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Global Influence

We have more impact when we work together.  Scotland combines its resources and influence with the rest of the UK to play a leading role in tackling global issues like climate change, poverty, conflict and wildlife crime.

Our Global Influence

Scotland plays an important role in delivering a Global Britain: one that is respected abroad, tolerant at home, engaged in the world and working with our international partners to advance the prosperity and security of our nation for generations to come.  We can achieve this through combining the resources and influence of every part of the UK.

In 2021 the UK Government announced 1,500 diplomatic experts will based in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) East Kilbride HQ, significantly expanding its operations in Scotland.  

Assisting British people living, travelling and working around the world

The UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) represents the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK with 280 diplomatic posts around the world in 178 countries and territories, employing over 13,000 staff.  A UK passport guarantees help and support from the UK’s worldwide diplomatic service.  This global influence helps our citizens and businesses when they need it most abroad by:

  • providing high-quality, accessible consular services globally, focussed on those most in need
  • reducing preventable incidents affecting British people overseas through collaboration with partners and governments, and
  • responding rapidly to all overseas crises, leading cross-government action.

This map shows many of the British embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world:

Find out more about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office - external link

The United Nations and reducing global conflict

The UK is one of the founding members of the United Nations (UN), an organisation tasked with taking action on the biggest issues facing humanity in the 21st century.  The UK’s strong global influence means it can play a leading roll on issues including:

  • peace and security
  • climate change
  • sustainable development
  • human rights
  • disarmament
  • terrorism
  • humanitarian and health emergencies
  • gender equality
  • governance
  • food production

The UK’s is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which has responsibility for ensuring international peace and security.

UK Aid and International Development

The FCDO uses the combined prosperity and global influence of the UK to deliver programmes like UK Aid Match.  They work with Scottish charities like The HALO Trust, EMMS International, Mary’s Meals, and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) to support their incredible work.

Scotland contributes to delivering programmes and projects which support the National Security Strategy, and Aid Strategy.

  • The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), established in 2015, supports work to reduce risk arising from conflict or instability in countries where the UK has important interests
  • The Prosperity Fund, established in 2016, promotes the economic reform and development needed for growth in partner countries.

Through UK aid, people in Scotland are supporting transformative change across the world.  In 2019-20 this included:

  • providing 365,000 vaccines in Syria and giving more than 1 million people access to clean drinking water.
  • providing more than 1.4 million people with assistance in Afghanistan, including water and sanitation, food assistance, nutrition, protection, shelter or non‑food items, cash, and health services.
  • providing support to over 1 million Rohingya refugees and host communities, including food, healthcare, water and sanitation.
  • reaching over half a million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with food aid, cash and voucher transfers, and 150,000 children under the age of 5 with urgent nutritional assistance, and 800,000 people with access to clean drinking water.
  • providing over 400,000 children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in Yemen with nutrition interventions.
  • supporting up to 1.5 million girls and young women to access quality education, including over 46,000 girls with disabilities.
  • continuing work with Gavi (Vaccine Alliance) to immunise 76 million children and save 1.4 million lives between 2016 and 2020.
  • supporting the development of 7 new drugs for malaria, more than 20 diagnostics for faster and more reliable detection of tuberculosis, malaria and sleeping sickness, a novel child‑friendly treatment for tuberculosis and new vaccines for rotavirus.
  • providing over 20 million women and girls with access to family planning per year from 2020‑25

In 2019-20 UK global influence helped achieve a 27.5% overall increase in funding allocated to conflict‑affected and fragile states, through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

Since 2011, UK International Climate Finance is estimated to have helped 57 million people cope with the effects of climate change, provided access to clean energy for 26 million people, and supported reductions of 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Through the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office‘s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), the UK also continues to lead global efforts to end the horror of sexual violence in conflict.

COP26: UK to host UN climate change summit

The UK has won the bid to host the United Nations 26th climate change summit known as the Conference of the Parties or COP26.  This success is testimony to the UK’s global influence and leadership on tackling climate change.  The bid was made in partnership with the UK’s European ally, Italy.

The event will be held in Glasgow and will bring together over 30,000 delegates from around the world, including climate experts, business leaders and citizens to agree ambitious action to tackle climate change.

The conference is expected to last about two weeks and is set to be one of the most important gatherings on climate change since 2015.  This conference is seen as a major crossroads in the battle against global climate change with important decisions and agreements expected to be hammered out.  It will also be the year in which governments are due to review their promises to cut carbon emissions in line with the latest science.

It would be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with world leaders expected to attend for the final weekend.

Find out more about COP26 - external link

International Wildlife crime

The UK is using its global influence to fight the illegal wildlife trade.  This is serious organised crime that endangers some of the world’s most iconic species.  Each year, 20,000 African elephants are poached for their ivory.

In April 2018, the Foreign Office announced a UK Government commitment to an ivory ban in the UK – one of the toughest in the world. The UK hosted a landmark conference to End Wildlife Crime, bringing together global leaders from 80 countries to close down markets and counter the corruption that is fuelling the illegal wildlife trade. Part of this work includes the launch of the Ivory Alliance, a network of political leaders & influencers who will help close down the ivory markets that are driving elephants to extinction.

Find out how else the UK is promoting biodiversity and protecting wildlife, including:

Signs of hope for preserving habitats
Planting change with the Darwin Initiative
Turning the tide with the UK’s Blue Belt

Trading relationships

The UK is using its combined global influence to unlock new opportunities for businesses on the world stage by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.

The UK Government’s Department of International Trade (DIT) and the Exporting is GREAT campaign are working to create opportunities for Scottish businesses around the globe.

DIT is launching a trade hub in Scotland, dedicated to helping businesses thrive and grow internationally by using the UK government’s global networks, expertise and influence, as well as world-leading credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF).  UKEF has also appointed a specialist to focus on renewable exports and to support the energy transition in Scotland.  

Get help with exporting - external link
Visit the Department for International Trade website - external link