This is a letter from Scottish Environment LINK members to the new Deputy First Minister about the Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill.
Dear Deputy First Minister
Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill
On behalf of a diverse group of organisations interested in furthering wellbeing and sustainable development in Scotland, we would like to extend our congratulations on your appointment as Deputy First Minister.
We are writing to express our collective support for the government’s commitment to introducing a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill (WSD Bill). As organisations working to promote the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and the environment, both here and globally, we firmly believe that such legislation is essential to create a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable Scotland.
This Bill would help to ensure actions in Scotland contribute to the betterment of wellbeing, both here in Scotland and elsewhere, as we navigate out of converging global crises. By enshrining principles of sustainable development and wellbeing in law, we can ensure that they are considered in all policy decisions, while also giving clarity to how public bodies and other actors deliver policy on the ground to support a positive impact on the wellbeing of people and the planet.
This legislation should define sustainable development and make it a statutory requirement for all public bodies and local authorities in Scotland to take full account of the short and long-term sustainable development impact of their decisions, both in Scotland and elsewhere. The legislation should also relocate and strengthen the duties on Ministers and public bodies relating to the National Outcomes so that they more clearly drive policy and spending decisions. This would include requirements to produce delivery plans, engage in meaningful and ongoing public engagement, ensure regular and accessible reporting on progress and strengthen the links between the National Outcomes and the Scottish Budget. Ultimately, we believe this legislation can be world leading and help us ensure the National Outcomes become the golden thread underpinning public life in Scotland.
We would therefore like to emphasise the significance of connecting the ongoing review of the National Outcomes to the development of the WSD Bill. The legislation can provide the necessary
foundation and guidance to ensure that the next iteration of the National Performance Framework truly becomes Scotland’s ‘National Wellbeing Framework’ and fulfils its role as our localised delivery mechanism for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By doing so, it will contribute to the realisation of our shared vision for a thriving Scotland that considers the local and global implications of decisions and actions, both now and in the future.
Lastly, we would like to underline our support for the introduction of an independent Wellbeing and Sustainable Development or Future Generations Commissioner to support implementation of the Bill. Such a Commissioner would:
• be placed on statutory footing as part of the WSD Bill to signal the importance the Government places on sustainable development and the wellbeing of current and future generations;
• provide a space for learning to coalesce;
• help build the capacity of public bodies and support them to understand and implement duties relating to sustainable development and the delivery of the National Outcomes; • monitor the implementation of sustainable development duties through scrutiny and investigative powers;
• assess delivery of the National Outcomes and address the implementation gap; • be an ambassador to engage the wider public, and provide advice and scrutiny to the Scottish Government.
Above all, the creation of a new Commissioner would support a shift towards long-termism in policy making. Current political structures reward short-term policy interventions, even when they incur future costs, on health, the environment and so on. By bringing a future generations lens to decision making, a Commissioner could help to embed the principles of long-termism, and as such should be seen as an investment in prevention, not a cost.
Once again, congratulations on your new role, and we look forward to working together to promote the wellbeing and sustainable development agenda. We would be delighted to have the opportunity to meet with you and discuss these matters further, allowing us to explore how our collective efforts can create a positive and transformative impact for people everywhere and the planet.
Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS)
Bat Conservation Trust
Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
Community Enterprise in Scotland
Emma Sedgwick – Rural Communications
Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland
Ethnic Minority Environmental Network
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Generations Working Together
Global Justice Now
Marine Conservation Society
National Trust for Scotland
NCD Alliance Scotland
One Parent Families Scotland
Quakers in Scotland
Scotland CAN B
Scotland’s International Development Alliance Scottish Community Safety Network
Scottish Fair Trade Forum
Scottish Wildlife Trust
SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) THAW Orkney
The Froglife Trust
The Poverty Alliance
University of Strathclyde Centre for Sustainable Development Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland