Matthew has called on the Government to support the introduction of an 18th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for a landmine free world.
In his role as Chairman of the APPG on Explosive Threats, Matthew recently spoke at the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) conference held in Baku & Aghdam, Azerbaijan. Following his speech, in which he advocated for a further SDG to focus on the clearance of mines, Matthew has written to the Minister for Development Andrew Mitchell asking him to support such a goal.
The SDGs were established by the United Nations in 2015 and are a collection of 17 interlinked objectives such as economic growth, climate change and affordable energy which put sustainability at heart.
Given the coherence between so many of the SDGs, a further objective to rid the world of unexploded ordnance would assist in the pathway for development. For example, when affected communities have the explosive hazard contamination removed, they can cultivate the land, thereby reducing poverty and food insecurity (SDGs 1 and 2). Mine action also supports SDG 4 when explosive hazards are removed from educational facilities, allowing children to return to school safely.
In Azerbaijan, the Government has established mine action as one of its national priorities and mobilised its resources to address this threat. Priority clearance areas have been designated in areas of infrastructure, such as highways, railroads and energy systems, while settlement construction and agriculture are planned to combine with reconstruction works.
Matthew said “I am urging the British Government, through international development, to seek that mine action is promoted as a driver of the SDGs. Supporting national governments to commit to landmine clearance would help many countries to achieve the other SDGs. This would be a cost neutral proposal as such designation could be achieved through strategic dialogue and maintaining knowledge of the entry points, mechanisms, and deadlines being orchestrated by national governments.
"We should see mine action as a great opportunity as the decontamination of land that has remained unused for many years affords a moment for planners, politicians, and policy makers to establish sustainable communities that are carbon neutral, net zero environmental exemplars. This addresses the fundamental issue of the SDGs - that the demands of today’s society do not impact on the ability of future generations to achieve the same.”