April 26, 2022 – Proposed increases to Australia’s aid budget and aid in the Pacific are positive news, as the region grapples with climate change and some of the world’s highest child-stunting rates, World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth said today.
Daniel said, “climate change is a crisis which will have devastating outcomes, particularly for our Pacific family, unless we take immediate action”.
“There is tremendous potential for Australia to become a leader in natural climate solutions through its aid program, to combat climate change by restoring degraded land,” he said.
“One quarter of the world’s land area has been degraded, and two billion hectares of this degraded land has the potential to be restored. The benefits of environmental restoration are 10 times higher than the costs,” he said.
World Vision is also advocating all political parties support a flagship Child Nutrition Package in the Pacific. In PNG alone, child malnutrition costs the economy around $700 million each year due to losses in productivity, income, and increased healthcare costs. The Solomon Islands has a child-stunting rate of 31 per cent due to under-nutrition compared with just 2 per cent in Australia.
“As a member of the Pacific family, Australia could make reducing child-stunting in countries like the Solomon Islands a central goal of its development aid assistance with a $100 million initiative,” Daniel said.
“Every dollar put towards reducing child-stunting generates an economic return of about $18,” he said.
World Vision is also advocating for an economic inclusion fund to help the region rebound from the COVID pandemic.
Daniel noted that Pacific aid should not be increased at the expense of other areas of the world where Australia was already committed to help alleviate conflict and suffering, such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and South Sudan.
World Vision is advocating that both sides of Parliament:
– Pilot a $60 million green recovery package for East Africa and the Pacific with an innovative combination of proven nature-based solutions to combat climate change
– Restore 50 million hectares of degraded land overseas through natural regeneration, building community resilience and storing carbon at scale
– Establish a $50 million Economic Inclusion Fund for Regional COVID-19 Recovery to rebuild livelihoods of the poorest
– Make women’s economic empowerment, not economic infrastructure, the defining feature of Australia’s economic development assistance
– Invest $100 million over four years in a child-nutrition initiative to curb undernutrition and record stunting rates in the Pacific region
– Set up a centre of excellence, the Indo-Pacific Centre for Maternal and Child Health, to share best practice and build capacity with partner countries