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Can we achieve the Global Goals by eating an elephant?

Doreen Grove|

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was one of the first national leaders to acknowledge the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals) and to commit her government to working towards their delivery, both at home and abroad. So when Scotland joined the OGP Pioneer programme, it seemed a natural choice to include work to support that transformational journey in our commitments.



For all countries, the scale of the challenge of delivering all 17 goals should not be underestimated, so we are working on the age-old principle that ‘to eat an elephant you do it one bite at a time.’ In order to take the first bite, it was important to understand what we should measure, so that we (and people who live in Scotland) could track our progress along the journey openly.  



We had a bit of a head start – since 2007, Scotland has worked to an agreed-upon set of national outcomes (Scotland Performs). We also take a strong rights-based approach, as set out in Scotland’s human rights plan. The commitment in our OGP action plan is to align both of these with the Global Goals, so that progress on all three is transparent. To do this, we are updating Scotland Performs, and have started a conversation with people about what is important to them. So far we have heard the views of people in 160 organisations, from 30 public events reaching over 500 individuals. The next stage is to use these to develop a revised set of outcomes for national consultation. This process will continue and will ensure that we have outcomes in place by the end of this year. But to eat the remainder of the elephant, we also need to win the hearts and minds of all of the people involved in designing, delivering and receiving public services. The Scottish Government is working with networks to promote the Global Goals to the public, and with other countries via our International Development Fund and partnership agreements, to help them realise the Global Goals.


Civil society has responded very actively. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has set up and coordinates an SDG Network to help increase public awareness and engagement around the goals. This coalition of partners has also developed a platform for the goals – – to share the views of people and organisations on how we grow the SDG movement in Scotland.


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