Taking action to protect future generations 

Posted: 07 March 2023, in Blog

Social entrepreneurs are natural innovators, they gravitate towards new ways of doing business and new ideas.  

Each day they deal with a whole plethora of challenges, as they seek to drive social and environmental change, not least during the current cost of living challenge. 

While they seek to fix urgent issues in their local communities as they arise, there’s also an important need to take a longer term and preventive view, wherever that’s possible.  

In December, Sarah Boyack MSP launched a consultation on a Wellbeing & Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill.  

If The Scottish Parliament supports it, then the Bill would see the introduction of a “Future Generations Commissioner” for Scotland. 

The new office would be tasked with putting wellbeing at the centre of big decisions, by introducing longer term thinking and speaking up for the people who come next. 

The purpose of the initiative would be to ensure that Scotland is a country that takes wellbeing and sustainable development seriously, both now and for future generations. 

It will include legal definitions of wellbeing and sustainable development, for both clarity and accountability. 

Not only is a longer term approach beneficial to the wellbeing of future generations but it’s also likely to bring a significant reduction in future financial, social and environmental costs. 

By placing duties on public bodies to promote wellbeing and sustainable development, and by introducing a commissioner, this legislation should shift spending to policy interventions that reduce demand on public services and create better outcomes for people and planet. 

The initiative may also positively impact progress on equal opportunities in Scotland so that under-represented people are not negatively impacted, like they often are in current decision making. 

The thinking behind the new Bill will resonate with many social entrepreneurs and fits alongside the wellbeing economy approach that Social Enterprise Scotland and other organisations support. 

Social enterprises across Scotland are already working hard to deliver a wellbeing economy, right at the heart of their local communities, driving community-led regeneration and development in both urban and rural Scotland. 

We welcome the introduction of this Bill and the forthcoming debate. It’s an initiative that could benefit everyone in Scotland, now and in the future, and could gain cross-party support. 

We’ll will be submitting our own response to the consultation and making sure that all social enterprises have the opportunity to get their voices heard in the process. 

Sarah Boyack MSP says: 

“The climate emergency demonstrates in real terms the consequences of short-termism. We’re 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 consulting on is neither a new nor untested idea. In Wales, the Future Generations Commissioner was established in 2015 and has already made a difference.   

“I want to hear from as many people and organisations 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 generations.” 

Duncan Thorp, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Social Enterprise Scotland