Global flows of refugees and migrants over the last two years have shown us that more and more people lack prospects in life. The increasing effects of climate change, unresolved conflicts, ongoing wars and economic misery are to be seen in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but the effects can also be felt in Europe. At the same time, the political action we take in Germany affects the rest of the world. For this reason, the coalition agreement is also an important sign for the 815 million people around the world who suffer from hunger.
Coalition deal considers development policy
Overcoming hunger and poverty is named explicitly as a priority for development policy. To be specific, smallholders and local, cooperative approaches are to be promoted, to strengthen food production for regional markets. This is an important commitment, as three quarters of the people suffering from hunger are still to be found in rural areas.
The new German government has agreed that overcoming hunger and poverty should be a clear priority.Till Wahnbaeck Welthungerhilfe Secretary General
Other key demands of Welthungerhilfe have also been included in the agreement. The government parties want Germany to pioneer a fair trade policy with binding social, ecological and human rights standards. Economic agreements between the EU and African states should be checked to ensure that exports of farming produce are not detrimental to developing countries.
Commitment to Agenda 2030 and Paris climate agreement
It is encouraging that the new federal government has made a commitment to an ambitious implementation of Agenda 2030 and its sustainability goals, as in the Paris climate agreement. Poor countries such as Ethiopia and Bangladesh suffer particularly severely from the effects of climate change and they need help with adaptation.
We see in our daily work in crisis areas that humanitarian assistance cannot be successful if it is separated from political measures. It is good that the coalition agreement is taking this into account. Support for humanitarian causes should not just be extended, but also more strongly linked with disaster and crisis prevention and long-term stability measures. However, it is problematic that expenditure on development cooperation is coupled with an increase in the defence budget.
Let words be followed by actions!
Welthungerhilfe believes that the coalition negotiations have been worthwhile, as the new federal government has agreed that overcoming hunger and poverty should be a clear priority. As so often in politics, it will now depend on whether these words are followed up with action. This will be seen from the amount of money that is available for concrete measures.
Unfortunately, there have not been any clear statements in this respect, just a mention of the aim of reaching as soon as possible the target agreed in 1972 of spending 0.7 percent of GDP on development cooperation. There is more work for the government to do in the upcoming budget negotiations. Only then will the positive sign for people suffering from hunger become a real chance of a better life.
Originally published in the German newspaper Offenburger Tageblatt, March 12th, 2018.