The Scottish Parliament's think-tank

Democracy 2045: Challenges and Opportunities

Painted map of Scotland inscribed with text from UN Convention on the Rights of the ChildPainted map of Scotland inscribed with text from UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, produced by pupils from St Paul's RC High School in Glasgow and its feeder primary schools as part of our Scotland 2030 Programme

Our world faces great challenges and change over the coming 20 years.

The impacts of climate change will spread further, bringing extreme weather events and the effects of living in an unpredictable environment. If we are to survive as a species, we will have to make huge changes to how we live our lives.

Technological innovation, fuelled by developments in artificial intelligence and biotechnology, will create new tools with amazing capabilities. These complex developments will bring ethical, legal and policy challenges for society.

At the same time, the role of citizens within democracies will continue to evolve. People will demand that their rights are respected. Questions of intergenerational fairness may be exacerbated by changing demographics. The roles of citizens and their representatives in decision making will continue to shift, with citizens assemblies, juries and budgeting all part of the democratic process.

Stable and sustainable democracies provide the best life outcomes for the people who live in them. But they are not static and they must change to respond to these new challenges. To survive, democracy will have to evolve.

So how can Scottish democracy meet the challenges of the next 20 years in order that we can build a fair and sustainable Scotland for future generations?

The Futures Forum has explored these issues in a series of events and research reports on the three themes of environment, technology and participation.


Read the COP26: Code Red for Parliaments report

Report outlining a pathway for Parliaments to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies.

Young boy holding piece of cardboard saying - our futures matter

Read the Code Red: Parliaments & the Climate and Ecological Emergencies event report

Event report from COP26 exploring the role of Parliaments in responding to climate change.


Read the Artificial Intelligence and Accountability event report

Event report exploring how AI is being used in Scotland and how we can hold public bodies accountable for decisions made by algorithm.

Typewriter with paper headed "Artificial Intelligence" Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Read the Parliamentary Responses to Artificial Intelligence project report

A research project exploring how Parliaments throughout the world have responded to the development of AI.

Festival of Politics banner with person recording demonstration on their phone

Festival of Politics 2022: read the Information and Disinformation event transcript

Event transcript from Festival of Politics debate on effect of disinformation on democracies.

Illustration of Scottish Parliament building

Read about Scrutinising the Use of Artificial Intelligence: A Toolkit

A toolkit to ensure that the key issues in the design and use of artificial intelligence have been considered and addressed.


Cropped version of front page of Citizens Assembly of Scotland report "Doing Politics Differently" front page

Read the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland: Doing Politics Differently event report

Event report of a discussion with the members of Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly.

Well-being of Future Generations logo

Read the Governing Now for Future Generations event report

Event report of seminar with Sophie Howe, the Welsh Future Generations Commissioner.

Cropped view of Climate Assembly report front page

Read the Scotland’s Climate Assembly: A call to action event report

Event report of a discussion with members of Scotland’s Climate Assembly.