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Launch of Ireland's New Policy for International Development

Aid Effectiveness, Speeches, Ireland, 2013

 

Remarks  by the Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, T.D.

 

Launch of One World, One Future: Ireland’s Policy for International Development

 

May 2nd 2013, Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, O’Connell Street, Dublin

 

 

Tánaiste, Nora Owen, Chair of the Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome and thank you for turning out in such large numbers.  We are very pleased today to launch our new policy which will shape and guide Ireland’s role in International Development – One World, One Future.

The policy being launched to-day has been born from an intense period of reflection, of listening, of learning. It is informed by the experiences that we have garnered from our official aid programme since its establishment 40 years ago, in 1973, the year we in Ireland expanded our economic and political boundaries by acceding to what has now become the European Union.

Critically, the Policy is informed by the changing context here at home and internationally, and by the views and contributions of our partners, our peers, and the many people who took part in what was a vibrant review process. 

Above all, the Policy is informed by our experience on the ground working with some of the poorest countries and people in the world, by the evidence of what works, of what we as Ireland do best and of where and how development results can best be achieved.

As Nora can attest, the Review of the White paper on Irish Aid has provided a unique opportunity to listen to the views and experiences of our partners both here in Ireland and in the countries where we work.

In the public meetings in Limerick, Sligo, Cork and Dublin, and in the many meetings we have held with stakeholder groups including the Houses of the Oireachtas and in Africa, I have been impressed by the quality of the discussions and of the submissions made, and would like to thank all of you for your efforts and for your deep commitment to the role Ireland can play in the fight to end poverty and hunger. 

This process has been hugely important to us, both in terms of ensuring we capture the views of individuals and organisations who are engaged with international development, but also in terms of ensuring our new policy direction is fully responsive to the changing environments in which we implement our programmes.   

I would like, at this juncture, to echo the thanks extended by the Tánaiste to Nora Owen and to the members of the Expert Advisory Group.

Their contribution both to the Review of the White Paper and the development of the new policy has been immense. It has given assurance to all of us that the process has been independently, transparently and efficiently undertaken and that important issues raised in the consultations are reflected in the new policy.

For this, and for their continuing role in providing independent advice to the Tánaiste and myself on the direction of the development aid programme, I offer heartfelt thanks, to-day.

The new policy presents a clear direction for Ireland’s contribution to International Development in the years ahead. In it, we are setting out our three new goals: (1) reduced hunger and stronger resilience; (2) sustainable development, inclusive economic growth; and (3) better governance, human rights and accountability.

In striving to achieve these goals across Government, we will not only tackle the effects of poverty, hunger and insecurity. But we will work to address its root causes, so that people can lift themselves out of poverty.

Our values – sustainability, effectiveness and results, equality, human rights, accountability, partnership and coherence – will underpin and be at the heart of all that we do.

To achieve our Goals, we have identified six priority areas for action:

  • We will capitalise on our leading role in addressing the outrage of global hunger, building on the Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice Conference we held in Dublin the week before last.
  • We will focus more on states that are fragile and recovering from conflict and disaster, where our humanitarian support and long term assistance is needed most. Working is such environments is challenging and difficult and indeed risky. But it’s what we do best. And it makes a real difference.
  • We will strive to achieve a balance between the economic, social and environmental aspects of development, in the full knowledge of the continuing peril of climate change – and the urgency with which we need to address it.
  • We will support employment, trade and investment, and the generation by the countries in which we work of their own revenues to finance their own development. Economic development must be sustainable, it must bring about better equality, and it must be inclusive so that no one is left behind.
  • We will continue to improve access to health, education, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, social protection and other essential services – the foundations for all development.
  • We will, in all that we do, promote better governance, human rights and accountability, and, in particular, ensure a commitment to gender equality remains at the heart of our efforts.

Most important of all, we will work even harder on the inter-connections between all these priority areas for action. Because we have learned that solutions are not always simple, that efforts cannot be made in isolation.

In my own visits to countries benefiting from Irish support I have seen the importance of linking in with local knowledge, learning of  learning from local solutions, working with local leadership, and strengthening local ownership.

This is the essence of working in partnerships that work for poor people and that will characterise our approach, in implementing this new policy.

The 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid was launched at a time when Ireland was enjoying very strong year on year economic growth. Though this new policy has been formulated in very difficult circumstances in Ireland, and across Europe, in 2013, it still reflects a huge commitment by the  Government to ensure overseas development assistance remains an important policy priority, and that this is reflected in annual budgetary allocations.

Our spending on overseas aid must be fully transparent, providing maximum value for money and delivering positive results in the lives of those who it is targeting.

Accountability will be central to this, and we have set out clearly in this policy who we are accountable to, and how.

I will be encouraging an even greater partnership and oversight by the Oireachtas in all that we do – and, in this context, I am glad to see the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, and some of its members, here with us today.

We are committed in this policy to achieving real and tangible results. With three clear goals, and six clear priorities, we will, before the end of the year, set out a clear framework which will show the results that we will seek to achieve, and for which we will be held accountable.

In order that we can maximise our impact, we will be using this new policy to focus on where we can make the most difference, and we will be rationalising our efforts in that regard.

This will mean making hard decisions, but they will be made. We will be reviewing the support we provide to all of our partners – to multilateral organisations, to NGOs, to partner Governments, to ensure that it is fully aligned with our goals. (Where it is not, we will discontinue our support).

In order that we can effectively deliver the results we are planning for, and to deepen an engagement with the objectives of the Irish Aid programme across Irish society – we are committing to strengthening our links with Irish people and institutions committed to international cooperation, in the years ahead.

As I look around the room today I see the deep well of development experience and capacity that we have here in Ireland. This new policy sets out to affirm that, to strengthen it and to harness it.

The policy, for example, commits to a new Volunteering Initiative, which will be formally launched in coming weeks. This will modernise the way we support overseas volunteering, it will facilitate the fruitful transfer of professional experience, it will tap into the skills that we have which can be shared to a good development end elsewhere.

We are committing, in particular, to strengthen our efforts across Government, to ensure our collective efforts can contribute to our agreed goals and to enhance collaboration in areas such as agriculture and research.  This new policy will guide all our efforts, across Government, and I will lead the work of strengthening the role of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Development Cooperation, which I chair.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am excited by the new policy and the opportunity it holds for us to build on the excellent work that we have been undertaking.

  • It reaffirms our leading role on hunger.
  • It re-focuses on those who are most fragile.
  • It puts climate change where it needs to be. At the centre.
  • It reaches beyond aid and paves the way for more rounded, two-way partnerships, and the trade and economic ties that our Africa Strategy sets out to achieve.
  • It reaffirms the centrality of education, of health, or care for and prevention of HIV.
  • And, it recognises the ultimate importance of human rights in all that we do. In all that we support. The centrality of gender equality, without which progress cannot be achieved. The need to address disability, where we will be redoubling our efforts also.

We have already being bringing this approach to the intense work we have led at EU level during our Presidency, which continues until the end of June.  We have helped strengthen the Union’s dialogue with Africa, including through the resumption of the political dialogue with the South African Development Community, which I led in Mozambique in March.

We have also, through the Informal Development Ministers meeting in Dublin in February, through the Hunger Nutrition and Climate Justice conference in Dublin two weeks ago and in preparation for the Development Ministers Council on 28 May, taken a strong lead in build the EU’s approach to the negotiation of the post-2015 framework for global development. 

We are working to bring together, in a unified approach, the EU’s policy on international development and on environmental sustainability.  And we are working to ensure a stronger, more effective recognition of the need to strengthen the fight to end extreme hunger and under-nutrition.  We are ensuring that voices of our partners in the developing world – Governments, civil society and communities – are brought to bear on the international debate.

We will maintain our approach after our EU Presidency.  And we will do so, guided by the philosophy, principles and actions set out in our new Policy, One World, One Future.  Today is the beginning of a fresh chapter for Ireland in our strong role in international development. It is one we enter into with the confidence that there is a strong commitment in Ireland, at all levels, to working in partnership with our fellow global citizens in the developing world, and to making a real, tangible and measurable difference in the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable families and communities.

 

Thank You.