Like you I am incredibly grateful for the incredibly important work CAFOD do to help the most vulnerable abroad. When the Liberal Democrats were in Coalition Government, we worked closely with CAFOD to deliver some of the UK’s aid programmes abroad.
The Liberal Democrats have always made our unequivocal support for Britain’s role as a world leader in providing aid and assistance to those in most need around the world absolutely clear.
Because of this, I was delighted that it was the Liberal Democrats who in 2015 legislated to introduce the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act, which enshrined in law the UK’s commitment to meet the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid every year.
However, over the last year, it has been increasingly worrying to see this commitment come under unfair scrutiny. Both the Conservative Party and many sections of the media have attacked this vital commitment for political purposes, rather than provide a fair and measured assessment of the incredibly important work that DFID do.
My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will continue to advocate and defend at all times both the 0.7% target and also the fundamental work of DFID around the world in delivering basic necessities such as food, water, shelter and medical assistance that provide such lifesaving support. Helping those in most need not only changes lives, but ensures that we build a stronger, safer and more sustainable world for us all. By maintaining the UK’s commitment to 0.7%, it will allow us to throw the necessary resources behind global fights such as the aim of ending FGM within a generation, which the Liberal Democrats led on in Government.
We are strong and passionate supporters of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. The principle that underpins the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘leave no-one behind’, which is consistent with our values as a party and also our international development priorities, such as protecting and empowering the most vulnerable in society – women, children, minorities and disabled people. Liberal Democrats want the SDGs to apply to all economies, big and small, to build upon the success of the MDGs. It will only be through cross-border cooperation that we can approach issues such as ending FGM within a generation.
With regards specifically to climate change, the Liberal Democrats remain committed to protecting our environment and fighting climate change. During the Coalition, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey was instrumental in securing an ambitious EU-wide climate change deal in 2015. We continue to push for greener energy and more sustainable investments to ensure the future of both Britain and the world. We also remain committed to international efforts to tackle the global challenge of climate change.
Regarding ensuring that Britain remains open and tolerant in the future, the Liberal Democrat manifesto has an ambitious plan to take 50,000 Syrian refugees over five years, as well as reopening the Dubs programme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children stranded in Europe, and working with international partners to create safe and legal routes. Theresa May has willfully chosen to tear up her promises to help some of the most vulnerable children and people in the world. The Liberal Democrats are instead proud to be a party that welcomes refugees and accepts its responsibilities.