On Tuesday the 20th RESULTS Director Aaron Oxley was privileged to share the stage with a distinguished panel of experts on international development at an event designed to call on members of parliament to lend their support to international development.
The panel was headed by none other than Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world focussed on international development and a leader on investing in health in low-income countries. As another member of the panel, Douglas Alexander MP, commented: “It is a rare privilege to sit on a panel with somebody who has changed the world once, and I think we are in the presence today of somebody who has changed the world twice – first with his work in Microsoft and now with the extraordinary work that he and Melinda are taking forward in the Gates Foundation.”
Over 80 MPs and 30 Members of the House of Lords crowded into the Grand Committee Room to see Bill Gates and Aaron join Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, and Malcolm Bruce MP, Chair of the International Development Select Committee on a panel chaired by the BBC’s Mishal Husain.
The discussion aimed to highlight the massive advances that have been made through aid and trade as well as the scale of the challenge remaining. The UK’s role in international development featured heavily, with Alan Duncan MP commenting that the UK should be proud to be the first and only country in the world to commit to enshrining the commitment to give 0.7% of GNI as aid by 2013 in law.
Aaron Oxley used his speech to highlight the UK public’s overwhelming support for international development, illustrated by the recent Send My Friend to School 1GOAL campaign which has seen over 9,000 schools – one third of all UK schools, representing a million students – sign up to call on the government to do more to support education in the developing world.
During the following discussion MPs echoed the pride that they feel about the UK’s role in international development and the importance of continuing to increase our support for those less fortunate. For the many new MPs in the room, the event was the first high-level panel on international development that they will have attended in Parliament, and gave a great introduction to how they as parliamentarians can take action to support the issue.
Bill Gates rounded off the event perfectly, commenting:
Aid over the last 50 years has achieved some phenomenal things…We wouldn’t be spending the money if it wasn’t something that I didn’t think was catalytic. We get smarter all the time, but the aid we’re spending really makes a huge difference and so again thank you for your generosity and partnership.
The event was organised by a group of All-Party Parliamentary Groups on International Development – groups of MPs with a common interest in particular areas of development – who have come together to support parliamentary action on development more widely. You can find out more about the groups, including links to each individual group’s website at www.developmentappgs.org