A report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Europe an and External Relations Committee has welcomed the Scottish Government’s increased funding for international development but has called for the policy to be ‘mainstreamed’ across all government departments.
The committee recommends that the focus of the Scottish Government’s policy should not be restricted to allocating resources from the International Development Fund but should include areas such as development education, school twinning, volunteering, and recruitment of health professionals.
A key finding of the inquiry is the need to raise awareness of international development issues among the people of Scotland and that the Scottish Government should take a lead role in delivering this.
The committee also calls for the Government to play a leading role in delivering Scotland ’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and eradicating poverty.
Convener of the European and External Relations Committee Malcolm Chisholm said:
“We welcome the Government’s increased funding commitment, but beyond funding mechanisms alone, we want to see the Government play a more influential role in raising awareness of international development issues across Scotland especially through its support for development education.”
Mr Chisholm added:
“The Scottish Government also needs to be sure that its international development policy is not delivered in isolation. The previous administration committed itself to a code of practice whereby health professionals in developing countries would not be targeted to come and work in the NHS in Scotland . We hope that practice will be continued, but what we really want to see is consideration right across a range of government policies to ensure that they are consistent with the Government’s international development aims.”
On fair trade and government procurement practice Mr Chisholm said:
“Mainstreaming could also apply to the Government’s procurement practices. Its annual budget for international development is £6 million this year rising to £9 million in two years time. However, that amount is dwarfed by the Government’s annual procurement spend of around £8 billion. If that expenditure incorporated fair trade provision you could potentially boost Scotland ’s contribution to international development significantly. We are asking the Government to actively pursue this in the way that the Dutch government has.”
The remit of the committee’s inquiry was to: take a strategic overview of international development issues within Scotland and to consider and report on the role of a Scottish Government international development policy and how value can be added to the international development work that is already on-going in Scotland.