News, Press Releases

Pre-budget 2023: Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Posted on 15 May 2023

The Council for International Development Aotearoa New Zealand calls on the Government to firmly commit to increasing Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure in this year’s budget to be announced later this week.

Peter Rudd, Executive Director of the Council for International Development, stated that ‘in these increasingly turbulent economic and geopolitical times the world is experiencing, and with the ongoing impact of climate change, our commitment to ensuring we are funding work that improves the lives of the world’s poorest has never been more important.’

While there is understandably increased pressure to address domestic cost-of-living issues, failing to deliver a firm commitment to ODA will only ultimately increase pressures on the New Zealand economy.

The impacts of COVID and subsequent economic conditions have affected the poorest the most, something that is particularly evident in the Pacific. Combined with increasing geopolitical tensions and the devastating effects of climate change, there is a very real risk of the gains made in recent years being reversed if ODA expenditure is not increased.

Investing in increasing ODA expenditure is not only sound humanitarian policy but also good foreign policy.

Addressing poverty is a significant factor in building resilience, maintaining independence, and improving security.

As Peter stated ‘Building a resilient, independent, and secure Pacific is good for Aotearoa New Zealand. Having New Zealand recognised as an important player in regional development is essential in maintaining our influence at regional and global levels.’

The United Nations (which New Zealand has been a member since 1945) has a target for countries to spend 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA).

New Zealand has not seen a notable lift in ODA as a percentage of GNI (gross national income) since 1975, with expenditure levels consistently between 0.2% and 0.3% of GNI.

Initial assessments for 2022 forecast just 0.23% ODA as a percentage of GNI.

As announced in the 2023 OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) peer review, New Zealand ranks 22nd among 29 DAC member countries for its ODA volume. New Zealand’s ODA to GNI ratio remains below the DAC average of 0.33% and well below the UN target of 0.7%.

Developing a medium-term plan to increase ODA, with actionable targets, would protect longer term investments and better position New Zealand to catch up with the OECD DAC average.

Given the unique conflation of climate, geopolitical and economic pressures faced today, it is time for New Zealand to demonstrate its commitment to a secure, prospering, independent Pacific by increasing ODA. We must see this as something other than an expendable budget line that can be cut. It is an investment in the social, cultural, and economic wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

For further information or to arrange media interviews please contact Charlotte Smith, Communications & Administration Assistant