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Overseas Aid - have we not learned?

by Michael Ford last modified 25 Nov, 2020 03:52 PM

Bishop Nicholas has spoken out against the government’s decision to cut Overseas Aid. Speaking shortly after Rishi Sunak’s announcement that came as part of government's spending plans for the next year, Bishop Nicholas said: “Have we not learned that this pandemic needs a global response from us?

"As a country we had made a commendable commitment to invest 0.7% of GNI* to support the world’s poorest people.

“This commitment was enshrined in law by a Conservative government. Less than a year ago the Conservative Party’s highly successful election manifesto pledged to “proudly maintain our commitment to 0.7% of GNI on development and do more to help countries receiving aid to become more self-sufficient.”

“Even the temporary cut in overseas aid to 0.5% of GNI is a major moral failure, particularly in a time of global pandemic. It is also a political failure as it is against our national self-interest because it reduces our influence in the exercise of ‘soft power’.

“The timing is terrible in relation to our chairing the G7 and presidency of the COP**. This will damage our international standing and alienate allies who will be needed if COP is going to be successful in reducing the impact of climate change, protect lives, shore up climate resilience and ensure a just transition to a carbon neutral world.

“We have a choice about our spending priorities. It is lamentable that our Government has decided against our commitment to protect the lives of the poor and build up their resilience.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the plans "would be a really serious setback".

On Tuesday the Bishop wrote to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to say:

“Reducing our own commitments to support developing nations at this time sends the wrong message to nations around the world at the very time when it is essential that we show strength and leadership on the global stage. I urge you to think again.”

You can read the full letter here.

*Gross National Income
**The UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP26 (Conference of the Parties)

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