The UK published its white paper on international development on Monday 20 November, setting out the government’s approach to development until 2030.
There is much to applaud. Sightsavers welcomes the clear focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ending extreme poverty. We think it is extremely positive that a specific section on people with disabilities has been included, with a clear commitment to implementing the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy. However, it will be critical that this commitment to disability is consistently integrated through all the commitments set out in the white paper, and indeed all aid programmes.
There is a clear focus on strengthening health and education systems, which we support. We hope that the clear focus on health, including mentions of the importance of tackling infectious diseases, means that the UK will re-engage in the elimination of neglected tropical diseases.
The focus on financing in the white paper is positive and we welcome the prioritisation of official development assistance to the lowest income countries and communities. It is critical that the focus on reforming development financing focuses on the those who are most marginalised and excluded, if it is to achieve the commitments set out in the SDGs.
The white paper is an ambitious and comprehensive document which, if fully implemented, gives the UK an opportunity to reaffirm its role as a progressive and leading development actor that places poverty reduction and human rights at its core. We look forward to working with the UK government to ensure that the commitments made in the white paper are delivered.