Yesterday TOP hosted the UK launch of Development Initiatives’ inaugural “Investment to End Poverty” report in the Houses of Parliament. TOP co-chair Peter Lilley chaired the session which included a presentation of the report highlights by Development Initiatives Executive Director Judith Randel and a response by Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Chair of the International Development Select Committee.
Global poverty is falling at an unprecedented rate. In 1990, 43% of the world’s population were living in extreme poverty – on less than US$1.25 a day. Today there are only 21% living below this level. Nonetheless this leaves 1.2 billion people still living in extreme poverty. In 2015, the world will agree new global goals to build on the Millennium Development Goals. The end of extreme poverty by 2030 must be high on that agenda. In order to reach this goal as quickly as possible, we must target aid where it will have the greatest impact on reducing poverty.
We must understand and then coordinate the broadest range of other resources – remittances and private investment working alongside domestic resources – so that they too contribute to ending poverty. Aid can also be deployed to mobilise the poverty-reducing power of these other flows and must therefore be seen in the context of other resources.
In his response, Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, also spoke of the importance of trade in creating and sustaining revenue flows for poverty eradication. Quoting a former member of the International Development Committee, the now Speaker John Bercow, he said, “If free trade is a good thing for development – which it is – then why do the US and the EU not practice it?” He emphasised the need for us to stop using standards and regulations as an opportunity to shut people out.
We should instead be focussing on technical training and capacity building that allows developing countries to reach these standards and help their economies function in a sustainable way. Technical assistance will help create economies that can trade, which creates taxes, which can be spent on public services. Aid should never abandon the aim to eradicate extreme poverty, but it must be transformative aid that gives those in the developing world the capacity to lift themselves out of poverty.
The International Development Committee is currently undertaking an enquiry into the future of development cooperation and development finance – the report is expected to be published before Christmas – please see the Committee’s website for more information.