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Shifting the power 

‘Shifting the power’ aims to change the narrative on ‘development’ and ‘aid’ and consider what it should evolve into in terms of supporting the global redistribution of wealth and power. It aims to shift decision-making and power structures away from the global north and support self-defined global sustainable development. 

Scotland’s International Development Alliance has been working on ‘shifting the power’ for several years, most recently by developing a research project for policy and advocacy purposes, and thinking about our approach to language.

Building a just world

The research will explore what a feminist, decolonial, equitable and inclusive approach to global affairs looks like, and set out a vision for how this could be applied and pursued in the Scottish context. The project is led by the Alliance policy committee, and we’ve commissioned Kate Nevens and Iffat Shahnaz from the intersectional feminist facilitation and research consultancy, the collective to undertake this important work. 

Focus group discussions took place in August/September with approx. 60 attendees, 18 from the global south. An in-person workshop took place in October. We aim to publish the report in January. 

The final output will be a policy paper outlining a Scottish vision for shifting power and championing anti-racist, feminist and decolonial approaches within international development and global affairs. The paper will make a set of recommendations to both the Scottish and UK governments, and will be used to inform our advocacy work over the coming years. 

The write-up of the in person workshop is available to read below.

Language policy

It’s important to reflect on our language in the context of anti-racism and decolonisation. Adopting a critical stance on the language we use can ensure that it does not cause people harm or perpetuate coloniality.  

In 2021 we undertook some collaborative work with our members to consider issues around language. We are now developing our own language policy which we hope to share in the coming months, along with the process that we used.  

We are not prescribing how our members should use language but encouraging them to reflect on its importance. We are happy to share our learnings so far with anyone interested. 

Reflecting on language in international development in Scotland – Discussion paper version 2 – Scotland’s International Development Alliance (intdevalliance.scot) 

Useful links

RINGO is the first globally-coordinated cross-sectoral effort to revolutionize the sector by interrogating the purpose, structures, power, and positioning of INGOs: Rights CoLab 

The #ShiftThePower Treehouse is a place for those who refuse to accept the status quo in philanthropy and development: Manifesto for Change – Another Way Is Possible (shiftthepower.org) 


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NEWS: New research project – a transformative approach to global affairs

The research will explore what a feminist, decolonial, equitable and inclusive approach to global affairs looks like, and set out a vision for how this could be applied and pursued in the Scottish context.


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