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As we approach budget day and speculate about how the government will address the many priorities, commitments and demands they face, we in the international development sector have been working together to build a solid case for why Budget 2017 needs to include a substantive increase in international assistance.
From 1990 to the present, cuts to our aid budget were triple that of domestic programs in percentage terms. Given that aid accounts for a mere two per cent of total spending, this was nickel-and-diming the poor was downright unconscionable. We now spend a miserly 0.26 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) on aid.
We cannot spend tens of millions of dollars promoting a low carbon future while also spending tens of millions promoting extractives. With the Agreement in full force, Canada can pivot its approach to international assistance to reflect real policy coherence. We need to support small-scale, decentralized clean energy programs that promote pro-poor, gender sensitive projects.
Canada has a strong record of contributing to global peace and prosperity. Canada's international development and humanitarian actions have for decades allowed it to play a proactive and positive role on the world stage. But in order to ensure sustainable development in a quickly changing landscape, both domestically and internationally, we must do things differently.
Budget 2016 is a step in the right direction, and a welcome course correction from the repeated cuts of the past five years. But it's a very small step. Much more will be needed to match the ambitions of the new government to the needs of the planet and its people.
Agenda 2030's Universality principle requires all developed (and developing) countries to set published targets for the Sustainable Development Goals. But these are days of economic distress, both globally and in Canada. Can we any longer afford to increase our support for the poorest nations or even the catch-up bill for our indigenous population, long left behind?
Canada has made international private finance, specifically blended finance, one of its key priorities going into the Financing for Development conference. Blended finance is the use of public funds to either leverage or encourage private sector investment. What does this mean for the future of development in Canada?
In the coming months, a unique alignment of global events has the potential to fuse together leadership, partnership, commitment, and action for nutrition that could change the lives of millions. The opportunity is right in front of us if we are courageous enough to seize it.