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25 years of international development in the UK

June 1993: UB40 were top of the charts, there was the first Channel Tunnel test run and Graham Taylor was the England football manager.

It was also the month that Bond was set up. As we celebrate our 25th birthday, we take a brief look back at what’s happened in international development and to Bond since then.

1993: Bond is founded with an initial 61 members.

1997: the Department for International Development (DFID) is established as a standalone department, separated from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and publishes its first White Paper on eliminating world poverty [PDF]. Clare Short is the first secretary of state for international development, serving as minister until 2003. The International Development Committee is also set up in 1997, with a remit to examine DFID’s spending and policies.

1998: the UK government holds the presidency of the EU, with Bond coordinating the international development sector’s input. We also go online ‚Äì check out a very early, very blue version of our website here.

2000: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are adopted by the UN. The eight goals ‚Äì eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development ‚Äì are supposed to be achieved by 2015.

2002: the International Development Act is passed, requiring that all UK aid should primarily focus on reducing poverty.

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2003: Bond is a founding member of CONCORD, the European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs.

2005: the Make Poverty History campaign is launched, with Bond chairing the coordination team and providing support. More than 200,000 people march in support of the campaign in Edinburgh. Following this, leaders at the G8 summit in Gleneagles agree to write off debts owed by poor countries to the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank, and to increase annual aid by $50bn by 2010.

2006: the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act is passed, making the UK and developing countries more accountable in how aid money is spent.

2008: the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is launched at the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra. Since then 787 organisations have published to the data standard.

2009: Bond becomes Bond, changing name from British Overseas NGOs for Development. We are involved in coordinating the Put People First campaign, with a 35,000-strong march in London calling on G20 leaders to recognise that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession. DFID also funds us for a programme of work to develop new tools, courses and guidance to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of the NGO sector.

2010: the commitment made at the 2005 G8 summit to spend an extra $50bn on aid collectively is not met, with countries spending an extra $30bn instead.

2011: the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, an independent body scrutinising UK aid, is created.

2013: the UK meets the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of gross national income on Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the first time. Bond is also elected to the governing board of IATI.

2014: the International Development (Gender Equality) Act is passed, which requires the UK government to promote gender equality in its development and humanitarian work.

2015: the UK enshrines the 0.7% ODA spending target in law. This follows a campaign, #TurnUpSaveLives, led by Bond and member organisations. Also in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replace the MDGs – there are 17 “global goals”, planned to be achieved by 2030. At Bond we feed into DFID’s Civil Society Partnership Review.

2016: the UK votes to leave the European Union, although Brexit’s full implications for international development and UK aid remain to be seen two years later. The Bond Conference becomes a two-day event and one of the biggest international development conferences in Europe.

2017: a snap general election is called ‚Äì Bond and members work together to ensure the 0.7% ODA target remains in place, with all the major political parties committing to keeping the spending target.

2018: Bond now has 426 members, all working to eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.

Find out more about Bond’s areas of work and recent achievements in our brochure [PDF].


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