May 13, 2010

Scriptoria Blog

We’ve got the coalition so what’s next for UK development?

Now it’s time to get used to ‘a new kind of government’ in the UK - the Tories and the Lib Dems. And it looks like David Cameron and Nick Clegg have appointed a mixture of blue and orange to deal with international development and global environment policy: the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell as the Secretary of State for International Development (pictured right), and the Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne as the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Mr Huhne claims to be a green MP who is passionate about climate change. His appointment has been welcomed by the environment lobby and the green business sector and may turn out to be a real asset for the international movement to create low carbon economies. Certainly the Lib Dems have been the more aggressive party in their plans to cut carbon emissions (40% by 2020).

Already, comment has begun about what Mr Huhne should do in his new post. Just this morning, ‘10 questions for Chris Huhne’ was published on The Guardian website. This feature pulls no punches on the challenges Mr Huhne will face. It asks questions like how does he plan to keep his “department’s work near the top of the political agenda when all the focus will be on spending cuts and the health of the new coalition?” This is especially relevant during the current run up to the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Mexico in November and December.

By contrast, little has been said about the appointment of Andrew Mitchell; perhaps because there are fewer differences between Conservative and Lib Dem policy on international development. According to today’s Katine Chronicles Blog on The Guardian website, both parties want to see that aid is spent wisely. The blog notes that the Tories’ focus is on tackling corruption in the distribution of funds, while the Lib Dems are keen on consulting with intended beneficiaries to ensure that money buys what they actually want.

In a press release on the DFID website, Mr Mitchell is quoted as saying he intends to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track and that his government ‘will harness the full range of British government policies - including trade, conflict resolution and environmental protection - to contribute to our progressive vision of a more prosperous, sustainable and secure world.” Let’s hope Mr Mitchell can put this vision into practice. Let’s face it, with Britain’s economic situation as it is, he will have his work cut out.

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