SMP Roundtable meeting with new British High Commissioner: H.E. David Beer

We were delighted to invite members of the SMP, and their partners in Malawi, to join a special roundtable meeting with David Beer, the new British High Commissioner of Malawi.

More than 50 SMP member organisations joined our roundtable meeting on the 14th December 2020 with the new British High Commissioner of Malawi, H.E. David Beer.

Aims of meeting:

The meeting had five strategic objectives:

(1) To brief the High Commissioner on the SMP and, most importantly, what our members do.

(2) To listen to the High Commissioner's priorities coming to post

(3) To explore closer cooperation between FCDO and SMP

(4) To facilitate open discussion, including on three specific points:

- How best to support and amplify Malawi at COP26

- How to support closer working between FCDO and SMP

- Implications of cut to 0.7% and DFID-FCO merger

(5) To support networking between SMP members

Key outcomes:

It was a really constructive meeting, with the High Commissioner commenting afterwards “I found it really engaging, and it was great to see the passion from SMP members!”. Discussions covered a number of key areas, with broad agreement in principle for:

1) The exchange of contact details so the High Commission can follow up with SMP members directly where specific topics have been raised.

2) Regular channels of communications established, with quarterly meetings between the SMP and the High Commission, and annual roundtable meetings like this for members to discuss with the High Commissioner.

3) FCDO-SMP cooperation as we support Scotland-Malawi trade, including through the forthcoming Malawi-UK Chamber of Commerce.

4) Working together to help deliver our ‘Malawi at COP26’ strategy, with both the SMP and the High Commission keen to amplify Malawi’s voice at COP26.

We very much thank the new High Commissioner for the time he gave to meet with members and respond to so many questions, so positively. We look forward to continuing a close relationship with the High Commission.

S300 David Beer

Watch back - SMP Roundtable Meeting with New British High Commissioner, H.E. David Beer

Please find a full recording of the event here. Head to our YouTube channel below to find timestamps to specific sections of the meeting.


By clicking the below timestamps, you can link to specific sections of the meeting:

0:01 Welcome and introduction - David Hope-Jones, SMP

5:19 Address by the British High Commissioner - H.E. David Beer

12:45 Summary briefing from the Scotland Malawi Partnership - David Hope-Jones, SMP

20:41 Micro-briefings from SMP Members:


21:16 Kelly White, Geo Group Marketing

23:35 Kate Webb, Orbis Expeditions


25:26 Prof Heather Cubie, University of Edinburgh

27:40 Sam Abrahams, First Aid Africa


29:04 Moira Dunworth, Mamie Martin Fund

31:03 Harold Kuombola, Link Education International


33:50 Daniela Lagus, SMP Youth Committee


35:54 Prof Robert Kalin, University of Strathclyde


37:29 Olivia Giles, 500 Miles


39:49 Jennie Chilembiri, Church of Scotland

42:11 Mike Beresford, Zambesi Mission


44:04 Joyce Phiri, Association of Malawians in Scotland

Orphanages and vulnerable children:

48:04 Keith and Mary Woodworth, Friends of Mulanje Orphans

50:29 Claire Collins, Open Arms Malawi

52:50 Open Q&A / Discussion

53:07 How best to support and amplify Malawi at COP26

1:03:34 How to support closer working between FCDO and SMP

1:07:52 Implications of cut to 0.7% and DFID-FCO merger

1:21:05 Feedback on various points from speakers and final Q&A, H.E. David Beer

1:28:10 Summary and next steps - David Hope-Jones, SMP

1:33:53 Close

About David Beer:

Many of our members already knew David Beer as he previously served as Head of DFID Malawi (2018-2020). Earlier this year DFID was merged with the FCO to create the FCDO and, when Holly Tett stepped down as British High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer was appointed as her successor. He formally started in this role when his credentials were accepted by the President of Malawi on the 20th October, but he attended our AGM informally before this.

We have greatly enjoyed working with David Beer in DFID and we look forward to a similarly close relationship as High Commissioner.

The SMP has, for many years, hosted roundtable meetings with members for all incoming British High Commissioners to Malawi and Malawian High Commissioners to the UK. This has been greatly valued by all sides and we are delighted to be continuing the tradition.

We used the meeting to brief the High Commissioner on our members’ work and priorities, and looked to listen to his views, especially on opportunities for closer working and collaboration between Scotland’s civic links with Malawi and the UK Government’s work in Malawi. We enjoyed an open and really constructive exchange.

Before becoming Head of DFID Malawi in 2018, David Beer was:

- Advisor to UK Executive Directors at the IMF and World Bank (2015-18)

- DFID, Economic Development Team Leader for Ghana (2012-15)

- DFID, Head of Office, Burundi (2010-12)

- DFID, Humanitarian and Recovery Programme Manager for Sudan (2008-10)

- DFID, Various roles including; International Development Committee Inquiry lead, Iraq; Policy analyst on Occupied Palestinian Territory; EU co-ordinator Western Balkans Team; and Programme Officer, Corporate Strategy Group (2004-08)

Before this, David Beer had various Non-Governmental Organisation roles including:

- Tearfund Desk Officer for Rwanda, Burundi and Madagascar;

- Medair Humanitarian Programme Manager, North-East Uganda;

- Medair Logistics Co-ordinator, Democratic Republic of Congo; and

- Youth With a Mission Construction Manager, Uganda