Written evidence submitted by the Department for International Development


  1. This year, 2015, offers a unique opportunity to reset the global vision for development for the next fifteen years. Through five major moments the international community is in the process of re-setting the international agenda for poverty, finance for sustainable development, climate change, trade and humanitarian support. In July the international community agreed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), a bold and forward-looking agreement on Financing for Development (FFD). In August, UN Member States agreed the post-2015 Outcome Document: ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and this will be formally adopted at the Summit in New York in September. In December, countries will convene twice more, once in Paris to agree a binding international treaty to tackle the dangers of climate change, and once in Nairobi for the tenth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation. Next year, the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul will provide a major opportunity to improve significantly the lives and dignity of poor people affected by man-made and natural disasters.


  1. The post-2015 Outcome Document is a historic agreement by all 193 United Nations Member States that will mark a new era in international development. The Outcome Document is a significant success for the UK, reflecting key policy priorities such as poverty eradication and leaving no one behind, girls and women, economic development, climate change and environmental sustainability, and the key issues of peace, good governance, and the rule of law. 


  1. The Outcome Document contains four sections – a Declaration, the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets (17 goals and 169 targets), Means of Implementation, and Follow-Up and Review. The Document begins with preamble that succinctly communicates the agenda around five key areas of critical importance: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership and the pledge to “Leave no one behind.”


  1. The UK has been a leader throughout discussions and negotiations on the post-2015 agenda. From 2012/3 when the Prime Minister co-chaired the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda, the UK has worked collaboratively and intensively with all partners to achieve an ambitious agenda that eradicates extreme poverty and puts the world on a path to sustainable development by 2030.


  1. It has taken over three years to arrive at this agreement through a complex negotiation process. It has also taken considerable effort on the part of the UN and the Secretary General to achieve a deal. Key moments and inputs have included the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development in June 2012, the May 2013 report of the UN High Level Panel co-chaired by the Prime Minister (along with the Presidents of Indonesia and Liberia), the July 2014 proposals from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, and the  UN Secretary-General’s December 2014 Synthesis Report. Throughout this process there has also been a high level of engagement with and the participation of non-state actors, including civil society. Additionally, the UN launched a global survey called “My World”, which asked citizens around the world to vote on-line for the top six issues that mattered most to them. Over seven million people have cast votes.   


  1. DFID, as the lead Department on negotiations, has led a cross-government coordination process that has included inter-ministerial discussions, four cross-Whitehall write-rounds through the European Affairs Committee, and frequent cross-Whitehall Directors’ meetings to agree the UK’s negotiating position and approach. This has been a whole of government effort.


  1. The period since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed has seen significant improvements in living standards: extreme poverty has been cut by more than half, fewer people are dying of hunger and more children are going to school than ever before. The UK has played a substantial role in delivering these achievements. Over the past four years, the UK has helped 11 million children go to school, immunized over 40 million children against killer diseases and helped 69 million people get the financial services they need to work their way out of poverty.


  1. Nevertheless, there remain significant challenges. There are still over 800 million people living in extreme poverty, many of whom are girls and women. Additionally progress has been uneven across the goals, for example Goal 7: ‘Ensure environmental sustainability’ has not galvanized the same action as the rest of the agenda. Additionally, progress has also been uneven between and within countries and poverty remains stubbornly high in many fragile and conflict affected states and for many of the most vulnerable groups.


  1. The MDGs also omitted issues that are important for sustainable development and poverty eradication. These include peace, good governance, economic growth and the rule of law as well as having a limited focus on environmental challenges including climate change.


  1. DFID’s assessment is that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included in the Transforming Our World Outcome Document are different from the MDGs in the following principal ways:
    1. Universality:  It was agreed at Rio+20 that the new Sustainable Development Goals should be “universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities”. This means that, unlike the MDGs, the SDGs are expected to be implemented by all countries and be relevant to everybody.
    2. They are broader and more comprehensive than the MDGs: It is widely acknowledged that the SDGs bring together two agendas: poverty eradication and environmental sustainability in a way that the MDGs did not. The SDGs also include a range of issues that the MDGs did not cover including, building resilience, economic development and job creation, peace, security, good governance and the rule of law, and gender issues such as eliminating violence against women, early, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
    3. They will require a ‘Beyond Aid’ response: Implementation of the SDGs requires a comprehensive approach which draws on multiple sources of development finance, not only ODA. This comprehensive approach has been characterised in the post-2015 process as a revitalised “Global Partnership” involving all actors. It will be necessary to mobilise all sources of financing including domestic revenue mobilisation and private sector investment. Agreement on the AAAA in July underpins this broader approach, building on the Monterrey Consensus of 2002, The Outcome Document states that “We recognize that the full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is critical for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets”. It also states that the AAAA is “an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
    4. They seek toleave no one behind’: The Outcome Document states that “we pledge that no one will be left behind. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. And we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.”  The principle of ‘leave no one behind’ is reinforced by a number of ‘zero targets’ that seek to, for example, eradicate extreme poverty and eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.




  1. The post-2015 Summit, where the SDGs are to be adopted, will be an important moment in presenting and popularising the post-2015 agenda to a global audience. This will be the first step toward global implementation. 


  1. Primary responsibility for implementation of the agenda rests at the domestic level with national governments. The Outcome Document is clear on the principle of national ownership, and that countries will have the policy space to determine how to implement the goals and targets. It is likely that some countries will graduate from least developed country status over the next 15 years, influencing where donors such as the UK spend ODA, and SDG implementation should be consistent with and support that process. 


  1. The Outcome Document underpins an approach whereby each country determines the approach to domestic implementation of the SDGs in a way that fits its own national circumstances and stage of development. This may, for example and where appropriate, include national development and sustainable development plans and strategies guided by the Sustainable Development Goals


  1. A comprehensive international response to the SDGs will be required to support country implementation of the agenda. The Outcome Document, alongside the AAAA, underpins the importance of a revitalised Global Partnership comprising all development actors including donors, multilateral organisations, and civil society organisations. International and multilateral institutions, alongside donors, will need to each consider how they are best placed to support the post-2015 Agenda. 


  1. Reflecting the breadth and complexity of the new agenda, the voluntary and autonomous nature of country action, and the flexibility implied by the global partnership approach, it is likely that innovative coalitions will emerge to support specific aspects of the agenda. The Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative, the signatories to the Girl Summit Charter, the Open Government Partnership, and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation are all models for cooperation and partnership that may become more common in the future.




  1. DFID’s core mission is the sustained eradication of poverty and DFID’s vision and activities have evolved such that they are already closely aligned with the post-2015 agenda. The world has changed since the MDGs were agreed in 2000 and will continue to rapidly change over the life cycle of the SDGs. Poverty is increasingly concentrated in fragile and conflict affected states with extreme poverty concentrated in marginal population groups with specific barriers to their inclusion, such as the disabled and elderly.


  1. The external environment for poverty eradication is one where new economic powers are shaping the global landscape, from investment opportunities and growth to rising global demand for resources and the increasing risks presented by climate change. The rapid increase in intra-state conflicts, rise in violent extremism and increased spread of organized crime all pose considerable challenges.


  1. The SDGs reflect this complex and broad development agenda, integrating the challenge of finishing the job on the MDGs with the key issues of gender equality, economic growth, climate change, resilience, sustainability and peaceful and inclusive societies. The Means of Implementation and AAAA underpin the Beyond Aid approach required to meet this challenge, building on ODA to include issues such as domestic taxation, mobilising the private sector and tackling illicit finance flows.


  1. The SDGs will therefore be the starting point for all DFID’s work in the coming years, with the UK achievement of spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA being the foundation of the UK contribution. There will be a clear line of sight between the SDGs and the Department’s Single Departmental Plan (SDP), which will set out the key areas of emphasis for DFID over the next five years. The  Strategic Objectives in the SDP are:
    1. Strengthen the international system and lead the UK’s contribution to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including on climate change.
    2. Improve access to basic services for the world’s poorest people – health, education, water and sanitation, and nutrition.
    3. Drive sustainable and inclusive economic development and prosperity in poor countries to enable a permanent route out of poverty.
    4. Help build resilience to crises and respond effectively when they occur.
    5. Support the Golden Thread of peace and security, drive out corruption, and support open societies and transparent and accountable institutions.
    6. Increase voice, choice and control for girls and women in poor countries


  1. These Strategic Objectives reflect the SDGs and will enable DFID to deliver on commitments, including those set out in the Conservative Manifesto, such as saving 1.4 million children’s lives through immunisation, helping 11 million children gain an education, improving nutrition for at least 50 million people, and helping at least 60 million people gain access to clean water and sanitation.


  1. Specific choices around resource allocation are currently being determined through work being undertaken within DFID and across Government including the Spending Review. This will determine the future direction of how the UK uses its 0.7% aid commitment most effectively, ensuring spending on areas of clear UK comparative advantage, and achieving the greatest value for money.


  1. DFID’s spending portfolio will continue to evolve over the coming years as the Department responds to the new goals. Over the next five years a likely key change will be the mainstreaming of climate and sustainability and work on girls and women, across the portfolio. DFID will continue to report through its published Annual Report on delivery of the Department’s objectives. This will include how the Department is contributing to international implementation of the SDGs.


  1. The UK will encourage and support other countries and actors to successfully implement the agenda, including through DFID’s partnerships with developing countries, DFID’s role as a shareholder in the multilateral development banks, and as a key actor and partner in the broader global partnership. DFID will help build data capacity to monitor progress toward the SDGs. DFID will work closely with other countries to consider how they should best report on their implementation of the SDGs, including the potential for countries to put themselves forward for voluntary review at the High Level Political Forum.


  1. DFID will also encourage other actors, including institutions, multilateral bodies, business and civil society, to develop their own approach to the SDGs, including prioritising where appropriate on the basis of relative comparative advantage.


  1. DFID will continue to work to strengthen programme delivery in order to support delivering of the new goals. This can be achieved through identifying potential new suppliers and applying greater emphasis to the commercial and management aspects of business cases. DFID will expand the use of early market engagement initiatives to test project assumptions and ensure the selection of appropriate delivery partners, building environments where new suppliers/partners are encouraged and equipped to bid for and win DFID business for delivery of complex programmes, often under challenging circumstances. 


  1. Just as the UK approach to negotiations has involved many government departments, so will the international implementation of the agenda. DFID will work to deliver a coherent cross-Whitehall approach to international implementation, including both development policy and spending ODA.  Whilst UK aid will continue to be untied, DFID will also work closely with British institutions outside government to build a “Best of British” approach to how DFID does development.


  1. There are already many examples of highly effective cross-government working, most notably in relation to the provision of global public goods such as peace and security or global health, and the management of global ‘bads’ such as illicit financial flows and communicable diseases. Two specific examples, reflected in the AAAA, are:


    1. Cross-government work on tackling corruption and illicit financial flows:

The UK recognizes the damaging consequences of illicit financial flows for sustainable development. Tackling the problem requires a solid understanding of the sources of `leakage,’ and an approach that seeks to address weaknesses both in the originating country (e.g. through strengthening of public financial management processes) and the countries of destination of these funds (often developed financial centres such as the UK). The first UK Anti-Corruption Action Plan, published by the Home Office in December 2014, contains a wide spectrum of initiatives to address the UK’s international corruption `footprint’, including through focusing greater attention to UK `professional enablers’ such as lawyers, accountants and estate agents who facilitate the corrupt to launder their illicit funds in the UK. DFID’s own contribution to strengthening UK defences against illicit financial flows has been to fund, since 2006, UK based Police and Intelligence units to investigate the laundering by foreign politicians and officials through the UK. More than 150 cases have been investigated by these units and over £180m has been restrained, recovered or returned through their work. 27 individuals and one company have also been successfully prosecuted.

    1. Beneficial Ownership:


To complement the UK’s work on anti-corruption and tax, DFID is actively involved in wider government efforts to improve company transparency. Work on `beneficial ownership’ transparency was initiated through the UK’s G8 presidency in 2013, and progressed in the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group. The UK committed both legally to require UK companies to obtain and hold beneficial ownership information and to create a central register of beneficial owners of UK companies at Companies House.  Implementation is led by BIS with HMT, Cabinet Office, HMRC, Home Office, DFID, and law enforcement agencies.


    1. Girl Summit:


On Tuesday 22 July 2014, the UK Government and UNICEF co-hosted the Girl Summit. The aim was to help rally a global movement to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) for all girls everywhere within a generation. DFID worked closely across government, in particular with the Home Office, to ensure a coordinated domestic and international response to the issue. In particular the government made a number of commitments to tackle forced marriage and FGM in the UK including improving the police response, increasing support available and strengthening community-led prevention. This includes £80,000 to establish networks of community champions to speak out against both CEFM and FGM, sustain community engagement and shift attitudes and behaviours to make sure girls are really empowered to make their own choices about the major decisions that affect their lives. Additionally, the government is strengthening law enforcement, has introduced mandatory reporting of FGM through the Serious Crime Act and set up a dedicated FGM Unit to deliver outreach support to local areas.



  1. Along with all countries, the UK will implement and comply with the SDGs domestically. HMG will have a coordinated approach, including through assignment of lead Departments for the implementation of each target, plus identification of other interested Departments. In July the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster wrote to all relevant Departments asking how they would approach implementation of the goals. The responses are currently being considered.


  1. Full implementation, and reporting of progress against targets, will not be fully feasible until a final set of global indicators have been proposed by the UN Statistical Commission (expected in March 2016) and subsequently approved by the General Assembly. The UK has a number of relevant surveys and data sets to track progress, but full mapping of these by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), and consideration of gaps, will be completed once global indicators have been finalised in 2016.



  1. There will be a strong follow-up and review mechanism: The Outcome Document includes a section on “follow up and review” which begins “a robust, effective, inclusive and transparent follow-up and review framework, operating at the national, regional and global levels, will promote effective implementation of the Agenda and accountability to our citizens.”


  1. The Outcome Document includes a set of principles and elements for a “robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated follow-up and review framework” to support the implementation of the agenda. This framework will be anchored in the UN and, at the global level, will give a central oversight role to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The architecture for follow-up and review will be developed in more detail in the coming months by the UN Secretary-General in consultation with member states.


  1. Countries will be expected to report against a globally agreed set of indicators which is currently being developed through a technical track at the UN. It is hoped that they will be the basis for tracking overall implementation and comparing performance across different country contexts.  There may also be additional, complementary, national indicators developed where appropriate.


  1. Accurate, reliable, and sufficiently disaggregated data will be essential for tracking progress against all goals and targets. Investment in national statistical systems, and the active involvement of citizens, will be important. The Outcome Document commits to support strengthening of developing country capacity of national statistical offices and data systems to ensure access to high-quality, timely, reliable, and disaggregated data. A shift in data availability and coverage of the nature required has been described during the negotiation process as a “data revolution”.