Make your voice heard on the future of Scottish external affairs policy

Make your voice heard on the future of Scottish external affairs policy

The international development sector in Scotland should make its voice heard in the debate on the future of Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the world. Fighting global challenges, like poverty and climate change, must underpin every part of Scottish external affairs policy. Make your voice heard in the Scottish Parliament inquiry.

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In May, the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the future of the Scottish Government’s external affairs policy in the context of Brexit. The call for written views will close on 21 June 2019.

Given the currently fluid nature of the Brexit process, the Committee’s inquiry will examine how the Scottish Government’s external affairs policy should evolve, where resources should be allocated to meet strategic priorities and what lessons might be drawn from other countries.

The Scottish Government’s ‘International Framework’ sets out the Government’s wider approach to external relations. In addition, the Scottish Government has a number of engagement strategies in place with Canada, China, India, Pakistan, and the United States.

The Scottish Government also has its ‘International Development Policy’ which seeks to enable the Scottish Government to play a part in tackling global challenges including poverty, injustice and inequality.

Furthermore, Scottish Development International have offices in a range of countries which promote international trade and investment between Scotland and other countries.

Why does this inquiry matter?

We see all these aspects of external affairs policy as inextricably linked, particularly in terms of how they affect our ability to contribute to tackling global challenges such as poverty, climate change, injustice and inequality. This is a question of policy coherence.

Our membership, through the Board’s Policy Committee has a strong interest in promoting the concept of ‘Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development’ (PCSD) on the basis that by enhancing policy coherence the Scottish Government can add significant value to its global citizenship goals. 

PCSD is recognised across the world as an essential element in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  It has been embraced at supranational level by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) which has established the PCSD Partnership to drive forward the realisation of the concept among OECD member states.

The economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development must be considered holistically by all parts of Scottish society, including government and the private sector.

It seems an obvious starting point to make sure all elements of Scotland’s external affairs policy are coherent, and that no one part undermines any other, and better still, reinforce one another.

The trade and investment that we promote, the subsidies our government provides to specific industries and the strategic objectives we focus on should be systemically assessed against a variety of sustainable development indicators.

We can no longer promote actions that economically benefit Scotland or Scottish business at the expense of the environment nor social or economic progress of developing countries.

What questions relate to our sector?

Some of the inquiry is specific to EU engagement, but the other part is on how we engage with the rest of the world. Specific questions in the inquiry that are important for our sector to address are:

  • What principles should inform the Scottish Government’s international engagement? For example, should economic priorities be the key priority or cultural / ‘soft power’ priorities?
  • How should the Scottish Government prioritise its international engagement – for example, should the locations prioritised be based on a geography or policy focus?
  • How can the Scottish Government’s international engagement be evaluated effectively?

The international development sector in Scotland has a duty to make its voice heard in this debate to make sure that we remain focused on fighting global challenges going forward. There is no doubt that business and other stakeholders will voice their own interests which are unlikely to fully align with the sustainable development agenda.

Get involved!

The Alliance will be responding and we encourage other individuals and organisations to do the same. Later this summer, the Alliance will also be publishing a new paper that promotes a more coherent approach to sustainable development. Watch this space.

If you are an Alliance member, you can share your thoughts and collaborate on our response using this thread on the Alliance community.

Not a member? Get in touch anyway, we’re always keen here your thoughts.