O'Connell on UK foreign aid cuts: 'Collaboration and continuing commitments never more needed'
Speaking from The Hague, following the increased threat of foreign aid cuts in the UK, SNV’s new CEO Simon O'Connell urged bilateral donors to maintain commitments and deepen collaboration in the area of international development assistance.
'The UK government’s planned cuts to the aid budget and breaking the commitment to spend 0.7 percent of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance is hugely unfortunate at the best of times. At a time of global pandemic, it’s a devastating setback for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable,' he said.
We are all interconnected
He added that with the pandemic demonstrating so clearly how interconnected we all are, and with fears that the pandemic will push over 100 million more people into extreme poverty (under 1.75EUR a day), there is more need than ever for the UK to maintain its leadership and aid commitments.
He also expressed the risk that the merger of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office into the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), along with Brexit, poses.
'I think there's danger that some of DFID's technical excellence gets lost or diluted in the merger, and that knowledge sharing and collaboration between the UK and continental European aid and development institutions decreases. There's also a real risk that there could be a diminished focus on fragile contexts and on poverty - and especially extreme poverty - alleviation, with greater emphasis being placed on national interests,' he articulated.
We must do more to address fragmentation
O'Connell added that DFID has been a strong leader amongst the donor community in deepening commitments to addressing the underlying causes of fragility, and to leaving no one behind. He looks forward to SNV continuing to strengthen relations with the FCDO in the months and years to come, and to foster partnerships and exchange between UK and European development institutions and aid organisations.
'At this time of great need, with extensive domestic challenges and economic pressures, we must do more to address the fragmentation of the international aid and development community. Strengthening our ties, building coalitions and finding new ways of working together that generate efficiencies and enable impact at greater scale, have never been more needed,' he said.
O'Connell started as SNV's CEO this month (December 2020). He looks forward to leading the organisation with humility, courage and transparency, whilst developing partnerships that help to generate positive impact at greater scale.
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