MSP consults on Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill Proposal

MSP consults on Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill Proposal


14th December 2022

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.

Boyack hopes her planned Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill proposal will introduce a duty for public bodies to promote these principles and establish a Commissioner for Sustainable and Wellbeing in order to address the devastating consequences of short-termism at both local and global scale.  

The Members Bill proposal comes on the back of calls for a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill during the Scottish Parliament election by a large number of individuals and organisations. The proposal builds on the 14 recommendations for policy makers published by the Scotland’s International Development Alliance in their report Towards a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill  and Carnegie UK’s recent Five steps to put wellbeing at the centre of policymaking in Scotland publication.

The proposed Bill seeks to place new definitions of sustainable development and wellbeing into legislation and to bring forward the Scottish equivalent to the Welsh Future Generations Commissioner.

Introducing her consultation, Sarah Boyack said,

“The climate emergency demonstrates in real terms the consequences of short-termism. We are now seeing countries that did nothing to aggravate the unfolding environmental catastrophe, bearing the cost for a damage they didn’t cause.

“Future generations in Scotland and across the world will be faced with the results of the actions we take – or not – right here and now. The proposal I am launching today is neither a new nor untested idea. In Wales, the Future Generations Commissioner was established in 2015 and has already made a difference.

“The Scottish Government talks a lot about wellbeing and sustainable development, but it has repeatedly failed to define them, let alone implement them.

“I want to hear from as many people as possible so we can strengthen the legislation currently in place and ensure that Scotland is a country that takes wellbeing and sustainable development seriously both now and for future generation.”

Speaking in support of the proposal; Frances Guy, Chief Executive Officer at Scotland’s International Development Alliance said:

“The Alliance is delighted to see the launch of this Members Bill consultation.

“The Bill is an opportunity for Scotland to demonstrate joined-up policymaking, linking global and domestic priorities, alongside human and environmental wellbeing and putting them at the forefront of decision making.  It’s clearer than ever before that our systems are not working for people, or for the planet.

This legislation could trigger a step change in the way decisions are made in Scotland, ensuring sustainable development and wellbeing become the main drivers of policy and practice across public life”.

The Members’ Bill is supported by Carnegie UK, a Dunfermline-based charitable foundation that advocates for putting collective wellbeing at the centre of policymaking.

Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK, said:

“It is time for Scotland to up the pace on putting wellbeing at the centre of big decisions.

“That means a new commissioner to look after everyone’s interests now and in the future, backed with statutory powers. That means policies and spending-decisions which balance the needs of the economy with other social, environmental, and democratic imperatives. It means longer term thinking, after a decade of crisis management at home and abroad.

“That’s why we’re pleased to see Sarah Boyack’s Members’ Bill and would urge forward-thinking organisations and individuals to get involved in this consultation.”

To see the full proposal and to respond to the consultation please click here