Bishop of Sheffield calls for creative communication of post-2015 development goals

“The threat of climate change, the desire for sustainable growth, digital communications and the movements of peoples have all contributed to this sense of one world and the desire for a good globalisation. It is a vision profoundly rooted in the Judaeo-Christian vision of the world: a family of diverse nations, cherishing peace, seeking justice, nurturing wisdom and looking for the flourishing of all.”

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldOn 11th December 2014, Labour Peer Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the case for establishing new global development goals in 2015. The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, took part in the debate. He paid tribute to the Government’s role in the continuing international dialogue and noted the significant achievements made through the Millennium Development Goals. He challenged all stakeholders in the post-2015 process to think creatively about how best to communicate these successes, in order to engage more people in the process. He noted that the Church, through the Anglican Communion is a key partner in international development. He commended the work of Christian Aid on the process and highlighted four key priorities identified by the agency – tackling climate change, a stand-along goal on gender justice, increased capacity to respond to natural disasters, and a focus on global inequality and a fairer global economic system.

The Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, I welcome this debate. With others, I passionately support the case for establishing new global development goals in 2015. I note with appreciation the part played by the Government and the Prime Minister in the international dialogue, and I offer my sincere thanks to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for tabling this debate. I welcome the passion and learning displayed in this House today.

I share the view that much has been achieved through the millennium development goals. Extreme poverty has been reduced by as much as half; there has been clear progress in the battles against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV; access to drinking water and sanitation has been improved; the participation of women politically has increased; and 90% of children in developing regions are attending primary school.

These are major achievements and should be celebrated and communicated much more effectively than is the case at present. There is a story to be told here. I have had conversations even in this House questioning the value of our overseas aid and what it can achieve. It is vital that the story be told to build hope and to present the case for change. My first call to the Government, to the charities and to the media is to use 2015, the end of the millennium development goals period, as an opportunity to tell the story more imaginatively and to describe in clear and imaginative ways the change that has happened. I ask the Minister in reply to offer us some reflection on the ways in which the Government will communicate all that has happened.

The Church of England is part of the worldwide Anglican communion. Bishops and other senior leaders are daily in touch with churches all over the world. Two days ago, I heard a vivid presentation from eight of our senior Anglican women leaders, who recently spent 10 days living and working in Kerala in India with Christian Aid. They were inspired by the progress they saw there, particularly in gender participation and its effect on development, and they inspired others. Last year I had the privilege of spending time with a church in the West Indies and observed it still wrestling with extremes of poverty and deprivation and the rebuilding of a society still profoundly affected by generations of past slavery.

As to communication, the new global development goals clearly call for a fresh way of seeing the world. For much of the 20th century, development has been about the rich giving to the poor in charitable aid. The world was seen and described for these purposes in a series of binary categories: rich and poor nations; the one-third or two- thirds world; the global north and the global south; the haves and the have-nots. These binary categories are now outdated, though they still have a powerful hold on our minds and our vocabularies. Our mental maps of the way the world is and the way it could be both need to be redrawn. The vision for the new global development goals needs to be and is of one world that is interdependent, developing and searching for pathways to sustainable, equitable growth and the flourishing of all.

The threat of climate change, the desire for sustainable growth, digital communications and the movements of peoples have all contributed to this sense of one world and the desire for a good globalisation. It is a vision profoundly rooted in the Judaeo-Christian vision of the world: a family of diverse nations, cherishing peace, seeking justice, nurturing wisdom and looking for the flourishing of all.

Finally, I highlight four vital themes for the new global development goals, also pointed to by others. I support and commend these four key principles developed by Christian Aid in a most helpful briefing paper which I commend to your Lordships’ House. First, I have already mentioned the need to battle the evil giant of climate change and to seek carbon reduction as a major goal immediately and for the next generation. If we fail to place this sustainable development front and centre, the effects on life on earth will be profound. Secondly, I would urge that gender justice must be a stand-alone goal. There must be targets to end violence against women and girls, increase participation and ensure economic justice for women. Thirdly, I support with others the principle that no one should be left behind in the eradication of poverty and the pursuit of justice. In particular, the world needs still better and swifter ways of responding to human and natural disasters and building resilience in the poorest communities. Fourthly and finally, there should be a renewed focus on global equity with a stand-alone goal of a fair global economic system and with targets on illicit financial flows and on global tax justice.

Many years before the Christian era, the remarkable prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem shared a radical vision of what it would mean to end poverty and live in peace. He prophesied:

“they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”.

Conflict resolution, as other noble Lords have said, is closely related to sustainable prosperity.

We are citizens of one world. Much has been achieved; we need to tell that story. However, there is still much to be done. We need to set goals for gender justice, for global equity, to leave no one behind, and to close the gap still further between rich and poor.

**

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for securing this debate. He has a formidable record in this field, as have all others who have participated in the debate. I knew that it would be an extremely well informed and deeply thoughtful debate, and it has proved to be so. What shines through is an understanding of why this is so important. The right reverend Prelate urges us on in communicating what has been achieved since 2000, even with the financial crash of 2008 onwards, in the relief of poverty. He is surely right…

(via Parliament.uk)