Rachel Lomax - Permanent Secretary, DSS.
Barrie Ireton - Director-General Programmes, DFID.
The event discussed whether the differences between rich and poor countries were significant enough to invalidate a dialogue, and concluded that they were not.
The last meeting in the series was a discussion on government perspectives on poverty reduction, in North and South. There were brief presentations by Rachel Lomax, Permanent Secretary, Department of Social Security, and Barrie Ireton, Director-General Programmes, DFID. However, most of the meeting was devoted to discussion, and it was held under Chatham House rules. Hence, the points below are not attribute.
An initial presentation reminded the meeting that the objective of the series had been to explore comparisons, convergence, and connections between poverty debates and poverty policy in North and South. The agenda established in the first meeting had covered the vision for poverty reduction, the language used, entry points, actors and ownership. However, the discussion had ranged more widely. Key themes running through the series had included:
the relative advantages and disadvantages of social exclusion versus sustainable livelihood models for the analysis of poverty - the former being strong on processes of poverty creation, the latter contributing insights about the multiple income - earnings strategies of the poor, and also the importance of various kinds of "(natural, social etc)";
- the value of participatory approaches, exemplified by the current World Bank exercise called "Voices of the Poor", which helped to generate a new and different agenda for poverty reduction - for example the higher profile now being given to issues of empowerment;
- the need to tackle inequality, especially if poverty targets are defined in relative terms;
- the politics of poverty reduction, particularly lessons from the UK experience, in which poverty reduction policies had to be managed from a political position which satisfied the non-poor.