Skip to content

Scotland’s National Outcomes review – why you should care and how to get involved!

The proposed update on Scotland’s National Outcomes has been laid before Parliament for consideration. The outcomes are part of the National Performance Framework (NPF), and explain how Scotland defines success. The NPF is often referred to as Scotland’s wellbeing framework, and the outcomes should cover all the things we need for a nation’s wellbeing, so they include topics like education, health, culture and, importantly for us, international. In theory, all public bodies will use these outcomes to steer their decision-making and spending.

If the new recommendations are approved, the number of outcomes will increase from 11 to 13. The international outcome will be retained, with some tweaks to the wording, and there are other outcomes (arguably all of them) which could impact on how we measure our global impact.

On the whole, we welcome the recommendations, but we have some suggestions as to how they could be improved. The Government has opened a consultation for the public to give feedback on their plans. They have suggested they will be influenced by the consultation so it would be great if as many people participate as can find the time to do so.

We’ve outlined some points here that you might want to consider raising as part of the process:

 • Understanding wellbeing as for everyone, everywhere.

Underpinning the whole NPF should be an understanding that we can’t pursue wellbeing here at the expense of people overseas. Our long-term collective wellbeing is dependent on, and interconnected to, the wellbeing of people everywhere, and the wellbeing of the planet.

• Global responsibility deserves to be a standalone outcome.

The vision for the international outcome covers our responsibility as a good global citizen, and commitments to promoting promoting peace, democracy and human rights globally, as well as promoting Scotland’s businesses and industry, through international trade and supply chains. So as well as considering Scotland’s impact on global communities, this outcome includes the promotion of ‘Brand Scotland’ and the success of Scottish businesses overseas. We suggest that the economic and business aspects of the international outcome would sit better within the ‘Economy’ outcome, leaving a stand alone outcome that focuses Scotland’s global responsibility. It may be worth noting that Wales has just seven national wellbeing goals, one of which is global responsibility.

 • Doing no harm.

The new wording of the international outcome says ‘We enhance our prosperity, and that of our businesses and industry, through international trade and supply chains’. Rather than talking about enhancing our prosperity, it would be preferable to talk about enhancing our wellbeing and that of everyone else globally. Enhancing our prosperity through international trade and supply chains at the very least needs to mention doing no harm, but ideally this should be reworded

 • Internationalising all the outcomes.

The new Climate Action outcome ‘acknowledge[s] our global impact and deepen[s] our global leadership on international climate justice’. We could see more of this internationalising of the NPF across all outcomes. For example, if the aim of the economy is to ensure ‘an economy that works for us all’ then how that economy interacts globally is of vital importance. That means thinking through the social and economic impacts of our supply chains and decisions on people elsewhere must be part of our approach.

• Improving the indicators.

The current measurements (or indicators) for the international outcome are flawed, incomplete and under-reported on. For example, the indicator to measure Scotland’s reputation is measured by how people from 20 countries perceive Scotland. Scotland’s population is also included as an indicator, but it is not clear what this means for Scotland’s ‘positive contribution internationally’. SIDA have produced recommendations for a more meaningful set of indicators for the international outcome. These include introducing an indicator on Scotland’s ‘material footprint’ to better track the environmental footprint of Scotland’s raw material consumption; measuring Scottish participation in global business human rights initiatives; and developing indicators to track socio-economic impacts in Scotland’s global value chains including fossil fuels extraction and export and the arms trade.

• More scrutiny.

It’s important that Parliament consider the National Outcomes in detail, and understand what we want to achieve as a nation, but they also need to consider how we will measure success. The current process only ensures that Parliament scrutinise the outcomes and not the indicators. Indicators will be developed once the outcomes are approved, and we suggest Parliament commits to undertake scrutiny of the proposed indicators at the appropriate time.

• Strengthening the National Outcomes with new legislation.

The Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill is a unique opportunity to pass world leading legislation which could ensure that the National Outcomes, and the NPF, become a golden thread that ties together actions across government. By strengthening the legal requirements on national outcomes, Scotland can build on its existing approach to embed enhanced measures of national progress. The Bill would place duties on public bodies, including national and local government, to take account of the impact of their decisions on sustainable development, in Scotland and internationally.

The public consultation can be completed here, and closes on 28 June. SIDA will be responding to the consultation and will share our submission in advance of the closing date. If you have any suggestions on what other points we should make please get in touch.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, events, resources and funding updates.

Sign up now