Robust scrutiny of law, policy and practice to ensure it is fully consistent with sustainable development
Ensure systematic scrutiny of all government legislation and activity using a Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD) approach (through sustainable development impact assessments, redefining parliamentary committee remits, etc)
MSPs and the Scottish Parliament must take a prominent role to ensure better policy coherence, and all political parties in the parliament should prioritise this in discussions with the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body.
All new bills and legislation should be assessed through a sustainable development lens. Existing tools can be of use, such as the parliament’s own Sustainable Development Impact Assessment Tool developed by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).18
This tool highlights cross-cutting issues and unintended consequences, and could help to mitigate against individual Scottish Parliament committees working in silos, thus supporting the delivery of policy coherence across devolved policy and practice. However, it is not currently being routinely used in committee scrutiny.
Parliamentary committees should also align their remits to both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (and targets) and the Scotland-level national outcomes within a strengthened National Performance Framework (NPF) to improve understanding of where responsibility to achieve the SDGs lies, and where interactions between these outcomes exist.
Finally, the parliament must commit to holding regular debates on SDG and NPF progress and implementation, and conduct an independent annual review to hold the Scottish Government to account on its commitment to achieving the SDGs. This work should build on the 2020 landmark report on SDGs published by the Scottish Government.19
For further information:
- 2021-2026 Policy Priorities for Scotland, SIDA, 2021, https://www.intdevalliance.scot/how-we-help/2021-scottish-election
Sustainable Development Scrutiny page, Scottish Parliament, https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/research-prepared-for-parliament/sustainable-development-scrutiny
Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action, Scottish Government, 2020, https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotland-sustainable-development-goals-national-review-drive-action/