TFN asked third sector international development bodies what kind of future they are looking forward to following the referendum vote
An independent Scotland should prioritise Malawi in its international development work, which could have a transformative impact on the country.
The Scottish Malawi Partnership (SMP) has highlighted the importance of Scotland’s relationship with Malawi, which World Bank figuressuggest is the fourth poorest country in the world.
TFN asked several international development organisations how the sector and the government would cope in an independent state, which would see Scotland’s overseas spending power jump from £9 million a year to just under £1 billion.
Overall, the bodies, which are all remaining neutral in the debate, expressed confidence in the international development sector in Scotland and called for the Scottish Government to improve Scotland’s aid output regardless of the referendum vote.
The SMP said access to an international development budget would enable the Scottish Government to have a transformative impact on countries like Malawi.
As part of the UK, Scotland can still have a unique voice in international development - Alys Mumford
David Hope-Jones, principal officer at SMP, said: “If Scotland votes yes, we are confident that an independent Scotland could effectively spend its own international development aid budget by continuing to geographically focus its efforts where historical and cultural links are strongest.
“We would hope an independent Scotland would look seriously at what has made its international development programme since 2005 such a success – its geographical focus, its work in synergy with civil society, and its focus on meaningful, sustained and dignified partnership – and look to design a scaled-up programme around these distinct features.
“We have absolutely no doubt that, following these priorities and principles, the Scottish Government could have genuinely transformative impact in countries such as Malawi.”
Debt justice charity Jubilee Scotland said that by expanding its existing development programmes following a yes vote, Scotland could shape an international development programme with equality at its heart.
It could look at ways to cancel the debt of some countries without then penalising them by creating more unjust debt by supporting dodgy deals in others, for example.
Alys Mumford, campaign director at Jubilee Scotland also said: “As part of the UK, Scotland can still have a unique voice in international development.
“In terms of global debt justice, this means pushing for an audit of all the debts owed to the UK and cancellation of any found to be unjust, and making sure the government is not creating more unjust debt through unregulated exports.
“Scotland can also offer itself as a seat of arbitration for unjust debt in solidarity with countries around the world seeking debt justice. By using our power effectively, we can ensure that Scotland is creating a more just world.”
Philippa Bonella, head of communications and education at the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf), said the sector has proved it can be trusted to manage large projects through its approach to the Scottish Government’s existing international development funds.
In the event of either a yes or no vote, she said Sciaf would be campaigning for all departments of the Scottish and UK governments to adopt policies that consider the international implications of their actions.
Bonella added: “Regardless of the vote in September, Scotland can be a good global citizen and make a positive contribution to international development through coherent and values-based policy.
“The UK and Scottish governments can also learn and share good practice from the different approaches within their existing aid programmes, and those of other good donor countries, whatever the outcome of the referendum.”