Scottish connections (diaspora) work: literature review

Reports on findings from a literature review looking at international examples of engagement activities, initiatives and strategies in relation to various diasporic communities.

6. Recommendations

214. Based on this literature review, we have identified two areas with a number of sub-themes where Scotland can make practical progress in developing an effective diaspora strategy. The recommendations expressed in this report are those of the contractors appointed. They are all intended to be short term, practical recommendations for action, except where otherwise indicated. The report does not represent the views or intentions of the Scottish Government.

Part I – A Delivery Plan for Scotland

We recommend the development of a delivery plan for Scotland. This will require further research (see part II), but should include the following elements as identified in this report:

1. Structures and resources:

1.1. Ensure there is a clear lead on diaspora engagement policy, coordination, and delivery based in the External Affairs area of the Scottish Government, and that the team and approach is adequately resourced.

1.2. That policy lead would be responsible for strategy development, budgets, resources, data and evaluation.

1.3. Consideration should be given to increasing the resources available to Scotland’s international office network and Scottish Development International (where appropriate) to build on and expand their existing engagement with and through the diaspora and support the establishment of additional productive networks that include both diaspora and local partners.

1.4. Intensify collaborations with existing networks and agencies such as Scottish Development International (SDI).

1.5. UK structures: consider how to maximise, for diaspora engagement, the value placed on Scottish events by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and others.

2. Strategy:

2.1. Policy should focus on priorities that are consistent with Scotland’s international aspirations described in Chapter 6 of the Programme for Government and “embrace the opportunities of international connection and cooperation, acting as a good global citizen to champion our values-based approach on the world stage”. Our research identified that the process of strategy development is crucial to success, and in particular, it is essential to secure the support and engagement of domestic stakeholders, the diaspora itself, and overseas partners.

2.2. Democratic participation, as highlighted in the Programme for Government, should be exemplified in the process of developing and implementing the diaspora engagement strategy. The recent experience of Ireland is relevant.

2.3. Develop governance and accountability arrangements for Scotland’s diaspora engagement to ensure effective strategic direction and coordination and, recognising that diaspora engagement is multi-stakeholder in nature, as a way to involve stakeholders in dialogue and decision making and responses to issues that arise. Arrangements should be based on good international practice, and include the roles of Ministers, governments, Parliaments, and civil societies. The experience of Ireland is particularly relevant.

3. Areas of engagement:

3.1. Business: Scotland is already successful in developing international diaspora business networks. In addition to additional resource for, and activity by, SDI (see above), the scope for these to be leveraged to support skills shortages in the Scottish economyshould be considered. [107] The experiences of Denmark and New Zealand are particularly relevant.

3.2. Alumni: Scotland: a trading nation already commits the Scottish Government to enhancing the role of alumni in its international trade and engagement activities. This work should be developed, as a priority, to identify and realise the potential benefits of alumni engagement, including in relation to skills shortages, knowledge exchange, and cultural diplomacy. France and Australia offer contrasting approaches to alumni engagement which could inform discussions with higher education and other stakeholders.

3.3. Culture: Culture is a major theme of the Programme for Government. Existing thinking is based around showcasing abroad and major events at home. The potential for involving the diaspora on a long-term basis through an approach based on establishing mutually beneficial cultural exchange initiatives designed to connect them and their host countries to Scotland’s contemporary culture and to enrich Scotland through knowledge exchange should be considered. Scotland can also benefit from Japanese experience and practice in working with both traditional and contemporary culture. The ways in which France works with local partners through culture and education could also be relevant.

4. Digital engagement:

4.1. As part of the Scottish Diaspora Engagement Strategy, we recommend to set up a digital platform dedicated to engagement with the Scottish Diaspora. Digital platforms offer more potential than do traditional websites: through aggregation, they can bring resources together and help users connect with these resources; they can act as social platforms to bring people together; they support mobilisation, taking common interests to action, and they support learning networks for knowledge exchange.[108] Diaspora engagement, by its nature, requires a strategic approach to engagement across geographies, and effective channels through which three-way relationships (home country Û diaspora Û host country) can be supported. A platform would provide the infrastructure for that engagement.

Part II – Further research

5. We recommend to carry out further research into Scotland’s existing assets and resources to identify gaps and overlaps. We recommend specifically to:

5.1. Map the gap between the opportunities, channels and tools for diaspora engagement and service provision available to states through diplomatic institutions, and those available to sub-states. The experiences of Flanders and Québec offer specific examples, but work could be done to consider specific initiatives of other sub-states in the European Union such as German Länder or French Régions, which could be relevant to Scotland.

6. Data on diasporas is insufficient and we recommend to:

6.1. Collect comprehensive data on the diaspora including mapping the location of the diaspora, compiling inventories of diaspora skills and experience; and engaging a wide range of diaspora members to understand what the diaspora has to offer, what it is willing to offer, and what it expects from the government in turn. As noted in paragraph 198 on page 60 of this report, there is an urgent need to improve the evidence base for policy. Ireland is establishing a hub for expertise in diaspora engagement. This would be a good starting point for consideration.

6.2. In the longer term, data gaps could be addressed in a collaborative way with other nations. We recommend investigation of the feasibility of establishing a Diaspora Data Working Group to draw on global best practice in diaspora data and statistics with Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand (and possibly the USA, the OECD, and the European Union).

7. We recommend to learn from others by engaging with policymakers in Canada, Denmark, Ireland, and Québec. These all offer lessons for Scotland. While it was clear from the research that there is no “one-size-fits-all” model for governments working to engage their diasporas more effectively, these countries are all engaged in rethinking their strategies today, and it would be valuable to learn from their experience, particularly in relation to two aspects of policymaking that are crucial for success everywhere:

7.1. Identification of goals: the drivers for engagement (as noted in the research there are three main drivers: economic, cultural and the desire to exert influence), desired practical outcomes, breadth versus depth, segments to target.

7.2. Stakeholder engagement: domestically, in the diaspora, and in destination countries.

8. Further desk-based research to explore a limited number of cross-cutting themes from the research that are relevant to Scotland, including:

8.1. Demography, labour mobility and skills: further research into the experience of Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, and Québec, all of whom have experience of developing diaspora policy that focuses on these traditional drivers of diasporic engagement. They are all currently engaged in, or have agencies whose remit is focused on, these questions.

8.2. Knowledge exchange and Higher Education: if the focus is on highly skilled and educated expatriate workers, and the definition of diaspora is extended to include alumni, there is much be learned from the experience of Australia (Alumni Strategy), Denmark (focus on very specific sectoral skills), France (higher education services and alumni), Ireland, and New Zealand.

8.3. Culture: consider the role of culture in the diaspora (broadly defined to include arts, heritage, questions of identity, media, values) in relation to Scotland’s wider international engagement and influencing activities. Specifically, the goals of cultural engagement should be considered, drawing on the experience of Denmark (values), France (cultural promotion and the role of the Institut français), Ireland (identity and values), and Japan (the promotion of Japan through both intangible cultural heritage[109] and contemporary culture).



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