New Zealand aid agencies are calling on the Government for an extra billion dollars in aid funding and climate finance for poorer countries as Covid-19 threatens to undo decades of progress in the global fight against poverty.
Oxfam, World Vision and Christian World Service, with the backing of 10 other agencies, have organised a petition for the government to adopt a Collective Resilience Plan – a three-year roadmap to boost New Zealand aid and climate finance.
As the coronavirus pandemic threatens to undo decades of progress in the fight against poverty, the Collective Resilience Plan outlines critical steps to improve New Zealand's action to solve global problems, including:
• A 20 per cent boost to the overall aid budget, equating to approximately $500 million over three years, focused on healthcare, social protection and community resilience.
• A doubling of finance for overseas climate action for frontline countries from new and additional sources, equating to approximately $500 million.
• A timeline for increasing New Zealand's aid spend to meet the global target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income by 2030.
Rachael Le Mesurier, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, said while New Zealand had so far successfully managed the coronavirus pandemic, the rest of the world had been hit incredibly hard by the crisis.
"We are facing unprecedented global health and economic crises," said Le Mesurier.
"The stark reality is that, as we speak, decades of progress against poverty and inequality is being unravelled. We are at a crucial tipping point, with millions more people being pushed into poverty, and countries already grappling with the threat of climate breakdown now facing the economic downturn of the century driven by the global pandemic."
She added: "Kiwis worked together to keep each other safe. Now it's time to help our global neighbours, who have been standing strong in the fight against climate breakdown but now face compounding immediate dangers – hunger and a deadly virus."
The campaign comes after the release of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World by the United Nations (UN), which estimates between 778 million and 828 million people globally may go hungry this year.
Grant Bayldon, national director of World Vision New Zealand, says that without decisive collective action, the poorest people will pay the highest price.
"People who have to work hard for their food every day, and do not have the same social welfare safety nets available that we do, now cannot go out to earn a living," Bayldon said.
"Imagine facing that impossible dilemma – put food on the table for your family, or risk their health and your own, by being exposed to the virus?"
The NGO group is also asking for a concrete timeline for New Zealand to meet global targets for aid spending as a proportion of GNI by 2030, saying although we as a country have already committed to the targets, successive governments have so far made slow progress towards implementing them.
"When it comes to overseas aid, countries like the UK, Germany and Denmark contribute more than double the share of their national income than we currently do," said Bayldon.
"Meanwhile, we languish near the bottom of the pack of wealthy countries for our funding of overseas climate action. New Zealand can and should be doing more."
Christian World Service national director Pauline McKay said containing the pandemic required a united, global approach to keep everyone safe, especially the most vulnerable.
"As we saw with Ebola, dealing with global health challenges requires that countries work together by investing in the safety nets and services necessary to look after everyone through this time," McKay said.
"The admirable way Kiwis have looked after some of our most vulnerable here in New Zealand shows what we can achieve when communities work together.
"This pandemic has highlighted just how connected we all are, and it's crucial we stand together with our international neighbours, now when it's most critically needed."
A recent Oxfam briefing revealed how the social and economic fallout of the pandemic could kill more people from hunger than from the disease itself, as a result of mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies, and declining aid.
"We are at a global crossroads," Le Mesurier said.
"Without countries pulling together to provide crucial aid, the world will endure many long, rolling years of hardship and disease that will have both direct and indirect impact on us all, wherever we live.
"We urge New Zealanders to join our call for big hearts and a connected world, and sign the petition to build a stronger global community."