SMP reflections on Scottish Government's International Development Review

08 April 2021

Members have asked for the SMP's reflections on what has been announced and we are happy to share these here, having taken time to listen to members and partners over this last month.

We recognise that, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, the Scottish Government (SG) wished to take time to review its approach to international development. A review was announced at the start of September 2020 and concluded at the start March 2021.

Read the Results of the Review

Read our summary of some of the key points from the review

Read the SG’s announcement in response to a Parliamentary Question

Read the SG’s news piece on the announcement

Read the SG’s new International Development Principles

Members have asked for the SMP’s reflections on what has been announced and we are happy to share these here, having taken time to listen to members and partners over this last month.

We warmly welcome the principles-based approach, the focus on fighting inequality, the innovative use of technology, and the redoubled commitment to being led by a diverse range of voices in our partner countries. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with the Minister, alongside the other core funded networks, to share our initial views and we welcome the series of roundtable meetings to listen to the sector, in Scotland and our partner countries.

We are keen that this policy review does not result in a fundamental shift in strategy away from an approach to international development which is underpinned by dignified two-way partnerships and the positive mobilisation of civic society across Scotland and partner countries. We feel this distinctively Scottish, ‘national effort’ approach, has been at the core of successive Scottish government’s work in this area for the last 16 years. We encourage the SG to prioritise open, transparent and accountable processes in the delivery and decision-making of the policy wherever possible.

We give our more detailed reflections as a series of interlinked ‘list-acles’, read the full details by clicking the links or images below:

SG ID Review Response Website square cover

8 developments we really welcome:

These include: the consultation meetings the SG hosted during the review and the detailed information they give in the end report on the decisions they have made; the principles-led approach the SG has taken in this review; the commitment to listen to and be led by Southern partner countries; the commitment to collaborative working and peer learning; the decision to continue the existing Malawi thematic priorities; the commitment to fight inequalities; and a desire to build on the work of others in stepping up to the Black Lives Matter challenges and opportunities.



6 points we are more cautious or concerned about:

These include: the lack of written consultation during the process; the cancellation of the Small Grants Programme; the lack of Parliamentary debate at the conclusion of the review; a possible shift away from open, transparent, competitive processes; a possible shift away from wider civic engagement; and increased budget allocations to large multilateral agencies like the UN.



3 things it would be good to learn more about:

These include: clarity over what elements of the existing 2016 International Development Strategy will continue; clarity over whether there will be further change and evolution in the coming months and years; and clarity over budget allocations between the different funding streams and country programmes.



7 suggestions we would make in the delivery of this strategy:

These include: a commitment to working with and through appropriate coordination structures for shared learning and maximum impact; a re-commitment to the civic multiplier effect (inspiring and mobilising wider civic inputs from across partner countries and Scotland); embedding partnership-working at every level of delivery; holding oneself accountable to the feedback from, and priorities of, partners; ensuring strong transparency, accountability and democracy in the Global South Programme Panel; looking to harness the proven success and expertise of the Corra Foundation by exploring other management roles they might play within the development programme; ensuring expectations are managed carefully around possible new civic links with an honest appraisal of the capacity implications; and ensuring external clarity on the programme, most importantly for our southern partners to know when calls for applications will likely be issued and who will be eligible.



We applaud the SG for following an engaging and consultative approach, and for welcoming the views and input of civic networks involved in their programme. We are happy to share these reflections in what we hope is a constructive and helpful way.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the SG in the coming months and years to further strengthen and support Scotland’s outstanding international development programme. We believe this is something Scotland can and should be rightly proud of as a progressive, outward-looking nation.