Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:02 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:02 | SYDNEY

Email of the day: 0.7 the right aid target


Fergus Hanson


6 March 2008 12:56

Ben Thurley, National Advocacy Coordinator for TEAR Australia and co-convenor of the make poverty history campaign writes in with this reaction to guest blogger Gaurav Sodhi's post:

Aid campaigners do not promote aid spending of 0.7% GNI on a whim, or as a random figure plucked from the air, but because it is the long-standing international target appropriate for developed countries to contribute to international development needs.

Morally, giving a small fraction of our wealth to support development and reduce poverty is the right thing to do. In a world where over 30,000 children die each day from preventable causes, where every 30 seconds a poor woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth, an aid commitment of 70 cents for every $100 of national income doesn't seem like a big ask. (Though Australia currently falls well short at around 33 cents in every $100). Practically, too, it is the right thing to do, as well-utilised aid is demonstrably effective in reducing poverty and contributing to stability and growth.

Australia has repeatedly endorsed international commitments to reach or make progress towards the 0.7% target. When the target was first adopted, on 26 October 1970, member states of the United Nations (including Australia) agreed that the 0.7% target was the appropriate level of additional financing to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction efforts in impoverished nations. Since that time, the target has been repeatedly reaffirmed, internationally and domestically. Even the former Foreign Minister said in Parliament in August 2005 that, Australia supports the UN target of 0.7 per cent.

In signing on to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the Australia Government committed to 'spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the conditions of abject and extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected.'

The best analysis of the monetary cost of meeting these goals, developed by the UN Millennium Taskforce, led by Columbia University's Professor Jeffrey Sachs, highlights that donor commitments of 0.7% would be enough to achieve the MDGs and meet other global challenges in sustainable development.

Of course more than money is required. Which is why the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign in Australia has a 5 point campaign platform, calling for: an increase in quality aid, debt cancellation where the debt burden is an impediment to development and poverty reduction, international trade rules that are fairer and more free, improvements in governance and support for community-led anti-corruption efforts, and sustained effort to tackle climate change.

For it's part, aid works. Coordinated vaccination and immunisation efforts by donors and governments led to the number of child deaths from measles in Southern Africa falling from 60,000 in 1996 to just 117 in 2000. The Thai Government's '100% condom' campaign, supported by the World Health Organisation and other donors, led to that country seeing 80% fewer new HIV cases in 2001 than in 1991, with around 200,000 new cases being prevented over that time.

Targeted in the right way and delivered through the right mechanisms, Australia can and should increase its aid budget to 0.7% of Gross National Income, confident that it would be effective in helping lift people out of poverty, and contributing to a more just and sustainable world.