Ryan Henson is Chief Executive of the Coalition for Global Prosperity.
In the wake of World War II, the United States implemented the Marshall Plan, a visionary initiative that aimed to rebuild war-torn Europe and combat the spread of communism. This remarkable programme not only revitalised Europe, but also advanced American security interests.
Today, the United Kingdom faces its own set of challenges, and a new Marshall Plan for overseas aid and development could be the answer to fostering national security and alleviating poverty on a global scale.
Given the fragmented state of world affairs, however, unity – key to affecting lasting change – does feel thin on the ground.
Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine rages on, with no clear end in sight; parts of Africa, plagued by coups and armed conflict, waver on the brink of famine in the worst hunger crisis in over forty years; UN voting patterns underscore the rise of new non-Western alliances. And while the Covid-19 pandemic might be over, it has laid bare the grave consequences of global health inequality.
So while the world might have changed significantly since the original Marshall Plan, the core principles remain relevant. Britain’s leadership of a new plan could involve a programme of time-limited funding, designed to rapidly boost areas of the world most at risk of conflict and terrorism as a result of poverty and helping to prevent the migration flows that have affected Europe in the past decade.
Africa, rich in resources and home to the world’s fastest-growing youth population, is one of these areas. A new forum on UK-Africa co-operation would meet the need for a more integrated approach to development in the region. By bringing together different actors in development, trade, investment, and security, the UK could help accelerate progress on the African continent.
At a time when it seems that every choice comes down to here versus there, and us versus them, the UK can and must rise above parochial debating points.
That Europe’s peace and security is still dependent on NATO’s unfaltering strength speaks to the lasting power of multilateral partnerships. – partnerships that do good and will continue in years to come to help those that need it most, including here in the UK. This long-term and big-picture approach to policy making must be the basis of the new plan for development.
A new Marshall Plan for overseas aid and development is not only a moral imperative but a strategic necessity. It would enhance British security, foster diplomatic ties, create economic opportunities, and contribute to global stability and prosperity.
In an era of global challenges, the UK has the opportunity to lead once again, leaving a legacy of positive change for generations to come. It’s time to envision and invest in a brighter, more secure future, for our country and the world.