May 16, 2023
Let’s have some fresh thinking
‘If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied’. So said Alfred Nobel of the Nobel Prize fame. With the challenges facing Scotland today the need for some seriously good thinking has never been greater and so the recent launch of what is described as a non-partisan Scottish think tank has to be welcomed. Future Economy Scotland seem to be coming out of the community wealth building/new economics corner and have set their sights on decarbonising, democratising and decommodifying the economy. Definitely worth a follow.
Today Scotland stands at a crossroads, confronted with a series of stark, intertwined challenges. From the legacy of the Global Financial Crisis and austerity, to the Covid-19 pandemic and the deep fault lines it exposed. From soaring energy prices and the cost of living crisis, to escalating climate and environmental breakdown. How Scotland responds to these challenges depends on the decisions we make – both now and in the future.
The establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 empowered Scotland to forge a distinct policy path. Despite areas of progress, rates of inequality and poverty remain unacceptably high; there is an acute urban and rural housing crisis; and the economy remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels. As the Climate Change Committee has highlighted, Scotland has set a bold aim to reach net zero by 2045, but a clear delivery plan on how key milestones will be achieved “is still missing.” At this critical juncture, it is vital to acknowledge both the scale of the challenges we face, and the nature of the solutions required.
Today we are proud to launch Future Economy Scotland. We are a non-partisan think tank that aims to create a new economy that is democratic, sustainable and just. We believe that Scotland cannot overcome these challenges by making minor tweaks to the status quo, or by simply ameliorating the worst excesses of a broken model. Instead, we must embrace bold new ideas to transform the economy.
But what should this new economy look like? Our mission is to develop transformative policies that promote three key goals:
First, decarbonise the economy. We need to rapidly transition to a net zero economy, but how we do so matters. The scars of deindustrialisation – still visible decades on – shows that we can’t afford to repeat mistakes of the past. Our work will aim to rapidly decarbonise Scotland’s economy in a way that heals inequalities, delivers well paid, green jobs and secures a sustainable future for communities. Not only is this necessary for the planet, it’s also popular.
Second, democratise the economy. While the creation of the Scottish Parliament brought political power closer to the people, economic power remains concentrated in the hands of the few that own and control our most important assets. Our work will seek to democratise the economy by giving people and local communities a greater stake and a say over the assets and decisions affecting their lives.
Third, decommodify the economy. Eradicating poverty and insecurity means ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met. But the erosion of public services and the rise of extractive business models have left many without basic security and dignity. Our work will aim to protect and expand Scotland’s public services, while replacing extractive business models with more democratic forms of ownership and governance.
Future Economy Scotland will promote these goals by developing bold yet credible policies that harness the powers of the Scottish Parliament to the fullest possible extent. We will work with allies inside parliament and across civil society to build support for transformative change. We will also publish regular analysis and commentary to scrutinise government decisions and hold policymakers to account.
Our vision for Scotland’s economy is ambitious, but we cannot achieve it alone. Across Scotland, many people are already working to build a fairer, more democratic and more sustainable future, from trade unions and climate campaigners, to community groups and development trusts. We want to build alliances with allies across Scotland to share knowledge, exchange ideas, strengthen the evidence-base for transformative change, and ensure our work is useful to the wider movement.
If we are to build a fairer Scotland, we must recognise the deep-rooted structural inequalities that exist, and the mechanisms through which they are reinforced. Embedded in all our work will therefore be a recognition of how structural oppression compounds inequalities – including those relating to race, gender and class. We will seek to challenge structural oppression both in terms of the work we publish, and the way we operate as an organisation internally.
Going forward, we hope that Future Economy Scotland can strengthen the movement working to build a fairer, more democratic and more sustainable economy. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest developments, watch our launch video below.
Who funds you?
Unlike some think tanks, we are committed to being fully transparent about our funding. We receive grant funding from a range of philanthropic foundations that are committed to the advancement of social and environmental justice. A full list of our funders can be found on the ‘About us’ page.
Do you have an organisational stance on Scotland’s constitutional future?
Future Economy Scotland does not have a formal stance on Scotland’s constitutional future. While we recognise the importance of this debate in national dialogue, we will not actively campaign for or against any particular constitutional arrangement. Instead, our work will focus on harnessing the powers of the Scottish Parliament to the fullest possible extent, recognising that the powers the Scottish Parliament has may change over time.
Are you aligned with any political party?
Future Economy Scotland is a non-partisan think tank. We are not aligned to any political party or any politician. However, we seek to work constructively with all political parties and elected representatives that are interested in our work.
What is your organisation’s legal status and governance?
We are a non-profit company limited by guarantee operating with charitable principles. We are governed by a small board of non-executive directors, and are committed to upholding the highest standards of organisational governance.