Development in transition
1. The manner and geographic distribution of poverty
reduction and international development is changing. Over the
course of this Parliament, two particular changes have struck
us. First, the number of low-income countries has fallen sharply,
to only 34 in the latest World Bank list.
The number of middle-income countries is rising. However, many
of these countries retain stubborn pockets of poverty. Many are
also classed as "fragile", or conflict-affected, states:
22 of the 28 countries in the UK Department for International
Development's portfolio are fragile.
Second, while long-standing concerns such as gender and the provision
of public services remain important, the importance of global
issues is rising within the development agenda, as problems in
their own right, but specifically affecting the growth prospects
and poverty reduction potential of developing countries. These
issues include conflict, climate, migration, trade, tax, financial
stability, youth unemployment, urbanisation, economic development,
infectious disease and governance. They require joined-up action
across Government, and also necessarily involve multilateral action.
2. The world will seek to tackle these issues alongside
poverty reduction in a new framework of post-2015 sustainable
development goals. The UK has taken an important role in the international
process of agreeing new goals, with the Prime Minister co-chairing
a high-level panel in 2012-13. The UN Secretary General issued
a 'synthesis report' on 4 December 2014, which sets out the basis
for international negotiations in the run-up to their agreement
in September 2015. In
addition, the world will need to find ways of working together
with new global players, in particular China. It also requires
appropriate thought about how to develop new models of development
co-operation with middle income countries like India without using
grants. The UK recently reached the UN target of spending 0.7%
of GNI on international development. Thus it is a timely moment
to think less about how to increase spending, and more about on
what, and how, the money is spent and what skills staff will require
for a changing world.
What are beyond aid issues, and
why do they matter?
3. The Secretary of State has said recently that
the UK's future approach to development will require a focus on
the missing issues from the MDGs: economic growth, governance,
rule of law, tackling corruption, peace and stability, and putting
women and girls first.
DFID's written submission covered these issues and some others,
including international taxation, knowledge and technology transfer,
and education and children.
Many witnesses agreed with this agenda, adding issues such as
climate, trade, tax, migration, infectious diseases, remittances,
arms sales, narcotics, peacekeeping deployments, technology, and
intellectual property. Figure 1 illustrates the relative frequency
with which different issues were mentioned in written submissions.Figure
1: Frequency of issues in written evidence
4. Why do these issues matter? DFID itself observed
in a written submission that "ending global poverty can only
be achieved through ensuring the international system works for
Development experts Owen Barder and Theodore Talbot said that
policymakers should pay more attention to "beyond aid"
policies for development, for three reasons:
a) The benefits to poor people that can be brought
about by even quite modest 'beyond aid' policy changes are much
larger than can be brought about through aid.
b) 'Beyond aid' policies mainly address the underlying
causes of poverty, while aid is most likely to be spent well when
it addresses the symptoms of poverty and meets immediate humanitarian
c) As well as being beneficial for development,
most of these 'beyond aid' policies would be good for the UK in
the short run as well as in the long run. Aid, in contrast, costs
the average British household about £430 a year: so the long-run
benefits come at a substantial short-term cost.
5. More generally, the Institute of Development Studies
emphasised common interests between developed and developing countries:
Development needs to be redefined as universal
progressive economic, social and political change. Long-established
views that associated development primarily with poverty reduction
and progress in countries of the 'global south' are being contested.
The rise of multi-polar politics linked to the BRICS countries
and shifts in global geo-alliances has challenged old north-south
divisions. Shared global problems, including climate change, environmental
and financial system risks, epidemics and conflict are on the
rise, with causes and consequences relevant to all people and
places, albeit in different ways.
6. At the time of our evidence sessions, the outbreak
of Ebola in West Africa featured prominently in public debate.
This is a classic example of a global as well as local threat,
which requires a coordinated international response at all levels,
ranging from aid, co-operation between DFID and other Government
departments/institutions, research into vaccines and treatments,
to international monitoring and response coordination, as well
as deployment of resources on the ground. Investments in global
public goods of this kind are of benefit to people in both rich
and poor countries.
7. In response to these changes in international
development, we decided in 2013 to undertake a two-part inquiry
looking at the current UK approach to development, and detailing
the Committee's views on the future UK development approach in
2015 and beyond. Phase 1 of the inquiry focused on Development
Finance. We published our report in February 2014. We noted that
grants from the UK and other donors to developing countries, while
still essential, would be of decreasing importance compared with
other sources of finance. We called for new financial mechanisms
and looked at the relative roles to be played by multilateral
organisations and bilateral programmes.
8. This second phase looks at issues 'beyond aid',
and how the UK Government increasingly needs to include non-aid
policies in its development approach. As Owen Barder and Alex
Evans, both former senior Whitehall officials, told us "an
effective beyond aid agenda depends on influencing-and hence people-more
than on money."
DFID staff, their skills and their use of time, are thus of key
relevance to this inquiry.
9. We received a particularly large volume of written
evidence, with almost sixty submissions. We held three oral evidence
sessions, exploring 'beyond aid' issues with experts, academics,
an NGO representative, European Union officials, a representative
from the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and the
Secretary of State for International Development. The Department
of Health sent its Head of International Health Policy as a witness.
We invited Sir Kim Darroch, the Government's National Security
Adviser, to give evidence, but he declined to appear, citing concerns
about sharing internal policy adviceprepared for the Prime
Ministerin public. We would like to thank all those who
submitted evidence. We would also like to thank our specialist
adviser, Simon Maxwell.
10. As our Chair pointed out at our final evidence
session, we have always identified ourselves as the 'International
Development', not the 'overseas aid', committee.
This, one of our final reports of this Parliament, is a chance
to set out why. We see it as our 'legacy report', as the end of
this Parliament, in April 2015, draws near. The report aims to
explore the coverage of issues, the policy processes and the structures
needed to implement a wider vision of development. We use as our
starting point the fact that development is about more than aid.
The report examines whether the Government has an adequate approach
to beyond aid issues, and adequate coverage. We explore the policy
processes and mechanisms needed to implement a wider vision.
11. Our terms of reference for the inquiry were deliberately
challenging, asking whether a stand-alone Department for International
Development has a long-term future. We aim to act as a critical
friend to DFID, offering a timely prompt about the Department's
strategic priorities and direction of travel as it looks into
the next Parliament. We will ask whether DFID has the right skill
sets as it adjusts to new modes of development co-operation. We
will also look outside the Department to ask whether all Government
departments work together to achieve a coherent, comprehensive
approach to development, and whether the Government has the right
structures to achieve this.
12. In Chapter Two, we reaffirm the case for aid.
In Chapter Three, we explore transition strategies in middle-income
countries, in particular how to build better partnerships between
institutions in these countries and the UK. In Chapter Four, we
examine the issue of policy coherence for development. In Chapter
Five we look at how the UK's approach should change. Finally,
in Chapter Six, we summarise our conclusions and recommendations.
1 World Bank, Country and Lending Groups (accessed
21 January 2015) Back
DFID written evidence, para 15 Back
United Nations The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General On the Post-2015 Agenda
(Advanced unedited version, December 2014) Back
Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International
Development, Speech: Beyond Aid - development priorities from 2015
(7 July 2014) Back
DFID written submission Back
DFID written submission Back
Owen Barder and Theodore Talbot submission Back
Institute of Development Studies submission Back
International Development Committee, Eighth Report of Session
2013-14, The Future of UK Development Co-operation: Phase 1:
Development Finance, HC 334 Back
Global Witness submission, para 18 Back
Q 198 Back