MSPs from all Parties celebrate Scottish Government's work with Malawi

26 October 2018

MSPs from all five political parties in the Scottish Parliament took part in a debate welcoming the Scottish Government's Contribution to International Development 2017-18 report, with each party highlighting the impact achieved in Malawi.

MSPs from all five political parties in the Scottish Parliament took part in a debate welcoming the Scottish Government’s Contribution to International Development 2017-18 report, with each party highlighting the impact achieved in Malawi.

The debate was led by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, Ben Macpherson MSP. The Minister framed the debate around partnership and collaboration: themes that came out from each of the MSPs that spoke.

CLICK HERE to watch the video of the debate

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the debate

The strong recurring message through the debate was that the Scottish Government is to be congratulated for developing an approach to international development which builds on historic and contemporary links, thereby bringing together governmental and civic efforts for maximum impact and popular support.

We continue to be inspired at the scale of all-party political support which exists for the Scottish Government’s work with Malawi. It is to Scotland’s immense credit that all its political leaders stand together in supporting the government-to-government and people-to-people friendship with Malawi which successive Scottish Governments have invested in.

There are few topics in Parliament that enjoy the same degree of all-party consensus and where there is such unambiguous support for the Scottish Government’s work. We believe one of the most distinctive features of the bilateral relationship with Malawi is the inspiring way in which government, parliament and civil society come together so powerfully for one collective national effort.

All 129 MSPs and all 59 Scottish MPs have SMP members with active Malawi links in their constituency/region.

Excellent speeches were delivered in the debate, including by Ben Macpherson MSP (SNP), Claire Baker MSP (Scottish Labour), Alexander Stewart MSP (Scottish Conservatives), Ross Greer MSP (Scottish Greens), Liam McArthur MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Annabelle Ewing MSP (SNP), Jeremy Balfour MSP (Scottish Conservatives), Colin Smyth MSP (Scottish Labour), Bill Kidd MSP (SNP), Lewis Macdonald MSP (Scottish Labour) and Jamie Greene MSP (Scottish Conservatives).

We are keen to thank Minister Ben Macpherson and all MSPs, from each of the five parties, that spoke in the debate for their continued support for Scotland’s international development work.

There were 65 references to Malawi in the 60 minute debate and every party highlighted the innovative way governmental programmes complement, and enjoy a synergy with, civic links spread across hundreds of NGOs, schools, churches, hospitals, universities, businesses and all manner of community groups.

The work of 15 SMP members was specifically championed during the debate, including: Link Community Development International, Tearfund Scotland, the University of Strathclyde, Police Scotland, SCIAF, Christian Aid Scotland, Dalgety Bay parish church, Dalgety Bay Friends of Engcongolweni, Robin Arnott, Beath High School, Dalgety Bay Primary School, Donibristle Primary School, Lochgelly High School.

Other key themes that came out through the debate included: governance cooperation, policy coherence for development, effectiveness, fair trade, safeguarding, climate justice

At the end of the debate Parliament unanimously agreed the Scottish Government’s motion that:

“That the Parliament notes the publication by the Scottish Government of Contribution to International Development Report 2017-18, which presents its contributions to international development in collaboration with partners, particularly in its partner countries, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Pakistan, in support of the UN Global Goals; further notes the cross-cutting themes on policy coherence for development in areas such as health, education, climate change and human rights, while safeguarding beneficiaries; welcomes the significant contributions of international development organisations, civic society, universities, the NHS and Police Scotland to global citizenship and collaborative international development initiatives; believes that ongoing collaborations with the Department for International Development, Comic Relief and other donors, and the co-creation of international development initiatives with the NHS, Police Scotland, universities, civil society organisations and others, will continue to strengthen Scotland’s position as an outward-looking, committed global citizen; considers that Scotland should continue to provide a positive and progressive voice in the world, for compassion, tolerance, diversity and social justice; recognises the strong cross-party approach and support for international development across the Parliament, and reaffirms strong support for Scotland’s distinct and collaborative contributions to international development to help tackle global challenges, including poverty, injustice and inequality.”


Minister Ben Macpherson MSP opened the debate by saying:

“A few weeks ago, I was at the Scotland Malawi Partnership’s annual general meeting, where I learned a new phrase thanks to a project by Link Community Development International. The phrase is “onse ngo funika”, which is Chichewa for “all people are important”. It is a phrase that resonates with us in Scotland, as it does in the warm heart of Africa.”

He continued:

“It is that concept of collaboration that underpins the report, and it is our commitment to collaboration that underpins the Scottish Government’s international development work. Partnership with civil society, with our universities and public bodies and with other nations is key to all our international development work.

“It is our collaborative efforts—across government, across Scotland and together with our partner countries—that the report highlights and brings to life, demonstrating that, when we come together for global good, we can make positive change happen.”

Claire Baker MSP (Scottish Labour), said:

“It was in 2005 that the then First Minister, Jack McConnell, signed a co-operation agreement with the President of Malawi. I am proud that, with cross-party support, this strand of the Scottish Government’s work has grown.”

…Reflecting on his recent visit to Malawi, the minister highlighted that Scotland’s contribution to Malawi has been important and transformative. Increased wages, an increase in production and an increase in the number of children enrolled in schools are a few of the advancements. I am therefore pleased that, 13 years on from its first signing, the First Minister has signed an updated joint agreement to ensure that both countries continue to work together.”

Alexander Stewart MSP (Scottish Conservatives), said:

“The Scottish Conservatives believe that it is incredibly important that the Scottish and UK Governments play their parts in supporting such individuals through collaboration with international development.

“With regard to international development, the Scottish Government seems to excel, in particular, in collaboration across business and research and, importantly, across civil society. Tying that approach in with existing projects and initiatives allows the £10 million budget to go a lot further than it otherwise would. There is no better example of that than the work that goes on throughout the country to build on Scotland’s long-standing relationship with Malawi.

“As a co-convener of the cross-party group on Malawi, I have seen at first hand the exceptional work that has taken place. Like the minister, I attended the recent Scotland Malawi Partnership AGM in Glasgow, which was an inspiring event, with many individuals showing off their talent and commitment.”

Ross Greer MSP (Scottish Greens), said:

“Scotland’s international development programme is a brilliant example of pushing the boundaries of devolution, living up to our global responsibilities and doing some genuine good in the world. We have both the responsibility and the privilege of being able to act.”

Liam McArthur MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats), said:

“The historical friendship between Scotland and Malawi has, over recent years, given rise to a distinctive and successful approach to international development by successive Scottish Governments, dating back to the work of Jack McConnell and the signing of the first co-operation agreement in 2005.

“The Government-to-Government and Parliament-to-Assembly links work in synergy with a wider collective effort across schools, churches, universities, hospitals, community groups, businesses and all sections of civil society. There is not a part of Scotland that does not have a story to tell about the links that it shares with communities and counterparts in Malawi. I believe that the Scottish Government’s efforts have a disproportionate impact and enjoy such popular support precisely because of their connections and the interplay with wider civic efforts.”

He concluded his speech saying:

Our relationship with Malawi encapsulates the very positive contribution to international development that Scotland has made and can continue to make, and I look forward to supporting those efforts into the future. Zikomo kwambiri.”

Annabelle Ewing MSP (SNP), said:

“In my view, what is most significant is the importance that the Government, in its international development work, places on real two-way partnership working with civic society here and in the countries that are involved. That approach, which is what marks Scotland’s distinctive contribution to international development, has been widely commended by our peers.

“We need look only at the enormously important work—as members have mentioned—that is taking place in Malawi to see how that distinctive approach is delivering on the ground. The Scotland Malawi Partnership has pointed out that the key approach of real nation-to-nation and citizen-to-citizen joint working acts as a civic multiplier. As we have heard, every £1 that is spent on the Scottish Government Malawi development programme brings in more than £10 in inputs from wider civic society.”

Jeremy Balfour MSP (Scottish Conservatives), said:

“As all members so far have done, I thank the Government for bringing the debate to the chamber, and welcome the report that we are talking about. As my colleague Alexander Stewart pointed out, one of the things that the Scottish Government has got right on this matter is its partnering with other organisations here in Scotland and, perhaps more important, in other countries, from which we get much value”

Colin Smyth MSP (Scottish Labour):

“Last month, I had the pleasure of welcoming the Scottish Fair Trade Forum to Dumfries for its annual conference. Campaigners from local groups across Scotland gathered to share ideas, hear from others, develop new plans and welcome Kilombero rice farmers who were visiting Scotland from Malawi as part of a UK-wide tour supported by Just Trading Scotland, which is based in Paisley. In an age of uncertainty, cynicism and fake news, the conference and Scotland’s international links are real examples of how a community-based grass-roots approach strengthens the commitment to global connections and development. That highlights the minister’s earlier point that networks and civic society partnerships that link to communities and partnerships globally are central to the success of Scotland’s long-standing commitment to international development.”

Bill Kidd MSP (SNP), said:

“Scotland is a country with a rich network of non-governmental organisations, charities and academic centres that are focused on international development. Many of those groups work in collaboration with, or are funded by, the Scottish Government. That collective effort mirrors the United Nations 2015 to 2030 global goals agenda, the goals of which are embedded in a number of Scottish Government policy areas, such as tackling poverty, taking climate action and, of course, international development.”

Lewis Macdonald MSP (Scottish Labour), said:

“The debate has confirmed that the Scottish Government’s contribution to international development continues to enjoy strong cross-party support, as it has done since it was initiated by Jack McConnell back in 2005, when Patricia Ferguson was appointed as Scotland’s first international development minister. It has also confirmed a larger truth: Scotland’s contribution is not confined to Government alone, but involves and engages tens of thousands of people across civil society.”

He concluded saying:

“I am certain that there will continue to be support, across this Parliament, for Scotland’s contribution to international development and for policies that can tackle poverty and inequality, both here in Scotland and around the world.”

Jamie Greene MSP (Scottish Conservatives), said:

“It is fair to say that, internationally, a lot of progress has been made over the past couple of decades. According to the World Bank, there has been a 36 per cent reduction in absolute poverty in the last 40 years, which means that more than a billion people have been lifted out of it”.

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