Rebecca Sharkey, Think Global’s Membership and Public Affairs Manager reports on the Kate Osamor’s keynote speech on Labour’s vision for the UK’s international development policy. The speech was delivered at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on 2 November 2017 and Rebecca spoke to Kate about the importance of funding global learning at the event. Kate Osamor MP is Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Kate Osamor began her address to a packed room at the ODI by describing a recent visit to hurricane-ravaged islands in the Caribbean – “living rooms left open to the elements, furniture still there, like some sort of doll’s house”. Highlighting the unfairness of the hurricanes hitting small island nations such as Dominica and Barbuda which are the least of the world’s polluters but face the frontline effects of climate change, Osamor stated boldly that “climate change is a matter of social justice, and acting on the symptoms now is part of the answer”.
Quoting the extraordinary Oxfam statistic that eight men now own as much wealth as the bottom 3.6 billion, Osamor explained that Labour’s approach to international development “is about the fundamental challenge of growing inequality in our world. Inequality between countries, but also within countries… The truth is that in today’s world, the triple challenges of climate change, inequality and enduring poverty cannot be treated in isolation”. She promised “sensible, calm leadership and cooperation”
The SDGs must not fail
Some key points in the speech include a promise to hold a major summit to accelerate progress on reducing inequality, a commitment to securing a breakthrough in creating fairer global rules to govern taxation across borders, and a pledge to achieve and report on the Sustainable Development Goals, because “they are too big and too important to fail”.
A new Task Force
To the relief and approval of the audience of mainly NGO representatives, Kate Osamor announced that “A Labour government will celebrate civil society not only for its service delivery, but also for its advocacy and campaigning. We have committed to repealing the Lobbying Act”. In addition, Osamor announced and launched “a new Labour International Development Task Force – experts and activists who will advise me, acting in their individual capacity”.
Following her refreshingly radical speech, it was brilliant to have the opportunity to speak with Kate Osamor at the networking reception hosted by the ODI.
I explained how the Global Learning Programme (GLP) is working in 7000 schools in England (and also in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to engage students in global issues. With DFID funding up for renewal in summer 2018, I iterated the importance of continued financial support from the government for this important work, which is crucial in preparing our young people for the global challenges that we all face. I also said how it was great to hear her statement that “The Sustainable Development Goals begin at home”. Giving people the opportunities to become effective global citizens is a key target of SDG 4: Quality Education and is at heart of what we do here at Think Global.