In March 2016, the UK House of Commons International Development Committee (IDC) published a report evaluating the UK’s new aid strategy, which was released on 24 November 2015.
The IDC report commends the strategy’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international development, as well as its focus on fragile states and regions and its intention to increase UK aid spending by other government departments.
Population Matters agrees with these points, but criticises the report for making the same mistake as the new aid strategy: failing to recognise the threat of unsustainable population growth to development goals.
The United Nations (UN) predicts that there will be one billion more people on the planet by 2030, and four billion more by the end of the century. This unsustainable population growth strains resources, hinders poverty-reduction efforts, is a major contributor to environmental degradation and will make the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the UN earlier in 2015, much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
This is why the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health recommends that the government spend 10 per cent of the aid budget on family planning and sexual and reproductive health services.
Currently, the government’s spending on family planning is far from this 10 per cent target. The new aid strategy pledges 50 per cent of UK aid to fragile states and regions, but fails to allocate any resources specifically to family planning. This pledge ignores the reality that fragility, conflict and political instability, as well as almost every other development issue, are intimately linked to population dynamics.
Simon Ross, Chief Executive of Population Matters, said:
“By spending 10 per cent of UK aid on family planning the government could, among other things, help reduce carbon emissions, boost women’s empowerment and economic growth and ensure that the entire SDG framework is made achievable.”