Many congratulations to him on this appointment. I have been following the work of his team for the past two and a half years and have watched with interest as their policy positions have evolved over that time.
Also yesterday the full text of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Agreement was published (focusing mainly on areas that needed to be negotiated).
From an international development perspective this is what caught my eye:
The new team will have some very tough battles on their hands in the coming months:
1. How to protect the aid budget in the July budget: against cuts and against the equally important needs of climate mitigation and adaptation (Lib Dem Chris Huhne at Energy and Climate will obviously be a key ally)
2. How to reconcile the learning and the accountability sides of the new emphasis on impact and value for money--they do not often work hand in hand
3. How to make sure that the greater accountability of aid-dependent countries to donors does not detract from the accountability of those countries to their citizens
4. How to work with the Commonwealth and Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defense while keeping the focus of DFID on poverty reduction
5. How to fix the broken feedback loop in development (citizens in aid-receiving countries cannot hold donors to account) --are there practical ways of doing this?
6. Getting the private sector and NGOs to work together productively to find new ways of combating poverty and powerlessness--there is suspicion on both sides, but perhaps not as much as one might think
7. How to communicate the case for aid in a more authentic and grown up way
8. And the biggest challenge for the next 5 years: how to use aid to reconcile three overlapping but separate goals: global poverty reduction, the sustainable management of the planet, and the UK national interests?
Clearly Secretary of State Mitchell and his team have a lot on their plate. We look forward to working with them on these and other challenges in the months to come.
Finally, I would like to thank Douglas Alexander and his team for the leadership they have shown on international development these past few years. We are proud of what DFID has become in this past decade and we look forward to its sustained excellence as it evolves under the new team.