Leader Profile: Gareth Thomas, International Development Minister, UK Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DFID) is the branch of the UK government that manages the country’s aid program. It is committed to helping poor nations meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), including improving access to water and sanitation services.

On May 18, 2008, DFID hosted the Water Forum, where International Development Minister Gareth Thomas presented the new Water Action Plan Update, ‘Meeting our promises’. The said document elaborated the progress of the agency’s water management initiatives.

Thomas spearheads the efforts to realize the MDG Call to Action launched by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in July 2007. At DFID, he attends to development-related matters concerning Asia, Europe, and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Overseas Dependent Territories. Thomas also carries the title of “Green Minister” as he is in charge of ensuring that the work of the organization adheres to the Sustainable Development in Government Framework.

“Water is a scarce and vital resource. We need to share it more fairly; we need to manage it better. In so doing, to help people to get the water they need to live, to support their livelihoods and to see the type of economic growth that is fundamental to achieving all of the MDGs not just the water and sanitation targets,” said Thomas.

By the end of the year, DFID, according to Thomas, will hold a Water and Sanitation Financing Conference. This event aims to focus on successful mechanisms in funding collaborative water management projects of the government, civil society and the private sector. It also seeks to explore the possibilities of revitalizing the Evian Action Plan for Water of G8 members.

Prior to joining DFID in 2003, Thomas was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke MP. He has been a Member of Parliament for Harrow West since May 1997. Thomas holds a BSc Econ (Political Science) degree from University of Wales and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Greenwich.

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