Change is happening all around us. We see it in technology, in the workplace, in the wider economy, in our environment, in so many aspects of everyday life. The challenges of Brexit are emerging every day. While we will always push the UK Government to mitigate those impacts on Scotland, we must also ensure we are ready to meet those challenges and plan for the future.
Rapid technological change is having a huge impact on our daily lives, often in exciting and life-enhancing ways, and we must ensure our businesses and people are ready to grab those opportunities.
The good news is that there are few countries better placed than Scotland to tackle the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves in the 21st century.
Scotland has the talent, resources and ability to adapt and thrive in a changing world - and we have strong and shared principles of public service, inclusion and equality.
As we reflect on the progress of the last decade and look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the future, our purpose is clear - we want Scotland to be the best place in the world, to bring up children, to grow up and be educated, to live, work, visit, invest and do business, to be cared for in times of need, sickness or vulnerability, and to grow old.
This Programme for Government sets out how we will build on the work already underway, with a fresh set of priorities, to turn this ambition into a reality.
It reinforces our commitment to forward looking, caring and open government.
So, for example, as a forward-looking administration, this Programme for Government details how we will:
- phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032
- double investment in walking and cycling to £80 million a year
- reform education to help close the poverty-related attainment gap
- establish a Scottish National Investment Bank to support economic growth
As a caring government, our next steps will include:
- lifting the public sector pay cap for our NHS and other public sector workers
- making it a national objective to end rough sleeping - backed with new investment
- providing access to sanitary products for students in schools, colleges and universities to fight 'period poverty'
- exploring a citizen's basic income scheme
And to meet the high ambitions we have for our nation, we must be a government open to new ideas and to working across political boundaries. So, for example, we will:
- implement 'Frank's Law' to provide free personal care to those under 65
- introduce legislation for a 'soft' opt-out system of organ and tissue donation
This Programme for Government is our plan to shape the kind of Scotland we seek - an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, ready and willing to embrace the future.