Malawi and Scotland: Together for Sustainable Development Conference

28 Sep 2018

The Malawi Scotland Partnership and the Scotland Malawi Partnership, with the Scottish Government, the Government of Malawi and both Parliaments, delivered a major high-level national conference in Lilongwe on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September 2018, celebrating the friendship between our two nations and discussing the next chapter in the bilateral relationship.

In April 2018, during a visit of H.E. President Arthur Peter Mutharika to Scotland, an updated cooperation agreement, the ‘Global Goals Partnership Agreement’, was signed between the two Governments.  This agreement set out how the two governments would work together in the coming years to support the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Malawi and Scotland: Together for Sustainable Development conference brought together, and listened to, a range of key stakeholders across civil society, the private sector, government and parliament to explore how best to effectively implement the Global Goals Partnership Agreement.

It mirrored the detailed discussion and planning which took place at the 2005 Malawi After Gleneagles conference, hosted in the Scottish Parliament, as the first Scotland-Malawi Cooperation Agreement was signed.

The enduring appeal and success of the Malawi-Scotland friendship is not just the significant shared history our two nations enjoy but also the constructive synergy and collective effort across government, parliament and civil society, and the spirit of dignified two-way partnership as opposed to simply one-way charity.

This is widely seen as an innovative new approach to international development and is increasingly being emulated elsewhere. Bringing together government, parliament and civil society, this conference helped ensure the Global Goals Partnership Agreement continues to follow this model of collaboration, goodwill and cooperation, expanding to become a country-to-country and people-to-people process, rather than just a government-to-government agreement.

In this way, the conference helped further re-energise the bilateral relationship and established a direction of travel and ways of working for this next exciting chapter, in a genuinely consultative, cross-cutting and engaging manner.

Read the full Conference Report which summarises the key outcomes from the various discussions over the two days, including the Conference Statement which was unanimously agreed by all who attended (Click on the 'Full Screen' button below).


 The Conference included a specific cross-cutting focus on the SDGs, safeguarding and youth participation. It had five strategic objectives: to unite, to listen, to learn, to envision and to plan.

Day One of the Conference included speeches from senior representatives of both governments, both parliaments and civic society.

Much of the day was spent in seven working groups, covering the six strands of the GGPA (Health; Education; Civic Governance; Sustainable Economic Development; Renewable Energy; and Water and Climate), with a seventh group specifically on Safeguarding.

Day Two focused on safeguarding and youth participation, with expert speakers, plenary discussion and a lively youth Q&A with Ministers from both Governments. The conference ended with a Conference Statement proposed, thoroughly discussed and unanimously agreed by delegates.

The Conference Statement summarises the distinctive features of the bilateral relationship and asserts that our common purpose in this next chapter of cooperation is to “think big” as we look to challenge extreme poverty, the great moral outrage of our time.

The Statement goes on to identify 15 cross-cutting commitments, which came up again and again from each of the working groups, and which the conference believes essential for the success of the SDGs and the GGPA: Government-Parliament-Civil Society collaboration; sharing our impact; contextual understanding; influencing others; holistic working; good governance; capacity building; partnership; delivery; sustainability; local ownership; youth participation; safeguarding; and equality.

Finally, the Conference Statement detailed a handful of specific commitments for each of the six strands delegates hope to make in the coming period to support the delivery of the GGPA and the SDGs, in Malawi and Scotland.

The Conference Statement is a collated statement of overarching priorities which have come from the many key stakeholders who attended the conference. It is not a formal or binding policy document. Rather, it presents proposals and ideas for how best to deliver the new Global Goals Partnership Agreement, specifically how civil society can work with government and parliament to advance this common cause, as part of a country-to-country and not just government-to-government initiative.

The Conference Statement is principally a civic document, albeit informed by input from and discussion with government and parliament in both Malawi and Scotland. It is not a government document and has no legal status.

However, the Conference Report will be presented to the President of Malawi, the First Minister of Scotland, as well as the Scottish, Malawian and UK Parliaments. Together, civil society, Parliament and Government, in both nations, will continue to work collaboratively to help deliver the SDGs and the GGPA, and advance the priorities identified within this report.

This Conference Report represents a milestone on the shared journey of Malawi and Scotland. It can claim to be the most thorough analysis and review of the people-to-people partnership between the two nations since they embarked on their current phase of relations in 2005. It shows how far we have come together – how much mutual understanding has been formed, how much common purpose has been fostered and how much has been achieved in terms of impact.

On the basis of a comprehensive assessment it looks forward ambitiously, confident that the partnership developed between the two nations can contribute significantly to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It celebrates and articulates the values and principles that will run through all our shared endeavour.

We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government for funding the 2018 Malawi and Scotland: Together for Sustainable Development Conference.