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Published on 29 November 2022
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November 2022: David Lammy MP delivers the Christian Aid Annual Lecture at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Credit: Alex Baker / Christian Aid
A formally dressed black man delivers an address, stood on a podium with Christian Aid red-branded background

In this 22 November 2022 lecture, the Rt Hon David Lammy MP argues that the UK has a moral duty to return to multilateral engagement to tackle the three greatest challenges the world is facing: climate, conflict and famine.



'A Force for Good: Co-operating Across Borders in an Age of Authoritarians'

In this 22 November 2022 lecture, the Rt Hon David Lammy MP argues that the UK has a moral duty to return to multilateral engagement to tackle the three greatest challenges the world is facing: climate, conflict and famine.


Christian Aid Annual Lecture 2022: full summary

On 22 November, David Lammy delivered this year’s Christian Aid Annual Lecture to a packed audience in St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Starting his lecture by reflecting on his Christian faith, Mr Lammy said he was motivated by the example of Jesus, ‘a man willing to challenge power. Not simply saying ‘this is sad’ but “this is wrong’’.’

A new approach to international development

Mr Lammy set out a vision for a new, forward-looking approach to international development: one that addresses questions of power and inequality, is rooted in the aspiration for lives of dignity and opportunity, and that puts ‘power claimed’ rather than ‘justice bestowed’ at its heart.  

He recognised the ‘extraordinary progress’ that has been made in lifting people out of extreme poverty over the past few decades, while noting that ‘few look upon the world with optimism at present’ and outlining the magnitude of today’s challenges: stubborn poverty and pervasive inequality, famine, conflict, climate change, refugee and migration flows and global health insecurity.  

Reflecting on the ‘outrage’ of hunger, he noted the millions of people facing food shortages in the Horn of Africa – and acknowledged campaigns to challenge hunger as ‘standing in a long tradition from the anti-apartheid struggle to Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History’. He also stressed that ‘the gap between the rich and poor of the earth is a supreme challenge’ and that ‘most significant of all is the climate emergency – the greatest challenge the world faces’.

On climate and global inequality

Having just returned from COP27 in Egypt, Mr Lammy welcomed the agreement to create a new fund for loss and damage as ‘an important step forward in recognising the consequences of the climate crisis for the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries’ as a ‘matter of solidarity’.

He also called for an acceleration of the transition to net zero at home, ‘so we have the credibility to pressure other countries to fulfil their obligations and play their part’.

Mr Lammy challenged the development sector to bring people with us, by expanding our focus from poverty elsewhere to inequality everywhere (whether in Hargeisa or Haringey), stressing that the ‘answer to “charity begins at home” cannot be “you don’t know how lucky you are”. No. It must be “we stand together”, because no child should be hungry anywhere at any time, when we live in a world of plenty and a century of unprecedented promise’.

He added that government must have the ambition to ‘redistribute power to people on the sharpest end of inequality at home, and around the world’.

How can aid and development still remain relevant?

Making a plea for multilateralism, Mr Lammy spoke of our global interdependence and common challenges demanding global solutions, yet this sitting in tension with a trend of nationalism and populism, stoking division.

Reflecting on shifting power and geopolitics, he stressed the ‘need to work much harder to show that multilateralism works in the interests of the whole world, not just its most prosperous nations’.  

Mr Lammy called for a recasting of aid and development away from ‘the colonial-era logic that development is only worthwhile if it leads directly to trade at home… sensitive to the criticisms of aid as patronising or paternalistic… grounded in a deeper understanding of our own history, and the way people in many countries in the Global South view the historical role of the UK’, and based on an approach aimed at ‘building modern relations of equals, two-way partnerships based on respect and mutual trust’. 

How we can continue to be effective in our work

Mr Lammy stressed that the UK’s development offer for the future must be focused on where we can really make a difference, given that China and other authoritarian states are reshaping the global development map and that lower- and middle-income countries across Africa and Asia have greater economic weight, and greater political influence. 

Mr Lammy argued this can be done through using ‘our membership of the UN Security Council, the G7 and the G20 to move development further up the international agenda’, through getting back to spending 0.7% of GNI on aid, through promoting innovation, through integrating feminism and climate justice into development policy, and more.

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