"The UN Global Goals offer a vision of the world that I believe people in Scotland share.

The national and international dimensions to poverty and inequality are interlinked. Scotland cannot act with credibility overseas, if we are blind to inequality here at home. And our ambitions for a fairer Scotland are undermined, without global action to tackle poverty, promote prosperity and to tackle climate change."

(Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at NIDOS Conference November 2015)

The United Nations has set a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are ‘global goals’ and targets that are part of an internationally agreed performance framework. All countries are aiming to achieve these goals by 2030.

Scotland’s approach to the SDGs

The Former First Minister committed Scotland to the Global Goals in July 2015.

The National Performance Framework (NPF) and the Goals share the same aims. The National Performance Framework is Scotland’s way to localise the SDGs. The NPF has a focus on tackling inequalities so that no one in Scotland is left behind as we work together to achieve the Goals.

Working in partnership

The SDG Network Scotland is an open coalition bringing together the voices of over 500 people and organisations across Scotland to assist with the development of a Scotland-wide response to the challenge set by the SDGs.

The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) work closely with the SDG Network Scotland.

Voluntary National Review

The Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a core part of the SDG process, which asks United Nations Member States to review and report on their progress towards the Goals.

The Scottish Government, COSLA and the SDG Network Scotland have worked together to contribute to the UK Government’s VNR.

A national review to drive action 

This report brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the SDGs in Scotland.

The review was a collaborative effort between the SDG Network Scotland, Scottish Government and COSLA.

Please note: The initial commission for contributions for this report was made in February 2019. A final draft was made publicly available in September 2019 for comment. This publication is the final draft and is current as of September 2019. As such, it does not cover the period of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.

How Scotland's National Indicators align to the Sustainable Development Goals

Graham Long et al. published a report in 2019 that assessed the alignment of Scotland’s National Indicators to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report notes that the following are all present in the Scottish context:

•    A high-level political commitment to the SDGs; 
•    an SDG-aligned national strategic framework; 
•    an underlying commitment to national well-being and good global citizenship, 
•    a commitment to participation and partnership in implementation, and 
•    a number of initiatives that focus on vulnerable and marginalized groups.

In summary, 62 of the 81 National Indicators were considered to have some form of alignment to the SDG global indicators. 

The National indicators that contribute to the global goals are as follows:

Sustainable Development Goal 1. No Poverty

  • Children's material deprivation
  • Community Land Ownership 
  • Persistent Poverty
  • Relative poverty after housing costs

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

  • Natural Capital
  • Healthy Weight
  • Cost of living
  • Food Insecurity

Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

  • Healthy life expectancy

Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education

  • Child social and physical development
  • Child wellbeing and happiness
  • Quality of children's services
  • Educational attainment
  • Resilience of children and young people (under 5s only)
  • Skill profile of the population
  • Skill shortage vacancies
  • Young people's participation

Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality

  • Crime victimisation
  • Gender balance in organisations

Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Natural Capital

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Energy from Renewable Sources
  • Cost of living

Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent work & Economic Growth

  • Economic Growth
  • Productivity
  • Skill shortage vacancies
  • Contractually secure work
  • Economic participation
  • Employee voice
  • Employees on the living wage
  • Pay gap
  • Work related ill health
  • A positive experience for people coming to Scotland

Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, innovation & Infrastructure

  • Access to superfast broadband
  • International exporting
  • Spend on research and development
  • Innovative businesses

Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

  • Productivity
  • Wealth inequalities
  • Income Inequalities

Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

  • Community Land Ownership
  • Crime victimisation
  • Perceptions of local area
  • Growth in cultural economy
  • State of historic sites
  • Visits to the outdoors
  • Journeys by active travel
  • Influence over local decisions
  • Cost of living
  • Satisfaction with housing

Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

  • Carbon footprint
  • Waste generated
  • A positive experience for people coming to Scotland

Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action

  • Carbon footprint
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water

  • Marine environment AKA Clean Seas
  • Sustainability of fish stocks

Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land

  • Natural Capital
  • Biodiversity
  • Condition of protected nature sites

Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

  • Crime victimisation
  • Perceptions of local area
  • Perceptions of local crime rate
  •  Access to justice
  • Influence over local decisions
  • Public services treat people with dignity and respect
  • Quality of public services
  • International relationships
  • Trust in public organisations

Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

  • Access to superfast broadband
  • International relationships


In contrast, 19 of our 81 National Indicators were considered to have no direct alignment to the SDGs. These national indicators and what they measure are specific to the people of Scotland and represents what they have told us is important to the population’s collective wellbeing. These are:

  • Children have positive relationships
  • Children's voices
  • Confidence of children and young people
  • Loneliness
  • Places to interact
  • Social capital
  • Attendance at cultural events or places of culture
  • Participation in a cultural activity
  • People working in arts and culture
  • Entrepreneurial activity
  • Engagement in extra-curricular activities
  • Skills underutilization
  •  Work place learning
  • High growth businesses
  • The number of businesses
  • Physical activity
  • Premature mortality
  • Scotland's reputation
  • Unmanageable debt