New UK child poverty initiative

12 December 2000

UK Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, are planning a “Child Poverty Initiative”. Its aim is to bring Southern governments, Northern donors, the International Financial Institutions, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector together to coordinate their efforts to achieve the International Development Targets.

The initiative is likely to focus on coordinating through the Poverty Reduction Strategy process and ensuring these produce real gains in reducing poverty.

Brown and Short intend to launch the initiative with a conference, involving all stakeholders, in late January or early February. Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel have agreed to attend. NGOs have welcomed the initiative and identified four core areas which will be essential to address if progress is to be made in reducing household poverty: trade and livelihoods, IFI policy coherence, conflict and basic services. NGOs have stressed that they want to be involved over the long-term and that the Treasury must guarantee a long-term commitment.

Brown and Short hope to build a coalition that will press for:

  • the WB and IMF to fully support the child poverty targets in poverty reduction strategy papers;
  • developed countries to focus on poverty reduction, coordinating with the actions of developing countries, and to examine their policies on trade, foreign policy, and conflict prevention;
  • developing countries to focus spending on basic public services;
  • business to increase commitment to social responsibility and ethical sourcing, take action against corruption, develop new partnerships, for example to provide infrastructure and access to drugs, and raise more money in support of development targets.