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Statement by the President, Overseas Aid & Development Commission

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Wednesday 15 December 2021

General Update

Sir

Members would have noted that the Commission's 2019 Annual Report appears as an Appendix to this meeting's Billet. A great deal has obviously changed in the world since 2019 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Indeed, this report was delayed as Commission officers were partially seconded to undertake work unrelated to the Commission, to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the Bailiwick. The 2020 Annual Report should be published in the first quarter of next year.

For the last 18 months or more the world's focus has been on COVID-19. Although all our lives have been affected, with some very sadly paying the ultimate price, the Pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on developing countries, often due to poor sanitation and access to healthcare. The United Nations say that the Pandemic has halted, or reversed, years of development progress. Global extreme poverty has risen for the first time since 1998. What the Pandemic has demonstrated more than ever is that we are all part of a global community and Guernsey cannot stand by in isolation.

I am therefore pleased to report that the Bailiwick has stepped up to help the worldwide fight against COVID-19. This year the Commission donated £85,000 from its Emergency Aid budget to UNICEF's Vaccinaid Campaign to deliver vaccines to the lower income countries of the world. This was equivalent to one vaccine dose for each member of the Bailiwick's population. In addition, the Commission, for the first time, launched its own public appeal and invited Islanders to also support Vaccinaid. The Bailiwick responded with its 'Guernsey Together' spirit and, to date, just under £40,000 has been raised. The Commission would like to publicly thank all those that have donated. The appeal is still open and there continues to be a massive need for vaccinations in the developing world. The World Health Organisation stated that at the end of September, only 4.4% of the population of Africa had been fully vaccinated. As recent developments have shown - no one is safe until everybody is safe.

Our other Emergency Aid Grants awarded this year include to Guernsey based Charity, Hope for a Child, to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Malawi. The Commission has also helped fund responses to the Rohingya Refugee Camp Fire in Bangladesh; the displacement of people In Ethiopia after civil unrest; essential medical services to reduce maternal and child mortality in Yemen; the Haiti Earthquake; Sudan food insecurity and floods; and Myanmar refugees in India fleeing the military coup. Some of these emergencies have made international headlines, whilst others have not been widely reported. The Commission is particularly proud to provide support to crises that are 'under the radar', but identified by charities with whom we have established relationships.

Sir, the Commission has also this year funded 48 Grant Aid Awards for sustainable projects of up to £50,000 each. In Sierra Leone, over 700 people will be fed and able to generate income on an ongoing basis, under a scheme which will grow climate-resistant crops. In South Sudan, 2,200 children a year will benefit from the construction of classrooms. In Bangladesh, 3,300 people will have access to clean water for the first time, with the installation of 14 Arsenic Removal Plants and hand pumps. The list goes on and on.

We have also made more Community Partnerships Awards than ever, to Guernsey based organisations raising funds for overseas aid initiatives in the developing world. This includes the World Aid Walk, Arpana Guernsey, Goal50, La Houguette Primary School, the Happy Childhood Charitable Trust, and the Rotary Club of Guernsey. In addition, we are continuing to co-fund overseas aid projects under the Framework Agreement for collaboration between the French Department of Ille et Vilaine and the Commission. This includes climate change related projects in West Africa.

We also are pleased to carry on our work with Fairtrade Guernsey to support the objectives of the Fairtrade Foundation. The Foundation was established to promote a fair pricing regime for small scale producers in third world countries and so protect them against exploitation from large global producers and traders.  We continue to develop initiatives in our shared Action Plan and have recently recruited volunteer Fairtrade Champions across the States of Guernsey.

Climate change and overseas aid go hand in hand. The Commission therefore very much welcomed the President of theEnvironment & Infrastructure Committee's comments on overseas aid following her recent visit to COP26. Deputy de Sausmarez highlighted that many of the nations most affected by climate change are also among the poorest, and the cruel irony is that they have done the least to contribute to the problem. Deputy de Sausmarez noted that Guernsey's overseas aid could go a long way in helping communities in these regions, both adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. I am therefore pleased to say that climate change resilience and mitigation measures have been on the Commission's radar since at least 2015. The Commission has funded 35 dedicated projects relating to climate change in the last seven years, with even more projects including elements of the above.

In 2021 alone, this included a solar pump for clean water supply in South Sudan; sustainable water resources for climate resilient horticulture for farmers in Rwanda; solar irrigation systems at five schools in Zambia; and beekeeping for Health, Food Security and the Environment in Nepal.

I am also aware that there is an outstanding States resolution relating to Environment and Infrastructure's Mitigate Climate Change Action Plan. This directs the Commission, in conjunction with that Committee, to prepare climate change guidelines which set out how international development projects can contribute to Guernsey's carbon offsetting goals, as well as integrate the principles of the States' Climate Change Policy. I look forward to working with Deputy de Sausmarez on this initiative.

There is also a climate change emphasis on the Commission's Multi Year Project Grant Aid Awards which are due to be launched for the first time in 2022. You may recall that this initiative was previously paused to allow the Commission to return £1m of its 2020 budget to General Revenue to support the States' COVID-19 Pandemic response. The Commission also accepted a reduced budget in 2021 for similar reasons.  I therefore wish to thank the Assembly for restoring the Commission's funding to pre-Pandemic levels when they agreed the 2022 States Budget. The Multi-Year Grant Aid Award programme will fund a small number of projects over three years to make long-term sustainable changes within developing communities. The Commission's policy for Multi-Year Grants states that the projects must demonstrate a particular focus on mitigating the impact of climate change, or include marginalised groups.

Effective overseas aid can have a significant impact among the world's most disadvantaged communities. It also is good for Guernsey as it helps to strengthen and maintain its mature international identity as a positive actor on the global stage. Although the Commission only has a limited budget compared to other jurisdictions, its project monitoring shows that its targeted work with its charity partners has a genuine life changing effect on many people. You will see from our 2019 Annual report that the total number of direct beneficiaries from the Commission's Grant Aid Awards alone were 365,433 men, women and children. The indirect beneficiaries would be many more.

But so much more could be done. In 2019 the States resolved that Guernsey should adopt a target for its overseas aid giving of 0.2% of GDP by 2030. Although 2022 was meant to see a real-terms increase to start to progress towards this target, the Commission proposed that its budget only be restored to pre-Pandemic levels. The Commission  considered this was a reasonable approach which took into account the current States financial position andongoing uncertainties around COVID-19. However, I can assure you that the Commission will continue to remind the States of its previous commitment, with a view that the 2030 target can still be achieved.

The Commission is also not averse to new ideas. £1 million was invested in the Overseas Aid & Development Impact Investment Fund at the very end of 2020. This followed a previous

States' resolution that the Fund should be established within the General Reserve under the authority of the Policy & Resources Committee. As I reported last year the funds were invested in Partners Group Impact Investments I, which capitalises in development opportunities where social and environmental impact goes hand-in-hand with market rate financial returns. It considers that social enterprises with both a sound business model and the ability to attract institutional capital are best positioned to generate impact at the scale necessary to make a change in the world.

Sir, I would like to give a big thank you to the current Commissioners for their ongoing voluntary work over a number of years.  I have very much relied on their expert advice during the last fourteen months and I am in their debt. I would also like to thank the Bailiwick population as a whole, as I continue to be impressed by their generosity, whether it be by supporting the Commission's Vaccinaid appeal, working overseas on projects, or donating directly to charities. Over the last year or so I have met many local organisations and individuals supporting work in the developing world and have been impressed by the real difference they are making on the ground. They are literally improving the lives of thousands, and sometimes even saving lives, as well as giving a voice to those often less fortunate than ourselves. Working with such people in our own community makes it an absolute privilege for me to be the President of the Commission.

 

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