UK aid commitment encourage other G7 nations to spend £6bn more

26 May 16

Britain’s “generosity” has sparked increased aid contributions from the rest of the G7 nations, the ONE campaign has said.

Latest OECD figures show that the combined aid spend of the G7 has risen by billions of dollars since 2013, which ONE attributes to Britain’s promise to meet the target to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid that year.

“Since Britain met its 0.7% promise, the combined European and G7 aid spend has increased by nearly £6bn,” explained ONE’s interim chief executive Adrian Lovett.

“That’s an extra £15m everyday that can be used to fight poverty and disease.”

The 0.7% target was first pledged 46 years ago at the United Nations, and has been enshrined in numerous international agreements since.

However only seven countries – Denmark (0.85%), Luxembourg (0.93%), Norway (1.05%), Sweden (1.04%), the Netherlands (7.6%), the United Arab Emirates (1.09%) and the UK (0.71%) – have ever met this commitment, and the OECD average hasn’t exceeded 0.5% since 1950.

Since then, the average amount of national income spent on overseas aid across the OECD has declined to 0.3% in 2015.

The US is the world’s biggest aid spender in cash terms, contributing $31bn last year, but is far from the UN target, at just 0.17% of its national income.

Still, while the OECD has urged countries like Spain and Belgium to reverse significant declines in the size of their international aid budgets, others have helped contribute to record-high levels of overseas aid in 2014.

ONE pointed out that Germany (0.52%) is now one of only a handful of countries spending more than 0.5% of GNI on aid. Finland (0.56%) and Switzerland (0.52%) are two others.

Of all the G7 nations, Germany saw its aid increase the most as a portion of national income, from 0.38% in 2013 to 0.52% last year.

However other factors – aside from the UK’s commitment to the target in 2013 – could be at play. While Germany has been scaling up its aid since 2013, in the two years following it has also accepted more than a million refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria.

Figures released by the OECD this year show that Germany, and the Netherlands, were the biggest recipients of their own aid in 2014, using it to help support the refugees the countries were hosting.

However, while all members of the G7 have seen their aid contributions increase since 2013, only three have seen this grow as a share of national income. This includes Italy, which saw a 0.4 percentage point increase to 0.21% in 2015. Italy does not count its refugee costs as overseas aid.

Canada’s proportion of aid as GNI also rose, from 0.27% in 2013 to 0.28%. All other G7 nations on the other hand saw this decline.

Japan and the US’s contributions both fell by 0.1%, to 0.22% and 0.17% respectively. France saw the biggest fall, from 0.41% to 0.37%. 

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