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Update on proposed Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill

In the autumn, the Alliance and some of its members commissioned some research to inform the development of the proposed ‘Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill’, one of our key asks of political parties ahead of the Scottish Election earlier in the year, which also made it into the 2021-22 Programme for Government.

What’s the research about?

A core aspect of this work is to ensure prominence of international development considerations in any future bill, helping to ensure Scotland takes responsibility for global impacts of national sustainable development. The research is seeking to address questions such as:

  • What should the purpose of a WSD Bill be in terms of enhancing PCSD and Scotland’s contribution to sustainable development globally?
  • What should the bill require, and of whom?
  • How would a WSD Bill complement and enhance existing legislation?
  • How would a WSD Bill be monitored and by whom?

The research encompasses a review of not only existing Scottish policy and legislation, but of the Welsh context, especially the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, and an international review element. Alongside this desk-based research and interviews with key stakeholders, our researchers have been conducting engagement workshops to gather thoughts from across public bodies and the NGO sector in Scotland. They are in the final stages of stakeholder engagement and will then be writing up their findings from this work in January.

How can you get involved?

Alliance members are invited to the final stakeholder engagement workshop to hear views on what the bill should look like. The workshop will take place on the 17th of January at 2 – 3:30pm, online.

The researchers are keen to hear from people representing different perspectives – if you would like to attend, please email and you will be sent the joining information.

What comes next?

By spring 2022, we will publish a detailed research paper to inform much broader engagement on this future bill. We will also hold a public launch event in collaboration with Newcastle University who have partnered with us on this work. Watch this space and make sure you join our public launch event!

About the researchers

Dr Graham Long is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Newcastle University. He currently works on implementation, monitoring and review of the UN Sustainable Development Goals at subnational, national and global scales. In the past, he has undertaken analyses of the SDGs for the Greater London Authority (2021), UK Parliament (2019), and the Scottish Government (2019). He has recently worked with UN DESA – on stakeholder engagement, COVID-19 impacts, and ‘left behind’ groups (2021), on stakeholder partnerships (2019), and on civil society contributions to the SDGs (2018). Dr Long has been working on the SDGs since 2014, in partnership with civil society organisations at global, national, and local scales.

Ishani Erasmus is a practitioner and advocate of sustainable development. Her focus is on supporting the shaping of public policy, legislation and decision-making in order to shift societal development onto a more pro-social and pro-ecological pathway. In addition to her research for the Alliance, she is working with the Scottish Parliament on mainstreaming sustainable development into its scrutiny processes. She has recently submitted for examination a doctoral thesis on this work.

Zoe Russell is a qualitative social researcher currently working towards her PhD at the University of Stirling on the UNESCO biosphere reserve model for sustainable development. She recently also published a report on Biocultural Heritage in the UK which examines how international learning could be applied from this holistic model for wellbeing and sustainability. Zoe is particularly interested in how to achieve more just and sustainable societies and the ways in which current policies and structures impede this change. As an independent consultant, she has worked on a range of projects focused on different aspects of sustainability and particularly work with different communities.

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