The RSE’s Post Covid-19 Futures Commission is making several recommendations for decision-makers
Several recommendations have been made to make Scotland more resilient as the country aims to bounce back from Covid-19.
Today the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (the RSE) Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission reports on its learnings, findings and recommended actions to support Scotland as it emerges from the pandemic.
Established in May 2020, the commission has spent the past 18 months exploring four key themes: how to build national resilience; what makes good public debate and participation; the use of data, evidence and science in understanding and responding to Covid-19; and how inclusive public service was witnessed throughout the pandemic. The learnings and recommendations of the Commission have now been brought together into a report. These include:
• Public participation in decision making is key. The commission recommends the Scottish Government establishes a National Participation Centre for Scotland, which will be tasked with working across Government and its agencies, as well as within communities and businesses, to support genuinely effective public engagement. This will also support the development of a National Participation Strategy for Scotland, in which third sector bodies and academic experts set out a vision for how best to engage citizens in the development and delivery of public policy and services.
• Preparedness is vital. An independent foresighting centre should be established, tasked with assessing future risk and preparedness. It would be responsible for advising government, its bodies and business leadership organisations on effective management of these risks and how best to support resilience. The commission also recommends that the RSE should work with the Scottish Government and the university sector to develop a rapid response service that enables the government and wider public sector to rapidly access good quality, independent evidence and expertise from across the academic community, in a crisis situation.
• Improving how science is communicated and increasing public trust in science is imperative. A fully independent fact-checking service should be created to review and challenge misreporting and support accurate presentation of scientific information in the public domain. The Scottish Government should also work with partners to support an informed national conversation about the use of personal data and data sharing for public good, to inform responses to future pandemics and other societal challenges.
• A transformation in how we deliver public services is critical - the Scottish Government should set up a public service transformation partnership to actively promote the principles and experience of social prescribing from around Scotland and beyond. The Scottish Government should also reaffirm and recommit to the principles of the Christie Commission, and work with delivery partners to implement them across public services and beyond, with business champions engaged to support the approach.
The commission was established to identify and address some of the immediate policy implications and challenges arising from the coronavirus outbreak and support the future of Scotland beyond the immediate crisis. It brought together leading practitioners and thinkers from various sectors along with those with direct lived experience of the pandemic.
Professor Dame Anne Glover, FRSE and commission chair, said: “As we emerge from our most recent challenge as a society and some of the worst times many of us have lived through, it’s important that we take stock and learn from it to support a better future and be more prepared should another crisis hit.
“The commission has worked hard over the last 18 months, engaging people and organisations from a variety of sectors, in order to support dialogue and discussion and generate learnings to contribute to Scotland’s recovery and better support society through the challenges that will inevitably arise as a nation. Each could help us to respond and be better equipped to deal with any future crises.
“The aim set at the beginning of the research was to ‘support Scotland to emerge as positively as it can from the current pandemic’. Following the launch of the report it is expected that its findings are used as a basis to inform further conversation and collaboration to gain more understanding around the experiences of Covid. The findings from these interactions will play a key role in imagining and delivering a better future for the country.”
Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, president (interim) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, added: “The outcomes of this report will be pivotal as we emerge from this crisis. The working groups have gathered a tremendous amount of information through a wide-reaching programme of activity and engagement to form the recommended actions. The RSE will consider the recommendations in the report and we would urge other organisations identified to do likewise to support our next steps as a nation.”
Welcoming the report’s findings, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Scottish Government values the work of the RSE as Scotland’s National Academy and its commitment to advancing learning and useful knowledge. This commitment has been particularly evident over the last 18 months, with fellows of the RSE being at the forefront of supporting people in their understanding of the pandemic.
“We welcome the Post-Covid Futures Commission report and will consider its recommendations closely.
“The Scottish Government’s recently published Covid Recovery Strategy sets out the need to work collaboratively and build on the urgency, flexibility and creativity seen during the pandemic to tackle the inequalities that were exposed and exacerbated. We look forward to further engagement with the RSE as we work to support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic and bring about a fairer future for everyone.”