive UK aid in developing countries and UK Diaspora communities have an input into our aid programmes. We will also consider how British taxpayers can better access information about our development programme. It is extraordinary that the two groups largely shut out of directly influencing DfID’s work are those who fund our support and those who receive it.
Our approach to middle income countries will not be determined by short-term political considerations but objective criteria. Contrary to their spin in relation to India and South Africa, the current Government has programmes which support another 19 middle income countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria. The fact is 75% of the world’s poorest people now live in middle income countries so to exclude these countries by virtue of their middle income status is wrong. In reaching decisions we will consider the commitment of the relevant Government to eliminate poverty, the scale of the poverty challenge they face, the capacity of the UK to make a difference in specific sectors and the contribution of other donors.
Our investment decisions more generally will be based on the following considerations: Does the UK have a distinct role to play which adds value? A continued role for budget support but with greater conditionality. What is an appropriate balance between bilateral programmes and our contribution to multilateral organisations? Have existing programmes delivered results and value for money? Can our resources be used to catalyse major global partnership projects on issues such as abolishing user fees for health? Resources will be refocused to the very poorest, the most marginalised and to programmes which build capacity, support self-sufficiency and ultimately end aid dependency. We will also maintain a focus on conflict ridden states. Where we are considering reducing or ending UK development support we will work in partnership with recipient countries on an exit strategy and developing a mutually beneficial long-term economic, cultural and social relationship. We have an ambitious vision for the reform of and investment in UK development policy.
I want to turn now to our post-2015 vision.
Firstly, it is time to tell a much fuller story about the major structural changes which will be necessary if we are to eliminate absolute poverty and reduce inequality. It is essential we support developing countries to maximise and diversify their revenue base. Yes, maintaining the pressure on other countries to meet the agreed UN target of spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA. But also recognising that while this will make a big difference in the short and medium term, long term change requires every country to build robust tax revenue collection systems; multinational companies to be transparent about profits and fair taxes not only in relation to the extractive industries but across all sectors. Donor support for national/sub regional growth strategies. Direct foreign investment and finance to offset the impacts of climate change. Even now, Diaspora remittances outweigh aid in many countries. And as I have made clear we owe it to both the poorest in developing countries and our own taxpayers to get serious about getting tough on corruption. That is why we have launched an inquiry which will report later this year on corruption in developing countries, tax dodging by multinational companies and the role of financial institutions.
As I argued in my January speech our objective should be to end aid dependency by 2030. That means, other than in states emerging from conflict or experiencing a cataclysmic shock, no country should be dependent on aid for more than 20% of its budget and only a relatively small number of countries should require non humanatarian aid at all. But this is only possible if we can secure global agreement and support in these areas alongside a fairer global trade and tax system. The time has come to replace an aid manifesto with a development manifesto.
The extensive engagement process we have undertaken has reinforced our commitment to the key elements of a new framework which I outlined in my January speech. These will underpin Labour’s vision going forward and should be at the heart of the High Level Panel’s final report which is to be agreed this week.
So today I call on the UN High Level Panel to recommend a new focus on inequality, not simply poverty, which should include indicators that measure the progress of the poorest 10 or 20% and most marginalised including by gender, disability and age; growth but sustainable growth where the proceeds benefit the many not the few; a new definition of good governance which not only applies to the conduct of Governments in developing countries but donors, multinational companies and multilateral institutions. They should also recommend the coming together of the SDG and post MDG processes and be clear that the next stage of the consultation process must seek to ensure the voice of the most marginalised communities are heard.
As I have said previously I believe they should recommend a clear set of overarching objectives: by 2030 an end to absolute poverty, a reduction in inequality, an end to aid dependency and a world functioning within scarce planetary boundaries.
I would like to focus for a moment on the latter because a clearer understanding of this is essential if we are to integrate our global sustainability and poverty elimination objectives. While human development must remain at the heart of the world we want in post-2015, the international community and developing countries are becoming increasingly aware that economic transformation and environmental sustainability are preconditions for poverty reduction.
The new framework must respond to this context. It is not enough to simply extend the MDGs because humans are changing the planet in ways that undermine development gains.
Sustainable development has three legs: environmental, economic and social. It requires us to consider some of the greatest challenges we will face in the future: climate change, sustainable energy, sustainable food supply, population growth and urbanisation as well as the social agendas around decent work, education, health services, access to technology and information.
It is my belief that these two agendas must become one to combine political momentum and we will only achieve poverty reduction with a meaningful consideration and mainstreaming of sustainable development.
Today, following our extensive engagement process, I am outlining Labour’s proposed ten goals which would come together to form our new ‘social contract without borders’ and make Equality 2030 possible.We feel these goals reflect the views of the poorest, learn the lessons from the successes and failures of the existing MDGs and give us the greatest chance of achieving the 2030 objectives I have articulated.
These represent the basic entitlement any citizen, no matter where they live, should be able to expect. I want to be clear they are a contribution to the debate and a lot more engagement will be necessary before a final set of goals can have sufficient support and legitimacy to be agreed.
1. Decent jobs and universal social protection that helps lift people out of poverty, including a floor income, minimum wage, access to rights at work and vocational and workplace training with targets that focus on reducing the number of young people inc disabled young people not in education, employment or training.
2. Access to universal health and social care with targets that focus on increasing life expectancy; improving access to sexual and reproductive health; delivering on the unfinished business of eradicating preventable child and maternal mortality as part of integrated approach to early childhood development, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases. There should be an explicit focus on strengthening health care systems.
3. Universal access to basic utilities including clean water, sanitation, hygiene, heat and light provided through sustainable means.
4. Quality primary and secondary education that allows all children to reach their full potential, including disabled children, with a target of achieving universal enrolment and completion of primary and secondary school and indicators which focus on learning outcomes, including literacy and numeracy. We also would include a target on early childhood development and readiness for primary education.
5. Ecosystems and biodiversity which are protected along with mitigation of climate change and its impacts, with an explicit commitment to reducing carbon emissions and support for adaptation and resilience among communities.
6. Basic food security including eradicating hunger and malnutrition by promoting sustainable agriculture practices and investing in smallholder farmers. As part of integrated approach to early childhood, targets should include a focus on stunting and malnutrition rates among children.
7. Women’s empowerment and equality, with specific targets to end violence against women and girls, empower women economically and increase women’s participation and influence in local and national institutions.
8. A life free from violence and the fear of violence, with an explicit focus on preventing sexual violence against women and children. Targets should focus on strengthening national protection systems and ending impunity as well as addressing global causes of conflict including the arms trade, resource scarcity and drug trafficking.
9. Good governance including donors, companies and multilateral organisations which is inclusive, responsive, transparent and accountable. Targets could focus on corporate responsibility reporting, respect for legal frameworks and human rights that comply with international standards, access to justice and freedom from corruption.
10. Active and responsible citizenship helping to develop communities, being aware of rights, choosing elected representatives as well as achieving personal aspiration and ambitions for themselves and their families. Targets should focus on developing quality and accessible data systems, access to information, civic education programmes.
We believe it is essential these goals are universal but every country should be able to adopt and publish their own plan to achieve them. There is further work to be done on specific targets and indicators relating to each goal which should be used to measure and define progress.
In order to ensure an explicit focus on inequality, it is essential that each objective is supported by indicators that measure progress in relation to the most economically and socially disadvantaged in every country, by income (the poorest 10 or 20%) but also other measures such as gender, age and crucially disability. Quality, accessible and disaggregated data will be central to achieving this objective. The targets and indicators must also reflect the need to incentivise a joined up approach to some of the goals. A protocol for good governance and a global implementation plan including a funding strategy must form part of the final agreement. We will be doing further thinking on these issues and on a reform agenda for UK development policy and DfID which has to reflect our global vision.
Critically while the post 2015 agenda sets out what countries should aim to achieve, we must work collectively to make sure countries are able to do so. Our aim is to establish a global centre-left political network that will come together to forge a common values led vision for the new post-2015 framework. Once established, we intend that the network should consult civil society and the private sector with the aim of building the broadest possible coalition for this vision.
Friends, 2015 is a vital year but if we are to build confidence that radical change is feasible there are key milestones between now and then which would signal real progress.
With the G8 on our doorstep, the UK again has an opportunity to put in motion radical global reform that can lead to meaningful change. The success of a post-2015 agreement requires a combination of mass public mobilization and political will. In 2005 Tony Blair and Gordon Brown brokered ambitious commitments on climate change, investment, debt relief and trade for development. We share the concern of NGOs that David Cameron is not sufficiently preparing the ground to achieve agreement for radical change. This must change in the days ahead.
Today the Labour Party is calling on the Government to commit to three things:
* Encouraging G8 members to honour their aid commitments.
* For G8 nations to achieve international agreement on ending tax secrecy. This must work for developing countries from day one. There can be no G8 tax deal which leaves poor countries out in the cold.
* For all G8 countries to adopt and implement the EITI and to advance transparency initiatives to include other sectors.
As the G8 approaches the IF campaign deserves our wholehearted support.
Friends, I want to end by saying this:
‘One Nation: One World’ is our best and only route to fairness and prosperity in the future. It is time we took the case for progressive foreign policy to the mainstream majority in our country. It is important that this debate is not left either to an intellectual elite or Euro fundamentalists. The fact is in an interconnected, interdependent world the stability of our economy, future jobs, household food and utility bills, our changing climate, the impact of migration, our security are all affected by factors beyond our borders. We will be seriously impaired in addressing the daily concerns of the “squeezed middle” unless we have influence in the EU, UN, G8, G20 and other international institutions. So winning the argument about ‘One Nation: One World’, including the importance of Britain having a strong voice at the heart of a reformed European Union, requires a new narrative which makes the case in a way which connects with people’s concerns about their standard of living and quality of life.
Reducing inequality and preserving the planet are not acts of charity they are a statement of shared humanity and recognition of our shared destiny.
That is why in the next 12 months we must transform the case for radical change in 2015 from a process to a mass global movement for change. Equality 2030 is not simply about aid or development, it’s about a new global covenant for a fairer more sustainable world. Let’s take on the forces of conservatism with a small ‘c’ and let it be our generation which truly does change the world.
Ivan Lewis MP
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development