During September and October Malaria Consortium and attended the UK party conferences. In the run up to the next general election these conferences presented a key opportunity for the organisation to influence UK policy makers on international development, global health and malaria in particular.
Malaria Consortium, together with 14 other BOND NGO members, organised joint fringe events at all three of the conferences, in Bournemouth, Brighton and Manchester. Based around the theme “Can we afford to care about international development”, the events provided a platform for the launch of the BOND International Development Manifesto, a document that outlines issues of key concern for the NGOs. The main development representative from the relevant party spoke at the events, using the opportunity to outline their party's agenda for development alongside other panel speakers.
At the Brighton Labour Party Conference the Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, reiterated the government’s commitment to keeping its promises and outlined what he saw were the distinctive challenges in the sector: sustained and sustainable economic growth, climate change, conflict and restructuring of aid architecture. He highlighted how the impact of the financial crisis and climate change was felt strongly in developing countries and also emphasised Labour's commitment to support the access to strong public services in the developing world as well as to provide more and better aid.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his key speech pledged to enshrine in law the commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on international development aid.
In Manchester, the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, also reiterated his party’s commitment to 0.7% and key areas of Conservative policy: economic development, conflict and aid effectiveness, transparency and accountability. He laid out the key principles of the Conservative international development agenda: enterprise, accountability and transparency.
Leader of the opposition, David Cameron, also committed to ring-fence international development should the Conservative Party win the next election and also singled out poverty, free and fair trade and climate change as key areas for close cooperation with the European Union.
At The Liberal Democrats Party Conference, a motion was passed entitled Development in a Downturn, confirming the Party’s commitment to international development and noting the potentially devastating consequences of the current global economic and financial crisis on the world's most vulnerable people and fragile states.
Malaria Consortium welcomes the continued commitment of all three parties to international development and pledges to continue working with them to meet the Millennium Development Goals.