United Nations goals to fight poverty and injustice ‘missing’ from Liz Truss’ relief strategy


United Nations flagship targets to tackle extreme poverty and injustice in poor countries have been omitted from a new UK foreign aid strategy, sparking fresh criticism of Liz Truss.

The 2015 plan – which commits countries to fighting hunger, providing clean water and quality education, and tackling gender inequality – is to be “fully embedded in the planned activities of every government department”.

But the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are only mentioned once in the Foreign Secretary’s new 30-page strategy, and only to state that the UK “supports” the ambition being realised.

Questioned by the International Development Committee, Ms Truss was told the omission was “amazing” and asked if she was “a little embarrassed” by the “one fleeting reference” to the goals agreed by the United Nations.

But she argued, “I don’t think you can measure the importance of a particular topic by how often it’s mentioned.”

Ms Truss insisted that the goals “are ingrained in all of our work” and “are at the heart of what we’re trying to achieve” in the developing world.

The strategy has already been criticized for mentioning trade no fewer than 27 times – three times the 9 mentions of poverty.

It has been described as “depressing” in its intention to copy China’s much-criticized “aid for trade” approach, linking spending to opportunities to boost Britain’s international clout.

But Ms Truss told the committee: “We are not going back to tied aid” – while Nick Dyer, a senior State Department official, insisted: “I do not recognize the term Aid for Trade.”

She also confirmed that her three-year aid budget – until 2025 – has been set at 0.5 per cent of national income after last year’s Tory Manifesto was cut from 0.7 per cent.

The move raises new doubts as to whether the cut will ever be reversed – something ministers have promised but only “once budgetary conditions allow”.

The foreign minister also acknowledged that continued aid spending for Ukraine while the war drags on might mean cuts elsewhere in the shrunken budget.

“That’s exactly the discussion we’re having with Treasury,” she told the committee.

In 2015, the UN announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals – the successors to the Millennium Development Goals – with the aim of achieving them by 2030.

Last summer the government said: “The UK is committed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The most effective way to do this is to ensure that the goals are fully embedded in the planned activity of each government department. The most effective mechanism to coordinate implementation is the departmental planning process.” United Nations goals to fight poverty and injustice ‘missing’ from Liz Truss’ relief strategy

Bobby Allyn

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