David Cameron’s Return To Frontline Politics Brings Britain’s Foreign Aid In Limelight
Former Prime Minister David Cameron was appointed Foreign Secretary by Rishi Sunak on Monday in an astonishing political comeback. On his return, he says he wants to unlock billions of dollars for foreign aid, as part of a “moral mission” to help in world’s poor.
Cameron’s stance marks a remarkable change of tone for a government that closed the Department for International Development and slashed the foreign aid budget. He plans to breathe new life into the UK’s role on the international stage, particularly in relation to aid.
In an upcoming international development White Paper, the former Prime Minister highlights the crucial role of foreign aid in meeting the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, including the ambitious target to get rid of global hunger by the end of the decade.
Restoring UK’s Reputation As A Development Superpower
The White Paper, spearheaded by Development Minister Andrew Mitchell, seeks to fight problems such as debt repayments for vulnerable countries and ensuring the British Investment International (BII) dedicates at least 50% of its annual investment to low-income countries.
The newly-appointed Foreign Secretary is keen to transition from the old donor-recipient model to partnerships of mutual respect, in which low- and middle-income countries have a greater say in global institutions, and “their vision for the future” is paid attention to.
Owing to slashed budgets, the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts and a decline in multilateralism, Mitchell says the world is off-track reaching the UN goals, and highlights new approaches are necessary, including offering public sector guarantees to mobilise private sector money.
The British government is to spend millions of pounds helping countries prepare for future humanitarian disasters. A new $186 million fund will help the world’s poor get access to money faster in emergencies. The change is expected to be part of the new White Paper.
Ministers hope the 140-page policy document can help restore the UK’s reputation as a development superpower. They are also hoping to win cross-party support in Parliament so the seven-year plans survive beyond the next general election regardless of the outcome.
Making Britain’s Foreign Aid Spending Go Further
The government’s plans will not involve spending more taxpayers’ money. Britain will continue to allocate 0.5% of its national income on foreign aid each year. But the upcoming document is expected to set out how to make the cash go further.
The UK plans to allocate $1.25 billion toword humanitarian aid in 2024. The new “resilience and adaptation fund” will take 15% of that figure to help countries prepare for future disasters. So a drought-stricken country would not just get food and water, but also investment in reservoirs.
There are also plans for insurance schemes and pre-agreed contingency funds, in an effort to ensure countries in distress can access humanitarian cash the moment disaster strikes, instead of having to wait for donor countries to raise the money.