Wednesday 16 October 2019
My update today will be brief. Just before the summer recess, we debated the Commission's policy letter on the next ten years of Overseas Aid & Development. Members endorsed a model for the future that will see the introduction of a longer-term, large grants program alongside the core business of our yearly small grants work - allowing us to work with communities to make sustainable changes that are the bedrock of social and economic growth in the poorest parts of the world.
We agreed to focus on unreported disasters as part of our emergency relief work - on localised crises and conflicts which devastate the communities they affect, but which don't hit the global headlines or inspire people to give generously - and we have already started to embed that approach. This Assembly recognised that Guernsey could play an important part in meeting the needs of those forgotten emergencies - "paying forward" the generosity which the world showed us in our own hour of need.
Because we covered the work of the Commission in depth just a couple of months ago, I won't repeat it now. I will just assure States Members that, following the States' approval, the Commission and its officers are working on implementing the new model of Overseas Aid from next year onwards. 2020 is also our 40th Anniversary year, so it is a great time to be looking to the future, and making sure that our approach to international development remains good for the world, and good for Guernsey.
On the subject of anniversaries, earlier this month, Rotary in Guernsey celebrated the 60th anniversary of Guernsey being polio free. The Commission is proud to have supported efforts by the Rotary clubs to help eradicate polio around the world - vital work that is still ongoing. Members of this Assembly are, rightly, quick to point out the extraordinary work that some members of our community put into overseas aid, and the Commission is always delighted when we can amplify that impact through match-funding and community partnerships.
Last month also marked the 25th anniversary of the Fairtrade mark. The guiding principles of Fairtrade are ethical employment and sustainable production - so, with a common interest in protecting our planet, it made sense for the local Fairtrade steering group to join forces with Guernsey's environmental groups to organise a beach clean at the end of September; and to make the Fairtrade logo with the bits and pieces they collected. If anyone wants to see it, there's a great video on Facebook. On that subject, I want to thank everyone here who has responded to the Commission's letter about Fairtrade within the States - there were some really constructive responses from Committees, which will help to put us in a good position as we approach our next reaccreditation as a Fairtrade Island.
Thanks are also due to the Comms team, who have taken on the formatting of our annual report, which is published this week, and which provides a great testament to the work that Guernsey does in communities around the world. You will also have seen the fantastic infographic, produced with the help of the Comms team, which shows how we have allocated our budget this year: from the planting of over half a million trees, to the distribution of more than a thousand mosquito nets, to the construction of more than 700 latrines and toilets, and more. We hope that simple communications initiatives like this will help to make our work ever more transparent, and to build local understanding of what Guernsey does in the wider world, and just how far every penny goes.
Finally, I want to mention that this is my last scheduled update as President of the Overseas Aid & Development Commission. I'm sure it won't be the last time I address this States on specific aspects of our work, but it would be wrong, at this point, not to say thank you for letting me do the work I so badly wanted to do; but also to mention that, as I'm not coming back next term, there will of course be a vacancy here. The Commission has always welcomed observers to our meetings. If any Member is thinking they might like this job next term, we are in the middle of a funding round now, and we are likely to have another in the spring as we start to implement our new model - as ever, Members would be welcome to sit in on those meetings to get a taste of how we work. Please just contact me or the Commission Secretary to make arrangements. And please do think about it. This Assembly has made such positive steps forward in our approach to international development, from the introduction of impact funding, to the new model of Overseas Aid, to the recognition of its role as one of the pillars of our Climate Change Action Plan; all of which help to establish our place in the world, as a small but not insignificant force for good. It's work worth doing, and I can't stress enough that our door is open to anyone who might want to do it, over the months ahead.