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Renewed call for greater role in external affairs

Minister repeats call for enhanced international development powers

Speaking at international development events in Geneva yesterday, Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, has renewed calls for Scotland to have a greater voice on the global stage.

The Scottish Government submitted proposals last month to the Smith Commission for enhanced powers to do more to tackle key issues like international development.

Mr Yousaf said:

“Scotland has always been an outward looking nation, and is a good global citizen, as demonstrated through our world-leading climate justice work and our international development contributions. We are aware of our responsibilities to the wider world, and are already making a real difference to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“The Scottish Government has committed £9 million annually from its budget to international development. This includes support for our seven priority countries through the Malawi, the Subsaharan, and the South Asia Development Programmes, which fund projects ranging from food security and climate change, to maternal health, renewable energy and economic development.

“Our innovative partnership approach to International Development in Malawi allows us to align our funding to the priorities of the Government of Malawi, and harness existing civil society links in order to bring lasting benefits to people in both Malawi and Scotland.

“Our own actions at home have not escaped recognition, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praising Scotland’s leadership on climate change and our commitment to renewable energy. In July, coinciding with the start of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, we hosted the European launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL).

“We want to continue to pioneer and punch above our weight, by sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise in areas like climate change and renewable energy, education, health improvement, human rights and research. Scotland’s distinctive international development approach holds partnership working at its core, and is focussed on achieving real and tangible on-the-ground results.

“The Scottish Government intends to play a full and constructive part in the Smith Commission process to deliver substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament.

“Scotland can be a global leader in the way it approaches international development, building on its connections – historic and modern – with particular developing countries.

“Our submission states that Scotland should be able to work with certainty and stability for the people and countries it engages with through its current international development activity. This should be given legislative underpinning, rather than relying on permission from the UK Government that can be removed at any time.

“We have also called for a proportionate share of the UK’s Overseas Development Assistance budget for relevant countries. This would enable Scotland to do much more to help fight poverty in developing nations, through the same targeted, effective, efficient and innovative approach currently deployed.”

The Minister this morning spoke at an international development executive roundtable discussion on "The Scottish Approach and Contribution to International Development and the Potential for Greater Devolution".

The discussions in Geneva aimed to raise awareness of the Scottish approach and contribution in international development, as well as seek views from other European actors on developing the Scottish Government's international development policy.

Mr Yousaf is also this afternoon addressing a group of international experts at a climate justice event hosted by the Scottish Government and UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) at the Palais des Nations. In addition to its International Development Fund, the Scottish Government has a distinct, world-first £6 million Climate Justice Fund. This supports projects on climate change adaptation, especially water resource management. It has attracted international praise including from highly respected figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson.

The Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith Commission sets out that Scotland should have the power to engage internationally to protect, enshrine and promote human rights and to act to secure equality and social justice for all. Through this Scotland can build on the work undertaken in international development, gender equality and climate justice.


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