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Statement On Ending 0.7 Commitment On Overseas Aid

Population Matters Director Robin Maynard, while commenting on ending 0.7 commitment on overseas aid, says:

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Ending The 0.7 Commitment On Overseas Aid

“Overseas aid is not just an act of charity or humanitarianism, but an investment in safe and secure futures for everyone. The UK’s recent proud record in particular on women’s empowerment, girls’ education and family planning has improved the lives of millions of individuals and countless communities. In tandem with freeing people from the shackles of poverty, it is also doing more than this. Empowered women able to control their own fertility and exercise economic independence usually choose smaller families. That choice relieves pressure on vital but vulnerable public services and budgets in the poorest places, and also on local natural resources, biodiversity and the environment (1).

“There has been a consistent unwillingness in the development community to say what we all know to be true – relieving population pressure is a critical benefit of aid. We must never forget or obscure the horrific history of coercive population control and some ugly motivations in the colonial past but it is time to move past the fear of the p-word and openly acknowledge that rapid population growth in poor countries harms people and the environment, while positive, ethical voluntary measures which help to reduce it improve people’s lives and protect the natural world. At Population Matters, we know through the grassroots projects and people we collaborate with, that in the Global South, very many governments, NGOs, community activists and individuals know this very clearly and aren’t frightened to say it (2,3). Neither should we be.

The Need For Modern Family Planning

“However, more women have an unmet need for modern family planning today than ever before – and due to population growth, that number is expected to rise (4). For the same reason, in sub-Saharan Africa, more girls are out of school now than there were (5), while the UNFPA estimates that the number of girls facing female genital mutilation will increase because population growth means the absolute number of girls at risk is going up (6). Meanwhile, the international Project Drawdown research project found that improving family planning and girls' education would – because of its effect on population pressure – save 85 gigatonnes of CO2e by 2050, making it the second most effective action we can take to cut global emissions out of more than 80 the project evaluated (7).

“Some of the world’s most vulnerable people will suffer very greatly very soon as a result of this decision. By relieving global population pressure through empowering people, aid helps protect everyone’s future. If this fact was celebrated rather than treated as a shameful secret, perhaps overseas aid would not be so vulnerable to short term thinking, false economy and political manoeuvres.”

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