Responses to the FCDO White Paper on international development
On 20 November 2023, after a short summer consultation, the FCDO published a new White Paper on international development. Entitled International development in a contested world: ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change, the White Paper is the first published during the 13 years of the UK’s current Conservative government and only a year and a half after the launch of the International Development Strategy.
DSA member ODI notes that the strategy is more multilateral in outlook. Mark Miller highlights five reasons the White Paper may not be able to deliver on the strategy within its pages including: resource allocation, resource mobilisation, and the need for a whole of government approach and the right organising framework.
IDS Sussex’s Melissa Leach comments that while the new strategy and focus is welcome, delivery is dependent on the FCDO committing to a timeline and criteria for return to meeting the 0.7% ODA contribution.
Bond, the UK’s international development network for NGOs, welcomed the commitments on the Sustainable Development Goals, refocusing aid on low income countries, boosting climate finance, mention of more respectful and equitable development partnerships and a reinvigorated approach to partnering with civil society. But also noted a lack of clarity of how the aid budget will be financed when it remains at 0.5% of national income, and a third is used to support refugees in the UK. Bond also noted a whole of government response and ambition on tax, debt and trade reform.
Bond’s working groups on disability; humanitarian; changing donor policy and practice; and people of colour in development also reviewed the White Paper.
Sarah Champion, responding for the International Development Committee notes it will be challenging to undo the impact of the UK’s aid budget cuts, and the absence of explicit mention of climate loss and damage. With no mention of the return to 0.7% funding, she notes the intent for business and the private sector to fill this gap, but says this is unclear.
British Foreign Policy Group highlighted ten key points including: unlocking (non-governmental) funding; the importance of partnerships; a focus on SDGs, women and girls, conflict and fragile states; and the growing importance of AI. It noted that public opinion to aid seemed not to be a concern. You can also watch the BFPG’s panel discussion on the paper.
Simon Maxwell does an analysis of the White Paper against the principles of good strategy and whether it can deliver on ambition.
The Westminster Centre for Democracy pulls out nine key points including: the integration of democratic governance, the link between democracy and inclusion, and deepening democracy.