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Cablegate: Uk Development Minister Seeks Support for Pm's

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TO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0000
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UNCLAS STATE 152175

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN SOCI UK
SUBJECT: UK DEVELOPMENT MINISTER SEEKS SUPPORT FOR PM'S
"CALL TO ACTION" INITIATIVE ON MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT
GOALS

REF: LONDON 3903

1. (SBU) Summary. Shriti Vadera, U.K. Parliamentary Under
Secretary at the Department for International Development

SIPDIS
(DFID) met with IO Bureau Assistant Secretary Kristen
Silverberg on October 22. Vadera said she wants to put more
emphasis on private flows and less on government social
spending for development, and wants to take the lead from the
U.S. approach -- a departure from prior DFID practice. As
the standard-bearer for Prime Minister Gordon Brown's "Call
to Action" Declaration (reftel), and a close economic
confidant of the PM, Vadera is seeking common benchmarks that
signatories can use to show they are implementing the
Millennium Development Goals without duplicating UN or World
Bank monitoring. She emphasized that when companies assist
with development in their areas of expertise, there is great
potential to spur growth. By focusing on these private flows
in a meeting that precedes the upcoming conference to
follow-up on the Monterrey Consensus in Doha in 2008, the
U.K. hopes we can set a more constructive tone than the G77
likely attempt to focus on increasing official development
assistance (ODA). She agreed to work on finding a good time
to schedule this meeting, since there are so many scheduling
conflicts in the run-up to the conference. Vadera also
sought support for PM Brown's International Health
Partnership initiative.

End Summary.

Shifting the Development Balance to Private Sector Growth
--------------------------------------------- ------------

2. (U) Minister Vadera said the U.K. is trying to realign its
development policy on achieving growth to put greater
emphasis on development and less on social spending,
something that the U.S. does well and that she advocates.
She said even if the U.S. is criticized for focusing on
private flows, supposedly to shift the focus away from ODA,
it should be instead be commended for being on track to meet
the commitments it made in 2005 at the G8 summit in
Gleneagles, Scotland.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
------------------------------------------

3. (U) Vadera said PM Brown's "Call to Action" initiative in
July at UNGA should demonstrate how signatories are achieving
the MDGs and keeping their promises, while looking at
performance indicators such as whether the investment climate
has improved,
and the number of days it takes to do business. She averred
that World Bank economic growth analyses lack statistical
rigor. While she does not want to duplicate efforts already
underway at the UN or World Bank, the U.S. and U.K. should be
able to pursue a common agenda and get buy-in from other
signatories.

4. (U) The U.K. Declaration on the MDGs for the private
sector should be a way for companies to use their strengths
to increase development, Vadera said. For example, U.K. cell
phone giant Vodafone recently set up a system to coordinate
resource transfers such as workers' remittances by telephone.
HMG is also talking with the Coca-Cola company about
improving distribution networks for water. And Bechtel is
working with the African Development Bank to share best
practices on assessing the feasibility of development
projects. These plans are better for development than just a
voluntary agreement to abide by principles of corporate
social responsibility, and should be highlighted in relevant
high-level meetings, suggested Vadera.

Timing for high-level meeting on MDGs
-------------------------------------

5. (U) Minister Vadera admitted the U.K. was having some
difficulty scheduling a date for the summit on the MDGs
because high-level meetings of UNGA in 2008 are likely to
conflict with the annual U.K. Labor Party Conference and UN
SYG Ban won't commit to a date yet. Vadera said she wanted
to make sure a meeting took place before the conference to
follow-up on the Monterrey Conference on Financing for
Development (FfD) in Doha scheduled for in the last quarter
of 2008. Vadera said that the meeting would probably be a
two-day event with the first day being reserved for private
sector groups, and the second day for heads of state. The
outcome of the first meeting would be an important factor in
steering the second.

Financing for Development
-------------------------

6. (SBU) Vadera said she did not want the "Call to Action"
initiative to shift the focus away from the FfD agenda, and
that she planned to give a statement in New York on October
23 to reinforce that idea. However, she added that she hoped
that by shifting the focus within MDG implementation towards
private sector flows to achieve growth, and away from social
sector spending, we would set the right tone for the FfD
review and reduce any impact of the G77's intent to focus on
increasing aid flows.

Entrepreneurship
----------------

7. (U) On a separate matter, Vadera expressed support for the
UN Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UNIIE)
fund, that the Department has been designing with the UN
Development Program (UNDP) and the Kauffman Foundation of
Kansas City ("the foundation of entrepreneurship"). Vadera
expressed concern that during the meetings of the High Level
Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence last year,
developing-country representatives hesitated to support such
a fund because they thought it would take away from ODA. The
U.K. was also hesitant to support UNIIE because the UN does
not have a great capacity for entrepreneurship promotion,
although now that Christian Thommessen (former CEO of IBM
Norway) has been hired in UNDP to lead the initiative there
is greater potential. Vadera was scheduled to meet with
Thommessen in New York on October 23. Vadera also indicated
that she would like to meet with Kauffman Foundation CEO Dr.
Carl Schramm when he visits London on November 13 to launch
Global Entrepreneurship Week with Prime Minister Brown.

Improving Health Care Systems
-----------------------------

8. (U) The U.K., said Vadera, supports improving education
and health programs as a priority because without human
capital, you can't attract financial capital. The goal of
the "International Health Partnership" initiative, she
asserted, is better coordination and sustainability. First,
donors must coordinate with the recipient country's health
development plan. Second, donors must agree to coordinate as
long as it adds value -- multiple programs should add up to
be greater than the sum of their parts, not less. And
finally, while aid is being distributed, donors should take
advantage of the moment to start developing a permanent
health system that is sustainable. Vadera said that while
she understands that the U.S. and U.K. diverge on the concept
of state-provided health services, in fact she thinks we
agree that states that receive social spending must be
responsible. On the issue of foreign healthcare workers,
Vadera said HMG has signed a code of conduct to not recruit
healthcare workers from abroad because they are so scarce in
developing countries, where they are needed most. (For
example, there are more Malawian doctors in Manchester,
England than in Malawi.)

Comment: "Proceed with Caution"
-------------------------------

9. (SBU) Vadera's message was at variance with the position
we are used to hearing from the U.K. Mission in New York and
from our DFID contacts in London. It is possible that
because Vadera is a political appointee, she holds the
potential to put greater emphasis on highlighting the
sustainable benefits of private sector flows to achieve
economic growth and reduce poverty. However, she also has a
reputation for tailoring her message to fit her audience and
saying what her interlocutors wish to hear. Vadera
successfully dodged discussion of the Secretariat's revised
Millennium Development Goal "performance indicators,"
possibly because on September 18, DFID jointly issued a press
release with the UN Population Fund that said the new
performance indicator on reproductive health had been
"endorsed by the General Assembly." In fact, the GA only
"took note" of the report that contained the new indicator on
October 8, while the U.S. statement pointed out that member
states never agreed to the performance indicators and that we
did not wish to be judged by them.
(http://www.ususnnewyork.usmission.gov/press releases
/20071008 232.html) Future meetings with Vadera should reveal
if her focus on private sector flows gains traction in DFID.

10. (SBU) Coincidentally, IO/EDA's office director met with
UNDP private-sector chief Thommessen in New York on October
24. Thommessen said that in Vadera's call on him on October
23, she had asked about our planned UNIIE initiative, and
expressed a strong desire for the U.K. to take part, a
positive development.
RICE

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