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We need clear policies
– by Ute Koczy
© Ute Koczy
My core message is: development policy is indispensable. Applied in the right way, it will promote solidarity and enable change in favour of the disadvantaged. More justice can only be achieved if we change the way we do business and live around the world. Peace, justice, freedom and global public goods should be available to everyone – and that is something, we can only achieve in international cooperation. In my view, development policy should drive a global transformation geared to social equity, environmental sustainability and human rights.
Around the world, 1.3 billion people still live in extreme poverty; the majority of them are women. More than two-thirds of the people concerned live in emerging markets such as Brazil, China or India. But the world is no longer divided into rich and poor nations – the gap between rich and poor exists in every country on the planet. In case of illness, unemployment or old age, four out of five people in developing countries lack any kind of social safety net. Moreover, 1.4 billion people suffer energy poverty. People in some fragile states are at risk of being left behind completely.
International development, however, is just one of many policy areas that affect our partner countries. European policies on trade, the economy and agriculture can wreak havoc in developing countries, causing violations of social and environmental standards. German arms exports undermine peace-building efforts and fan conflict. The current capitalist system’s dependency on fossil fuels is the worst climate killer of all.
On its own, development policy cannot bring about the social and environmental transformation we need. It can only contribute to achieving progress. For that purpose, it must be redesigned into a policy of cooperation that promotes worldwide social change, peace, and the sustainability of agriculture and energy provision.
Only a strong UN will allow us to rise to global challenges. Germany must raise its multilateral commitments and drop the arbitrary quota of channelling two-thirds of official development assistance (ODA) through bilateral agencies. The international debate on Sustainable Development Goals for the years beyond 2015 is of great relevance because the world agendas on development and the global environment must become one. Industrialised nations must do their part.
Keeping promises is essential. Our party’s campaign platform pledges to increase ODA by € 1.2 billion euros and to boost spending on climate protection by € 500 million annually until Germany meets the old promise of investing 0.7 % of GDP in ODA in 2017. Spending will increase on international social welfare, agriculture, energy supply and peace, which are core aspects of the global transformation humankind needs. To make such expenditure possible from of the German government budget, we want to cut unnecessary budget items, reduce subsidies that harm the environment, and increase taxes on high incomes and great wealth.
Sustainable development in tune with human rights can only be brought about by coherent policymaking. All government departments must serve this purpose, dismantling environmentally harmful taxation, promoting social justice and enforcing human rights. Achieving such policy cohesion is at once an urgent matter and a daunting challenge. Therefore, we want the Bundestag to establish an Enquete Commission on Coherence in a Changing World in the next legislative term.
German development policy has been severely damaged in the past four years, as priorities were set incompetently. Development policy must not add up to an ego trip of national self-interest. It should build bridges, serve cooperation and pave the way towards the environmental and social transformation of our policies, our economy and our way of life.
Ute Koczy is the Greens’ spokesperson on development in the current Bundestag. [email protected]