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The International Development Strategy: what you need to know

A family flees the volcanic eruption in Goma and heads to Sake village. Photo: Esdras Tsongo/Concern Worldwide
A family flees the volcanic eruption in Goma and heads to Sake village. Photo: Esdras Tsongo/Concern Worldwide
News14 April 2022

The UK will outline its International Development Strategy soon: here’s what you need to know.

The upcoming International Development Strategy (IDS) will outline the UK government’s approach to international development over the next decade. What does this mean for UK Aid, humanitarian support and reducing poverty?

What is the International Development Strategy?

The UK government will soon outline its International Development Strategy (IDS) which will summarise its approach to international development over the next decade and will build on, and address, the strategic priorities detailed in the government’s Integrated Review published in 2021.

The Integrated Review is the largest review of the UK’s foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War. The Review explores specific aspects of existing domestic and foreign policy, establishing the government's vision for the UK as a key driver in ‘collective security, tackling climate change and poverty reduction.’

The IDS highlights the commitment of the UK government to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. In the IDS are the seven key priorities of the UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) from 2021 to 2022, namely:

  • climate and biodiversity
  • global health security
  • open societies and conflict resolution
  • girls’ education
  • humanitarian preparedness and response
  • science and technology
  • trade and economic development

Why is the International Development Strategy important?

The strategy is important as a coherent and target driven commitment from the government is essential in ensuring the UK can provide a robust response to humanitarian crises. The IDS also outlines the funding commitments of the UK government, providing a framework for the government’s areas of focus in addressing extreme poverty and some of the most serious challenges facing the global community.

What we want to see in the IDS

Based on reports and recent speeches by the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the government is exploring a ‘radical review’ of the International Development Strategy that would prioritise creating opportunities for women and girls over global health and climate change.

While a commitment to women and girls is always welcome, broader cuts to UK Aid have a direct impact on the most marginalised women, with cuts to specific gender interventions, including Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) negatively impacting gender equality as a whole.

Deprioritising issues like global health, climate change and conflict prevention will cost lives. People living in the poorest communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and a diversion of funds away from tackling these issues is short-sighted. Redistributing funding from one crisis to allocate to another, does not save more lives nor does it help to alleviate more people from poverty. Moreover, it does not help women and girls in the long term.

What the UK government needs to do

In an open letter to the Foreign Secretary, the heads of hundreds of leading aid charities warned the government against cutting foreign aid.

We want to see the government reaffirm its commitment to the seven priorities of the ODA and veer away from gutting vital UK Aid programmes.

As we heal from the pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the pressing overarching issues facing the global community. We hope the UK government recognises the importance of the UK’s place as a leader in providing solutions that help people facing extreme poverty and hunger, and refocuses the IDS towards addressing climate change, global health and conflict.

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