WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index, a ranking of wealthy countries according to the amount of positive impact they achieve through foreign policy, is a source of important information for those concerned about global poverty. On this year’s list, one of the top-ranking nations is Australia, ranking in at 12th though it had once placed higher on the list.
Though its aid efforts have attracted criticism recently, Australia’s ranking reflects its investment efforts in developing countries, according to the CGD. In addition, the country is included in the top half of the list because of its low trade barriers for agricultural exports from poorer nations and its friendliness to immigrants. However, Australia is beneath other nations on the Index because of a lack of emphasis on research, environmental concerns posed by its use of fossil fuels and high barriers on textile and apparel imports.
According to a recent article in the Guardian, $5.4 billion was spent by the nation last year on ODA, or Official Development Assistance, though this amount is only 0.36% of its Gross National Income. Still, Australia provides important aid to many countries, most notably in Asia and the Pacific as it has shown by donating $1.1 billion to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia in 2011-12. Some other countries Australia assists are Fiji, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
In Bangladesh for example, the Australian government reports to have assisted 600,000 women and their families escape poverty. Their government website also reports to have helped another 85,600 poor Bangladeshi families by providing them with livestock and stipends while staying active in promoting health and education in Bangladesh as well.
Moreover, Australia is ranked so high because of the nation’s participation in international organizations. The country was a founding member of the UN, and according to the government’s website it is also “the 12th largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets.” The country is heavily involved in the World Health Organization, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, among other such efforts.
A recent example of Australia’s foreign aid efforts is its response to Typhoon Haiyan. Despite budgetary cutbacks, the country has promised to donate $10 million to the recovery effort in the Philippines, a sum that will go toward medical help, food assistance, and the work of the Red Cross in the devastated country. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also said that they “will obviously stand by ready to support the Philippines in whatever way we can.”
Thus, Austrailia is doing much to remedy global poverty and to create better conditions for people in many different nations. Hopefully, their efforts and those of all other rich countries will only increase and strengthen in the years to come.
– Sarah Wieberdink