In the last decade, we have achieved many things. We have fashioned Scotland as a modern and outward-looking place.
I am proud of our work and all that we have achieved. Now we again look to the future. It is time to refocus our efforts and refresh our agenda to meet the changing needs of our people and the unprecedented challenges of our times.
As technology rapidly advances, so too must our economy. We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for the new, low carbon world.
This Programme for Government is our plan to shape the kind of Scotland we all seek – an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, ready and willing to embrace the future.
It includes major reforms in education, health and justice, new opportunities for our communities and important measures to safeguard the environment and improve the quality of housing.
Crucially, this Programme for Government also sets out a bold and forward-looking economic vision – sending a clear message to our people, businesses, schools, colleges and universities, and to the wider world: Scotland’s ambition is to be the inventor and the producer, not just a consumer, of the innovations that will shape the lives of our children and grandchildren.
Of course, Brexit will continue to provide the backdrop to much that we do over the next year. The Scottish Government will continue to make the case for remaining in the single market and customs union. We will take whatever steps we can to protect our economy from the damage Brexit will do.
But Brexit poses a threat to more than just our economy. It is also a threat to our rights as citizens. That’s why we will work to protect human, environmental, employment and consumer rights. And we will protect the Scottish Parliament by resisting any attempt at a power grab by the UK government.
Over the next few months, we will also set out the case for further extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament in areas such as immigration, social security, employment rights and trade – and highlight where additional powers would enable us to better achieve the ambitions in this programme. We will seek to build consensus across the political spectrum and civic society.
This programme sets out our next steps in creating the better future we all want for our nation.