We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Diaspora Engagement Plan - Reaching out to Scotland's International Family



This paper sets out, for the first time, the Scottish Government's ambitions for harnessing the power of Scotland's Diaspora. The Scottish Government's International Framework recognises the large number of Scotland's Diaspora who have goodwill towards Scotland, and who have the potential to improve our reputation and drive economic growth by acting as advocates for Scotland.

The word Diaspora is used by academics and policy makers to describe a dispersion of people from their homeland. The term refers to first generation migrants as well those with ancestral ties. Essentially the phrase "Scots Diaspora" refers to the vast number of people around the world who wish to retain a connection to Scotland. Currently around 20% of the Scottish-born population live outside of Scotland, i and estimates put Scotland's international Diaspora population at around 40 million.

The World Bank recognises the very real and tangible benefits that a connected and mobilised Diaspora can bring to the home country, and highlighted Scotland as particularly well placed in terms of our "state of readiness" to harness this resource. ii

Scotland is the first nation in Europe to publish a clear and defined plan for engaging with the Diaspora. The Scottish Government is committed to building strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationships with our International Family.

The Scottish Government already has a range of tools which successfully engage with an international audience and the Diaspora, including; Scotland.org the official online gateway to Scotland; The Global Friends of Scotland and GlobalScot networks; iii and events such as Scotland Week in North America. Scotland's outstanding cultural assets, renowned heritage and vibrant creative industries are also key to engaging with the Diaspora and broader international audience.

The response to the Year of Homecoming in 2009 demonstrated the enduring connection the Diaspora has with Scotland. Over 95,000 visitors travelled to Scotland in 2009 to join the Homecoming celebrations, while others participated by reconnecting through online activities.

Throughout 2009 the Scottish Government consulted with members of the Diaspora, Scottish affinity organisations, and delivery partners. iv These groups considered what role the Government has to play in making the most of the opportunities that a well organised Diaspora presents, in a way which will contribute to the Government's core purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth for Scotland.

Our focus is on how we can target the resources at our disposal to co-ordinate and add momentum to current Diaspora engagement activity, and to support Scotland through economic recovery. Three key developments have been identified and the work programme below sets out the actions the Government will be taking, together with key delivery partners, to strengthen links with the Diaspora.

What do we want to achieve?

Improve the contribution that relationships with Scotland's Diaspora make towards the Government's core purpose of increasing Scotland's sustainable economic growth by:

  • Creating conditions for members of the Diaspora to live, learn, visit, work and return to Scotland.
  • Bring a sharp economic growth focus to the promotion of Scotland to the Diaspora
  • Manage Scotland's reputation with the Diaspora, as a distinctive global identity, an independent-minded and responsible nation, confident of its place in the world.

What are we offering the Diaspora?

We have segmented the Diaspora into different groups: Reverse, Returning, New, Lived, Ancestral and Affinity. v This gives us a better understanding of their engagement needs.

The actions set out in this plan encourage each segment of Scotland's Diaspora to take the opportunity to connect with Scotland and with each other in a productive and sustainable way by:

  • Creating a community of mind
  • Looking for opportunities to work together for mutual benefit
  • Providing a platform for discussion and encouraging participation

How are we going to help do this?

  • Focus activity on three key areas of development; effective networks and communication; improved knowledge of contemporary Diaspora, and; identifying new opportunities to engage with the young, economically active "lived" members of the Diaspora.
  • Work with members of the Diaspora and Diaspora organisations to encourage partnership working to help raise Scotland's International profile.
  • Work with Visit Scotland to develop a delivery plan to improve connections and service delivery around ancestral tourism opportunities and build connections with Affinity and Ancestral Diaspora groups.
  • Work with Scottish Development International, the Fresh Talent initiative and delivery agencies to encourage talented members of the Diaspora to return.
  • Where appropriate provide targeted support for projects that sustainably build links between Scotland and the Diaspora.
  • Continue to build on the achievements of Scottish Enterprise, GlobalScot and the Saltire Foundation and take forward best practice examples.
  • Raise awareness of contemporary Scotland's strengths and culture.

What does this mean in practice?

The Scottish Government will:

  • Continue to build opportunities to engage with the Diaspora into planned Ministerial activities overseas, focusing on priority countries identified in the International Framework.
  • Improve collaboration and coordination across the public sector, and actively seek opportunities for joint working with delivery partners to maximise the impact of international activities and minimise cost.
  • Work with partners in Scotland to encourage the Reverse Diaspora to promote and advocate for Scotland through their contact with their home country.
  • Raise Scotland's international profile; celebrating our international cultural connections and find new opportunities for collaboration.
  • Build on the legacy of Homecoming 2009 by integrating the themes of the year into our international activity, and exploiting opportunities to enhance Scotland's reputation with the Diaspora in order to achieve economic benefits for Scotland.

Effective Networks and communication:

Consultation throughout the Year of Homecoming 2009 identified new opportunities to create more effective communication links using social media technologies.

The Scottish Government will:

  • Continue to build on the success of Scotland.org, the official online gateway to Scotland and associated social media sites to promote Scotland to the Diaspora and wider international audiences.
  • Work with partners including Scottish Enterprise International Networks team, Scottish Development International, and VisitScotland to maximise the impact of existing networks and contacts and develop new strategic connections in priority geographies.
  • Develop social media tools to allow constructive three-way communication with key members of the Diaspora, across all Diaspora segments and geographies.

These actions will build strong communities and offer members of the Diaspora clear routes to engage with each other and with Scotland. It will provide a central point of contact with the Scottish Government and provide a means of working collectively to achieve common goals.

Improved Knowledge of Contemporary Diaspora:

Research into contemporary Diaspora, its value and role is a relatively new area of study. The opening of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2007 offers the unique opportunity to position Scotland as a world-leading centre of excellence in this area of study.

To maximise this opportunity the Scottish Government will explore opportunities to help build capacity at the Centre.

New Opportunities

The Scottish Government will:

  • Use learning from other countries (particularly Australia and New Zealand) to develop communication channels with those who have recently left Scotland, the Lived and New Diaspora, to work or study elsewhere for the purpose of continuing engagement with a view to encouraging them to return.
  • Work with Creative Scotland and other cultural organisations to develop opportunities to connect with the Diaspora of other countries currently living in Scotland, the Reverse Diaspora, in order to encourage them to remain here and to act as advocates for Scotland with their home nation.
  • Ensure the legacy, goodwill and positive experiences of Scotland's Year of Homecoming in 2009 are sustained and continue to benefit Scotland and connect with the Diaspora. The Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver a series of years that focus on some of Scotland's great assets as we journey towards 2014; The year in which Scotland will welcome the world when it hosts a second Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

Implementation and evaluation

The measures outlined in this paper constitute a high level action plan that will drive the Scottish Government's engagement with the Diaspora for the term of the current administration. However we are clear that we are developing a long-term relationship with the Diaspora and many of the measures set out will need a sustained commitment if they are to return measurable benefits.

The Government will develop robust monitoring and evaluation criteria around the Diaspora Engagement work and will report annually on the progress of the implementation of this plan.

For further information please see the following websites.

The Scottish Government
Scottish Government Publications available on the website:
The Scottish Diaspora and Diaspora Strategy: Insights and Lessons from Ireland
Engaging the Scottish Diaspora: Rationale, Benefits and Challenges
Scotland's Diaspora and Overseas-Born Population
Scottish Government International Framework

For Trade, Business and Investment
Scottish Development International
Scottish Enterprise

For Living and Working and Studying in Scotland
Talentscotland.com: living and working in Scotland
Scotland Is The Place

For Visiting Scotland
Ancestral Scotland

For Family History
ScotlandsPeople is a partnership of the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. Its aim is to make accessible the key Scottish family history records. It does so on the internet at: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.ukand in the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh:http://www.scotlandspeoplehub.gov.uk

GRO-Scotland GROS collects and makes available Scottish population and migration statistics:http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/index.html

Others sources of information
Scotland.org - the Official Online Gateway to Scotland

Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014
Scottish Ballet
National Theatre of Scotland
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Scottish Opera

Acknowledgements - The Scottish Government would like to thank the following for their contribution to developing the Diaspora Engagement Plan.

The participants and organisers of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 Diaspora Forums - including:

The Scottish Diaspora Forum
The Standing Council of Clan Chiefs
The American-Scottish Foundation
Illinois St Andrew's Society
The Islands Book Trust

The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh
The School of Scottish Studies, University of Guelph

Members of the Global Friends of Scotland Network
Scottish Development International
Scottish Enterprise
General Register Office for Scotland
National Archives of Scotland