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Wellbeing & sustainable development

A key theme for our work, to help embed an understanding of global impact in decision-making in Scotland.

Scotland’s International Development Alliance has been calling for a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill for Scotland since 2020. We believe that new legislation would help to ensure that 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.

The 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 impacts of their decisions, both in Scotland and elsewhere.

The legislation should also relocate and strengthen the duties of Ministers and public bodies relating to the National Outcomes (from the Community Empowerment Act) 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.

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.

Progress on achieving a Wellbeing & Sustainable Development Bill for Scotland

  • May 2021: SIDA and other organisations succeed in securing a commitment to legislation from the new SNP government.
  • September 2021: Programme for Government states: “We will bring forward a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill, putting duties on public bodies and local government to take account of the impact of their decisions on sustainable development, in Scotland and internationally”.
  • June 2022: Scotland’s International Development Alliance publish a report making recommendations for inclusion in the new legislation.
  • September 2022: SIDA convene a working group of organisations interested in furthering wellbeing and sustainable development in Scotland, including Carnegie UK, WeAll and Oxfam.
  • December 2022: Sarah Boyack MSP opens consultation on a members bill for a Wellbeing & Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill.
  • June 2023: Scottish Government consult on National Outcomes review. SIDA and others respond in support of new legislation to strengthen the outcomes.
  • September 2023: Programme for Government states: “We will continue to explore the development of legislative proposals on a wellbeing and sustainable development Bill, to support greater implementation of the NPF, and to ensure the interests of future generations are taken into account in decisions made today”. It is not included in the Legislative Programme.
  • December 2023: Sarah Boyack MSP proposes members bill to Parliament.
  • December 2023: Scottish Government open consultation on a potential Bill: Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill: consultation – (

EVENT: What you need to know about the Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill

The Scottish Government have launched a consultation into a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development bill.

SIDA is working with other organisations interested in furthering wellbeing and sustainable development and we’re pleased to be able to invite you to an information session hosted by WeAll to find out more about the consultation and how you can get involved. We’ll also be sharing written guidance on how to respond before the deadline of 14th February (look out on the members hub for more details). If you can’t make the session but want to discuss the consultation please contact Louise

Tuesday 30th January | 10.00 – 11.00 | Online

BLOG: Sustainable development could drive decision-making in Scotland

SIDA is working with other organisations interested in furthering wellbeing and sustainable development in Scotland, to create some guidance for responding to the consultation. We’re hoping our members will join us in pushing for clear consideration of those outside of Scotland’s borders in what could be transformative legislation for Scotland.

BLOG: Time for a Feminist Wellbeing Economy

Joanne O’Neill, ActionAid, reports on the recent Cross Party Group meeting on Feminist Wellbeing Economies

NEWS: MSP Consults on Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill

A proposal to establish a Commissioner with a remit over wellbeing and sustainable development and to strengthen duties on the public sector has been published in a proposal for a Member’s Bill by Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, and is now out to public consultation.

BLOG: What is a good life, really?

Louise Davies reports on a debate at the Festival of Politics which considered whether a wellbeing economy is the answer to the global cost of living crisis. 

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