National Performance Framework
My experience of having a ‘Youth Voice in a Sustainable Democracy’
This post has been written for us by Morven Sneddon, a sustainability consultant working in the engineering industry. Morven has recently taken part in a Project Scotland and IDEAS project funded by Erasmus+ aimed at bringing the voices of young people to the heart of government.
In a couple of weeks, Project Scotland will host a group of 30 young volunteers at the Scottish Parliament, giving them the opportunity to discuss their views on social and environmental issues encapsulated within the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The volunteers, who are from across Scotland, have been working hard over the past year to identify opportunities and develop ideas for consideration by the Scottish Government to address these issues. I am one of the volunteers and below I have outlined my experience of being involved in the ‘Youth Voice in a Sustainable Democracy’ group. I have also explained why it’s important that Scotland continues to work towards achieving the SDGs through the National Performance Framework (NPF).
There are three reasons that I applied to Project Scotland to take part in their youth voice group. Firstly, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to talk with MSPs and discuss with them the ideas that I have for Scotland to better align with the UN SDGs through the NPF. I am confident that, if asked, most people will have ideas to improve aspects of their local community, whether that be their place of work or the neighbourhood that they live in. I am no different and since living in Edinburgh over the last six years I am conscious of both social and environmental issues that are present in Scotland’s capital city and indeed across the wider nation. Issues which I believe can be alleviated by working towards the UN’s SDGs, which each have a number of set targets.
Secondly, I enjoy discussing my thoughts and ideas, particularly around environmental issues. This project has given me the opportunity to evolve these ideas through discussion and sometimes debate, while also learning new things. The final reason that I applied for this opportunity was because I am becoming more interested in the voice that I have as a member of society in both Scotland and the UK. I have devoted more of my time to learning about politics and the role of the public in the democracy that we live in. Since taking part in Project Scotland’s youth group I have now committed to using my voice by voting, campaigning and petitioning.
I have prior knowledge of the UN SDGs through my studies, especially Goal 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”, as my Masters thesis focused on consumer behaviour and cues in the local environment which can encourage recycling. I also work within the engineering industry which relates to Goal 9 “Innovation and Infrastructure” and Goal 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities”. However, at the second youth group meetup myself and several other volunteers discussed practical ideas for the Scottish Government to take forward which relate to Goal 4 “Quality Education”. In particular, I would like to see changes made to Scotland’s school curriculum to prioritise financial and political literacy, as this will equip young people with relevant skills enabling them to live independently.
Scotland’s National Performance Framework sets out 11 national outcomes which embed the UN SDGs. The outcomes are at population level and there is a degree of alignment between the SDG indicators and the NPF indicators. As described above, I think the Scottish school curriculum should include lessons to ensure young people feel able to live independently and as adults in our society, an idea which is reinforced by the NPF education outcome “We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society”. I do believe the NPF’s vision around education is realistic. However, none of the indicators on education have shown improvement and instead are either being maintained, in development or worsening. This is also true for other outcomes, including children, health, human rights and international. Therefore, I am interested to know what is being done for the indicators that are in development and which are worsening, as these will decide how successful the NPF is in driving the SDGs across Scotland.
Matt Sellar from Project Scotland says of the youth voices project: “Over the course of a year we’ve been working with an amazing group of young people interested in the Sustainable Development Goals, to explore their ideas and give them training, skills and a platform from which to share their ideas with a range of stakeholders. Youth voices are more important than ever in our rapidly changing world and our volunteers have a really important perspective to offer on the issues that matter most to them – including climate action, education and trans rights.”
On the 25 February (6-8pm) Project Scotland is hosting an event at the Scottish Parliament sponsored by Patrick Harvie MSP. The project volunteers will present their ideas and outline how we can take action on them as a country. If you’re interested in coming along and hearing more from Morven and the other volunteers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.