Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, today led the debate on a resolution creating an ambitious approach to international development. And as part of the new policy, she announced the creation of a new international development fund, worth £2.5 million to sub-Saharan Africa, in the run up to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games in 2014. The fund is a partnership with Sport Relief.
And the Culture Secretary committed an independent Scotland to reaching the target of spending 0.7% of wealth on aid as one of the first actions of government. Criticising the UK for taking 42 years to reach the target, she contrasted them with smaller nations like Sweden, which became the first country to meet the target in 1974 and Denmark in meeting it by 1978. “This is the community of nations we aspire to join“, she said, adding that on independence, Scotland would inherit a £900 million share of current UK international development spend.
The resolution sets out how, with the powers of independence Scotland will be a leader in tackling extreme poverty and climate change. On independence, Scotland will not only deliver on this target but will also expand its work on climate justice and further extend work to develop Scotland as a leading contributor as a “hydro nation”, using Scotland’s expertise in water services to increase access to clean water for poor communities around the world.
And at the heart of the resolution are two radical moves. The first pledges independent Scotland to the international implementation of a financial transaction tax to mobilise funds to tackle poverty at home and abroad, and tackle climate change. And the second commits independent Scotland to a policy of “do no harm”. Ms Hyslop said, “Unfortunately all too often the positive effect of aid can be undermined by other activities, In fact, contrary to received wisdom, the higher flow of finance does not go from the developed world to the developing world – but in the opposite direction. According to figures from the OECD and the IMF, the financial flows from the developing world to the developed world are ten times global aid budgets. This comes from debt interest repayments, trade tariffs and trade policies, capital flight, climate change, the brain drain and a range of other impacts.”
This policy of “do no harm” commits Scotland to policy coherence across government on international development, to “end the flow from poor to rich”, ensuring that the positive impact of international development policies are not undermined by other government policies, such as on trade.
In commending the resolution to conference – which passed by acclaim – Ms Hyslop asserted that the resolution tells the world that Scotland is “ready, willing and able to step up to our international responsibilities”.