Development footprint league – UK drops 6 places

One of my favourite scorecards is the Commitment to Development Index produced each year by the Center for Global Development.  The 2009 index was published on Thursday.

What I especially like is that this analysis does not focus only on aid.  Too often, we measure the extent of our international solidarity by the amount of aid we give, and not by all the other important things that rich countries do (or don’t do) which affect developing countries at least as much as – probably much more than – giving them money.

Apologies for parochialism, but I was struck that the UK has fallen this year from 6th place to 12th place, out of 22 countries.   David Roodman, the uber-geek (and I mean that in a good way) who designed and runs the index, said this:

“The U.K.’s aid giving slowed in 2007, the latest year for which complete data are available, while its exports of arms to undemocratic regimes such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ticked upward.”

The UK scores in the Commitment to Development Index are depressed by the index’s judgement that there is insufficient rigor in tackling corruption by UK firms operating overseas, a high level of arms exports to undemocratic and poor countries, high agricultural subsidies, tight controls on immigration from the poorest countries, and restrictive intellectual property laws on plant types and data.

Officials from other  countries sometimes think the UK is a little too pleased with itself about development.  I wonder if they will think that, now that UK finds itself in the bottom half of the league table, having been overtaken by six countries (New Zealand, Spain, Australia, Austria, Finland and Canada), the UK should focus a little more on how its own policies affect the developing world.

2 thoughts on “Development footprint league – UK drops 6 places”

  1. Facing up to the political reality of a particular country – means more that focusing at the national level and, as you say, tackling those UK / European firms that allow misdealings to occur. It requires a clear strategy about governance in state / provincial and local spheres as well.

    As recommended last week by the UK cross-party Select Committee on International Development, DFID needs to face up to current trends in Africa towards urbanisation – the fastest urbanising continent in the world. “It seems counter-intuitive to us that, as the process of urbansiation and levels of urban poverty have increased, [DFID] staff capacity to work on these issues has been reduced”. (

    Despite its own internal pressures on resources and prioritisation, DFID needs to take urbanisation and decentralisation trends seriously. i.e. recognising, as other donors have, that decentralisation of responsibilities is happening. It is happening regardless of an authority’s resources and capacity to take on additional powers, and it needs to be improved. IIED addressesd this in a recent paper ( talking about the need for proper respect and resourcing of pro-poor local democratic processes; “one key influence on a mayor’s capacity to act is how much do higher levels of government respect and nuture local democracy? And how do national or state government respond when mayors of city councils are elected from different parties?”. As the Select Committee recommends, DFID needs a clear strategy on urbansiation with in-country expertise to face up to these internal dimensions.

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