Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action

This review provides a statement of our pre-COVID-19 ambition on driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland. It brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the Goals.

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Culture
  • Communities

Cities are hubs for commerce, culture, science, productivity, economic development, and human development. Scotland’s cities, towns, and urban environments have vibrant and unique cultures and we are committed to developing our cities and urban environments to be sustainable, safe, and inclusive. This goal is about creating places which are good for communities and work sustainably with the environment. Scotland already has a strong focus on place as part of the refreshed NPF. The new indicator set under the National Outcome for Communities ‘We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe’ aims to capture how people feel about their communities, neighbourhoods, environment and relationships with each other. The Communities National Outcome therefore enriches the story Scotland can tell under Goal 11 which focuses more on the sustainability of cities and infrastructure.

Safer cities and community spaces (targets 11.1)

The Data Picture: Perceptions of local area

Overall ratings of neighbourhood have been consistently high, with over nine in ten adults typically saying their neighbourhood is a ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ good place to live. The percentage of people who rated their neighbourhood as a very good place to live had been gradually increasing from 51.1% in 2006 to 55.9% in 2011, remaining around this level since. The figure is at 57.4% in 2018.

Line graph shows perceptions of local area increased from 55% in 2013 to 56% in 2015. Following this, the upward trend continues to 57% in 2018.

The percentage of Scottish adults who rate their neighbourhood as a very good place to live

Source: Scottish Household Survey

A place-based approach (targets 11.3, 11.4, 11.7)

Community empowerment

We know that place matters. Empowering communities to participate in shaping the places they call home is key to creating happy and sustainable communities. Community planning and ownership is therefore central to Scotland’s place-based approach to reform. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 requires public sector organisations who deliver and resource local services to work together and with local communities, so they can improve outcomes on themes they agree as priorities for their area.

The Scottish Government’s land reform agenda also plays a key role in promoting and supporting sustainable communities. Community ownership has often been about communities responding to market failure (for example the loss of facilities) or poor practice by landlords. Scotland now has a variety of legislative routes to community ownership of land and land assets, including pre-emptive rights to buy and compulsory rights to buy. These are supported by an annual £10 million Scottish Land Fund. This recognises the value of communities being able to make decisions about things that matter to them where community ownership is seen as a normal function of communities for their long term benefit.

Community ownership has historically been focused on rural areas. Recent legislation enables urban communities to take advantage of rights to buy, and we expect to see an increase in the number of community acquisitions in urban areas in Scotland as a consequence. We have tended to measure community ownership by the scale of land owned by communities. In recognition of the new urban rights to buy, and the differences in the scale of land available, we are shifting to a measurement of the number of communities who own land. This is likely to provide a better indicator of the success of this policy.

Local Place Plans

The Planning Bill introduces more opportunities for community engagement in the land use planning system. The aim is to significantly enhance engagement in development planning, effectively empowering communities to play a proactive role in defining the future of their places.

It introduces a new right for communities to produce local place plans (LPPs), which will set out the community’s vision for the future development of their places. A local place plan is a proposal for the development or use of land, which may also identify land and buildings that the community body considers to be of particular significance to the local area. In preparing a local place plan, a ‘community body’ must have regard to the National Planning Framework and the local development plan. Much of the detail about how LPPs will work in practice will derive from secondary legislation, backed up by supportive guidance. In practice, it is expected that there will be an opportunity to link LPPs with wider locality plans that emerged in some areas as a result of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

The Revised Financial Memorandum for the Planning Bill (March 2019) sets out details of anticipated costs and resources linked to LPPs. Based on existing costs for similar activities, it is assumed that the average cost of preparing a LPP will be £13,000. It is estimated that there may be 92 LPPs per year, this results in a total cost of around £1.2 million per year. There has been some criticism that this is lower than the cost of charettes funded by the Scottish Government, however it is not intended that every LPP should require the intensive large-scale approach of a charette.

The costs of preparing LPPs are to be found by the community in the first instance. Some costs may be covered by support in kind from volunteers, the public sector and third sector bodies and local businesses. Money may be raised by local fundraising or from grants from various sources, including the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, the planning authority or third sector funding organisations.

In 2018-19, the Scottish Government allocated over £280,000 towards grant funding for community organisations or public bodies to carry out community-led design events. This is in addition to wider funding to help communities develop their capacity and resilience and improve local outcomes, both directly and through support to organisations such as the Scottish Community Development Centre, Coalfields Regeneration Trust and PAS (previously Planning Aid Scotland). In addition, tools available to communities include the Place Standard, which allows for a community to assess the quality of their place with no cost for the use of the tool. As communities become more engaged and empowered they may choose to take forward their aspirations in different ways, and LPPs will be another option available.

Closer Look - Bonnymuir Green Community Trust

Bonnymuir Green Community Trust: The group purchased the former Bonnymuir Bowling Green and the accompanying pavilion building, using the Community Right to Buy legislation, and with a Scottish Land Fund (SLF) award of £164,750. It plans to create a unique external green space within the city including a market garden and a community building with a café, meeting space and retail space for locally grown produce.

Action Porty: The group purchased the former Portobello Old Parish Church and Halls situated on Bellfield Road, Portobello, Edinburgh using the Community Right to Buy legislation, and with an SLF award of £647,500. This will bring a previously well-used local amenity into community ownership and create the opportunity for it to be developed into a multi-purpose community hub.

Barmulloch Community Development Company: The group purchased the former All Saints Church and associated church house, known locally as the Broomfield Road Centre, with an SLF award of £85,000. The centre currently houses a popular boxing gym and training/meeting rooms, all of which will continue to flourish when the premises are brought into community ownership.

The Pyramid at Anderston: The group purchased the ‘B’ listed Anderston Kelvingrove Parish Church situated in Anderston near Glasgow City Centre, with an SLF award of £324,000, to improve the access and flexibility of the accommodation to maximise the use of the building and improve its long term viability.

Planning for all of Scotland (targets 11.3)

Stromness Regeneration Plan

This 10-year plan has transformed this town in Orkney following the community warning that Stromness was being ‘left behind’. In May 2018, the Royal Town Planning Institute awarded the Stromness Regeneration Plan the Silver Jubilee Cup at their annual awards ceremony.

Through collaboration between Orkney Islands Council, the local community and a variety of other stakeholders, the plan has resulted in 12 major projects implemented across the town. These include new and upgraded public spaces, new shops and businesses and a new primary school. The council have also begun work on a new international research facility and infrastructure for tidal and wave energy generation, which has received funding from the joint COSLA/Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

All of this has been possible because of council planners working closely with the community and involving them from the start, and putting place at the heart of the plan to establish the community’s key priorities.

COSLA has worked with member councils to identify up to £600 million of budgets that could be within scope for mainstream Participatory Budgeting. This reaches far beyond the 1% framework agreement agreed by local authority leaders in 2017. It shows both ambition and ability to involve communities more meaningfully in decisions that affect them. Working closely with the Scottish Government, COSLA is creating practical local and national support through a training and a social inclusion officer who will work with council officers and elected members to share, develop and improve practice.

Participatory Budgeting continues to develop across the diverse range of policy/service delivery areas including procurement, education, health and social care, planning, transport and justice. Projects ranging from small grants giving to multi-million pound service delivery. In doing so local authorities continue to put people and communities at the heart of decision making processes. The Planning (Scotland) Bill, which makes provision about how land is developed and used, was passed on 20 June 2019.

Providing greener, inclusive cities (targets 11.7, 11.6, and 11.4)

The Data Picture: Access to Green and Blue Spaces

By 2030, globally there needs to be universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible green and public spaces, provided. In particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities (target 11.7).

In 2018, 65.3% of adults lived within a 5 minute walk of their nearest green or blue space, compared to 67.6% in 2013.

The line graph shows the proportion of adults who live within a 5 minute walk of their local green or blue space decreasing slightly from 68 % in 2013 to 67% in 2015. Following this, the downward trend continues, decreasing to 65% in 2018.

Proportion of adults who live within a 5 minute walk of their local green or blue space

Source: Scottish Household Survey

Closer Look - Central Scotland Green Network – Europe’s largest greenspace project

The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) is a long term initiative which aims to restore and transform the landscape of Central Scotland and to promote environmental quality, woodland cover and recreational opportunities. It covers an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west to Fife and the Lothians in the east (target 11.7). The initiative aims to make Central Scotland a more attractive place to live in, do business and visit, help absorb CO2, enhance biodiversity, and promote active travel and healthier lifestyles. The vision states that by 2050, Central Scotland has been transformed into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and where people’s lives are enriched by its quality. The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 3 designates the CSGN as one of only 14 National Developments critical to the delivery of the Government’s spatial strategy.

Supporting Scotland to respond to climate change

Scotland has world-leading ambitions on responding to climate change. Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is central to understanding the impacts of climate change on Scotland’s cultural heritage assets, and leading the way on mitigation and adaptation as necessary. HES Climate Change and Environmental Action Plan 2019-24, currently in draft, details how we will work towards making the organisation and the broader historic environment more resilient to and prepared for changes in our climate. HES have a key role to play in adapting existing traditional buildings to be less carbon ‘hungry’ and to promote traditional construction and materials as the truly sustainable opportunities they are. HES will continue to use our knowledge and experience to engage with those throughout the wider historic environment in Scotland and beyond, and to support the transformational change that will be necessary if society is to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change.

Air pollution is an increasingly important issue. Particularly around schools and nurseries, citizens are concerned about the impact of pollution on children. But progress is being made both at the local and the national level in making cities safe and sustainable through an increased awareness of air quality and an increased focus on Active Travel, supported by organisations such as SEPA, Sustrans Scotland, Living Streets, and Pedal on Parliament.

Eco-schools, like the Sciennes School in Edinburgh, are actively involved in this topic. Pupils recently campaigned in Clean Air Day 2017 and 2018 and were featured in UNICEF’s Toxic Air campaign. Schools across the country are also implementing no-drop off zones to protect children from traffic fumes on their way to school and designating schools as cycling friendly to ensure children can safely travel to their school by bike.

Closer Look - Green Infrastructure Strategic Investment Fund

The Scottish National Heritage organisation (SNH) is running a Green Infrastructure Strategic Investment Fund which represents a strategic intervention under the European Rural Development Fund. Local authorities, public bodies, environmental organisations, and communities work together to deliver transformative change in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged urban areas through the creation and improvement of green spaces, contributing both to the ambition of Goal 11 and the leave no one behind agenda. The fund makes available £15 million to provide total project support of £38 million, from 2016-2020. Fifteen capital projects across Scotland, that improve or create at least 140 hectares of urban green infrastructure, plus 10-15 smaller community engagement projects, where the focus is on working with people to help them make the most of their local greenspace, making them more attractive places to live and work as well as to stimulate inward investment, economic activity and employment (Goal 8). The first round of projects (£6.9 million) is due for completion in 2018-19.

Housing (target 11.1)

The Data Picture: Affordable Housing Supply

In 2017-18 there were 8,534 units completed through all Affordable Housing Supply Programme activity, up by 16% compared to the previous year and the highest annual figure since the series began in 2000-01. The majority (62%) of these were new build houses.

Bar chart showing the number of units completed through affordable housing activity each year for 2013-14 to 2017-18. There was little change between 2013-14 and 2014-15 with 7012 and 7069 units completed respectively. 2015-16 saw a drop, with 6518 units completed. However, there was a recovery in 2016-17 with 7336 units completed and an increase in 2017-18 with 8534 units completed.

Units completed through affordable housing activity, 2013-14 to 2017-18

Source: Affordable Housing Supply Programme

Providing good quality, sustainable housing for all is an important objective for Scotland. Local authorities in Scotland are responsible for assessing housing need and demand and setting out how the requirement for housing will be met. They set these out in their Local Housing Strategy and Strategic Housing Investment Plans. Between 2016 and 2021, 50,000 affordable homes will be delivered in Scotland, including 35,000 for social rent. Local authorities also set targets for the delivery of wheelchair accessible housing across all tenures within their areas.

The Data Picture: Housing Quality

The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) is the common standard for assessing the condition of Scottish housing. In 2018, 41% of all dwellings failed to meet the SHQS with an improving trend in recent years.

Line chart showing a slow decrease in the percentage of dwellings failing the Scottish Housing Quality Standard between 2014 and 2018. The figure fell from 47% in 2014 to 45% in 2016, and then fell further to 41% in 2018.

Percentage of dwellings failing SHQS 2014-2017

Source: Scottish House Condition Survey

In Scotland, we support the delivery of flexible housing capable of being adapted to suit peoples’ changing requirements. Therefore, wherever possible, all homes delivered through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme are built to Housing for Varying Needs standards. A flexible grant subsidy arrangement also supports the development of specialist housing identified by local authorities as a priority, helping disabled people with more complex needs live independently in their own homes and older people to stay in their own homes for longer. In addition, the Affordable Housing Supply Programme also has a strong focus on enhancing energy efficiency by incentivising delivery of new homes to meet a greener standard through a subsidies scheme.

In 2018, the Scottish Government launched work to develop a vision for Scotland’s homes and communities in 2040, and a route map to get there. When completed in 2020, it is anticipated that it will set the overarching framework for housing policy for a generation. For existing housing, the Scottish Government launched its Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map in May 2018, setting out a long term programme to improve the energy efficiency of all buildings by 2040 to help tackle fuel poverty and meet Climate Change targets.

We believe that every empty home is a missed opportunity to provide someone who needs it with a warm, safe, sustainable roof over their head. To address this Scotland’s Empty Homes Partnership was established in 2010 to tackle the blight of empty homes on local communities and make better use of this wasted resource. The Partnership works with local authorities and other organisations to help them develop policies and processes for engaging with private sector empty home owners. The Scottish Government delivered on the Programme for Government commitment to double funding for the Partnership, to £423,000 per annum, until 31 March 2021. The numbers of homes brought back into use are on the rise, with the Partnership annual report for 2018/19 showing that 1,128 homes were brought back into use in the last year, bringing the total to 4,340 since 2010. The majority of homes brought back into use each year are attributable to the network of dedicated empty homes officers. Our aim is for all local authorities to recognise the benefits of this approach and have dedicated empty homes officer support operating in every area across Scotland. The funding also supports the development of an enhanced empty homes advice service and new online digital resources.

Local authorities also have access to a number of additional tools to help them encourage owners to bring their homes back into use. The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 allows them to charge higher council tax rates on long term-empty properties. These powers, in conjunction with dedicated empty homes officer support, have resulted in the more accurate classification of properties and more efficient marketing of help and support measures. The recently refreshed guidance on compulsory purchase has resulted in an upturn in the use of these powers by local authorities to help unlock empty homes which are causing blight on local communities. The Scottish Government has also provided dedicated funds to tackle empty homes, including the £4.5 million Empty Homes Loan Fund and the £4 million Town Centre Empty Homes Fund. Further funding is available from the £30 million Rural and Islands Housing Fund which, as well as offering grant support for the direct provision of new affordable housing, also includes the refurbishment of existing empty properties.

Homelessness (target 11.1)

The Data Picture: Homelessness

In 2017/18, Local Authorities received 34,972 homelessness applications, a small (1%) increase compared to the previous year, breaking a trend in falling numbers of applications since 2008/09 where 57,212 applications were received. The proportion of applications where a household member reported sleeping rough at least once during the 3 months prior to the application was 8% in 2017/18.

The line graph shows the number of applications and assessments under homelessness legislation has decreased from 36,825 in 2013-14 to 34,939 in 2015-16. Following this, the number of applications remains relatively stable with 34,972 reported in 2017-18.

Number of applications and assessments under homelessness legislation 2013-14 to 2017-18

Source: Homelessness in Scotland

Tackling homelessness is a key objective to ensure we leave no one behind. Scotland is committed to eradicating rough sleeping, transforming temporary accommodation and ending homelessness. The Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan was published by COSLA and the Scottish Government in November 2018 and Scottish and local government are now jointly overseeing delivery of this plan over the next 5-10 years. This wide-ranging and comprehensive plan is based on a housing-led response to homelessness, which increases prevention, ensures effective responses through a person-centred approach and recognises that housing is important to ending homelessness, but that action from partners such as health, social care, justice and children’s services will be crucial to achieve our goals.

Scotland has committed to ‘the Housing First model’, building on the evidence from other countries and small projects, which have been successfully running in some areas of Scotland for several years, which ensures people are allocated permanent tenancies with intensive wraparound support helping to prevent repeat homelessness. The aim is that this shift will also support wider positive outcomes including accessing employment and education; tackling any addictions; preventing offending or reoffending and improving mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Housing First Pathfinders have already been established in five cities to test the model with funding from the Scottish Government, Social Bite and Merchants House, administered by the Corra Foundation. The programme is managed by Glasgow Homelessness Network and the Pathfinders are in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Stirling and Aberdeen (working with Aberdeenshire).

This shift to Housing First for those with multiple complex needs will be supported by a wider shift for all homeless households to rapid rehousing by default, minimising the time any household facing homelessness spends in temporary accommodation. Following the recommendations of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, local authorities recently completed their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans, which set out how each authority will transition to a ‘rapid rehousing by default’ approach, including Housing First for those with multiple complex needs. The ambition of rapid rehousing is to see everyone identified as homeless provided with settled accommodation as a first step rather than being housed in temporary accommodation while they wait for a settled home.

City deals

Scotland’s cities and their surrounding regions represent the most significant concentrations of economic assets in the country. City Region and Growth Deals act as enablers to unlock these in order to fully realise their potential, drive economic growth and maximise impact. They are a tripartite agreement between Scottish Government, UK Government and groups of regional partners brought together by one or more local authorities. The Scottish Government is investing over £1.8 billion over the next 10 to 20 years for deals and associated regional investment in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Stirling and Clackmannanshire, the Tay Cities, Ayrshire, Moray and the Borderlands Region.

Each deal is bespoke to the city region reflecting different regional economic strengths and weaknesses. They reflect the particular circumstances, assets and challenges in each location and ensure each city region has the ability to shape the strategy and approach best suited to their area. By empowering local authorities to operate strategically at a regional level, the deals encourage collaboration across and between cities and their surrounding areas to build their international competitiveness and long term approaches to inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Deals can include measures such as skills and employment interventions that maximise the impact of any infrastructure investment.

Partnership arrangements for the city region deals are now inspiring regional economic partnership arrangements. These partnerships bring local authorities together with government agencies, the private and third sectors and others to develop region wide approaches to key interlinked inclusive growth issues such as economic inactivity, driving business growth and crucial social challenges such as child poverty.

Public transport (targets 11.2 and 11.6)

Scotland is investing over £1 billion per year in public and sustainable transport to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport and active travel modes:

  • 525 million public transport journeys were made in 2017/18 and of public transport journeys 74% were made by bus; 19% by rail; 5% by air and 2% by ferry
  • 30% of journeys to work were by public or active travel in 2017, the same as 2007. Public and active travel to work has remained at around 30% since 2007, with cycling retaining a low modal share
  • 388 million passenger journeys were made by bus in 2017/18, 1.5% less than in 2016/17 and a fall of 8% over the last five years, but still accounting for 74% of all public transport journeys
  • In 2016, 82% of Scottish adults thought that access to public transport was very or fairly convenient

Buses provide an essential service to millions of people in Scotland. The Scottish Government continues to provide funding of over £250 million per annum to the bus industry, through the Bus Service Operators Grant and the National Concessionary Travel scheme. This helps support the viability of bus networks across the country, as well as providing over 1.4 million older and disabled passengers with access to free bus travel throughout Scotland.

Scotland’s National Transport Strategy imbeds the Sustainable Travel and Investment Hierarchies in decision making. This prioritises walking, cycling and public and shared transport options in preference to single occupancy private car, and includes consideration of investment aimed at reducing the need to travel unsustainably.

The 2019 Programme for Government set out transformational long term funding of over £500 million for bus priority infrastructure to address the impacts of congestion on bus services.

We know that people in low income households are more likely to travel by bus. Currently 44% of people living in a household with less income than £10,000 use a bus at least once a week, compared to 16% of those with an income greater than £40,000. By reducing the impacts of congestion on bus services, which make services slower and less reliable, we expect investment in bus priority infrastructure to support the just transition towards our net zero 2045 ambition as a result of more people making more sustainable travel choices.

In addition to supporting bus services, and to help people make more sustainable travel choices, the Scottish Government over the last eight years has supported bus operators to deploy almost 500 low emission buses through capital funding and other incentives. We are currently awaiting State Aid approval for a new capital fund for green buses developed in consultation with the bus industry. It remains our intention to launch the fund in the 2019/20 financial year.

Scotland is also committed to phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel powered cars or vans by 2032. Over £30 million has been invested since 2012 to fund the development of a comprehensive electric vehicle charging network across Scotland, which now includes over 1,000 publicly available charge points. We have set out our vision for a ‘Mission Zero’ for Transport and will create the conditions to phase out petrol and diesel cars in Scotland’s public sector fleet by 2025, and the need for all new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2030. The successful Switched on Fleets programme has already provided over £13 million to public bodies, to support investment in zero or ultra-low emission vehicles.

Scotland is also funding concentrated action through Switched on Towns and Cities; with up to £12.5 million funding available for local areas aimed at incentivising the uptake of electric vehicles in Scotland’s towns and cities. This also includes helping individuals and business convert to electric vehicles with interest free loans of up to £35,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new pure electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle.

In 2016, transport accounted for 58% of emissions of oxides of nitrogen, 18% of particulate matter PM10 and 23% of particulate matter PM2.5. There are 38 active Air Quality Management Areas related to these pollutants. Since 2015, Scotland has a separate air quality strategy Cleaner Air for Scotland - The Road to a Healthier Future, which sets out how the Scottish Government and its partner organisations propose to achieve further reductions in air pollution and fulfil the legal responsibilities as soon as possible. It contains a range of transport related actions, including the development of the National Low Emissions Framework, which will support local authorities to consider a range of transport interventions to improve air quality. The impact and success of ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland’ is currently being reviewed and will report later in in 2019.

Scotland is in the process of implementing Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in its four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020 and into all other Air Quality Management Areas by 2023, where the National Low Emissions Framework appraisals support this approach. The first of Scotland’s LEZs commenced in Glasgow in December 2018, with Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee developing their plans.

Scotland has doubled its active travel funding in 2018 from £39.2 million to £80 million and since December 2018 has an Active Nation Commissioner to act as a national advocate for walking and cycling across the country, raising the profile of these inclusive and sustainable modes of travel while promoting the heath, environmental, social and economic benefits to everyone who lives, works in, or visits Scotland.

Cultural and natural heritage protection (target 11.4)

Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) plans are just one part of much bigger ambitions to build a successful Scotland and to ensure that our cities and communities are sustainable. Cultural and heritage protection (its sustainable management use and reuse) is a key contributor to realising these goals.

Scotland’s Historic Environment strategy Our Place in Time 2014 states that Scotland’s historic environment is “the physical evidence for human activity that connects people with place, linked with the associations we can see, feel and understand”. HES aims to use the past to make a better future, for the historic environment to make a real difference to people’s lives: to our health, to our economy, to our culture, to our environment. Heritage should involve everyone so that we all benefit. Historic Environment Scotland’s Corporate Plan is informed by and makes a contribution to wider national strategies and to the SDGs. By working with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to successfully achieve its five strategic outcomes, HES contributes to the achievement of the National Outcomes and the SDGs.

The Data Picture: Protected nature sites

Target 11.4 aims to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. By the end of March 2020, 78.8% of natural features were assessed as being in a favourable condition, 0.1 percentage points lower than recorded in March 2019 and 2.8 percentage points higher than recorded in 2007.

Line chart showing that the percentage of natural features on protected natures sites that were found to be in a favourable condition has remained fairly constant, from 79.3% in 2015 to 78.8 in 2020, with little variation in the intervening years.

Percentage of natural features on protected nature sites found to be in favourable condition

Source: Scottish Natural Heritage

Built Heritage Investment Plan

HES is leading on the development of a Built Heritage Investment Plan to ensure that Scotland’s entire built heritage assets are managed sustainable and properly integrated into national master planning. Community groups and local authorities have been extensively involved in the process, alongside technical building and heritage experts, asset owners and funders, informing issues in the current process and identifying where opportunities lie. The plan is intended to produce a toolkit to help funders, planners and other sector stakeholders make decisions around sustainable funding and planning for the sector.

Sustainable reuse of historic properties from the BARR

The Buildings at Risk Register (BARR) was established in 1990 to raise awareness of buildings that are listed or in Conservation Areas but vacant or in disrepair. Since 2008, we’ve seen over 750 historic buildings on the Register saved. In total, the scheme has helped save almost 2,000 buildings (since 1990) and more than 200 others are currently in the process of being restored. We work with developers and individuals to bring buildings back into use, but with the introduction of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, giving community bodies in Scotland the right to buy, we hope even more buildings at risk will be given a new lease of life through communities. With the right care, they will last the next 100 years and more, in new roles benefiting local communities.

The Data Picture: Historic sites

Target 11.4 aims to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

73% of pre-1919 dwellings were classified as having disrepair to critical elements in 2018, a similar rate to that measured in 2017 (68%). The proportion of pre-1919 dwellings classified as having disrepair to critical elements gradually increased from 73% in 2007 to a peak of 80% in 2012. The proportion decreased by 12 percentage points to 68% in 2015, and remained at a similar level in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, while the proportion appeared to increase 5 percentage points, from 68% in 2017, to 73% in 2018, this is within the survey’s margin of error.

Line chart showing that the percentage of pre-1919 dwellings that were classified as having disrepair to critical elements has dropped from 73% in 2013 to 67% in 2016, before rising to 73% in 2018.

The percentage of pre-1919 dwellings classified as having disrepair to critical elements

Source: Scottish House Condition Survey

Working with partners to build social capital (target 11.3)


Volunteering in Scotland is already making a crucial contribution to building social capital, fostering trust, binding people together and making our communities better places to live and to work.

Action to increase volunteering participation for all and to address inequalities is vital to continue to expand opportunities for more people to volunteer and participate in society. Although an estimated 51% of the adult population in Scotland has volunteered at some point in their lives, 49% have not.[12] An increase in volunteering will also make a considerable contribution towards our individual, community and national economic and social wellbeing, particularly in the face of demographic and societal change. The annual value of volunteering in Scotland is estimated to be £2.26 billion.[13]

Scotland’s National Volunteering Outcomes Framework was developed over 2018 by the Scottish Government with partners from the volunteer and community sector, local government and NHS, with academics and social researchers, and with volunteers.

The objective of the Framework is to:

  • Set out clearly and in one place a coherent and compelling narrative for volunteering
  • Define the key outcomes desired for volunteering in Scotland over the next ten years
  • Identify the key data and evidence that will inform, indicate and drive performance at national and local level
  • Enable informed debate and decision about the optimal combination of programmes, investments and interventions

The development process included a broad and systematic literature review, completed by Stirling University, including consideration and analysis of evidence on volunteer characteristics, motivations, activities, benefits, outcomes, barriers and policies. The establishment, in partnership with Young Scot and Project Scotland, of the National Youth Volunteering Improvement Project, which tasked 25 young volunteers from across Scotland with exploring volunteering practice and experience and making recommendations for action. A series of roundtables and workshop discussions with key strategic and delivery partners also took place.

Closer Look - Enabled and Supported

“It can be daunting when you first start as a Samaritan Listening Volunteer to think you’ll be supporting people who are facing all sorts of challenges, often at a time of deep distress or crisis.

But right from the start, Samaritans provides support and training to overcome those nerves and develop your confidence. I benefitted so much from the mentoring I received when I started and it’s really rewarding to now be able to help other new volunteers to find their feet. And I still benefit from the support of the wider volunteer team – I know that if there’s anything I’m struggling or concerned about I can talk it over.

I’ve also made some long-lasting friendships and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know volunteers from all walks of life. In the busyness of our everyday lives it can be easy to get caught up in our own world of work, family commitments and such. Volunteering is an opportunity to take a step back from that, connect with other people and feel part of something bigger.

Knowing I’ve got that support system behind me helps me to be the best Samaritan I can be – it’s given me the confidence to be there for others when they need it most.”

Julia, a Samaritans volunteer in Scotland

Challenges and next steps

The refreshed National Performance Framework (NPF) has kindness and wellbeing at its heart. The Scottish Government is engaging with stakeholders in conversations about how to place these at the centre of policy making and service delivery. Work is currently underway to better understand how wellbeing and kindness can be measured. The Scottish Government are working with Carnegie Trust, Edinburgh University and colleagues across public, third and private sectors, to find specific actions that will improve the influence of our values in our collected actions and systems.

The National Planning Framework 3 is Scotland’s long term spatial strategy. A new National Planning Framework (NPF4) will be developed. This has potential to bring together a wide range of actions on the SDGs. Under the Housing Beyond 2021 programme, the Scottish Government is engaging with local government, businesses, the third sector, home owners, tenants and others to plan together how Scotland’s homes and communities should look and feel in 2040 and the options and choices to get there. The outputs from these engagements will be used to develop a vision and route map for housing to 2040.

Commitments in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 Programme for Government that relate to this Goal

  • An investment of over £500 million in improved bus priority infrastructure to reduce the impact of congestion on bus services and increase bus usage
  • Extend the two-year £6 million package of funding through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund by making another £3 million available to invest in new projects in 2020-21, to further enhance the experience of visitors to our rural and island tourist sites



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