New inquiry: The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation

16 November 2010

The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Joan Walley MP, today launched an inquiry into the impact the UK’s aid programme has on environmental protection and climate change measures in developing countries

The Millennium Development Goals recognise that environmental sustainability contributes to global economic and social well-being. The Seventh Goal specifically addresses environmental sustainability, requiring the integration of sustainable development principles into country programmes and policies. Targeted investment in environmental protection can make a valuable contribution to sustainable development, especially as the burden of climate change will fall disproportionately on developing countries.

Unlike most other departments, the Department for International Development (DfID)’s budget will grow over the next four years, and DfID’s Business Plan (published on 8 November) appears to indicate changing priorities for that expenditure. The Plan envisages that DfID will ‘re-orientate its programmes to focus on results’, following reviews of its aid programmes in February 2011. One of six Coalition priorities listed is to ‘drive urgent action to tackle climate change, and support adaptation and low carbon growth in developing countries’, but another is to ‘make British international development policy more focused on boosting economic growth and wealth creation.’

The inquiry will examine:

  • Whether UK aid avoids exacerbating environmental degradation and worsening climate change;
  • How well the Aid programme manages the tensions between boosting economic growth and environmental protection;
  • The extent to which UK Aid programmes address the environmental causes of poverty, and the extent to which environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation are prioritised in those programmes. This includes whether financing mechanisms under Government influence (Export Credit Guarantee Department support, the Government’s shareholding in banks, investments by the Commonwealth Development Corporation, etc) fully supports environmental protection and climate change action in the developing world.

In tackling such issues, the Committee will also examine:

  • the extent to which environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation have been mainstreamed in the Government’s Aid programmes, including how well DfID’s systems take account of DEFRA’s policies on Biodiversity and DECC’s policies on climate change.
  • Whether there are differences in the environmental impact of DfID’s bilateral work compared with UK-funded multilateral aid or with other programmes which assist developing countries.
  • how the UK’s contributions to the International Climate Finance Fund will be managed, and prospective plans for managing the Biodiversity funding post-Nagoya.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. And the Committee would welcome hearing about particular aid projects/programmes which:

  • specifically aimed to tackle environmental/climate change issues, and did so successfully;
  • specifically aimed to tackle environmental/climate change issues, but failed to meet such objectives; and
  • harmed the environment and/or exacerbated climate change mitigation/adaptation.

Submissions should be sent to the Committee by Friday 17 December 2010.

Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.

Please note

Each submission should ideally:

  • Be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked ‘Overseas aid and the environment’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Guide for written submissions to Select Committees (PDF PDF 1.25 MB)

Image: Istockphoto

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