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Open letter – It’s critical that New Zealand increases its overseas aid budget

The directors and chief executives of 10 charitable organisations in Aotearoa recently submitted an open letter to Ministers Mahuta and Robertson, calling for an increase in our country’s overseas aid budget. Learn more here. 

Dear Minister Mahuta and Minister Robertson,

We, the undersigned organisations, joined together throughout 2020 and 2021 to call for a 20% increase to the overseas aid budget and a doubling of climate finance from new and additional sources. Now, as it was then, our concern is the massive disruption that the global pandemic, climate change, and other crises are causing in places where poverty and discrimination lock down people’s potential.

Since we first wrote to you in July 2020, millions of people have died or lost loved ones to the coronavirus, 160 million people have been pushed into poverty¹, 137 million people have lost their jobs², and now conflict in Ukraine and rapid inflation puts the global food system at risk. In an increasingly unstable world, New Zealand’s contribution to a strong global community through overseas aid is more important than ever. Our overseas aid helps to unlock the creativity and innovation of people facing poverty and discrimination and enables the full force of humanity’s problem-solving power to be brought to solve the crises we all face.

We were thrilled when the government increased New Zealand’s climate finance contribution by four times last year. We want to reiterate our thanks for stepping up in this area. We now ask that the same willingness to increase funding be applied to the wider aid budget³.

The aid programme has shown an admirable pivot to respond to the coronavirus through vaccine purchases and logistical support in the Pacific, to contributions to the global Covax facility, and to health and social protection programming in places like Cox’s Bazar refugee camp.

We are also heartened by the responsiveness to other humanitarian crises faced in the world such as the Tonga volcanic eruption, Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and more recently the war in Ukraine.

Yet, in the absence of an increase in the overall aid budget, all of these necessary pivots and funding responses took funding away from already programmed long-term health, education and social initiatives that help people realise their human rights. These programmes help girls stay in school and farmers grow food for their families, for example, and still require funding, particularly now as countries emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

Therefore, we respectfully urge you to provide a 20% increase to the overseas aid budget in the Budget 2022 as we first requested in 2020. This will make sure that New Zealand’s small contribution to the rest of our global whānau experiencing incredible challenges, such as daily hunger, exclusion from education and opportunity, can continue.

These challenging and uncertain times show us how connected we are as a global community, and that our response must be this connected, too. Now more than ever, we need to pull together as one human family, so that we all make it through the triple crises of a public health pandemic, rising poverty and climate destruction. We can afford to increase overseas aid, and we must.

Ngā mihi maioha,

Lisa Woods, Campaign Director
Amnesty International

Michael Hartfield, National Director
Anglican Missions

Murray Sheard, Chief Executive Officer
Christian Blind Mission

Murray Overton, National Director
Christian World Service

Jackie Edmond, Chief Executive
New Zealand Family Planning

Dr Joanna Spratt, Interim Executive Director
Oxfam Aotearoa

Ian McInnes, Chief Executive Officer
Tearfund New Zealand

Geoff White, Chief Executive Officer
Trade Aid

Ross Wilson, Chair of Trustees
Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust (UnionAID)

Grant Bayldon, National Director
World Vision New Zealand

Footnotes:

1. Oxfam. (2022). Pandemic of Greed.

2. International Labour Organisation. (2021). ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the World of Work.

3. Though climate finance is largely delivered through our aid programme, we note that climate finance must be ‘new and additional’ to overseas development assistance. Aotearoa New Zealand has separate commitments to qualitative overseas development assistance (0.7% of GNI) and climate finance targets (our fair share of US$100 billion). MFAT has a robust and transparent way of accounting for climate finance separate from ODA, and we encourage MFAT to maintain this clarity and separation as the volume of climate finance increases. We

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