Publication - Consultation responses

Meeting global challenges and making a difference - aligning international development policy with global goals: analysis of responses

Published: 29 Sep 2016
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Analysis of responses received during consultation on international development policy.

91 page PDF

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91 page PDF

809.0 kB

Meeting global challenges and making a difference - aligning international development policy with global goals: analysis of responses
Executive Summary

91 page PDF

809.0 kB

Executive Summary

1. The Scottish Government undertook a public consultation on its international development programme between February and May 2016. The consultation discussion paper, Meeting Global Challenges and Making a Difference, invited views about how its policy in this area should develop in the future. [1]

2. Currently, the Scottish Government's International Development Fund ( IDF) has a budget of £9m per year and supports 57 projects in seven countries across eight themes. In its consultation paper, the Scottish Government set out its ambition to achieve greater impact by targeting the IDF more carefully and also affirmed its desire to align its international development activity more closely with the United Nations ( UN) Global Goals. [2]

3. The consultation contained 22 questions covering the re-prioritisation of the IDF, both geographic and thematic; the value of diaspora links; ways of improving the current funding models; partnership working and capacity building; encouraging trade and investment; supporting sustainable growth; and the 'Beyond Aid' agenda.

4. A total of 129 responses were received from 91 organisations and 38 individuals. Over half of the organisational respondents were non-governmental organisations ( NGOs) or charities. The remainder included coalitions, networking and umbrella bodies; private sector bodies; academic and research organisations; Scottish public sector bodies; and faith-based organisations. The largest proportion of organisational respondents had an African focus (41%) while nearly a third (31%) had a broad international focus.

Overall views on the Scottish Government's ambition

5. Respondents supported the Scottish Government's ambition and its approach. They highlighted the emphasis on partnership working, civic engagement, capacity building and long-term commitment, as exemplified by Scotland's work with Malawi, and drew attention to the perceived success of this. They were also generally supportive of a more targeted geographic focus; however, there were reservations about narrowing the thematic focus.

Criteria for selecting priority countries

6. The consultation document outlined Scotland's current approach to selecting priority countries for international development investment based on three criteria: (i) the nature of the relationship with Scotland, both historical and contemporary (ii) relevant activity and expertise within Scotland and (iii) levels of poverty as defined by the UN Human Development Index ( HDI). It was further explained that 'need' was key in selecting countries.

7. Some endorsed the current approach, and / or elaborated how the current approach was useful in guiding the selection of countries. However, others suggested how the current criteria could be modified or developed, or put forward additional criteria for selecting priority countries.

8. The current needs-based criterion, in particular, attracted a range of comments, with respondents calling for: (i) need to be prioritised over other criteria or (ii) a more refined approach to assessing need, using additional or alternative indicators and taking account of inequalities and vulnerable groups. Some wished to see a greater reference to the Global Goals in the assessment of 'need'. Suggestions for additional criteria for selecting priority countries related to: programme efficacy and potential for impact; governance, human rights and security; and evidence of public interest.

9. Other respondents suggested adopting alternative approaches which did not involve the selection of a set of priority countries.

Geographic focus

10. For the most part respondents supported the proposal to focus on (i) a smaller number of priority countries and (ii) countries in the same geographic area. They believed this would benefit the programme and lead to greater impact, particularly given Scotland's relatively modest budget. There was particular support for establishing a focus on a group of countries around Malawi, to provide a sub-Saharan African focussed development programme.

11. In relation to the proposal to focus development assistance on specific regions within countries (through the creation of intra-national clusters), there were mixed views. Respondents saw the potential for such clusters to alleviate regional disparities in wealth, and promote learning and exchange between communities that are geographically close to each other. However, they also had reservations about focusing development assistance on one specific region to the exclusion of others - particularly in Malawi as there was concern that this approach might be divisive. In general, respondents suggested that any targeting of funding to particular regions within countries should be done on the basis of need, and on a project-by-project basis linked to particular topics or themes.

The value of diaspora links

12. There was general agreement that diaspora communities bring a valuable perspective to international development work as a result of their knowledge of, and connections to, their home countries. It was argued that diaspora links could enhance understanding of problems, challenges and local contexts in partner countries, and increase effectiveness of projects and programmes. However, there were reservations about the importance to be attached to diaspora links compared to other factors in taking forward the international development agenda.

Thematic focus

13. There were reservations about narrowing the thematic focus of the Scottish Government's work. Some thought this would maximise efficiency and effectiveness, and the development of expertise. More often, however, respondents favoured an integrated and holistic approach to addressing the Global Goals, and did not think a narrowing of thematic focus would be helpful in this respect.

Programme funding models

14. On the whole, respondents expressed support for the Scottish Government's current approach to funding. They thought this provided an appropriate mix of funding models and mechanisms. In particular, respondents thought the current approach strikes a reasonable balance between (i) funding established partners while also allowing new partners to emerge, and (ii) challenge fund model and block grant funding approaches.

15. The main suggestions for improving the current approach to funding were to: adopt a more flexible approach to the terms and conditions for funding; allow for longer term projects and programmes; introduce 'concept notes' (an outline application prior to submission of the full grant application) for challenge funding; continue the Small Grants Programme; develop ways of mobilising additional funds; and provide additional support to small NGOs and charities. Some of these suggestions, including the introduction of concept notes and the leveraging of additional funds, affirmed ideas highlighted by the Scottish Government in its consultation paper.

Planned vs flexible funding:

16. It was common for respondents to emphasise the importance of focusing mainly on planned expenditure: respondents often elided the idea of 'planned expenditure' or a 'planned programme' with a 'long-term programme'. There was a strong view across all groups that long-term programmes, typically perceived as more than three years of funding, were necessary to deliver sustainable change and should be prioritised.

17. Respondents also thought that some flexible funding was required to respond rapidly to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and to provide immediate relief for unforeseen circumstances and events. Respondents thought that any flexible funding should, however, be small-scale relative to planned expenditure - figures of between 10% and 20% of the IDF were suggested.

Longer term funded programmes:

18. There was near unanimous support for the proposal for longer term programmes. Individuals and organisations of all types thought this to be vital for partnership building, and for achieving sustainability.

Improving monitoring and evaluation:

19. Suggested improvements to monitoring and evaluation arrangements included: undertaking longer term evaluations; creating more opportunities for sharing the learning from such work; moving towards outcome-focused evaluations using a common approach; building capacity for conducting evaluation within partner countries; and increased funding for monitoring and evaluation.

Partnership working and capacity building

20. Respondents thought that successful and sustainable outcomes for the IDF required partnership working and (organisational) capacity building.

21. Respondents identified a range of principles which underpinned effective partnership working including: equality of relation between partners; engagement and participation at all levels and within all sectors of society; good governance and accountability; and understanding the context and learning from others. It was thought that partnerships could be developed both through knowledge sharing, and through creating specific funding mechanisms.

22. Respondents from across all groups thought there was potential benefit from greater engagement of, and collaboration with, the private sector - both in Scotland and in partner countries, and some suggested models and mechanisms which might be useful in this regard. However, respondents across all groups, but particularly within the NGO sector also voiced strong caveats to any (greater) engagement. They emphasised that involvement of the private sector should be governed by a focus on the aims of the Scottish Government and alignment with the needs of the partner country.

23. Respondents generally saw the academic sector as having much to offer. The sector was seen as an important source of expertise across a range of areas including climate change, the environment, and renewable technologies. In addition, it was thought to have the skills to assess the effectiveness of programmes, which was vital for future programme development.

24. Across all sectors, there was a high level of agreement that using local expertise was 'essential' and 'critical' to true partnership working and to achieving successful and sustainable outcomes. It was also highlighted as a key feature of Scotland's 'distinct' approach to international development work.

Supporting sustainable growth and encouraging trade and investment

25. Respondents emphasised the importance of adopting a cross-departmental agenda to building trade and investment links in order to maximise the benefits for job creation and inclusive growth. Support for infrastructure development - e.g. transport, building, renewable energy, IT - was seen to be crucial.

26. There was, however, an insistence that the development of trade and investment had to comply with the core principles of international development funding. Thus, poverty alleviation and the promotion of human development should be central. Moreover, all developments should be congruent with the objectives of the partner country, should be done in partnership and be inclusive, and should be aimed at developing sustainable, fair trade.

'Beyond Aid' agenda

27. Respondents affirmed the importance of the 'Beyond Aid' agenda and that tackling the underlying causes of poverty and moving away from dependency on external development funds required policy action on a very broad front. Respondents across all groups agreed that 'policy coherence for development' ( PCD) involving a coordinated, cross-departmental and cross-party approach was required, and they emphasised the importance of an action plan for this.