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What Tearfund is doing at the party conferences this year

Find out why we’re there, what we’ll be doing and how you can get involved through prayer and action.

Written by Tearfund | 04 Oct 2023

Scenery of the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben in London

The Houses of Parliament building in London, United Kingdom | Image credit: Joanna Zduńczyk/Pexels

Over the next month, Tearfund's Government Relations team will be at the Liberal Democrat, Labour, and Conservative party conferences. Here's everything you need to know about why we're there, what we'll be doing, and how you can get involved through prayer and action.

Party conferences happen annually and are where major political parties meet their members and discuss their plans for the upcoming year, including speeches, events, and debates.

Why are we going to the party conferences?

Tearfund works with MPs because we want to create lasting change. This involves not only assisting those in poverty but also changing the laws and systems that hold people back from reaching their full potential. Engaging with decision-makers who have the power to change laws is crucial to our mission of reducing poverty.
Party conferences provide us with an opportunity to connect with party members, peers, and MPs. By discussing Tearfund's work and building relationships, we can continue these discussions when they return to Parliament.
Through our work with UK politicians, we aim to encourage the Government to use its leadership role on issues like climate change. This leadership can extend to influencing global summits, international organisations, and other countries to push for essential changes.

Highlighting how UK aid continues to saves lives around the world

Tearfund works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (previously the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office) to help shape policies and laws. The Government listens to us because of our experience and expertise, and the party conferences help us cultivate our relationships with MPs who work in this area.

The UK Government has match-funded several Disaster Emergency Committee appeals Tearfund has been involved with, including the Pakistan flooding appeal and the Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Over the last few years the UK Government has taken some concerning decisions regarding UK aid. This includes the UK not meeting its climate finance commitments. In 2009, wealthy nations promised to deliver $100 billion a year from 2020 for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Sadly, the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures show that this promise has still not been met. When the UK made pledges on climate finance, it stated that funds would be new and additional to the 0.7% aid budget commitment, however the UK is not currently adhering to this. New and additional commitments must be kept, because climate change requires significant resources that should not come at a cost to other Official Development Assistance (ODA) priorities. 

Tearfund’s presence at party conferences and the events that we’ll be co-hosting will highlight how UK aid continues to transform lives around the world – and why the UK Government should adhere to its commitments to nations affected by climate change, and not at the expense of the aid budget.

Tearfund's Elizabeth Myendo speaking on a panel on climate change and gender alongside the minister for international development Vicky Ford MP. Image: Lucy Marson / Tearfund. 

What are we focusing on this year?

Plastic pollution

Our world has an urgent rubbish problem. Global plastic production doubled between 2000 and 2019 and among the vast amount of plastic produced, nearly half is used just once – single-use plastic which is fuelling our throw-away, convenience-driven culture. Meanwhile, 2 billion people – one in four of us– have no safe way to dispose of rubbish, meaning many have little choice but to dump or burn it. The results are wide-ranging and extremely harmful,  causing toxic fumes and flooding and increasing the risk of serious diseases, as well as adding to the climate emergency. This causes up to a million deaths each year  – every 30 seconds someone dies because of diseases caused by plastic pollution and other waste.

Tearfund is calling for an international treaty to tackle our rubbish problem. At the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, UK Campaigns Associate Dr Beth Saunders spoke to the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum for a prayer breakfast, where we prayed for the UK Government and world leaders to develop a strong UN treaty tackling plastic pollution by reducing production and scaling up reuse solutions.

The impact of faith-based organisations in development

In communities around the world, churches are supporting some of the most vulnerable people in areas which organisations can struggle to reach. Church leaders are often respected and act as role models within their communities – as such, they are well placed to lead development initiatives.

We believe that poverty exists as a result of broken relationships with God, ourselves, others and creation. The church can play a key role in helping to restore these four broken relationships, bringing whole-life transformation to individuals and communities.

Our Director of Strategy and Impact Catriona Dejean will be speaking with other faith-based organisations at a panel event hosted by Christians on the Left at the Labour Party Conference on 9 October, discussing the positive impact that faith communities and leaders can have in development, and how these approaches can support Labour’s foreign policy.  

The importance of climate finance

People living in poverty are the ones suffering the most from the devastating effects of the climate crisis, despite having done the least to cause it. Many of the countries Tearfund works in are forced to divert funds away from public services to try to protect themselves against the effects of the climate crisis.

The UK Government – along with other wealthier countries – made a pledge at previous UN climate talks to help lower-income countries adapt to the climate crisis. Yet this promise has not been fulfilled – and poorer countries are paying the price. We’ll be gathering with the Conservative Christian Fellowship at Conservative Conference to discuss how Christians can care for creation through prayer, actions and petitions to our Government.

Woman standing with barren landscape behind her

In Ethiopia, a woman stands in front of the barren landscape, caused by the worst drought in decades. Tearfund’s local partners are doing all they can to reach people in need | Image credit: Leonilo Endoso/Tearfund

Here are the events that we’ll be at:

  • Liberal Democrat Party Conference, 23–26 September: Tearfund will be taking part in a prayer breakfast with the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum to discuss our Rubbish Campaign and how we can be praying for legislative change in this area.
  • Conservative Party Conference, 1–4 October: On 4 October, Tearfund will be taking part in an event looking at how faith inspires us to care for creation in response to the climate emergency, and why prayer and action is so vital.
  • Labour Party Conference, 8–11 October: Tearfund will be participating in a panel event looking at Labour’s foreign policy vision in a time of global crises on 9 October, and the positive impact that can be had from engaging with faith actors in development responses. 

How you can get involved

Pray with us

  •  Lift up our Government Relations team, who have been planning these events and will be going to the party conferences. Pray for the logistics of the events and for energy, strength and wisdom for our team. Pray for our relationships with MPs; that we will be able to deepen our current relationships and build new ones too.
  • Pray for good attendance at our events by MPs, their staff and decision-makers, and that they will be spurred to take action to tackle these global challenges.
  • Keep in your prayers people living in poverty whose voices and concerns we are amplifying at these events. Pray for provision for their immediate needs and that they will be able to lift themselves out of poverty for good.

Take action

You can also tell your MP that Tearfund will be at their party conference this year. You can email them and invite them to one of our events. If you do not know who your local MP is, it’s easy to find out. If your MP wants to know more, you can tell them to email our team at [email protected].

Written by

Written by  Tearfund

This article was previously written by Rachael Adams in September 2022.

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