ARE we on target to make Scotland a better and fairer place for everyone to live in?

It’s sometimes hard to pin down exactly what’s going on when we see news reports on the economy or employment figures.

It’s often the stories heard at foodbanks and school playgrounds and the mood of our friends and neighbours that gives us an idea of whether we are doing well as a society or not.

The top priority of the Scottish Government is economic growth, but that doesn’t tell us everything.

In 2015, all UN Member States, including the UK, signed up to a vision for 2030 – a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Individual goals range from empowering women to ending hunger and ensuring there is clean, affordable energy for all

Earlier this week a group of charities published a report looking at how Scotland is doing in meeting these goals. It’s a mixed picture and poverty and dis-advantage continues to loom large.

We need to tackle problems in a more joined up way, for example the global climate change and biodiversity crises we face are also opportunities to create new fairer livelihoods and better places to live here in Scotland.

A Green New Deal plan that supercharges investment in a low carbon economy and green infrastructure would hit the button on almost every goal, tackling inequality while restoring the environment.

What that should mean on the ground in Clacks is investment in job creation such as the electric train factory proposed by Talgo and the re-opening the Alloa to Dunfermline rail line.

But it could equally be investment in a community park in Tullibody, or restoring woodland and wetlands in the Ochils and along the Forth to protect towns from flooding while locking up carbon.

It could also be about creating social enterprises that can give job opportunities for people who at the moment have few prospects in areas such as recycling, repair or energy efficiency.

Twenty years after devolution I would question how much progress successive Scottish Governments have made in tackling these goals in a joined up way. Economic growth has failed to trickle down and lift people out of poverty.

The structure of government remains firmly in silos where the links between creating better places to live and health for example often fall between the cracks.

It’s often the same in local government too. Wales took a strong early lead in establishing their Future Generations Commission, a body that has pushed government to join the dots on lots of issues from scrapping road building programmes to investing in better environments for children to grow up in.

We need to embrace that kind of joined up approach here.