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What are political parties promising on International development ahead of the 2021 Scottish Election?

Scottish Parliament Building

The 2021 Scottish Elections are taking place this week (6 May). The Party (or Parties) who win will set the overall direction of travel for the next 5 years of Scottish Government policy.

Over the past month, all of the five main political parties in Scotland released their manifestos outlining their visions. What does each party commit to in terms of International development we hear you ask?

Well, to start with, all the five main political parties seem to remain committed to international development in some form or another; something we are happy to see, especially against the backdrop of such massive cuts at UK level. However, details on what exactly those commitments are varies quite considerably, as you’ll see below.

In order of manifesto publication date, we pull out what each party has said on issues that matter to us, highlighting some important policy commitments in regards to our own 2021-2026 policy priorities and 5-point plan to help create a fairer world.

Our friends over at the Scotland Malawi Partnership have also created a handy manifesto comparison grid for those that are pushed for time.

The Scottish Green Party said:

“We oppose the UK Government’s abandonment of its commitment on international development funding, and will urgently make the case for restoring this. Even without being a fully independent state, as a nation with devolved powers Scotland can take a more active role in the international community. To build our influence, contribute to global efforts to address the pandemic, and forward the transition to a net-zero economy, the Scottish Greens will seek for Scotland:

  • Associated Member Status of the World Health Organisation.
  • Associate membership of the Nordic Council.
  • Observer status of the Arctic Council.

“There will be no end to the Covid-19 pandemic until the spread is under control or eliminated everywhere.

“Wealthier countries like the UK and Scotland should support equitable international access to vaccines by increasing their financial contribution to the COVAX initiative and sharing excess stockpiled vaccines with less wealthy countries. The UK Government should ensure vaccine manufacturers allocate vaccine supply equitably; share safety, efficacy and manufacturing data with the WHO for review; and transfer technology to international manufacturers to assist a scale up in global supply.

Scotland should step up and assist global efforts to roll-out the vaccine by working with partner countries and international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, and support and contribute to the costs of vaccination in Malawi, given our historic partnership”.

Read the Scottish Green Party full manifesto here.

The Scottish National Party said:

We place great importance on Scotland being a good global citizen. This means playing our part in tackling global challenges including poverty, injustice and inequality.

“It is clear that Covid will remain a threat for some time to come, and we must therefore step up our global contribution.

“We will increase the International Development Fund from £10 million to £15 million and commit to increases in line with inflation.

“We will continue support for tackling global emergencies through the Humanitarian Emergency Fund. We will establish a £500,000 International Development Women and Girls Empowerment Fund targeted at helping women and girls, particularly in terms of accessing education, in our partner countries of Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda.

“To build on the successful model of the Scottish Global Health Co-ordination Unit we will establish a Global Renewable Centre, working with partner countries in the Global South to exchange knowledge and research in renewable technologies, to support the development of sustainable energy.

“We will also create new peer to peer partnerships between Scotland’s Centres of Expertise for Climate Change, Waters & Flooding and organisations in the Global South, sharing expertise and data towards tackling these shared challenges.”

“Scotland was the first country in the world to launch a dedicated Climate Justice Fund. Those in the global south have done least to cause climate and ecological change and yet are most likely to be impacted first. This is not fair. That is why, in the year of COP26, and in a critical moment for global climate ambition, we will double our Climate Justice Fund to £24 million over four years.

…“As we recover and rebuild from the pandemic, it is more important than ever to be guided by the vision and values of Scotland’s National Performance Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We will bring forward a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill during the next Parliament. This legislation would make it a statutory requirement for all public bodies and local authorities in Scotland to consider the long term consequences of their policy decisions on the wellbeing of the people they serve, including those not yet born, and take full account of the short and long-term sustainable development impact of their decisions, both in Scotland and elsewhere.

“Alongside this we will establish a Ministerial Working Group on policy coherence for sustainable development and a public sector Sustainable Development Goals action group which will reaffirm commitment to achieving SDGs across the public sector.”

Read the Scottish National Party full manifesto here.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats Party said:

“People who live and work in Scotland have much that we can contribute to a better world. Our combined actions on the climate emergency will help ourselves as well as people on the other side of the planet who will be among the first to be harmed by the devastation of climate change.

“We can use our freedoms to speak out in support of people elsewhere who are persecuted and oppressed. The choices we make can help make trade across the world fairer and bring prosperity to fellow citizens of the world.

  • Continue to develop and deepen the relationships between Scotland and Malawi at governmental, community, educational and environmental levels.
  • Continue to keep the climate emergency as a central objective of our international work.
  • Put a stronger human rights protocol in place to govern our relationships with other countries.

“Scotland has an important place in promoting global issues such as human rights, migration and refugees, public health and the climate emergency.

“To develop public policy on these issues, and to give a voice to our academic centres of excellence, we will support the establishment of a Scottish Council for Global Affairs, as an independent, nonpartisan centre of expertise on international affairs.”

Read the Scottish Liberal Democrats full manifesto here.

The Scottish Conservative Party said:

“The Scottish Conservatives are committed to promoting Scotland’s role at home and abroad. Scotland plays an important part in the UK’s international aid commitment, which is among the most generous of any major economy in the world. We support the continuation of the Scottish Government’s £10 million International Development Fund and the long-standing Scotland Malawi Partnership.”

Read the Scottish Conservative Party full manifesto here.

The Scottish Labour Party said:

“International development assistance is a reserved matter. However, since 2005, successive governments have developed small programmes to support and empower partner countries, including; Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Pakistan. Scottish Labour will maintain the International Development Programme, including an increase in the Climate Justice Fund and improving its effectiveness. This includes strengthening safeguarding standards and improving transparency.

“Defeating Covid-19 will require international cooperation and Scottish Labour is committed to the global efforts to guarantee that everyone has equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. We will not be safe until we are all protected.

“Scottish Labour will support a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill during the next Parliament, making all public bodies set objectives towards sustainable development outcomes, ensuring that they positively impact people and the environment here in Scotland and low-income countries. We also recognise that ensuring Scotland is a ‘good global citizen’ requires action across all government departments. We will continue to support Scotland’s status as a Fairtrade Nation and ensure that Fairtrade products are included in all public sector procurement processes.

“We support and also seek to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals both in international development and within Scotland itself. Development assistance should also be targeted to address inequalities, including LGBT+ rights,girls’ rights and children with a disability – as well as support for human rights defenders. We will also support global citizenship education in schools and maintain the funding for Scotland’s Development Education Centres.

“Scottish Labour will continue to make the case in Scotland and across the UK for an integrated trade and industrial strategy, which boosts exports, investment, ethical trade and decent jobs. This includes proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade and investment deals post-Brexit. We will preserve public bodies’ capacity to make procurement decisions in keeping with public policy objectives and human rights at home and abroad. It is also essential to ensure that trade agreements cannot undermine human rights and labour standards.

“While Scotland does not have its own foreign policy, it has an important role in a range of international issues, including human rights, migration and refugees, global public health, and climate change. To help inform public and policy debate, Scottish Labour will support establishing a Scottish Council for Global Affairs. Drawing on Scotland’s academic centres of excellence, as well as civil society and business, this body will serve as an independent repository of expertise on international affairs, helping to enhance knowledge of international affairs within Scotland.”

Read the Scottish Labour Party full manifesto here.

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