Oxfam yesterday urged the Government to crack down on tax havens used by British citizens. The charity estimates that one third of the $18.5 trillion that is being held in tax havens is held in a British Overseas Territory or Crown Dependency. Oxfam suggests the money recouped following tougher laws on tax avoidance could be used to help developing countries.
Emma Seery, Oxfam’s Head of Development Finance and Public Services, said:
David Cameron and [Chancellor] George Osborne continue to tour the world making promises to clamp down on tax havens, but so far they’ve done absolutely nothing to make tax deals work for poor countries.
“The UK and Europe cannot stand by and watch more people fall victim to the bite of austerity while billions are lost from the public purse on their watch.
“Unless the EU agrees a tax havens black list and clear sanctions, we’ll get little more than hot air from leaders.
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Here is the full text from Ivan Lewis’s speech yesterday:
Thank you for the introduction Ben and the Bond Beyond 2015 UK Group for hosting
this event and all of you for turning up this afternoon.
When I made my speech at CAFOD in January I laid down some key elements of Labour’s
vision for the new post-2015 development framework. Since then, we have engaged in
an unprecedented number of consultation sessions with key stakeholders – in total 15
events over an intensive eight-week period. These sessions were a genuine attempt to
do things differently, demonstrating what a new kind of politics really means. We have
worked together in “brainstorming” sessions which recognise the expertise, energy and
conviction many of you in this room bring to some highly complex issues. We have also
studied findings from the IDS/Beyond 2015 study ‘Participate’ to ensure the voice of the
poorest in the south are central to our conclusions. I want to take this opportunity to
thank you for your engagement with us.
You can continue to share your thoughts on our policy review process through the
Labour Party’s Your Britain website.
Today, I want to share with you more details of our vision of Equality 2030. ‘A new social
contract without borders’ which builds on the existing MDGs but reflects the big
changes which are necessary if the scale of our ambitions are to match the scale of the
challenge. As I said in January, we Progressives didn’t come into politics to explain the
world as it is but to change the world. Ed Miliband has made it clear that to respond
successfully to the great challenges we face this needs to be the era of big economic and
social change, not tinkering around the edges.
I’m delighted Mary Creagh and Briony Worthington are joining me this afternoon.
Further evidence of our joint commitment to working together in opposition, a
commitment we intend to make a reality in Government. Delivering a joined up
approach to sustainable development. We are agreed that the current parallel but
separate processes considering the implementation of the UN’s commitment to the
Sustainable Development Goals and a new MDG framework must be brought together if
we are to tackle the world’s most urgent priorities.
Before laying out our post-2015 vision I want to address the increasingly challenging
domestic political context which is raising serious concerns about the direction of UK
development policy. I have consistently welcomed this Government’s decision to
honour Labour’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA this year. It is a historic
achievement which should make people of all political affiliations and none feel proud
to be British. However, instead of championing our development commitment as the
right thing to do in terms of our contribution to global social justice and our long term
national interest, in the face of an emboldened right wing and the rise of UKIP, David
Cameron and Justine Greening appear to be seeking to appease opponents of increased
aid through a series of off the record briefings and ad hoc policy announcements.
It has been suggested that in the future UK aid will be used to replace cuts to the
defence budget and promote British trade interests. Ending our aid programme to South
Africa was spun initially as a decision agreed by the South African Government – this
patently wasn’t the case. Putting the Government’s desire to get a positive media
headline three days ahead of local elections before the needs of South Africa’s poor, our
foreign policy interests and relationship with a country which is central to progress in
Africa and the wider world. Justine Greening has serious questions to answer. She and I
share a desire to end aid dependency – the difference is I want to do this when people
have the dignity of self-sufficiency and I am confident there are plans in place to end
poverty for the poorest, while she wants to use development as a sacrificial lamb in the
civil war which is today’s Tory party.
Last week we also saw the Government confirm they have no intention of honouring
their Manifesto and Coalition promises to enshrine 0.7 in law. Once again, Nick Clegg
and the Lib Dems remained silent. In my view, these attempts to pander to the right are
also a crude attempt to create dividing lines with Labour and suggest we are not
committed to securing best value for money.
So let me be clear where Labour stands.
On diverting aid spending to plug holes in the defence budget – we will abide strictly by
OECD rules which limit ODA funding to be used for peacemaking and peace building not
core military activities. Of course security is essential to development and we welcome
the Government’s decision to build on our work and seek a more integrated approach.
Indeed, I together with Shadow colleagues Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy have
jointly commissioned a policy development process chaired by Lord McConnell to
consider how we can transform rhetoric which commits to bringing defence, security
and diplomacy together into a genuinely fresh approach in fragile and conflict states.
But militarising aid is not only contrary to defined global standards it risks the safety and
effectiveness of our aid workers in often very challenging environments.
On partnership with UK business we will never retie aid to trade. We agree the private
sector has a central role to play in supporting jobs and growth in developing countries.
However, unlike this Government, a Labour DFID will lead the way working in
partnership with business to put Ed Miliband’s vision of responsible capitalism into
practice. We will seek to create transparent criteria to govern new partnership
arrangements. Businesses will have to demonstrate their activities are sustainable and
make a positive contribution to the environment. They will be required to show they are
paying fair and transparent taxes both in the UK and in developing countries. Also, against the background of the recent horrendous factory tragedy in Bangladesh, they
will be expected to demonstrate a proactive commitment to decent labour standards
throughout their supply chain.
That is why I have asked the TUC and private sector to undertake a substantive piece of
work, bringing together representatives from the trade union movement and business
to examine what the UK government is doing to support the creation of decent jobs by
the private sector in the developing world and what steps will be necessary to ensure
this becomes a key element of future UK policy. To be clear, a Labour Government will
reinstate DfID’s support for the ILO.
As for ensuring value for money, it was Labour in Government which led the world on
securing agreement to greater aid transparency. We will not make promises that we
can’t keep which is why I have made it clear we will not be able to reinstate the over 2
billion pounds lost to the aid budget due to downgraded GDP over the past three years
which has largely happened as a result of this Government’s failed economic plan.
But we will go much further. We will strengthen the independence and remit of the
Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to cover all UK development activities. It
will be a truly independent inspectorate with the teeth to shine a light on the use of UK
taxpayers’ money and hold ministers and senior civil servants to account for spending
and policy. We will also introduce greater transparency to the way ‘value for money’
performance of specific programmes and DfID country offices is assessed. We will
maintain a focus on results but ensure a new framework recognises the importance of
sustainable change. We will find new ways of ensuring the communities who receive UK
aid in developing countries and UK Diaspora communities have an input into our aid
programmes. We will also consider how British taxpayers can better access information
about our development programme. It is extraordinary that the two groups largely shut
out of directly influencing DfID’s work are those who fund our support and those who
Our approach to middle income countries will not be determined by short-term political
considerations but objective criteria. Contrary to their spin in relation to India and South
Africa, the current Government has programmes which support another 19 middle
income countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria. The fact is 75% of the world’s poorest
people now live in middle income countries so to exclude these countries by virtue of
their middle income status is wrong. In reaching decisions we will consider the
commitment of the relevant Government to eliminate poverty, the scale of the poverty
challenge they face, the capacity of the UK to make a difference in specific sectors and
the contribution of other donors.
Our investment decisions more generally will be based on the following considerations:
Does the UK have a distinct role to play which adds value? A continued role for budget
support but with greater conditionality. What is an appropriate balance between bilateral programmes and our contribution to multilateral organisations? Have existing
programmes delivered results and value for money? Can our resources be used to
catalyse major global partnership projects on issues such as abolishing user fees for
health? Resources will be refocused to the very poorest, the most marginalised and to
programmes which build capacity, support self-sufficiency and ultimately end aid
dependency. We will also maintain a focus on conflict ridden states. Where we are
considering reducing or ending UK development support we will work in partnership
with recipient countries on an exit strategy and developing a mutually beneficial longterm economic, cultural and social relationship. We have an ambitious vision for the
reform of and investment in UK development policy.
I want to turn now to our post-2015 vision.
Firstly, it is time to tell a much fuller story about the major structural changes which will
be necessary if we are to eliminate absolute poverty and reduce inequality. It is
essential we support developing countries to maximise and diversify their revenue base.
Yes, maintaining the pressure on other countries to meet the agreed UN target of
spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA. But also recognising that while this will make a big
difference in the short and medium term, long term change requires every country to
build robust tax revenue collection systems; multinational companies to be transparent
about profits and fair taxes not only in relation to the extractive industries but across all
sectors. Donor support for national/sub regional growth strategies. Direct foreign
investment and finance to offset the impacts of climate change. Even now, Diaspora
remittances outweigh aid in many countries. And as I have made clear we owe it to both
the poorest in developing countries and our own taxpayers to get serious about getting
tough on corruption. That is why we have launched an inquiry which will report later
this year on corruption in developing countries, tax dodging by multinational companies
and the role of financial institutions.
As I argued in my January speech our objective should be to end aid dependency by
2030. That means, other than in states emerging from conflict or experiencing a
cataclysmic shock, no country should be dependent on aid for more than 20% of its
budget and only a relatively small number of countries should require non
humanatarian aid at all. But this is only possible if we can secure global agreement and
support in these areas alongside a fairer global trade and tax system. The time has come
to replace an aid manifesto with a development manifesto.
The extensive engagement process we have undertaken has reinforced our
commitment to the key elements of a new framework which I outlined in my January
speech. These will underpin Labour’s vision going forward and should be at the heart of
the High Level Panel’s final report which is to be agreed this week.
So today I call on the UN High Level Panel to recommend a new focus on inequality, not
simply poverty, which should include indicators that measure the progress of the poorest 10 or 20% and most marginalised including by gender, disability and age;
growth but sustainable growth where the proceeds benefit the many not the few; a new
definition of good governance which not only applies to the conduct of Governments in
developing countries but donors, multinational companies and multilateral institutions.
They should also recommend the coming together of the SDG and post MDG processes
and be clear that the next stage of the consultation process must seek to ensure the
voice of the most marginalised communities are heard.
As I have said previously I believe they should recommend a clear set of overarching
objectives: by 2030 an end to absolute poverty, a reduction in inequality, an end to aid
dependency and a world functioning within scarce planetary boundaries.
I would like to focus for a moment on the latter because a clearer understanding of this
is essential if we are to integrate our global sustainability and poverty elimination
objectives. While human development must remain at the heart of the world we want
in post-2015, the international community and developing countries are becoming
increasingly aware that economic transformation and environmental sustainability are
preconditions for poverty reduction.
The new framework must respond to this context. It is not enough to simply extend the
MDGs because humans are changing the planet in ways that undermine development
Sustainable development has three legs: environmental, economic and social. It
requires us to consider some of the greatest challenges we will face in the future:
climate change, sustainable energy, sustainable food supply, population growth and
urbanisation as well as the social agendas around decent work, education, health
services, access to technology and information.
It is my belief that these two agendas must become one to combine political
momentum and we will only achieve poverty reduction with a meaningful consideration
and mainstreaming of sustainable development.
Today, following our extensive engagement process, I am outlining Labour’s proposed
ten goals which would come together to form our new ‘social contract without borders’
and make Equality 2030 possible.We feel these goals reflect the views of the poorest,
learn the lessons from the successes and failures of the existing MDGs and give us the
greatest chance of achieving the 2030 objectives I have articulated.
These represent the basic entitlement any citizen, no matter where they live, should be
able to expect. I want to be clear they are a contribution to the debate and a lot more
engagement will be necessary before a final set of goals can have sufficient support and
legitimacy to be agreed.
1. Decent jobs and universal social protection that helps lift people out of poverty,
including a floor income, minimum wage, access to rights at work and vocational
and workplace training with targets that focus on reducing the number of young
people inc disabled young people not in education, employment or training.
2. Access to universal health and social care with targets that focus on increasing
life expectancy; improving access to sexual and reproductive health; delivering
on the unfinished business of eradicating preventable child and maternal
mortality as part of integrated approach to early childhood development, and
combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases. There should be an explicit
focus on strengthening health care systems.
3. Universal access to basic utilities including clean water, sanitation, hygiene, heat
and light provided through sustainable means.
4. Quality primary and secondary education that allows all children to reach their
full potential, including disabled children, with a target of achieving universal
enrolment and completion of primary and secondary school and indicators which
focus on learning outcomes, including literacy and numeracy. We also would
include a target on early childhood development and readiness for primary
5. Ecosystems and biodiversity which are protected along with mitigation of
climate change and its impacts, with an explicit commitment to reducing carbon
emissions and support for adaptation and resilience among communities.
6. Basic food security including eradicating hunger and malnutrition by promoting
sustainable agriculture practices and investing in smallholder farmers. As part of
integrated approach to early childhood, targets should include a focus on
stunting and malnutrition rates among children.
7. Women’s empowerment and equality, with specific targets to end violence
against women and girls, empower women economically and increase women’s
participation and influence in local and national institutions.
8. A life free from violence and the fear of violence, with an explicit focus on
preventing sexual violence against women and children. Targets should focus on
strengthening national protection systems and ending impunity as well as
addressing global causes of conflict including the arms trade, resource scarcity
and drug trafficking.
9. Good governance including donors, companies and multilateral organisations
which is inclusive, responsive, transparent and accountable. Targets could focus
on corporate responsibility reporting, respect for legal frameworks and human
rights that comply with international standards, access to justice and freedom
10. Active and responsible citizenship helping to develop communities, being aware
of rights, choosing elected representatives as well as achieving personal
aspiration and ambitions for themselves and their families. Targets should focus
on developing quality and accessible data systems, access to information, civic
We believe it is essential these goals are universal but every country should be able to
adopt and publish their own plan to achieve them. There is further work to be done on
specific targets and indicators relating to each goal which should be used to measure
and define progress.
In order to ensure an explicit focus on inequality, it is essential that each objective is
supported by indicators that measure progress in relation to the most economically and
socially disadvantaged in every country, by income (the poorest 10 or 20%) but also
other measures such as gender, age and crucially disability. Quality, accessible and
disaggregated data will be central to achieving this objective. The targets and indicators
must also reflect the need to incentivise a joined up approach to some of the goals. A
protocol for good governance and a global implementation plan including a funding
strategy must form part of the final agreement. We will be doing further thinking on
these issues and on a reform agenda for UK development policy and DfID which has to
reflect our global vision.
Critically while the post 2015 agenda sets out what countries should aim to achieve, we
must work collectively to make sure countries are able to do so. Our aim is to establish a
global centre-left political network that will come together to forge a common values
led vision for the new post-2015 framework. Once established, we intend that the
network should consult civil society and the private sector with the aim of building the
broadest possible coalition for this vision.
Friends, 2015 is a vital year but if we are to build confidence that radical change is
feasible there are key milestones between now and then which would signal real
With the G8 on our doorstep, the UK again has an opportunity to put in motion radical
global reform that can lead to meaningful change. The success of a post-2015
agreement requires a combination of mass public mobilization and political will. In 2005
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown brokered ambitious commitments on climate change,
investment, debt relief and trade for development. We share the concern of NGOs that
David Cameron is not sufficiently preparing the ground to achieve agreement for radical
change. This must change in the days ahead.
Today the Labour Party is calling on the Government to commit to three things:
1. Encouraging G8 members to honour their aid commitments.
2. For G8 nations achieve international agreement on ending tax secrecy. This must
work for developing countries from day one. There can be no G8 tax deal which
leaves poor countries out in the cold.
3. For all G8 countries to adopt and implement the EITI and to advance
transparency initiatives to include other sectors.
As the G8 approaches the IF campaign deserves our wholehearted support.
Friends, I want to end by saying this:
‘One Nation: One World’ is our best and only route to fairness and prosperity in the
future. It is time we took the case for progressive foreign policy to the mainstream
majority in our country. It is important that this debate is not left either to an
intellectual elite or Euro fundamentalists. The fact is in an interconnected,
interdependent world the stability of our economy, future jobs, household food and
utility bills, our changing climate, the impact of migration, our security are all affected
by factors beyond our borders. We will be seriously impaired in addressing the daily
concerns of the “squeezed middle” unless we have influence in the EU, UN, G8, G20 and
other international institutions. So winning the argument about ‘One Nation: One
World’, including the importance of Britain having a strong voice at the heart of a
reformed European Union, requires a new narrative which makes the case in a way
which connects with people’s concerns about their standard of living and quality of life.
Reducing inequality and preserving the planet are not acts of charity they are a
statement of shared humanity and recognition of our shared destiny.
That is why in the next 12 months we must transform the case for radical change in
2015 from a process to a mass global movement for change. Equality 2030 is not simply
about aid or development, it’s about a new global covenant for a fairer more
sustainable world. Let’s take on the forces of conservatism with a small ‘c’ and let it be
our generation which truly does change the world.
On Friday 3 May, the Popinjay Hotel, Rosebank, in the Clyde Valley, was the venue for the 4th Judith Hart Memorial Lecture Dinner. This year the lecture was given by Rt. Hon Douglas Alexander MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary. The first memorial lecture in 2007 was by Lord George Robertson, followed by the Rt. Hon Harriet Harman MP in 2009 and Lord John Prescott in 2011.
A younger generation may not know that Judith Hart was Labour’s Minister of Overseas Development for nearly all the years Labour was in Government from 1969 to 1979. Her successor as MP for Clydesdale (now Lanark and Hamilton East), Jimmy Hood, writes on his website: “Judith Hart was one of a very small number of women of her generation elected to Parliament in 1959. Of the 25 (4%) women MP’s elected in that year 13 (2%) were Labour. She was the fifth woman of all time to serve in a British Cabinet as Postmaster General 1968-69 in Harold Wilson’s Government. Judith devoted all her political life to fighting poverty and injustice wherever she found it, whither in her own constituency or across the world. She was a fierce opponent of apartheid in South Africa and great defender of Chile, where in 1973 Chilean Armed Forces lead by General Augusto Pinochet successfully led a coup d’état against the democratically elected socialist Government. The Late Judith Hart was a formidable fighter for socialism, a great champion of Scotland, democracy and International Development.”
Douglas Alexander’s lecture received a lot of media attention for the later sections addressing the issue of Scottish Independence, but here are the first few paragraphs where he focuses on Judith Hart’s International Development legacy.
“Judith Hart was an extraordinary woman, and it is fitting that she is commemorated in a way that both befits her memory and celebrates her life and vision – a vision that often challenged received wisdom and cultural conventions.
A graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of London, and a lecturer at a teacher training college, she served as the Labour MP for Lanark and subsequently Clydesdale from 1959 until 1987. One of just 25 women MPs elected in 1959, she served in a range of Ministerial Offices, and in so doing became only the 5th woman ever to serve in a British Cabinet.
But tonight I want to draw, in particular, on how what underpinned her life and work – over many years – as Minister of Overseas Development, helps to guide us, especially as we head towards the momentous decision facing Scotland next year. And I do so with some humility, as one of her successors in leading the British Government’s efforts to tackle global poverty.
Over recent years, Britain’s Department for International Development has rightly come to be seen as a global leader on aid effectiveness and I am proud that this year the UK will achieve the target set and worked for by Labour to meet the UN goal of committing 0.7% of our GNI on international development. The road we have travelled is nowhere better exemplified than in our Tory Prime Minister, forced by public opinion, to meet and match Labour’s aid commitment.
As Development Secretary I saw personally the impact of those much needed resources in babies receiving vaccinations, children gaining a teacher, families receiving bed-nets and the hungry receiving food. It is life changing, world changing work, to which Judith made a huge contribution.
One of her lasting legacies is to be found nearer to home. It is thanks to Judith Hart that East Kilbride became the location of the joint headquarters of the UK Department for International Development. It is a unique arrangement in Whitehall reflecting the imagination and vision of a unique woman. Not for her the idea that all things Westminster had to be in London.
It was, and remains for me, also a Labour MP from the West of Scotland, a matter of huge pride that each day, each week, hundreds of our fellow Scots get up and go to work in East Kilbride and on our behalf spend their day helping tackle disease, hunger and need – extending our help and assistance to some of the most afflicted places on Earth.
Tonight, reflecting on her strong sense of solidarity, I want to make the case that the prospect of next year’s referendum on independence – if we are willing and wise – affords us the opportunity to move beyond the argument that Scotland would be better walking away from our neighbours that has been a part of Scottish politics for decades, and instead embrace a different vision for our nation.
The case I want to make is that far from now having to walk away from our neighbours to somehow be the Scots we want to be, there is a better and more hopeful road on which we can journey from 2014. Walking away from others has never been our way – walking with others has been our heritage and to my mind should be our future.”
You can read the full text of the lecture here.
Alastair Osborne is the Scottish Officer for LCID
Members of the LCID Exec team were delighted to welcome Peter Mandelson to their stall at yesterday’s Progress Conference. The former Trade Minister (and Labour Party legend) spoke of the importance of international development on UK trade.
The team had a really successful day, gathering lots of interest in the campaign and new members. They met some very interesting people and thank Progress for the opportunity to attend.
As G8 foreign ministers met in London last month, two issues dominated discussions – Syria and North Korea. Much was spoken about both, but not a whole lot agreed about either.
Much too was spoken about human rights. The post-meet communiqué is littered with joint commitments about bolstering human rights from Africa to Asia, and the shared belief that greater protections must form a basis for stable, sustainable development.
In principle, this is a welcome and necessary development. In reality, however, it betrays the G8’s inherent weakness, which must be overcome if the gathering of the world’s wealthiest countries is to retain its prominence.
A day after the joint meeting, two G8 members Russia and the US began a tit for tat spat over human rights. The US first enacted personal sanctions on believed Russian human rights offenders, but Moscow responded by issuing its own blacklist against alleged US human rights abuser. For more info go to:
The ease with which this was done indicates how readily the guise of human rights can be betrayed for political purposes. Yet a real commitment to the ideal, and in particular the role it has in promoting development, has the potential to resuscitate the G8’s flailing fortunes.
Since the financial crisis hit, the world’s richest countries and the market-driven systems that govern their economies have suffered a bruising. Even Russia, with its vast oil and gas reserves has not been left unscathed.
Instead, power has been passing to the G20, which includes Brazil, India and China. While this is a democratising global shift, the G8 still has a vital role to play.
The wealthier donor countries have decades-worth of invaluable developmental experience and have realised that without a simultaneous political push for change and democratization, assistance can all too often be counterproductive.
Without a system of accountability and transparency, and a shared respect for free expression, female and minority equality, it is difficult to create a stable environment for development or ensure funds are not misspent. It is no coincidence that some of the world’s most systemic human rights abusers headlines discussions last month.
But, while it may be more effective, the human rights-based approach to development is an even more difficult sell to the G20, which includes both China and Saudi Arabia.
By leading the way in promoting human rights-based development and ensuring it becomes a global norm, the G8 has a chance to build a more sustainable global regime.
The blatant abuse and misuse of human rights for political ends, however, is only working to discredit the G8. A firm commitment to cooperate on shared rights issues is needed, even if political sacrifices must be made to lure Russian support.
While this will be difficult given internal divisions, the UK – which holds the G8 presidency this year – has an opportunity to ensure that this approach is prioritised.
Labour, which has a strong history of promoting human rights, is a crucial player and must pressurise the sitting government to do more.
This can start by ensuring the UK stops assassinating the EU Convention on human rights, but it goes further. Labour’s unfailing commitment to greater gender equality and minority rights, as well as entrenched belief in greater socio-economic rights in developed and developing countries alike, is crucial.
With these goals placed centre stage, at least the big G8 meet in June will have a shot at being more than just more empty promises.
Simona Sikimic is a member of LCID
When you got up this morning you probably switched on the light, went into the kitchen and popped something into the microwave or onto the stove. But, have you ever stopped to think that what you would do if you didn’t have electricity or gas? For 40% of the world’s population, their day started at sunrise, going out to find wood or dung which they would use to start a fire to cook their first meal.
Searching for cooking fuel, collecting water and cooking meals, can take up to 10 hours in a day for many. A job usually delegated to women and girls, it leaves little time to go to school or take on paid work. Women and children are also adversely affected by the smoke produced while cooking in these situations. Smoke kills about 1.6 million people each year worldwide and leads to high incidence of lung disease.
Lack of energy, be it electricity or fuel, has a direct impact on development and is one of the main drivers of cyclical poverty. Of the 1.5 billion without access to electricity, 670 million are in 48 countries that make up the lesser developed countries (LDCs) as defined by the United Nations. Energy alone cannot raise people out of poverty but can decrease the amount of time taken up by daily activities that can now instead be directed towards income generating activities.
Conversely, without energy, Millennium Development Goals on education, health and women empowerment could not be achieved. With the day predominately taken up with household activities, electricity allows the day to be extended past sundown enabling women to take up income generating activities and children to spend more time on their studies.
It is for this reason that the UN has set a goal of universal energy access by 2030. Part of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative it is one of three energy goals applicable to both developed and developing countries. Other goals centre on doubling the proportion of renewable in the global energy mix and improving energy efficiency globally by 50%.
However, meeting a goal of universal energy access will be a challenge. The overwhelming majority of people without access are living in rural and remote areas. Extending grid and pipe lines to these areas is capital-intensive and often people don’t have the money to pay for connection costs or the ability to make monthly energy payments. It is estimated it will require 756 Billion USD to achieve universal access and in these difficult economic times the private sector is being looked upon to play a large role.
They not only provide direct investment but also supply the technological ingenuity and off grid/decentralised energy solutions that are market ready and meet the needs of those in rural and remote areas. Eight19 (which has developed IndiGo pay as you go solar lightening for Kenyans) is a good example of a company that has use mobile technology to increase energy access. However, their ability to scale up and expand into other countries was limited without private investment from financial institutions and the equity market.
Oil and gas companies control 75% of energy resources produced in Sub- Saharan Africa exporting 40% of resources out of the continent. However, in light of the fact that half of the top 10 largest oil and gas producers are LDCs and only three have more than 50% of their population with access to electricity, it is clear that transparency and better governance will also need to play a role.
If David Cameron is serious about improving the lives of women and eliminating absolute poverty then he should focus attention on improving energy access. With an eye on profit making, many companies will only market their services to those who can pay. This is clearly indicated by the wide urban/rural divide in energy access. Developing countries will need assistance in accessing and developing suitable renewable energy technologies as well as creating local market conditions, particularly income generating activities, which would allow people to afford the services and make them sustainable.
For a continent to be so rich in energy resources and its people so energy poor reveals the distorted relationship between energy companies and developing countries. Due to the overwhelming need for private investment in developing countries, energy companies can often dictate the terms of agreement for resource extraction and threaten to leave over country reforms on industry regulation and tax reforms. Developing countries need capacity building in financial monitoring of foreign companies, strengthening their own tax systems and fighting corruption. Greater transparency is also needed on profit and taxes through such initiatives as the Dodd Franks Act and the EU Transparency and Accounting Directive. Many energy companies are challenging the Dodd Franks Act in US courts while rushing to meetings of the voluntary Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Voluntary agreements are clearly not sufficient and transparency therefore needs to be legislated for in the UK and elsewhere.
Margaret Araujo is a member of the Labour Campaign for International Development
Today’s Queen Speech did not include a commitment to legislate for the 0.7% development target to become law.
The omission is despite the promise in the Coalition Agreement to do just that. In fact, the Tories went one step further in their Manifesto and pledged to “legislate in the first session of a new Parliament to lock this level of spending every year”.
Another broken promise, then.
There is now a strong possibility that this Bill will not be passed before the next General Election, – which the Government did introduce legislation for to fix the date for May 2015. If the Government offer “lack of parliamentary time” as reasoning, we can expect some raised eyebrows. After all, at this Government’s say so, the Commons is subject to lengthy recesses, which mean less time to pass, debate and scrutinise legislation.
The decision to omit legislation of 0.7% from the Queen’s speech is revealing, and the Government’s commitment to development will be called into question again. Appeasing Tory backbenchers unhappy with the 0.7% commitment has triumphed over a cast-iron promise .
This also represents a huge missed opportunity. UK is hosting the G8 next month, and the international community is watching the UK and the Prime Minister closely. Legislating for 0.7% would have sent a strong signal to the world. The Government need to step up their game if they are serious about development.
Bethan Twigg is LCID’s Vice Chair-Policy