The Scottish Government’s New Deal for Business group recently published its Implementation Plan detailing how their work will be taken forward over the next 18 months. The Implementation Plan is central to how the Scottish Government will deliver on their promise to deliver a Wellbeing Economy.
A Wellbeing Economy is one designed to deliver good lives for all people while protecting the health of our planet. In the transition to a Wellbeing Economy, business will have an important role to play, delivering solutions that address the pressing social and environmental challenges we are facing, and not profiting from today's problems.
We welcome plans to develop measures that can be used to assess the impact that businesses have. However, such measures cannot be developed by the business community alone. It is essential to include stakeholders with expertise on the social and environmental outcomes that a Wellbeing Economy needs to achieve. We are pleased to see that the Wellbeing Economy Expert Advisory Group will have a role in developing the system of measures.
While the Implementation Plan recognises that the interests of society and environment are not always aligned with the interests of businesses, we are very concerned about the lack of safeguards in the new processes. These are essential in ensuring that businesses do not abuse their new and stronger role in policymaking at a cost for society. In particular, for industries known to cause harm to people and planet, such as fossil fuels, tobacco and alcohol. The representation of BP in the sub-group on Wellbeing Economy is unacceptable.
We are surprised to see the extent of commitments by the Scottish Government to ensure that the voices of business owners and managers are heard, such as: a regulatory review group; investment in the development of a new business impact assessment toolkit; and a systematic mapping approach for capturing their voices.
We are calling on the Scottish Government to give a similar priority to ensuring the voices of those at the sharp end of the economic system, and other disadvantaged groups, are part of policy development and that the needs of a health environment is considered. This is an essential step in building a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland that works for people and planet.
Time is running out and it is essential that we put words into action. In a Wellbeing Economy, the right thing for people and planet becomes the right thing for business. We cannot risk any delay caused by a minority of businesses who continue to put the reward of their shareholders before society and nature.
Lukas Bunse, Policy and Engagement Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland