The UK government has published its long-awaited 'Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy'. The review sets out a new strategic framework for guiding UK defense, foreign, and development policy over the next decade in light of changing geopolitical and economic world.
Key changes in the global environment identified by the review include the increasing strategic importance of China and the Indo-Pacific region, the rising competition between states and between democratic and authoritarian values, the fast pace of technological change, and transnational challenges such as climate change, global health risks, terrorism, and organized crime.
The review sets out four strategic objectives for navigating this changing world. Below is a summary of how the four objectives relate to international development assistance:
- A strong focus on science and technology to ensure a UK strategic advantage: In terms of development, the review calls for science and technology to be fully integrated into the UK’s national security and international policy and confirms that the UK will continue to use its development assistance to support research and development (R&D) partnerships with low-income countries, sharing expertise to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The review pledges a stronger focus for public R&D spending on applied research, development and implementation, and supporting more high-risk research. Decisions on public funding for R&D should focus research on those areas with the potential for the greatest social and economic benefits including the most pressing global challenges of today and where the UK can add the most value.
- A continued UK leadership role in shaping an open international order including global development efforts: In terms of international development, the review calls for the UK to continue to be one of the world’s leading development actors and to focus on fighting poverty and achieving the SDGs. It also calls for the UK to ensure its development assistance investments remain evidence-based and transparent and focused on areas important to a global Britain and where the UK can have the greatest impact. The review notes that the UK will set out a new international development strategy that will align UK development assistance from 2022 to meet the Integrated Review’s strategic objectives. The review highlights the importance of the UK defending democracy and universal rights and makes specific mention of support to gender equality – via girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment. It also recommends that the UK continue to be a champion of humanitarian support and support the strengthening of institutions like the WTO and WHO. In terms of geographical focus and partner countries, the review calls for an Indo-Pacific tilt that goes beyond development cooperation, with the goal of the UK having the most integrated presence in the region of all European partners by 2030. The review also highlights South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana in particular as key partners in further shared prosperity goals, democratic values, and security interests, and the review confirms the UK's continued support to conflict resolution and stabilization efforts in Somalia, Sudan, and Mali. It also highlights Yemen, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Morocco as key partners. The review also makes explicit that as countries graduate to being able to finance their own development, the UK should move towards providing expertise, and switch from grants to loans and focus on transnational challenges where there is mutual self-interest.
- Strengthening security and defense at home and overseas: The review calls for a more integrated approach to government work on conflict and instability and a continued focus on addressing the drivers of conflict and strengthening fragile states. The review announces the creation in the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office of a new 'Conflict Centre' and calls for the cross-government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which has an £874 million budget (US$1.1 billion) for 2021-22, to prioritize resources on stability, resilience and security in regions of strategic importance to the UK.
- Building resilience at home and overseas: The review calls for a focus on transnational challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and global health. On climate change, the review highlights the government’s International Climate Finance commitment of £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) between 2021 and 2025 and commits at least £3 billion (US$4 billion) of this to solutions that protect and restore nature. The review calls on the UK to strengthen its work on global health security with a focus on bolstering international pandemic preparedness, reforming the WHO, and prioritizing the support of health systems and access to new health technologies through its ODA.
The UK will build on its One Health approach that recognizes the close connection between the health of people, animals, and the environment, and will set up a Global One Health Intelligence Hub as a single source of intelligence on human, animal, and environmental risks, as well as global networks of zoonotic experts. It will continue to partner with the EU and multilateral development banks on issues such as Anti-Microbial Resistance, HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, and malaria. The review also calls for priority to be given to accelerating equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics worldwide and supporting Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Bond, the UK network of international development NGOs, has welcomed the review and its focus on open societies, climate change, health, and poverty alleviation but is concerned that development assistance funding will be reduced to countries most in need,
Report - The UK government
News article - Bond