Decision on Taking Business in Private
Good morning. Following our first agenda item, under which the committee considered its work programme in private, I now move the committee into public session.
Welcome to the 16th meeting in 2017 of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee. I remind members and the public to switch off their mobile phones. Any members using electronic devices to access committee papers during the meeting should ensure that they are switched to silent.
Apologies have been received from Jackson Carlaw. I welcome Margaret Mitchell as his substitute.
Under agenda item 2, I ask members to agree to take agenda item 4 in private. Do we agree to do so?
Members indicated agreement.
Under agenda item 3, we will take evidence on the Scottish Government’s international development strategy. We have with us a range of stakeholders who have come to give evidence. I invite members and our witnesses to introduce themselves.
I am the convener of the committee and an MSP for South Scotland.
I am an MSP for North East Scotland and the deputy convener of the committee. I am also the convener of the cross-party group on international development.
I am the MSP for Angus North and Mearns.
I am the MSP for Moray.
I am the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde.
I am an MSP for West Scotland.
I am an MSP for Central Scotland.
Jane Salmonson (Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland)
I am the chief executive of the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland.
David Hope-Jones (Scotland Malawi Partnership)
I am the chief executive of the Scotland Malawi Partnership. We represent around 1,200 individuals and organisations that have civic links with Malawi.
Dr Hazel Gray (University of Edinburgh)
I am a lecturer from the centre of African studies at the University of Edinburgh and a member of its global development academy.
Dr Tanya Wisely (International Development Education Association Scotland)
I am the co-ordinator of the International Development Education Association Scotland, which is a network of third sector organisations that support, develop and deliver global citizenship education in Scotland.
I consulted the committee clerks about the fact that I was elected as a councillor in the May elections. I am not here in that capacity, but they suggested that I make you aware of that.
Geraldine Hill (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund)
I am the advocacy manager at the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund.
Heena Qamar (First Aid Africa)
I am the charity development manager for First Aid Africa, which is a grass-roots international organisation that brings together partnerships of first-aiders in east Africa and Scotland.
Professor Jo Sharp (University of Glasgow)
I am a professor of geography at the University of Glasgow, and I am here to represent the Glasgow centre for international development, which is an interdisciplinary research grouping across the university.
I will start by asking a general question. What do each of you see as the main challenges for your sector in Scotland, and what is your response to the Scottish Government’s international development strategy, which was unveiled last December?
When I joined NIDOS last year, we took part in a major strategic planning exercise that involved us speaking to members of the organisation across Scotland so that the voice of the membership could be heard on people’s hopes, fears, challenges, aspirations, goals and so on.
The main challenges involve concerns over funding and how people can get funding for their work at a time when more and more sources of institutional funding appear to be shrinking and there are fears about whether Brexit and other issues will squeeze consumer spending and therefore individual donations. In that light, although the £10 million that is involved in the international development fund is, obviously, not a huge amount of money, the fact that that money is secure and that the fund has increased is warmly welcomed, as are the moral endorsement and encouragement that have been given to the sector in Scotland. The production of the new strategy was very well received by the international development community. It is not just about the little bit of extra funding; it is about the encouragement for the sector.
I will set out three headline points, which I am sure we will drill down into later on.
The sustainable development goals present a challenge and an opportunity to Scotland and the 191 other countries that have signed up to them, with regard to international and domestic work. I hope that we have a chance to talk about the goals this morning.
The issue of the media presents a challenge in Scotland and across the United Kingdom. Certain sections of the media never miss an opportunity to do down international development and co-operation, and civic society, the Government, Parliament and business have a role to play in promoting the many good news stories that are out there and the impact that that work has.
The third point concerns the constructive synergy that exists between Government, civic society, Parliament, business and academia. The close collaboration that arises from that synergy has been the great strength of Scotland’s approach to international development, and the strong new policy that has been set out gives us a clear framework for how that synergy can continue.
Thank you very much for inviting me here.
In relation to international development, the biggest concern of the centre of African studies and the global development academy at the University of Edinburgh is Brexit and its implications for students and research. However, it is also an exciting time for us, because there is a thirst in our student body to understand international development. There is a lot of interest in development courses and issues relating to international development across all our teaching areas, and our student body is an incredibly outward-looking group.
Our challenge involves building ethical partnerships with organisations and institutions in the countries in which we conduct our research. At the core of our objectives, we are trying to develop strategies on how to build capacities and capabilities and to develop common goal setting around research priorities.
Another big challenge for us is monitoring impact and how we assess the validity of the programmes that we try to support, drawing from all the interdisciplinary expertise across the university.
All those things chime very much with the new strategy, particularly the role of expertise and what that means. The centre of African studies was established in 1962, and it is the biggest such centre in Europe. Through the global development academy, we can help to bring together expertise on Africa and developing countries more broadly. Because our research is very much based on collaborations within Scotland, across universities and various types of organisations and across countries in which we conduct research, we are delighted that the strategy focuses on that aspect, too.09:45
Our global citizenship education work spans international development and education, but I will talk about the international development side. The key point for us is the need to continue to build and develop public engagement with, and understanding of, international development. The issues involved are complex and dynamic, so international development needs to be underpinned by global citizenship education, which is a well-established, participative way of engaging people rather than simply informing them about international development.
On the strategy, the key frameworks for developing that public understanding are the sustainable development goals and policy coherence for development, which I think all the witnesses would agree is crucial to advancing the agenda constructively and innovatively.
We have a strong European Union context for our work, which I flagged up in our submission. Building evidence of the impact of global citizenship education is also an important part of our work.
I echo some of what my colleagues have said.
At SCIAF, we have been delighted to see the Government’s and the Parliament’s continuing commitment to international development, such as in the commitments to the climate justice fund and the humanitarian emergency fund. Given the challenges that are faced on climate, it is good that there is a separate climate justice fund. We really welcome that.
We have been glad to see the focus in the strategy. Focusing on a limited number of countries and geographical areas is the way to go. Focusing down thematically also ensures that what the Department for International Development does is not replicated and duplicated.
David Hope-Jones mentioned the challenges of the media. We see those challenges, as well. It is not quite as bad up here, but general perceptions of international development are definitely a continuing challenge.
I echo what Tanya Wisely said about policy coherence for development. It is important that there is a whole-Government approach to international development and that all Government departments consider pro-poor policies and what those mean for them. Policy coherence is really important to us.
I thank the committee for its invitation to give evidence. We are a young organisation with a diverse membership across Scotland and Africa. The majority of our members are under the age of 24 and do not often get a seat at the table, so we appreciate the committee’s efforts to widen participation and include voices such as ours.
My colleagues have given examples of how international development has worked. They are able to give a broader idea of that, but I can give examples of how it works for smaller organisations.
Small organisations provide great value for money. For example, First Aid Africa has projects in which we train and equip local partners as first responders for less than £10 a head. However, there is a limit to how much we can scale that up and monitor and evaluate outcomes at the same time without additional staff capacity. It is the same for many innovative Scottish organisations, for which the barrier to scale is staff time. Our colleagues at the Turing Trust back us up on that—we have had conversations with them—and we are well networked within the sector of small international organisations. The staff time challenge permeates civil society groups at our level.
I concur with pretty much everything that my colleagues have said. That will be the problem of being the last person to speak, but I will not simply reiterate what others have said.
We are encouraged by the language of the strategy. The emphasis on Scotland’s role as a good global citizen will be particularly important in some discussions about Brexit, which has led to a lot of instability in the minds of staff and students, who are not feeling confident in their roles. That emphasis provides a positive image for Scotland on the global stage.
We are particularly encouraged by the language of partnership and capacity strengthening. There are challenges with engaging Scottish civil society, but there are also other challenges in ensuring that the voice of our partners in the south comes through in the partnership to ensure that policies are developed collaboratively between them and us.
In response to Professor Sharp, I should say that it was a general question, so all the witnesses had an opportunity to answer. However, they do not have to do that for every question; they can come in as and when appropriate.
I have a question for NIDOS and the Scotland Malawi Partnership. I note that they are core funded by the Scottish Government. Jane Salmonson mentioned the squeeze on public finances and the need to diversify. I ask her and David Hope-Jones to indicate how they have met the challenge of diversifying their income.
It is not easy, partly because we do not want to cut across our own membership in our fundraising. In applying to the raft of charitable trusts and foundations or in the private fundraising that we can do, we always have to answer the question whether we are taking money from our own membership.
The strategy that we are now taking is to prioritise increasing our membership and our membership fee income. For us, that will be the number 1 source of income. What we deliver as a successful organisation is greater opportunity for networking—which Heena Qamar mentioned—for connectivity and for working with universities and across all the sectors. If we are successful in doing that, we will not only diversify our income but, by definition, get far better at what we do and add more value to the international development sector in Scotland through our work.
What NIDOS does with Scottish Government funding is primarily to run its effectiveness and learning programme. The support that we can give organisations such as First Aid Africa with their organisational development and capacity building is key to the outcomes and success that they seek. That is cross-cutting. It helps the sector to develop and do better at using good practice in development. We feel that we should not charge people to use those services because we are core funded to run them. The Scottish Government has enabled those services to improve the sector’s performance.
As I think I said in my submission, we are moving to become an alliance—Scotland’s international development alliance—which will open up opportunities for people from universities, companies and other sectors that are involved with international development to join us. We hope that that will not only help us to do the job better but bring in extra sources of non-governmental income for us.
I am keen to preface my answer by reiterating the good points that Jane Salmonson made about the impact of the three core-funded networks—the Scotland Malawi Partnership, NIDOS and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum—and other key networks, such as IDEAS and the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations. A great strength of the sector in Scotland is the impact that those networks have and how well they work together.
We know from the University of Edinburgh’s research that every £1 that is put into the Scotland Malawi Partnership supports £180 coming from Scottish civic society. That is a return on investment that would be enviable for funders anywhere in the world and it happens, in part, because of the sheer number of Scots who are involved in some way with civic links with Malawi. Separate research has suggested that 46 per cent of Scots could name a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi.
Working with and through networks unleashes a powerful multiplier effect. On its own, the Scottish Government’s £10 million a year of international development work would have a comparatively modest impact if it did not work collaboratively and co-operatively with civic society. Networks are an excellent conduit for that.
In answer to the question, we are funded with taxpayers’ money and it is entirely right that we are accountable for that and entirely transparent about where it goes. It is also right that we look to reduce that commitment from the Scottish Government each year. Therefore, like NIDOS and the other networks, we are actively working to diversify our income. We are doing that through similar modalities to the ones that Jane Salmonson mentioned. We are increasing our membership fees, considering sponsorship and corporate partnerships and using about half a dozen or so other different modalities for bringing in income.
However, there is a critical point here—how do we do that in a way that is scalable and sustainable without undermining the very values that made it so successful? We have 237 Scottish primary and secondary schools that are engaged with Malawi and are part of our network. It would be very sad if we hiked up membership fees such that that number was reduced to eight or nine private schools alone. It is about keeping the values, the breadth and the diversity while acting innovatively to diversify income.
Thank you very much.
There is a lot in the strategy that has broad support. That is certainly the case among members of Parliament and it is clearly the case from the evidence that you have given thus far, so some of the questions are about the practicalities of how the strategy is delivered. I know from the submissions that we received that there are some issues with how the funding is provided.
Heena Qamar may want to comment on the gap between small grant funding for small organisations and mainstream development assistance for well-established projects and how that gap might be bridged. I would be very interested in hearing about that.
It would also be interesting to hear a little bit more from SCIAF about the question of ensuring that funding is predictable and well managed and is always held to the same standards of accountability and transparency.
Currently, as we highlight in our submission, the small grants programme supports organisations with a specific turnover with a small grant of up to £20,000 per year to spend on a new or innovative project. We also highlight that, within the development assistance funding stream, the Government could bridge the gap between successful small grant recipients and its main development programme by allowing assessors flexibility in relation to guidance on turnover and Scottish overhead costs. Alongside the bridging of that gap to create a clear pathway for scaling innovative Scottish development projects, the Government could fund network organisations such as NIDOS and the Scotland Malawi Partnership to support charities or partnerships following that pathway.
Direct funding through small grant funds has been beneficial for many small organisations that we have been in touch with. It would be easy to lose that focus if the geographic focus was reduced. We would support broadening the geographic reach of the small grants. However, we understand that, as it is not a devolved issue, the focus on four countries is what works at the moment.
In our submission, we make a point about the need for predictable funding and funding models. I think that the trialling of new models has been in response to some of the consultation that happened prior to the strategy. That has meant that some funding opportunities are more predictable now but, for most of the large grant funds announced to date on Zambia, Rwanda and Malawi and also on the climate challenge programme in Malawi, it looks as though there is going to be only one funding opportunity every three or four years, which is pretty limited.
On the whole, we welcome innovation but we would like to see new models of funding developed and discussed with Scottish agencies before they are trialled. We recently had the experience of bidding for the climate challenge programme fund for Malawi. Frankly, we felt that it was a bit confused and rushed, with only five weeks between the invitation to tender and the deadline for submitting bids. It was unclear whether the tender would be for a fund manager, so questions were submitted but the answers to the questions came in only just over two weeks before the bids were due in. That is a very limited time to do all the consultation that you need to do with your partners overseas and your implementing partners, so we felt that it did not work that well.
There is also a question over the increasing use of fund managers to manage the different rounds, for Zambia and Rwanda and also for the climate innovation fund. My question on that is about the expense of using external contractors and whether that is coming directly from the development spend.
The other thing that we mentioned in the written submission was the split between development assistance, capacity strengthening and investment. Private sector investment is going to be around 5 per cent of the spend, so we are keen to understand a bit better how money that is designated for investment will be used and who will determine the objectives and activities for that. We urge that everybody who receives money should be held to the same standards of transparency and accountability.10:00
You have talked about the difficulties with some of the funding streams. Do you have a view as to why that is? Is it partly because they are being managed by external contractors, or is there no indication of that?
I do not know the answer to that.
I was struck by the evidence from First Aid Africa about how satisfied it is with Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland as an administrator of the small grants, but the experience of dealing with larger projects is clearly not satisfactory. Are there wider lessons that could be drawn? David Hope-Jones pointed out that the amount involved is a modest sum and that, in order to be effective, it must therefore add value. Are we hearing different versions of how effectively value can be added?
I know from listening to our members that the points that Heena Qamar made are not isolated. There are a large number of smaller non-governmental organisations that have really benefited from the Scottish Government’s innovative small grants programme. The role and the tone set by the independent grant manager is critical to the success of that programme, because it needs to be a supported space. Smaller organisations are often not used to the language, process and structure of formal applications, and I commend Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. Although it was not a contractual requirement to do so, it picked up the phone and spent 60 to 90 minutes with every single eligible applicant, chatting things through with the NGOs and asking, “What do you mean by that?” That meant that, where there could otherwise have been insurmountable hurdles, because of technical language and because organisations were not using the jargon of the sector, it became possible to choose the very best projects, not just the best-presented projects.
That role in the small grants programme was critical for Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. It has really been very well run. We have had strong, positive feedback from our members about the role of Lloyds TSB Foundation, and we welcome its involvement throughout the programme. The good point has been made that it is a slightly different constituency from the larger NGOs that are applying for the larger programme, but it may be too early to tell. I have not seen any evidence that the way in which that programme has been managed has been inappropriate. All that I can say is that we have been impressed with Lloyds TSB Foundation. It is a fair and valid point to say that we must ensure that there is an efficient and effective programme and that those grant managers are offering good value for money, but so far we have had only positive things to say about Lloyds TSB Foundation.
I echo the praise that has been given to Lloyds TSB Foundation where the small grants scheme is concerned. The feedback that we have received about treatment by the foundation is generally very good, even from the classically unhappy applicant who did not get a grant.
The Rwanda and Zambia main grants scheme is new, so it is being tried for the first time in a new way, and I have received some negative feedback on the handling of that one. I am not entirely sure how the new scheme is developing or being rolled out, or about how much of that is in the hands of Lloyds TSB Foundation and how much the foundation is operating a mechanism that was delivered to it. However, I welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is trying out a new approach to developments assistance with those larger, longer-term grants.
In terms of the impact that could be made in country in Zambia and Rwanda through funding larger sums of money for a much longer period, it is a good and worthwhile experiment, which we should welcome. It gives Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland a completely different challenge. The way that some of the overseas partner organisations were expected to develop a concept in a short space of time has also been challenging, but perhaps lessons can be usefully learned for another time. We can learn as we go along and it can get better.
I also support Heena Qamar’s point about there being a gap in the middle for some of the most interesting and useful international development organisations in Scotland. Those organisations are the graduates of the small grants schemes. They have grown and developed, and are becoming really useful due to the long-term sustainable development outcomes that they achieve overseas, but they are not yet big enough to reach up to the Scottish Government’s main grant scheme or those of other funders such as DFID. I hope that, as the new Malawi programme is developed, there is not the same gap left because only the larger organisations are able to apply and the smaller ones that have done well in the small grants scheme are not able to reach up that far.
I echo the point about the necessity of having a range in grant sizes. Being able to demonstrate and to build genuine partnerships takes a long time, and it might have to start on a relatively small scale. If we want to emphasise the importance of partnership, it is important that there is support at each scale for building up to the longer-term projects that can make a difference. They have to be built over time by the development of relationships of trust.
I thank the witnesses for their written submissions. It would be good for the committee to hear, and to get on record, some of the projects that you have been funded for, as well as the outcomes.
Over the past few years, we have received funds for a feasibility study, a capacity building grant and a project grant. In total, we have received just over £60,000 in funding and, with those funds, we have provided access to locally sustainable first aid resources for more than 10,000 people, developed online learning resources, reached remote communities where access to pre-hospital care is lacking and worked with local partners to save lives in communities across east Africa.
With regard to sustainability, the funding has helped us to build our capacity and the capacity of our partners. For example, in Tanzania, we used some of the funds to launch a training initiative for local companies, which has raised revenue of more than £5,000 locally in the past six months alone. Those funds can be used to provide free and low-cost training to low-income communities in more remote areas of the country, creating a sustainable local funding stream that does not require western handouts.
The restlessness of organisations such as ours comes from knowing that we can do more. Because of the small grants programme, we are a better organisation and our partners are thriving. We are now working on a motorbike ambulance project that will provide access to emergency response vehicles for communities across the northern highlands of Tanzania.
Over the years, SCIAF has received considerable sums of money from the development fund, particularly for food and the nutritional security of small-scale farmers. The Zambia part of our Kulima programme was funded by the Scottish Government, and SCIAF co-funded and shared costs in Burundi and Malawi.
The techniques for sustainable agriculture that were learned in that programme were key. Really good exchanges went on between the countries and learning about minimum tillage, mulching and other sustainable agriculture techniques came out of it. We are now promoting those techniques in other countries and in other parts of the world, so there has been really good learning from the work that was funded.
SCIAF has also received considerable funds from the climate justice fund for water projects in Rwanda, match funding for food crisis appeals and funding for various other things.
We have absolutely no complaints. We have received considerable support and great lessons have been learned from the work that has been funded.
It is slightly different for us because we are a network rather than an operational project, but I will provide a few headlines on our work over the past couple years or so.
A new piece of work that we are involved in is supporting business, trade, investment and tourism in Malawi. Malawi needs a sustainable economy if it is to develop. We have been building Scottish markets for 15 Malawian exports and encouraging Scots to holiday in Malawi.
We run an annual youth congress. I was pleased to welcome Ross Greer as a speaker at our previous congress, which brought together more than 400 Scottish young people from more than 20 schools the length and breadth of the country to celebrate and share their links with Malawi.
Over the past three years, we have had more than 500 pieces about Malawi in the Scottish media, with about 95 per cent positive in tone. Much of our work is about changing the narrative on international development and the relationship with Malawi—to move away from a narrative of pity to one of partnership; to move away from sympathy to solidarity.
We work to co-ordinate Scotland’s links with Malawi. We have various national forums, including in the areas of health and primary, secondary, further and higher education.
We support the implementation of the sustainable development goals. Three weeks ago, it was a great pleasure to be in the Parliament for the week, inviting MSPs to come to our exhibit on SDGs. The exhibit showed examples of Scotland-Malawi co-operation in all 17 of the goals, and more than 100 of the Parliament’s 129 parliamentarians recorded individual videos championing an SDG.
The Scottish Government funds our sister network in Malawi—the Malawi Scotland Partnership, which is Malawian owned and led. I only ever go to Malawi as a guest at the invitation of my colleagues and counterparts there. That is a real strength of the Scottish Government’s farsighted approach in its commitment to that sense of dignified partnership.
SCIAF’s work shows the very best practice in how funding can be used, because the outcomes are not just for one country, but can be repeated in others. With those outcomes, gaining future funding becomes a much more likely prospect.
Yes—it is about a project’s effectiveness. We have just come to the end of a three-year funding period on which we commissioned an external evaluation. The report is available on our website, for anyone who wants to look at it.
We used our funding for schemes including one-to-one mentoring. We have increased the readership of a monthly newsletter to about 2,500; its readers can see what the prime concerns are of the international development community in Scotland. We have training and organisational development events, and people can use an effectiveness toolkit on our website to improve their organisational development.
In the last year of the three-year funding from the Scottish Government we received about £125,000, which has been increased for the new three-year funding period that has just started.
The piece of Scottish Government funding that we are most pleased with and grateful for is the investment in a complete website overhaul, which will happen shortly. The improved functionality will enable organisations from all around Scotland—from the outer isles down to the depths of the Borders—to use online training resources and online connectivity in a way that has not so far been possible. That is a key development in respect of making more people able to participate over the next few years.
I have one question. Geraldine Hill spoke about farming. Has SCIAF worked with or engaged with farmers or the NFU Scotland on their assisting in projects that SCIAF is involved in elsewhere?10:15
No—to the best of my knowledge, we have not done that.
I wish to respond to something that Margaret Mitchell said. We have developed promising practices that capture learning from each project. If anyone is interested in the key learnings that have come out of the work that has been funded by the Scottish Government, we can share our series, “Promising Practices”.
A point was raised earlier regarding duplication and networks. I am keen to establish fully how you work with other core-funded organisations to avoid duplication of work, such as the work that is being done with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum to help it promote buying of Malawian products.
I will also make a comment regarding the previous question, if I may. Scotland’s Rural College in Dumfriesshire is actively involved and has its own links with Malawi. There are strong systems to harness the expertise in Scotland, and there is strong two-way sharing in that regard. The Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, which is based here in Edinburgh, is also an active member of the network.
On the question that Stuart McMillan has just asked, there are strong structures and systems so that organisations can network well together. Jane Salmonson, Martin Rhodes—the director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, who is not here with us this morning—and I work closely together. We meet formally every couple of months or so at a cross-network forum meeting, and we use those opportunities to share everything that we are doing strategically. We regularly map out thematically what we are doing, and we identify the synergies—I say “synergies” rather than “overlaps”—through that mapping process. We have strong commitments to working together on that.
All the networks that are represented here would say that we are very much stronger when we work together, and that it is in no one’s interest to duplicate what another is doing. There are strong systems. I also point out that each organisation exists independently to represent its constituency or membership. We map our memberships: the proportion of overlap is very small compared with the whole, which is why there are various networks. However, we work very well together.
In our most recent core funding application to the Scottish Government, we gave something like 30 or 40 examples of collaborative working between the networks within the past year or so alone. I am happy to share written case studies to evidence that.
In Kulima Integrated Development Solutions’ programme for Zambia, Malawi and Burundi, we collaborated with agriculturists from the University of Aberdeen who were working on soil analysis, which helped the programme with monitoring and evaluation.
The IDEAS network does not get core funding, but part of our network is formed by the six development education centres, which cover all Scotland’s local authorities. They have core funding, part of which comes from international development, although the bulk of it comes from education. There is, in their work together, strong and supportive engagement between the development education centres, the Scotland Malawi Partnership and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. That enables people to focus on their core work and it means that, as David Hope-Jones said, we can quite easily develop understanding of the core work of the other networks without having to work under our own limited capacity. We all work under limited capacities, so it is a real strength that the way in which we interact in the network is of mutual benefit and adds value to the core funding that goes to the various organisations.
I second that. Networks extend reach and add value and they are all needed. NIDOS exists to promote and support international development across the piece: that is its distinct mission. We have members working in central Asia and in the Philippines, for example, and we will do everything that we can to support them.
The work that we do to support the Scottish Government’s small grants scheme is for organisations working in Malawi and other countries. Because we collaborate with the Scotland Malawi Partnership, we can extend our reach into its networks and ensure that more people get the chance to participate in terms of the small grants, training and support that NIDOS offers as part of our core business. We exist to improve effectiveness and that works well: it adds, rather than subtracts, value. We are all too busy and our members would not allow us to get away with duplication of effort, so it does not happen and it is not something that we struggle with. The joint working that is a strong part of our existence ensures that we work well.
We at the global development academy see ourselves as being fortunate to be part of the networks. We add value by drawing together best practice in international development, in project management, and in assessment of outcomes and impact. We also feel that we can play a useful role—and have played a useful role—in generating new thinking through the research on international development that we do in partnership with organisations in Scotland and across Africa and Asia. We see ourselves as being fortunate to be able to draw from other organisations in the network while adding a unique perspective on what is new out there and what could be adapted today.
The importance of the networks is multiplied by sustainable development goals because they are such a wide-ranging set of goals. The crucial distinction between them and the millennium development goals is that they also apply domestically. David Hope-Jones has flagged up that we are now building links and joint working with the SCVO to ensure that we are joined up with the domestic agenda. There has been a top-level commitment to the sustainable development goals so, in the coming period, and with the support of the committee, that needs to be made concrete action, and the actions that are to be taken under that need to be articulated more clearly. The networks are crucial to enabling that.
I have one more question, convener.
We do not have a great deal of time, so could questions and answers be as short as possible?
My question is for Mr Hope-Jones. My constituency of Greenock and Inverclyde has links with the Scotland Malawi Partnership and with Rwanda through the charity Aid for Education. How do you see your organisation increasing awareness of what you are trying to do and getting more people to understand the actions that you are undertaking? How do you combat the parts of the media that do not want to promote fully the positive actions that you take?
Stuart McMillan is absolutely right that his constituency has a lot of links, as does every single constituency in Scotland. We work closely with the networks for Rwanda and Zambia; in fact, this evening I will chair a meeting at which we will specifically support capacity building in those networks, which are good examples of networks working well.
On your point about how we combat the negative narrative in some sections of the media, I have three points. The first is about engaging and celebrating community involvement. The great thing about Scotland’s international development effort is that it is driven by civic society—although that is no criticism of the Government. It is driven by hundreds of churches, schools, hospitals, universities and local authorities coming together with one voice and saying that we can achieve more through dignified partnership than we can through one-way charity. It is hard for any tabloid newspaper to be critical of such a large section of what Scottish civic society is doing. The picture that they paint is of a top-down approach, wastage, corruption and dependencies, but that is not what we see in the relationship between Scotland and Malawi and other countries. It is about celebrating and recognising the breadth of civic engagement.
Transparency is absolutely key. We need to ensure that the Scottish Government continues to be absolutely transparent and shares all the information about the projects that it funds. We also need to do more to celebrate the impact case studies. The University of Edinburgh estimates that 4 million Malawians benefit each year from the civic links with Malawi but so, too, do 300,000 Scots. How do we get that narrative out there to show the benefit on both sides and to celebrate that civic involvement?
I reiterate David Hope-Jones’s point about engagement with the community. That is also highlighted in NIDOS’s written submission, which states that more could be done to
“draw attention to the selfless and praiseworthy efforts of the great numbers of Scotland’s citizens who raise funds and attract public attention”.
As with many organisations in Scotland, volunteers are the backbone of First Aid Africa. Indeed, we started as an entirely volunteer-led organisation. More and more, students are rejecting the notion of tokenistic gap-year style volunteering and instead want to know how they can best contribute to Scotland’s international development efforts. They represent a significant and largely untapped resource.
Many older people also find that they have time to volunteer after retirement. They have often built up a wealth of knowledge over their careers, so their experience should be recognised as the resource that it is. We would welcome efforts by the Scottish Government to highlight the unsung heroes and heroines of our sector, regardless of their age, gender or race.
To do that, it is important to support a wider demographic. Civil society represents a significant section of Scotland’s international development offering. From churches and mosques to schools and hospitals, much of the strength of the development sector in Scotland exists outside rooms such as the one that we are in now. If that strength is harnessed, we will have a united voice with which to push back against the tabloid rhetoric that says that development money is wasted money. Most important is that our country will be able to take pride in the fact that we demonstrate our strength not through aggression but through our compassion.
I have two relatively brief questions. Heena Qamar touched on the first one in her previous comments. When we have discussions in rooms like this about international development and Scotland’s links with the rest of the world, we sometimes hear comments to the effect that the discussions involve just the usual suspects. Heena Qamar said in her opening statement and her written submission that First Aid Africa thanks the committee for inviting her. We are very happy to do that but, obviously, the committee has a broad remit and we can talk about the issue only every so often. How do we expand the conversation beyond the usual suspects and the big players? We have spent a substantial part of the meeting praising the small grants scheme, which has been a success. How do we involve the people who get those small grants, rather than just the usual suspects, at this level of conversation?
A new initiative on that has come out of the cross-party group on international development. Lewis Macdonald recently wrote to the Minister for International Development and Europe, Dr Allan, to suggest setting up a series of quarterly round-table meetings to bring together more people from the international development sector. That would include not only international development organisations but, perhaps, universities, businesses and all sorts of others. That sounds to me like exactly the kind of forum at which the smaller, non-traditional or volunteer-led organisations can come to the table and share their work with ministers and the committees. That would give those organisations an opportunity to describe who they are and the role that they play in Scotland and in global citizenship. It is not the be-all and end-all, but it would be an extremely good way to start.
NIDOS has been working on a proposal to fund media communications work that would put us on the front foot and help us to be proactive, rather than being reactive to yet another strident attack from the right-wing media.
We could offer our members, particularly the smaller ones, a way of going out and telling their local media—perhaps the local weekly free sheet—about successes that they have had in raising money or delivering programmes overseas. That way there could be an on-going drip, drip, drip led by the members, through their smaller civil society organisations’ engagement with their local media, about what they are achieving. That remains on the wish list, but it is something that we at NIDOS would like to see becoming a reality soon.10:30
It goes back to the point that public understanding and engagement should be an integral part of international development strategy. There are nods to that idea, but it really needs to be formally articulated better, because in order to build support for international development, it needs to be understood better: people need to be more aware of the projects and initiatives that Scotland is involved in.
The SDGs offer such an important opportunity to do that. In the new strategy, which I think we all welcome, two of the priorities are to
“Enhance our global citizenship ... By inspiring communities and young people to realise their role as ... global citizens”
“Engage the people of Scotland ... To build upon Scotland’s history as an outward-facing”
country. This is the time to move ahead and lay out how those two priorities will be achieved.
In the European Union, there are very strong statements about development, education and awareness raising. In many European countries, those elements are also designated parts of funding programmes. It is absolutely crucial that we use the coming period, in the context of the sustainable development goals, to ensure that public engagement and understanding are developed. As I said at the beginning of the meeting, global citizenship education is a means of ensuring that that is done not just through informing people, but by engaging them in the development process.
We are all aware of the changes that have happened over the past few years that are difficult to explain. There needs to be concentrated engagement on those issues. The tabloid press will give one line, but development of understanding of what international development means to us all requires a process of education. One quotation that is often used is about the understanding that development is not about charity.
“There are chains of cause and effect that prompt obligations of justice”,
It is not about pity and charity. We have the opportunity, given the scale of Scotland and the players who are in place, to build that understanding under the framework of the sustainable development goals and through coherent policy on development.
My second question is on global citizenship education, which Tanya Wisely has led into very neatly. I have seen the brilliant work that is going on in those schools that are engaged with that through the Malawi partnership, and that is how I met First Aid Africa for the first time. Still, not all schools are engaging in that way.
Are you able to outline the barriers to our engaging more schools? Is there a pattern of schools with pupils from particular socioeconomic backgrounds finding it harder to engage? What are the barriers to expanding engagement so that every young person in Scotland not only gets global citizenship education through the curriculum but has the opportunity to gain direct experience through project work?
It is in our written evidence that IDEAS members have worked with around 6,000 teachers and 1,500 schools over the past few years. We are building global citizenship education, and in education there is the policy context for it.
It is a matter of sustaining that engagement and understanding that education is about much more than teaching literacy and numeracy. We have a strong commitment to global citizenship education throughout the policy context in Scotland, but we must ensure that it is delivered.
I do not think that socioeconomic issues are a factor in which schools engage, because one of the key things about global citizenship education is that it reinforces pupil engagement; therefore, it can have the most traction where there are disengaged pupils who may not feel that they are getting what they want out of education. It can really pull pupils in across the board.
I encourage all committee members to visit their local development education centre, as that is the best way to understand what global citizenship education is. There are six centres across Scotland, and they cover all the local authorities. In our submission, I include a table from Oxfam showing the wide range of issues that global citizenship education covers, and a visit to a development education centre will enable you to see what global citizenship education in schools means. It is crucial that the commitment to it is supported and sustained, not lost.
I highlighted our connections with Europe and the work that we have done there. Scotland has expertise in the field that is recognised and respected across Europe, and it is something for all MSPs to engage with.
Personally, I feel quite strongly about the subject. It is an area in which we believe that improvement is needed, and there could be better support for black and minority ethnic representation.
The fact that the committee would invite a 23-year-old Muslim woman from Dumfries to give evidence is humbling. Many people who look like me or share my faith do not see the international development sector as a viable career path; I have been lucky to have had role models. When I first volunteered at First Aid Africa, the chair of the board was a feminist leader called Talat Yaqoob. Equally, I could point to Humza Yousaf to counter a common argument within my community that international development is white people’s work.
On top of that, the charity has taken simple but effective steps such as giving guidance to our Muslim first aid instructors on volunteering during the holy month of Ramadan. Last year, half of all Scottish universities were represented among the First Aid Africa volunteers, and they came from across the country, from Stirling to Shetland. Among them were Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists and so on; yet, across the sector, only 2 per cent of formal volunteers are non-white. The sector can clearly do more to remove the structural barriers that exist to participation by non-white Scots.
The amount of money that was donated to charities by British Muslims during Ramadan was 10 times the Scottish Government’s yearly international development budget, and the funds that were sent to the global south by diaspora communities dwarf all Government spending on international development. It is important for us to acknowledge that contribution as the international development strategy is implemented. Scotland welcomes the world, and we should be very proud of that. The more that we can do to engage the diaspora and BME groups, the stronger our international development sector will be.
I am looking to pick up on a couple of earlier statements. I want to touch on the point that Stuart McMillan raised about the media and what you think could be done in relation to its approach to the topic. Dr Wisely, in particular, talked about the strong statements that have been made by the EU on the sustainable development goals. Do those need to be given a higher priority and more focus here?
I am also looking to tease out the links that each of you has across the EU. We have talked a bit about Brexit and its potential impact. In her initial comments, Jane Salmonson talked about how that is putting a squeeze on individuals’ ability to donate, but does Brexit have wider funding implications for your organisations?
I will make a specific point about European funding. In our written evidence, we mention the development education and awareness raising—DEAR—funding. In the previous funding round, IDEAS and its members secured about £600,000 from that funding stream, and the Scottish Government committed co-financing of about £100,000. IDEAS and two of its members are part of funding bids that have been accepted, and we are at the stage between the signing off and the receipt of the funds. We will be looking for those projects to be co-financed, although the percentage that we need will be smaller than was the case for the previous projects.
A wider issue is that IDEAS does not receive core funding, but we have been developing our engagement with DEAR funding. When we spoke to the European and External Relations Committee in the previous parliamentary session, we mentioned strategic engagement and how, if the Government focuses on those funding streams, it can build the money that comes through them. Obviously, there would be serious implications for us were those funding streams to be lost. I know that the committee is working on the issue, but continuing post-Brexit engagement with the EU on international development is important.
I have mentioned that we have expertise in global citizenship education that is important in Europe, and I have highlighted our global education intergovernmental network. I encourage the Scottish Government to engage with it over the period. Indeed, I hope that it will do so because, whatever happens, it is important to maintain and strengthen links with other European countries on the issues that are necessarily global.
On private charitable giving and disposable income, the fear is about what will happen if disposable income shrinks and about the impact that that will have on the capacity to give money.
To return to the question of the media and public engagement with international development, if it was possible to work proactively to build relationships with the media so that international development was understood and warmly supported, along with what Scotland’s civil society organisations do, that would affect the operating environment in which the smallest charity can go out and fundraise, whether that be through a Sunday car boot sale or whatever. We need ordinary people to feel receptive towards international development as part of creating an atmosphere within which private individual donations can be made. There is a link between supporting engagement and creating the atmosphere for private charitable giving.
On the issue of Europe and Brexit, some of the larger organisations will be directly affected if they can no longer bid for, win and implement programmes that have European funding. We will watch with great interest what happens with, for example, the European development fund. I think that £1.2 billion a year goes from the UK into that fund. What will happen to that money after Brexit?
On a philosophical point, beyond the hard financial loss of Brexit is the issue of global citizenship and how we feel about the people of different nationalities who live among us. The threat of European Union nationals losing their citizenship in this country is abhorrent to most us in the international development community. Therefore, there is a philosophical fear of threat or damage that goes beyond the hard financial threat.10:45
We receive a considerable amount of money from the EU through co-funding. I do not know the exact figure, so I am not going to give you it, but that funding stream will be a loss to us. Through the EU, we have had funding for work in countries that no one else will fund any more, particularly in Latin America, with considerable funds for Colombia, and central America. There is going to be a big impact for us.
Also, we fear that, when funding rounds are opened, bids and applications from the UK will not even be considered, because people will think, “What is the point?” There are implications.
Part of Mairi Evans’s question was about the sustainable development goals, and civic society, academia and business have key roles to play. I am happy to talk that through if that would be useful, but I will start with the roles of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.
I was absolutely delighted that the sustainable development goals were visible in both the consultation behind the policy and the policy itself—indeed, they were on its front cover. The headline, the tone and the language are all very encouraging, but there is a need for more detail on the exact structures through which Scotland will deliver on the 17 far-reaching and incredibly ambitious goals. To date, the main focus has been on mapping across from the national performance framework and how it will achieve the STGs. That is entirely understandable in many ways, as we do not want to invent a completely new delivery infrastructure, but there is a risk that, if that is the end point rather than the beginning, it will become more about packaging and presentation than about additionality and impact.
We encourage the Scottish Government to continue its genuinely world-leading commitment to the sustainable development goals. However, we are two years into a 15-year commitment, so we are no longer at the beginning, and there is a real need for clear, cross-departmental structures, ideally at Cabinet level. The UK Parliament’s International Development Committee made some good recommendations following an inquiry at about this time last year, and I encourage you to look at those. We stand behind them.
The Parliament also has a key role to play. Would it not be fantastic if, every time an MSP stood up in the chamber to give a speech or ask the Scottish Government a question on a specific subject, they prefaced it by saying, “In keeping with Scotland’s commitment to the sustainable development goals”? It is also important for the Parliament to think about what structures it needs to deliver to hold the Government to account for delivery of the STGs. Indeed, what role does the committee have in relation to the STGs? Civic society clearly has a role, but so do the Government and the Parliament.
Can I quickly add some comments on further impacts of Brexit? The universities sector receives considerable amounts of money from Europe, but there is also an impact in terms of the highest-quality staff no longer coming to our universities. In the past year or so, we have seen people turning down job offers and people who were going to lead on EU grants being politely asked by their European counterparts to step down so that they can lead on them. In that respect, Brexit is already having impacts on our role in world-leading research. We are not just anticipating what might happen; it is impacting already. We have staff members from Europe who have lost their security about the future, so it is offering many challenges.
I want to come back in briefly on development education. Tanya Wisely talked about development education centres and the role that they can play. I visited the Montgomery development education centre in Aberdeen last week, and the social and economic position was reflected there. Riverbank primary school, which is in a relatively disadvantaged part of Aberdeen, was praised for its particular role.
People from development education centres throughout Scotland were at that meeting, and the issue came up of how we can ensure that the broad buy-in at primary school level is translated, through the filter of curriculum for excellence, into the same level of engagement in secondary schools. Do Tanya Wisely and the other witnesses want to comment on how the very good basis that is laid in the earlier stage of formal education can be maintained in secondary education?
It has always been much more challenging to get that engagement in the secondary sector, but certain aspects of curriculum for excellence have been really important, particularly the interdisciplinary learning that enables teachers to work across their subject areas to build context for learning. That goes back to the fact that attainment is heavily dependent on public engagement, which is one of the key drivers and an important aspect.
We have also focused on one of the other European projects in the previous round of funding. Teach global ambassadors was an important project that highlighted the need for in-depth and systemic engagement. It worked with a fairly limited group of secondary teachers, in conjunction with teachers in Lithuania, to develop their critical engagement with global citizenship education. We also worked with the local authorities, so the teachers were ambassadors who engaged with local authorities and local authority staff were also involved with the training. That is seen as a strong model for building systemic change so that secondary schools can engage with the issues.
The other thing that we have looked at is the fact that teachers sometimes need the engagement of the young people to justify their engagement with global citizenship education. Although it is fully embedded in the teaching standards and through the curriculum, and although it is an entitlement under learning for sustainability for all Scottish pupils, we know that teachers are under a lot of pressure. We had an event on Friday—there are a few more coming up—at which we worked directly with young people as advocates around the sustainable development goals. That is another strand of engagement. It is definitely possible to do that work in secondary schools, but it has always been more challenging.
Ross Greer’s question was about how we can sustain that work. Historically, we have had funding streams through DFID, but you will probably be aware that everything in DFID is under review at the moment and it is not clear what is happening there. As I said, we face the potential loss of EU funding streams, and how the work is sustained is an issue on which we may have to get back to the committee.
We have a number of undergraduate courses such as Africa in the contemporary world, which is available to first and second-year undergraduates, and a course on international development. Undergraduates from across the university take those courses and are keen to take them, but the students often comment that it is the first opportunity that they have had to engage with those issues. That is particularly the case among students on the Africa in the contemporary world course, a lot of whom do not have access to detailed, country-level knowledge to gain an understanding of the variation across the continent. We have also had great comments from people from the African country diasporas, who say that it is the first time that they have been able to take courses that talk to the experiences of their parents. There is a huge demand among young people, which we hear about at university, to learn more about development—and about Africa in particular—through the secondary school system.
Last night, I was at an excellent event with the Scottish Development Education Centre and IDEAS, which brought together nursery, primary and secondary teachers to consider the support that they need to advance the agenda and, in particular, the sustainable development goals. I facilitated a workshop and came out with some really good suggestions and bits of evidence from those teachers. Rather than go through those now, I could offer the committee some supplementary written evidence directly from teachers themselves about what they need to take that work forward.
That would be useful.
The issue of Brexit has been raised by nearly everyone on the panel. Has any evaluation been made of the financial impact of Brexit on your sector?
Bond, our sister organisation in London, has done some work on that. It commissioned some research. I am not sure whether the findings have been presented yet but, if they have not, they will be published shortly, and I would be happy to forward that information to the committee if you are interested in seeing it.
Yes. That would be very useful.
I thank all our witnesses for giving evidence today.10:55 Meeting continued in private until 11:05.