I’m fairly new to Baptist World Aid. When my friends ask how it’s going, I mention the great people I work with and the great stories I hear every day – of lives transformed with the help of generous Australian supporters and the passion and skills of our Christian partners in the field.
The work of Baptist World Aid empowers individuals to raise themselves out of poverty… but, importantly, it also works to change the very conditions and structures that keep people impoverished. One way we do this is through the Ethical Fashion Guide, which helps consumers make ethical choices that put pressure on corporations to ensure their policies and systems can mitigate the risk of exploitation in their supply chains. Advocating for Australia to be a good global neighbour is, as of this year, another.
In order to be better informed in our efforts to encourage the Australian Government to live up to its promise helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Baptist World Aid has just launched the Global Neighbour Index. The Index ranks Australia against its peers – the 20 richest nations in the OECD, against ten different criteria along the themes of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. We’ve brought together a wealth of external research, making it simple to assess which areas our nation is performing well in and specifically where we need to improve to become a global leader in the Sustainable Development Goal space.
The result of the first ever Global Neighbour Index? Australia ranks 11th/20 overall. So, there’s plenty to campaign on, plenty of work to be done to make us better neighbours. Whilst we have excelled in Prosperity: Trade with developing nations (6th out of 20) and People: Immigration from least developed countries (5th out of 20), the Global Neighbour Index makes some urgent recommendations:
Planet: C02 Emissions Per Capita
Australia has extraordinarily high emissions per capita. It ranks 18th out of 20 on this indicator – a measure of the amount of emissions Australia produces. If emissions were instead measured on a consumption basis (that is, measuring the emissions that have gone into the production of the goods we consume) Australia would rank 20th!
Beyond this, Australia’s targets for emissions reduction are at the low end of developed nations commitments. Independent commentators suggest that Australia’s current policy settings will be insufficient to achieve even this outcome.
Australia should develop and implement a plausible pathway by which it can decarbonise its economy by 2050. This should include an upward revision of its 2030 targets.
The last five years have seen the most significant cuts in the history of Australia’s aid program. Australia ranks 19th on this indicator, with an aid program equal to 0.22% of Gross National Income.
Australia should reverse this trajectory and set a timetabled commitment to investing 0.7% of its Gross National Income in aid, and 0.15% of Gross National Income to the Least Developed Countries, in line with its international commitments to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On refugee share as a proportion of its population, Australia ranks 14th out of 20, with just 0.15% of its population classified as refugees. This is less than half the average of its rich, industrialised peers. But with most refugees being hosted by poorer nations, if Australia was instead benchmarked against the entire international community, its rank falls to 59th place.
As concerning as the low proportion of refugees is, Australia’s policy to detain asylum seekers arriving by boat indefinitely is in violation of its international protection obligations.
Australia should re-engage with its protection obligations to asylum seekers by working with its neighbours to develop a framework for processing and settling refugees from our region into high and middle-income countries.
The Global Neighbour Index is a joint project with A Just Cause and we will be advocating together on these recommendations in the coming months. The Australian Baptist Movement will lead the way as we launch the report at Converge – an event where Australian Baptist leaders will meet with politicians in Canberra to advocate on issues (such as this one) which concern our hearts as Christians. We’ll also join Micah Australia in advocating for increased foreign aid.