Our ambition is to continue to strengthen Scotland's position as an outward-looking, committed global citizen; and to continue to make our distinctive contributions towards addressing global challenges and injustices, by sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise for global good. A key part of that ambition is delivered through our international development work and by contributing towards the achievement of the UN Global Goals, in our partner countries and beyond.
Building on the principle of "leave no one behind", the Global Goals adopt a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all, which we aligned with our approach in our strategy 'Global Citizenship: Scotland's International Development Strategy' in 2016.
We believe Scotland can, and should provide ethical leadership on global issues such as alleviating poverty and inequality, protecting human rights and tackling climate change. With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is particularly important that we continue to provide a strong, positive, progressive voice in the world, for compassion, openness, tolerance, diversity, solidarity and inclusion, as part of an interlinked, global community.
Over the past year, projects under our newly expanded Zambia and Rwanda Development Programmes commenced. We also opened our Malawi Funding round for 2018 and launched our new Humanitarian Emergency Fund ( HEF). Over the course of the year, HEF funding has been released to support some of the world's most vulnerable people, including Rohingya refugees and in East Africa.
We aim to equal the best small countries in the world in our contribution to international development - we know that small countries consistently top the annual Commitment to Development Index in terms of the overall impact of their policies on international development. That is why, this pan-Scottish Government report considers our overall contribution to international development, including both our international development spend and wider Scottish Government policies and their contributions to international development.
This year, we have followed through on the commitment we gave in our strategy in 2016 to the "Beyond Aid" agenda. We have laid the foundations for working with civil society organisations in Scotland's international development sector on policy coherence, as part of a stepwise approach to "do no harm" and work for positive development outcomes. Within the Scottish Government itself we have also worked collaboratively with a new Ministerial portfolio area, Health, on a new and exciting Global Health initiative for NHSScotland; Health Directorates now join our Climate, Water, Police and Education Ministerial portfolios in supporting international aims and contributing positively to development outcomes.
Unfortunately, I must also reflect on the distressing media reports in spring 2018 of serious misconduct and sexual abuse in the wider humanitarian and international development sector. Whilst we continue to recognise that the vast majority of those working in international development and humanitarian emergency relief do so in a diligent, compassionate and appropriate manner, we are however equally and absolutely clear that the welfare of beneficiaries must always be the priority for the Scottish Government and our partners. We will not tolerate any form of human rights abuses or misconduct, wherever they take place. Our safeguarding efforts and commitment to protect vulnerable people will continue to form an integral part of our international development work in the years ahead.
I look forward to the year ahead and to further strengthening our collaborations with partners. In particular, I look forward to furthering Scotland's partnerships with the Governments and peoples of Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Pakistan towards attainment of the Global Goals. I hope that together we will continue to embrace global citizenship, to strengthen our partnerships and to learn from each other. I think perhaps Nelson Mandela expressed that sense of global citizenship and our global interconnectivity best when he said "There can be no greater gift than that of giving one's time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return." That quote feels especially pertinent at this time and in the 100th anniversary of his birth year.
Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development
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