What’s in store for 2012….?

So, there have been a flurry of interesting reviews of the big international development stories for 2011.  Some of my favourites have included a video diary from IDS  and the ever-eloquent Duncan Green.

Authors have picked up on a number of important themes, including:

  • the emergence of the BRICS as true global powers at conference like the G20 (where Europe had to go cap-in-hand to China), the Busan aid conference and the UN climate talks.

    President Sarkozy greets President Hu Jintao at the G20 (picture by AP)

  •  a shift in focus from inequality between countries to inequality between people (following on from the New Bottom Billion  report launched by Andy Sumner at the end of 2010).
  • analysis of the Arab Spring and what this does (or doesn’t) tell us about the role of social media, leaderless social movements, the future role of women in this region, and a whole host of other things.
  • the various DFID reviews, and their focus on results and value-for-money, for good and for bad.

Rather than write a pale imitation of these,  I have focused on some of the things Tearfund’s policy team are looking forward to in 2012.  In no particular order…..

EU legislation on transparency in the extractives industries

In 2008, exports of oil and minerals from Africa were $393 billion, nearly 9 times the value of international aid ($44

Oil tanks in Ghana (from EU development website)

billion) to the continent. This is why it’s so important that there’s more transparency about how this money is spent. Legislation to amend the Transparency and Accounting Directives has been proposed by the EC, following in the footsteps of the US Dodd-Frank Act 2010 which requires country-level and project-level financial disclosure from all registered companies. We’re really excited that this legislation could become a reality next year as our research has shown that there’s a real appetite for this kind of information amongst local academics, NGOs and communities. So we will be campaigning with churches and partners to get the EU to Unearth the Truth.

UK 0.7% legislation

Draft legislation was drawn up under the last government to enshrine the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid in law.  The Coalition promised to see this through after the election and the legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament early next year.  About time! We’re just hoping that the backlash from certain elements of the press isn’t too strong.

Rio +20

View of Rio

20 years after the original Earth Summit, world leaders will be gathering in Rio again in June to discuss vital issues of how we build a green economy and manage to reduce poverty without sacrificing the environment.  It’s great that there’s a chance to talk about these crucial issues, but so far the chance of agreeing anything concrete looks pretty slim.  We’re hoping that the conference will be a spring board into more dialogue and a hook to talk about some of the themes we explored in our Wholly Living report.  We’re also very excited by the work that A Rocha  and our other brilliant Brazilian partners are doing to mobilise their fellow Brazilians and to get the church to speak out on the urgent need for politicians to grapple with these issues ahead of the conference.

High-level meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All initiative

Maybe not top of the global political agenda – but we think it should be!  It’s a scandal that 2.6 billion people still don’t have access to basic sanitation and almost a billion don’t have clean water.  As part of our Make Life Flow campaign we called on world leaders to agree a new global framework of action to ensure that progress on these important MDG targets accelerated massively.  The Sanitation and Water for All initiative  was duly set up, with former Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor recently announced as their president, and they hold their 2nd High Level meeting in April 2012.  We’re hoping that this will bring donor and recipient governments together (including Finance Ministers, whose involvement is vital) to come up with some sensible and well-funded plans for addressing this crisis.

So, that’s my top 4, but I haven’t even mentioned continued campaigning on new sources of finance for development and climate, like the Robin Hood Tax, or  proposed revenue from aviation and shipping.  Or the interesting debates that are unfolding on how best to spend money allocated for climate change adaptation  and on what should come after the MDGs. The list goes on….

Here’s hoping for a more just and environmentally sustainable 2012.

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