The voluntary sector will play a key role in the Scottish government's attempts to measure the nation’s progress more by health and wellbeing than by wealth alone, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Speaking at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations' two-day Gathering event in Glasgow, which ended yesterday, Sturgeon said the sector's voice would become more important.
“A key theme of the Scottish government recently, and something which in years to come will become stronger, is to move away solely from measuring economic growth as a sign of how successful a country we are to ensuring instead that we look at broader measures of wellbeing,” she told delegates.
“This means assessing whether our policies are not just making the country wealthier, but also if they are making people and communities healthier and happier along the way.
“The third sector is very important to our economy and always will be, but the work you do is quite clearly essential to that wider effort as well.
“The organisations you represent are essential to the health, happiness and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands across the country, and we all owe you a huge debt of gratitude.”
Sturgeon also called for the sector's voice to be heard at the 2020 United National Climate Change Conference, which Glasgow will host in November.
“Giving a voice to the third sector will be a vital part in making sure the summit is a success,” she said.
“There’s an obvious role for environmental and international charities and for those mitigating the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
“We want to help the transition to a greener world, but we also want to do it in such a way that it benefits everyone across our country. Many of these ideas will come from the third sector.
“The third sector has a vital role to play in this: it contributes directly to policy development, but importantly it also challenges government. Your job is to make life difficult for governments and policy-makers.”
Sturgeon told delegates that the UK government's new points-based immigration system was “offensive and dangerous”, and added that it would be “absolutely disastrous in practice”.