Canada acts on development finance… and the EWB community goes wild!!

Budget 2017 is out…  and the EWB community goes wild! After four years of campaigning, we saw a massive policy win that will enable lasting solutions to poverty and instability in the developing world.

With intel from James Haga, our man in the budget lockup this afternoon in Ottawa (and VP of strategy and investment at EWB), we are encouraged by the government’s creation of the Development Finance Institution, particularly the explicit focus on women’s economic empowerment, poverty reduction and job creation in some of the world’s poorest regions.

This is a win but it needs to be followed up with action. We are looking forward to working with the government to get the details right. It needs to fulfill a number of important criteria including being complementary to foreign aid, focusing on poverty reduction, and providing patient capital and catalytic financing.

Canada has the ideas, innovation and expertise to help solve the world’s biggest problems and we are thrilled to see the government doubling down on innovative development financing. By using government funds and expertise to attract private investment, the DFI can help Canada meet its UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) commitments while also supporting the small and medium businesses that are the economic foundation of a healthy society.

Time for the mushy stuff

I caught up with James moments after he got out of the lock up, an invitation extended to only a handful of civil society stakeholders, and this is what he said:

This is a win for EWB and our community now that we have some promising details outlining the implementation of the DFI. This could not have happened without the tireless efforts of our members.

On behalf of EWB, I want to thank all our people for their commitment to this issue over the past few years. You called MPs, you emailed MPs, you visited MPs, you signed petitions, and you championed the need for Canada to take smart and effective actions to addressing poverty and economic opportunities to low-income countries to our leaders.

As we used to say, ‘It’s not sexy, but it works.’ EWB pushes for what is right and what the evidence tells us. Thank you for making today possible.

A quick trip down memory lane

Sasha Caldera, our resident policy wonk and campaigner, gave me this recap:

“EWB began campaigning for the creation of a Canadian DFI in late 2013. During the first few years, we organized two major Day of Action events in Ottawa where our community members met with over 150 MPs and made the case for why Canada needs a DFI. We even ran a short online campaign where members sent hundreds of online letters to MPs and one EWBer even went door-to-door in her neighbourhood and asked for signatures on a petition to their local MP.

In 2015, we were pleased to see Federal Budget 2015 include $300 million dollars allocated over 5 years for this. Since then, we have been campaigning for the government to operationalize the DFI.”

Looking ahead

I also caught up with Boris Martin, EWB’s CEO, who gave us these wise words as we look ahead to Canada’s future as a leader on the world stage:

“Canada cannot remain a laggard in its contributions to ODA and seek to provide leadership globally at the same time. Without a commitment on par with other G7 economies, initiatives like the DFI could be perceived as lip service. On the contrary, a principled commitment to global development by our government could very well cement Canada’s standing as an open, democratic, peace-building, and forward-looking economy in today’s context.

A set of bold moves – a clear commitment to increasing Canada’s ODA contributions, the creation of innovative policy for development and the unlocking of innovative finance mechanisms for development – from our Prime Minister and his team could set Canada on a new course and influence a global balance teetering between reactionary nationalist forces, and positive, global leadership.”

Share your thumbs up on the DFI with Prime Minister Trudeau, Finance Minister Morneau, and International Development Minister Bibeau by signing this letter here!

EWB will have more analysis of the DFI and stories from our community in the next few days so stay tuned to or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

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