Lynne Featherstone – 2014 Speech on Clean Energy

Below is the text of the speech made by Lynne Featherstone, the Development Minister, at the Royal Society in London on 1st May 2014.

Thank you all for coming today.

It’s fitting that we are here at the Royal Society today, because science and technology have crucial roles to play in understanding and addressing the impacts of traditional cooking on people and the environment.

Improving access to clean energy for girls and women is one of my top priorities.

At the Sustainable Energy for All Advisory Board meeting in New York last November, I launched a campaign on improving access to Clean Energy for Girls and Women and also agreed to serve on the Leadership Council of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The campaign highlights the economic, health and safety benefits that clean energy access can bring women in particular – allowing them to study at night, have better medical care, earn more and feel safer on the streets at night. Without action to support clean and efficient cooking, the aspirations of economic empowerment and the entitlement to safety and health, cannot be met for girls and women across the world.   If girls and women are collecting firewood, they are not learning or earning, and so can’t meet their own potential or their families’. We also know that as women gather firewood, they can be at risk of attack. Most shockingly, and the clearest signal of the need for decisive action, is the new World Health Organisation estimate – which Maria has just confirmed – that over 4 million deaths in 2012 were attributable to Household Air Pollution.

This increase, as we have heard, is due to a better understanding of the wide range of health issues that result from household air pollution – including cardiovascular impacts. And although many more men are affected by this issue than originally thought – household air pollution is still the second biggest cause of female mortality in the developing world, after childbirth.

4.3 million is a very large number, and combined with the 2.6 billion people still relying on firewood, charcoal and coal for their cooking every day – we are talking about a public health crisis that is part of daily life across the developing world.

It’s a sobering thought; millions of people are dying from pollution in their own kitchens, in the heart of their own homes.

And so, it’s very important that today’s conference is a turning point, bringing together the latest evidence and providing the springboard for collective and effective action.

Working together is critical.

Consider Malaria – another endemic health problem, but one where international action, co-ordination and private sector engagement is saving lives. This shows what can be achieved. We need to emulate this success in the clean cooking sector, so that deaths from household air pollution stop rising and start falling.

To make headway, and to achieve the Alliance’s target of clean cookstoves adopted in 100 million households by 2020, we need to learn from what has worked.     The success of the mobile phone market and the rapidly growing solar lighting sector has shown that market-based solutions can reach the poorest of consumers. Entrepreneurs are waking up to the potential of an enormous market of buyers keen for stoves that reduce the amount of money they spend on fuel and time they spend cooking.

Last year I visited CleanStar Mozambique, a British firm which has built a business selling clean-burning ethanol fuel produced by local farmers to customers in Maputo. The difference this makes to the lives of women cooking on liquid fuel for the first time is tangible. I met a woman whose health improved so radically that she could let her daughter go to school, instead of needing her to cook for the family at home.

Working with the World Bank and donors like Denmark and Norway, we are supporting clean energy entrepreneurs through the Climate Innovation Centres. These centres offer training and seed capital to clean energy and adaptation enterprises. Centres are already open and operating in Kenya and Ethiopia – while more are in the pipeline.    There is also now a substantial body of experience on the policies and incentives which can accelerate market shifts. We have seen a plethora of creative approaches emerge.

In Ethiopia we are working with the Energising Development programme to pilot the first Results-Based Financing Facility for clean cookstoves. We hope that approaches like this can help incentivise market-driven scale up, which reaches the poorest consumers.

But with the Sustainable Energy for All goal of universal access to energy by 2030 – and so many people still cooking on solid fuels, we need to pick up the pace.     This afternoon you will be hearing about DFID-commissioned analysis into how we can change cooking behaviour for the better. This kind of thinking is essential to inform the scaled-up approaches needed to transform cooking markets. And I know Radha will set out her vision in a few moments for how we get to clean cookstoves in more than 100 million households by 2020.

As we increase our efforts, it is vital we make sure our support is effective.

Transparent performance standards and testing facilities for cookstoves are essential. I will commit the UK today to follow up on the cookstove standards work which the Alliance is convening with UK help. We need to establish a minimum threshold for the stoves we support, to make sure they are effective, safe and sufficiently reduce smoke.

What counts after all, is that these stoves make a real difference. Families need to see a new stove is worth their investment, not only saving them money and time but also improving their health.     The problem is clear, the solutions are within reach and you are all working tirelessly to ensure that they are devised to the best standards. But there is one more point to consider.

I trust that you all feel as strongly as me about taking on this crisis as previous cohorts of experts and campaigners have done with other global health issues. But to do this we must look beyond ourselves and spread the word. Your expertise needs the support of the wider world – of the public and politicians. So, whilst wishing you a successful and productive afternoon, if you take nothing else away from today, pass on the message, spill some ink.

Gathered today are participants from many sectors, including health, climate, energy, business and many more. It is in our hands to find solutions – and to make the home not a place of danger and ill-health, but of safety and empowerment.

Thank you.

Lynne Featherstone – 2014 Speech on South Sudan

Below is the text of the speech made by Lynne Featherstone, the Minister for Development, in Oslo on 20th May 2014.

I would like to thank Norway and OCHA for hosting and organising this meeting at this critical time for South Sudan. My thanks to the Chairs, Foreign Minister Borge Bende and Baroness Amos.

I am deeply saddened to be here today. In 2012, I made my first overseas visit as a Minister for International Development to South Sudan. The young country, born out of a proud dream and a lifetime’s struggle, faced enormous challenges.

But there was a sense of possibility; a sense that South Sudan could invest in its people, generate opportunities, move forward with hope. I visited a training centre for young people and talked to a group of girls about their hopes and expectations – their desire to complete school and improve their lives.

How far we are from that sense of hope today…

Half of the population of South Sudan, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

1.3 million people have fled their homes – 300,000 to neighbouring countries. There have been 5 months of egregious human rights violations. South Sudan is now, as a result, a country tottering on the brink of famine.

These dire circumstances cannot – must not – continue.

The agreement signed by President Kiir and Dr Machar on 9 May – a commitment to a ceasefire, political talks and unfettered humanitarian access – offers a way out. Commitments must result in tangible changes and improvements throughout South Sudan. A rekindling of hope will then be possible.

I applaud the work that IGAD has done to mediate the negotiations.

South Sudan must grasp this opportunity to move forward rather than backwards: towards development rather than destruction.

We all need to be clear. The responsibility for the well-being of the people of South Sudan sits with the leaders of South Sudan. The road to a lasting peace will require difficult decisions.

Leaders will be judged by history, and by the people of South Sudan, on the basis of the steps that they take to bring an end to the suffering that has been caused by this crisis.

As a first step, this time, the ceasefire needs to endure. And immediate practical steps need to be taken to increase the speed at which aid reaches the people.

Clearance through customs for humanitarian goods should only take a few days rather than almost a month. Their movement within South Sudan, whether by road or river barge, should also be facilitated and not obstructed as it has been too often over the last months.

There should be an end to the looting of emergency relief supplies and respect for the safety and security of humanitarian assets and staff. Respect for International Humanitarian Law and protection – especially for women and girls – is also a critical responsibility of all leaders and their followers.

Both sides need to ensure that there are no repeats of the horrendous human rights abuses that have been reported in Juba, Bor and Bentiu, and that those responsible face justice, not impunity. And I hope that the government will quickly set out its credible response to the UNMISS human rights report, including the proposal to establish a hybrid court.

Through these difficult times the UK has stayed true in our commitment to the people of South Sudan. We have refocused our support to increase our emphasis on humanitarian assistance, while maintaining core development programming on health, education and food security.

I call upon the government of South Sudan to increase the investment of its own resources in health, education and food security as part of its response to the looming crisis.

Since the start of the crisis we have allocated almost £21 million to help meet humanitarian needs within the country and an additional £13 million to support refugees in the region.

I want to acknowledge our partners and the excellent work that has been done by the Humanitarian Coordinator, the UN Country Team, UNMISS, the ICRC and international and national NGOs that are helping to support the people of South Sudan in their hour of need.

I also want to acknowledge the generosity and safe haven shown by governments in the region to refugees from South Sudan arriving in their countries.

But more resources are needed to scale up the response both inside the country and for refugees.

Today I am able to announce a new commitment of £60 million, equivalent to around $100m, for the response within South Sudan.

We will help to strengthen front line delivery, including protection for women and girls, through the UN and NGOs with particular attention on hard to reach areas. We will support the key pipelines, including through a £16m contribution to the World Food Programme. We will help to ensure that help reaches those in need through an investment in shared logistics.

In conclusion, I would like to return to my conversation with the young girls in Juba in 2012.

To me those girls – from across the country – represent the hope and future of South Sudan.

Some shy. Some confident. But all supportive of each other. And all proud of the investment they were making in their own development.

Girls like those are the future of South Sudan and they deserve better.

Lynne Featherstone – 2014 Speech at Education World Forum

Below is the text of the speech made by Lynne Featherstone, the International Development Minister, at the Education World Forum in London on 21st January 2014.

Distinguished guests.

The focus of this year’s conference – planning for the decade beyond 2015 – is a top priority for the UK’s Department for International Development. Global poverty reduction is what drives the work in my department and we’re really involved in the discussions on a global development framework to succeed the existing Millennium Development Goals. In the post-2015 framework, we want to see a set of compelling goals and targets that will catalyse the action needed to eradicate poverty within a generation.

The next set of goals must also go beyond the MDGs and include accountable and effective institutions that avert the risk of conflict, provide a stable and peaceful environment for business to thrive, and ensure that all people have a voice in the decisions that affect them. We know education is fundamental to development: it underpins economic growth and more democratic and open institutions, it has transformative effects on the lives of girls and women and it enables people to live the life they choose. Today, I want to tell you what DFID is doing on each of the conference themes – measurement, reach and enterprise – to ensure education is a catalyst for development.

Let me start with Reach. As a global community, great progress has been made at getting more children in school across the developing world. Out of school children have fallen from 105 million in 1999 to 57 million today. However just getting children into school isn’t enough. At least 250 million children cannot read or count, even after spending 4 years in school. DFID is committed to reaching all children with quality education as we approach 2015 and beyond.

I’m passionate about our work to support people with disabilities. We know that data on excluded groups is difficult to pin down but according to some estimates, children with disabilities comprise nearly one-third of all out of school children. Of those in school, it’s estimated that 15% to 20% will have some kind of special educational need. The UK works to ensure that all children are able to complete a full cycle of quality education, and that includes children with disabilities.

I’ve recently announced 2 initial commitments to step up our support. First to ensure all construction, directly funded by DFID, is fully accessible. And second, to work with partners to improve data on children with disabilities and special educational needs. Echoing the report of the High Level Panel on post 2015, we should not consider targets met unless they are met for all social groups, including those with disabilities. Every country, including my own, must work hard to ensure that no one is left behind.

There are still 31 million girls of primary school age who have never been to school and the majority of these come from the most disadvantaged communities. Getting girls in school and learning is both right and a smart investment for development. An extra year of primary schooling for girls can increase their wages by up to 20%, most of which is likely to be reinvested in her family and community.

In 2011, the UK established the Girls’ Education Challenge, the world’s largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education. This will reach up to 1 million of the worlds’ poorest girls to ensure that they receive a quality education to transform their future. It’s an exciting initiative and has been enthusiastically received by NGOs, charities and the private sector. The GEC’s programmes in Afghanistan, for example, are helping the Afghan government to rebuild its education system, continue its drive to enrol girls, and improve education quality.

So with the private sector’s strategic involvement in the Girls’ Education Challenge, let me turn now to the theme of enterprise. For countries to grow out of low income status they need to address existing skills’ deficits, and make the most of their current growth potential. Skills, acquired at every level of education, play a critical role in a country’s economic and social development.

When I have asked young people in the countries I have visited with DFID, what they tell me they most want on completing their studies is a good job. So we need to ensure that young people are learning job-relevant skills and have access to information on work experience and internships. We need to nurture the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Education systems are not always very good at shaping today’s workforce, let alone the workforce of tomorrow, or making sure that the hardest to reach groups can progress through the system. That is why DFID is currently considering how best to invest and support important work in this area.

Getting it right on skills is also important for business and enterprise to flourish. Companies need people with both specialist technical skills, and transferable skills like problem solving, that can be applied practically in a job. Higher education is the route by which technical skills in areas like engineering, agriculture, science, health and finance are acquired, and the sector is very weak in many countries. Failing to address this, equitably, puts a break on human potential as well as stalling an economy’s growth.

Technology can play a big role in this – both in teaching and learning, and shaping the jobs of the future. We are already seeing evidence for this, but I am sure there is more to come. I think for all of us it is hard to predict what those future developments might be – but my interest is in making sure that the bright thinkers are incentivised to look at the developing world, as much as they currently look at the developed.

Now to the final theme. Measurement. Without good measurement, good data, we are unlikely to develop the right policies to ensure that no one is left behind, to ensure that all girls and boys are learning when in school and to know how many engineers need training to drive a growing manufacturing sector.

Improving data and measurement is a big challenge for the post-2015 development framework which is why the High Level Panel report called for a data revolution. Improved data on education will help countries and their partners to respond more effectively to the global learning crisis.

As the leading bilateral donor in basic education, part of DFID’s response is to step up our efforts to support and strengthen data collection and data use in countries where we work. In parallel we have developed partnerships with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the PISA for Development pilot, and UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report to help drive global education data improvements in the run up to to 2015.

We need to act quickly to ensure learning can be tracked post-2015. UNESCO has a crucial role to play if we are to deliver options on learning targets and their measurement in the next 6 months. DFID has been part of the work of the Learning Metrics Task Force which is an initiative looking to catalyse and support this process under a UN-lead.

Ultimately, the goal of this work is to better enable Ministries of Education and other policymakers to not only track how they are doing, but also to target policy changes that improve the learning experiences of all children and youth.

Finally, DFID is a firm believer that our investments should be based on a strong evidence base. This is why I am pleased to announce to you all today that we are launching 2 major education research programmes through our Research and Evidence Division.

The first of these programmes, in collaboration with our partners such as the World Bank, UNICEF and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation will focus on system level reform. Unblocking parts of the system that aren’t working offers huge potential to ensure government education budgets go further. The second programme, a partnership with the UK Economic and Social Research Council, will focus on improving teaching performance.

We will deliver these programmes in partnership with our country governments and I am delighted to be meeting with several of the delegations to discuss our collaborations in education. We need to share the lessons from our programmes, policy reforms and innovations and use this evidence to understand what works to deliver an ambitious post-2015 agenda.

The combination of research, evaluation and high quality programmes will help ensure all children – whichever country they are from, whatever their background – have the chance to fulfil their potential as productive citizens of the future. That is our mission, and I wish you all the best in your debates and deliberations over the coming 2 days.

Thank you.

Lynne Featherstone – 2013 Speech on HIV

Below is the text of the speech made by Lynne Featherstone on 28th November 2013.

Introduction

I’d like to start by thanking the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS, and STOPAIDS for hosting this event and for inviting me to come and speak once again. I’d also like to thank our speakers so far; Dr Loures for your interesting overview of achievements and challenges, and Emma; thanks to you for reminding us all why we are here with your insightful and moving description of what it is to live with HIV.

This weekend sees the 25th World AIDS Day, so today we come together to show our support for people living with HIV and to commemorate the estimated 36 million who have tragically lost their lives to the virus.

The UK’s Contribution

Today I would like to reflect on the UK’s contribution to the HIV response, and invite you to join us in celebrating achievements so far also readying ourselves for the work that remains.

This Summer I visited the Dedza region of Malawi to see for myself the opportunities and challenges that we face in the HIV response. I was able to visit the region’s main hospital where, thanks to DFID support, HIV testing and counselling, and prevention of mother to child transmission services are being offered.

I also met the Umodzi support group; an inspiring network of people living with HIV who meet to support each other and provide HIV education activities in surrounding villages. One lady told me how the group has not only managed to reduce stigma within the community, but has shown its members that ‘there is still a life to live’. Involving communities and people living with HIV in our work is central in addressing stigma and structural barriers.

This year has included an important process of reflection on our HIV portfolio at DFID. With contributions and support from many of you here we have conducted an internal review of our 2011 HIV position paper and I am delighted to be launching the review here today.

HIV Position Paper Review

So what did the review highlight?

Two years on from the HIV Position Paper, DFID is making good progress against its expected results. Treatment related commitments have already been achieved, and the remaining targets set out in the HIV position paper are on track to be met by 2015.

Shift in Funding: Bilateral to Multilateral

Over the last two years we have been sharpening our focus. As the 2011 position paper predicted, the balance between multilateral and bilateral funding has shifted. This review demonstrates how we have focused our bilateral efforts to fewer countries where the need is greatest. We now have some exciting new programmes in Southern Africa, the region hardest hit by the epidemic. Given the urgent need to reduce new infections we have prioritised the critical prevention gaps.

Civil society have been, and remain, an essential partner for DFID in addressing these gaps.

We are also proud to be supporting key multilateral organisations to ramp up their efforts in the global HIV response. I hope you will all join us in celebrating the recent commitment of up to £1 billion to the Global Fund replenishment, and agree that it will go a long way in reaching many more countries at a much greater scale than the UK alone could help. This support depends on others joining us in ensuring the Fund meets its target of $15 billion and our contribution is 10% of the total replenishment; by doing this we hope to see a still greater total replenishment.

In addition, I am delighted to announce today we will be increasing our annual core contribution to UNAIDS by 50% to £15 million in 2013/14 and 2014/15. That’s an extra £5 million per year to support its critical role in co-ordinating the world’s response to HIV and AIDS.

These contributions secure the UK’s place as a leader in the HIV response and demonstrates our commitment in providing a considerable share of total global resources to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment care and support.

Areas of Focus Going Forward

The review paper highlights three areas of particular focus for DFID going forward: being a voice for key affected populations; renewing efforts on reaching women and girls affected by HIV; and the integration of the HIV-response within wider health system strengthening and other development priorities. This includes tackling the structural issues that are driving the epidemic.

Key Affected Populations

In countries with generalised epidemics, HIV prevalence is consistently higher among key affected populations: men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, prisoners, and people who inject drugs. Over the years, DFID has spearheaded support to HIV programmes for key populations. They have been and will remain a policy priority for us. We will use DFID’s influence with multilaterals to be a voice for key populations and to push for leadership and investments. We will focus on evidence-based combination prevention services, such as condoms, HIV testing and counselling, and comprehensive harm reduction services. Of particular importance is supporting initiatives to reduce stigma and discrimination. Our ultimate vision for key populations is for their human rights and health to be recognised, respected, and responded to by their governments. The UK is proud to be a founding supporter of the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund, through which we support these particularly vulnerable groups.

Valuable lessons have been learnt from the Fund’s first year and we are excited that this World AIDS day will see the second round of grant announcements by the Fund.

Increased Focus on Women and Girls

Putting women and girls at the centre of the HIV response is a second area of focus. Gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment lies at the heart of DFID’s development agenda and we know that women and girls bear a disproportionate share of the HIV burden. Yet globally the pace of decline in new HIV infections among women and girls has slowed.

Since 2011, each of our bilateral programmes has seen a greater focus on HIV prevention that addresses the needs of women and girls.

We are supporting research to improve outcomes for women and girls, including the development of female initiated HIV prevention technologies, and into how gender inequality drives epidemics, with a particular focus on improving what works for adolescent girls in Southern Africa.

We know that in a crisis girls and women are more vulnerable to rape and transactional sex. The highest maternal mortality and worst reproductive health is in countries experiencing crisis. Contraception, prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and safe abortion are life-saving services, yet they are often ignored in humanitarian responses. That is why DFID is currently developing a new programme on sexual and reproductive health in emergency response and recovery. This will include services to reduce the transmission of HIV.

Integration within wider health system

Thirdly. We know that, for the response to be lasting, we must integrate HIV within other sectors and find concrete solutions to sustainable financing. We recognise that a strong health system is an important way to improve the reach, efficiency, and resilience of services. By integrating HIV services within TB services, sexual and reproductive health services, and the wider health system, people living with and affected by HIV, including children and people with disabilities, are treated holistically and not just as a series of health problems.

Addressing gender inequality, stigma, discrimination and legal barriers which prevent many people from accessing the prevention, treatment and care they need is an important step in this regard.

Conclusion: Leaving no-one behind

This review has given us the opportunity to highlight areas where DFID can add value, and where we need to work with partners to make progress. We will take forward the many lessons we have learnt so far from the HIV response, and from your valued contributions. We at DFID will strive to ensure that MDG 6 is not left unfulfilled. We remain firmly committed to the goal of universal access and the targets set out in the 2011 UN Political Declaration. Increasing both our funding and policy focus to where it is most needed, while addressing stigma and structural barriers can help to ensure that no one is left behind and getting to zero becomes a reality.

Thank you.