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All of government must be globally responsible

This opinion piece is about 10 years old

Gillian Wilson explains why government will have to rethink its approach to international development regardless of the outcome of the referendum

Whatever the outcome of the referendum in September, the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (Nidos) is calling for human rights and global responsibilities to be central to government policy in Scotland.

Our report, Scotland’s place in building a just world, outlines an approach to international development called Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) that looks at all government policy through an international lens, similar to the way an environmental impact assessment does for the environment.

We should not give with the one hand in aid and take back with the other through ill-thought-out wider policies. We believe that the causes of poverty and inequality here in Scotland have much in common with the causes abroad. Therefore, calling for a human rights approach globally can impact on work to tackle poverty at home./p>

Business support is a key example of this. By paying fair taxes to the governments of developing countries (enabling more revenue to deliver services), paying living wages to local people, protecting the environment and creating ethical supply chains, businesses can make an enormous difference to global poverty.

The Scottish Government has a role in encouraging positive Scottish business practice abroad and in stimulating ethical investment in Scottish business growth, particularly in small and medium-sized businesses, which create more jobs.

Another example is climate change. The Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund is an innovative part of its aid programme. As well as committing more resources to this fund, we would call for more urgent implementation of steps to reduce domestic emissions as required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

After the referendum, the Scottish Government and our network need to build capacity to spend aid well and to implement a policy coherence approach. In a yes scenario, we would encourage the UK Department for International Development and the Scottish Government to work together to ensure a positive transition. We would also encourage the Scottish Government to consult key players, including civil society at home and abroad, to develop a clear strategy for adding the most value and making a unique contribution.

As well as the extensive experience of our members in programme and policy delivery, we will also need to draw on the experience of organisations in the UK, our partners in developing countries and colleagues in Europe who are already implementing PCD to build our capacity to engage on a larger scale and at the European and global levels on policy and programme delivery.

Nidos is looking forward to working with others in Scotland to help build a just world, whatever the outcome of the referendum. Through recent discussions with the five major political parties, we are encouraged to see the cross-party support for further investigation of developing a policy coherence for development approach in Scotland after 18 September.

Gillian Wilson is chief executive of Nidos. Read what some of its members told TFN about the referendum.