Just before Christmas 2016 the Scottish Government launched its new international development policy, ‘Global Citizenship: Scotland’s International Development Strategy’. We strongly support this new Strategy.
We were impressed with the engaging, accessible and effective manner in which the consultation for this strategy was conducted, with events across Scotland inviting input from not only established international development NGOs but also wider Scottish civic society. We also applauded the transparency with which the collated responses to the consultation were publically shared. We see this as having been a fair, open and effective consultation process.
We’re pleased to see that most of the core policy recommendations made by the SMP (representing our 1,000+ members) in our own submission to the consultation, and a great many of the recommendations made directly by our members in their own submissions, are included within the new Strategy.
And so, worrying that some folk may have missed the strategy launch in the run up to Christmas, we’re keen to set out here the ten things we love about the new international development strategy!
In the Strategy the Scottish Government commits to building on its “special and historical links with Malawi” (p11), highlighting that the “vision of partnership, and the network of people-to-people links, remain firmly embedded in Scotland’s relationship with Malawi today” (p11). In his foreword the Minister states: “the network of connections Scotland and Malawi have built up since the time of David Livingstone is … an invaluable tool for development” (p4). The Strategy celebrates that Scotland has “developed a unique development partnership model with Malawi through the civil society links between our two countries. The approach is people-led, which we consider key to learning and building on success and failures in international development. We believe this ‘bottom up’ and ‘partnership of equals’ approach to international development is a particular Scottish strength in addressing the shared challenges that our world faces” (p17).
We welcome this re-commitment to Malawi as a key priority country within the International Development Fund. Today, more than 94,000 Scots are actively involved in civic links with Malawi, making this one of the world’s strongest north-south civic links. By focusing efforts on a select number of countries the Scottish Government is able to maximize its impact and lever a powerful multiplier force from Scottish civic society: for every £1 of Scottish Government funds committed to Malawi, around £8 comes from Scottish civic society.
The Strategy states that the Scottish Government is proud of its “approach to international development [which is] working in a ‘partnership of equals’ with others, both within Scotland and with our partner countries” (p17). It looks to support “the principles of effective partnership including: equality of relations between partners; engagement and participation at all levels and within all sectors of society; good governance and accountability” (p9). It highlights that this partnership approach will, “unleash a powerful multiplier effect, thus empowering communities to effect change and work towards sustainable development” (p9). In his foreword, the Minister states “This partnership approach to international development has attracted attention globally and is, we believe, unprecedented in world terms.” (p4). The Scottish Government looks to “encourage multi-stakeholder partnerships to harness a range of expertise, knowledge and resources, including public-private and civil society partnerships” (p18).
We think this sense of dignified partnership is at the very core of Scottish internationalism. We believe this continuing commitment to working through partnership rather than charity alone is what makes Scotland’s international development contribution so distinctive, innovative and effective. We consulted 200+ Scottish and 200+ Malawian organisations, asking what good partnership working really means and, from this, developed our Scotland-Malawi Partnership Principles. We’re delighted that many of these principles and themes are captured within the Scottish Government’s policy.
In its new Strategy, the Scottish Government recognizes that “achieving success depends on collaborative working and collective action” (p17). In his foreword, the Minister states, “As a small country, we are also better able to take advantage of informal networks and opportunities for collaboration, and to share learning. This enables collective action and a partnership approach” (p4). The Scottish Government looks to advance a “collaborative approach with other funders, whether national development agencies, subscriptions lotteries, philanthropic organisations or individuals” (p18).
We strongly welcome this commitment to working in a collaborative manner. The sector in Scotland has a strong record of working well in a coordinated, collaborative and collegial manner: this has given Scotland a strong voice and has helped maximize the positive impact of our international development contribution. Such collaboration allows us to share learning between organisations, harness experience and expertise, and reduce duplication of effort. We welcome enhanced collaboration between organisations and individuals in the sector, between the Scottish Government and the sector, and between the Scottish Government and other donor agencies.
In the Strategy, the Scottish Government looks to offer “support for civil society in Scotland, including through network organisations, to engage in, and build domestic support and understanding of, international development”(p14). It wishes “to raise awareness of our international development work including through network organisations” (p9). And it will “encourage and support the role of civil society in developing networks, sharing knowledge and providing a collective voice in both Scotland and our partner countries” (p17).
We very much welcome this commitment to working with and through independent civic networks in Scotland. The Scottish Government enhances its impact through its core funding of NIDOS, the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, the Scotland Malawi Partnership and the Malawi Scotland Partnership, and its close working with IDEAS, SCVO, Open Government Network, and other key civic networks. These networks allow the Scottish Government to
have significant reach and support within Scotland, engaging thousands of organisations across all sections of Scottish civic society, not just NGOs but schools, universities, faith groups, hospitals, businesses, community groups, etc. This in turn catalyses a genuinely “whole nation” approach to international development.
5. Engaging civil society:
The Scottish Government states in the Strategy that it “values the role civil society plays as an agent of effective change and accountability, in particular for the poorest and most vulnerable communities. Through their work and knowledge they can advocate on global issues – helping to raise awareness amongst decision-makers in Scotland and harnessing support from the people of Scotland” (p17). It will: “continue to collaborate effectively with communities (including diasporas) and civil society organisations both large and small, in Scotland and our partner countries” (p17). It recognizes that “principles such as empowerment, equality and social justice are common to many civil society organisations, and are congruent with their aims to reduce poverty and inequality and promote social justice globally” (p17). It commits to “engage the people of Scotland: to build upon Scotland’s history as an outward-facing, humanitarian nation to boost domestic support for international development … [and] …. to enable individual, communities (including diasporas) and professions to realise their own potential to help to achieve development outcomes” (p9). It seeks to engage “governments, universities and colleges; institutions; public and private sectors; civil society; and communities” (p9).
We see active civic engagement as the most distinctive element of the Scottish Government’s approach to international development. Studies tell us an estimated 46% of Scots can name a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi, and less than 3% of Scots hold negative views relating to Malawi links. This level of civic engagement and support is unparalleled, and is something that Scotland can rightly take significant pride in. By grounding its international development work in these existing civic links, the Scottish Government is able to harness an incredible energy and goodwill from thousands of churches, schools, hospitals, universities, colleges, community groups and businesses. This constructive synergy between state and civic efforts allows us to have far greater impact, and we feel this bottom-up approach also affords greater sustainability.
6. Sustainable Development Goals:
The Scottish Government commits in the Strategy to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (‘Global Goals’), stating, “We want to play our part in contributing to the development of our partner countries and their achievement of the Global Goals” (p7).
We’re delighted that Scotland was amongst the first nations in the world to embrace the SDGs. These 17 Global Goals will drive all anti-poverty work, both domestically and internationally, right up to 2030. Following the principle of collaboration and partnership set out in this Strategy, it is right and proper that Scotland plays a strong role working with other nations to advance and implement this new global agenda.
7. Small Grants Programme:
The Scottish Government Strategy commits to “continue to fund [its] Small Grants Programme”. This is a high-impact and popular programme which has supported dozens of smaller Scottish organisations to make an invaluable contribution at a community level.
We feel this programme has been one of the great successes of the Scottish Government’s international development programme in recent years; it has been well designed in partnership with the sector and well delivered by the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. The programme has adopted a supportive and understanding approach to grant awarding and management, allowing a more diverse range of smaller and often community-led organisations to make their vital contribution to Scotland’s international development efforts.
8. Global citizenship & youth engagement
The Scottish Government commits in the Strategy to offering “support for global citizenship in Scotland – building on Scotland’s track record of global citizenship education and learning for sustainability, [it] will consider funding opportunities for Scottish organisations which support young people to volunteer in partner countries”(p14). In his foreword the Minister highlights that: “we are the inheritors of a tradition of global citizenship, I want to inspire our communities and young people to realise their own role and to be a force for good in the wider world. Education is a key component of this. So too is the example we set our young people” (p4). The Scottish Government seeks to inspire “communities and young people to realise their role as good global citizens in the wider world, passing on the baton to the next generation” (p9).
We welcome this commitment to global citizenship, development education and youth engagement. Amazingly, after 157 years, Scotland’s civic relationship with Malawi is getting younger and not older! This is because each year more and more young Scots are getting involved, with the average age of engagement dropping each year as a result. The Scottish Government’s commitment to continuing to inspire more and more young Scots to understand what good global citizenship really means, and themselves to get involved, means we can be confident each new generation will pick up the baton, championing social justice and fighting poverty at home and abroad.
9. Scottish expertise:
In the Strategy the Scottish Government wishes to “harness existing Scottish and in-country expertise in key areas that could benefit global development” (p16), including in “registered charities; our academic sector; our public bodies and health service; and in the private sector including social enterprise” (p16). It does “not seek to export Scottish institutions or ideas, but rather to offer the best of our skills and knowledge where it is of tangible use to our partners” (p16), and “will not restrict [its] Strategy to thematic areas of development” (p16).
By harnessing the experience, expertise and enthusiasm both in Scotland and in our partner countries, and by working in a collaborative and partnership-driven manner, Scotland is able to significantly increase its international development reach and impact. Scotland has chosen not to have an approach to international development driven by consultants and corporations but rather looks to find innovative ways to tap into the incredible expertise, goodwill and willingness to volunteer time across Scotland and our partner countries. We believe this is a far more-cost effective and sustainable approach.
10. Beyond Aid:
The Scottish Government Strategy looks to follow a Beyond Aid agenda, taking “a holistic approach to sustainable development, requiring all – government, local government, public bodies, private sector, communities and individuals – to adapt their behaviour in support of the Global Goals” (p20). The Scottish Government is “committed to integrating the principles and priorities of this International Development Strategy into [its] broader policy agenda” (p20).
We strongly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Beyond Aid agenda and to policy coherence for development. Aid alone will not end poverty. We live in a globalized world and this means that policies within almost every single department of government will have an impact somewhere else in the world. We welcome this commitment from the Scottish Government to ensuring the values of its international development work are not undermined by policies elsewhere in government.