Diaspora engagement plan


Exploiting the potential of Scotland's worldwide diaspora population could provide tangible benefits that contribute to economic recovery and growth, Culture and External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop told a conference of international business leaders in Edinburgh today.

The one-day Global Ambitions conference aimed to encourage Scottish businesses to internationalise and the Minister highlighted the massive resource Scotland, and Scottish business, has at its disposal in the form of the diaspora.

Announcing publication of a Diaspora Engagement Plan, Ms Hyslop said:

"Scotland is the first European nation to develop a formal approach to motivating and engaging its diaspora - a global population estimated at some 40 million.

"This matters because having affinity with Scotland is not just about sentimentality. Diaspora connections can be readily translated into mutually-beneficial hard-edged business partnerships.

"The World Bank has identified the competitive benefits a country can gain from a connected and mobilised diaspora population. It highlighted Scotland as being particularly well-placed and ready to harness this resource. The Institute of Public Policy Research has also noted that Scotland is at the vanguard of diaspora engagement.

"An estimated one million Scots-born people live outside Scotland. Alongside others with a strong connection to Scotland, they have the potential to help promote Scotland as a great place to work, study, visit, do business and invest.

"Developing effective connections with our international family will enable them to better understand and promote Scotland's world-leading role in, for example, life sciences, renewable energy and carbon capture."

The engagement plan sets out the Scottish Government's actions to connect with Scotland's diaspora population, including:

  • Developing effective communication and networks to foster dialogue between the Government and the diaspora, as well as between diaspora groups and individuals
  • Improving understanding of the role and value of the contemporary diaspora, through collaboration with the University of Edinburgh's Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies
  • Identifying new opportunities to engage with young, economically-active diaspora who have first-hand experience of living, studying and working in Scotland

Joint Chair of the Scottish Diaspora Forum, former Presiding Officer George Reid, said:

"Scotland's Diaspora spans the world. There are few countries without a Caledonian or St Andrews Society. This community across frontiers is a potentially huge source of global goodwill for Scotland. Harnessing its energy and talents will enhance our global presence and competitiveness."

The term 'diaspora' refers to a dispersion of people from their homeland. The Scottish Government estimates that one million people born in Scotland now live outside the country. It is also estimated that Scotland's diaspora totals around 40 million.

Developed in partnership with diaspora groups and the Scottish Diaspora Forum, and informed by events held throughout the Year of Homecoming 2009, the Diaspora Engagement Plan prioritises engagement in line with the countries identified in the Scottish Government's International Strategy: the EU, the USA, Canada, China, India and Pakistan.

The plan segments Scotland's diaspora into six distinct groups, according to the connection individuals have to Scotland. This facilitates more effective engagement, as communication can be targeted according to the needs and interests of individuals. The six groups are:

  • Reverse diaspora - nationals of other countries working or studying in Scotland
  • Returning diaspora - Scots who have come back to Scotland
  • New diaspora - Scots who are about to leave Scotland
  • Lived diaspora - individuals born in Scotland, or who have worked or studied in Scotland, and now live outside Scotland
  • Ancestral diaspora - individuals of Scottish descent
  • Affinity diaspora - those with a direct or indirect connection to Scotland