Today’s blog is the latest from Tom Davies who co-ordinates NAEE’s Facebook pages. As ever, the views expressed are Tom’s, and are not necessarily shared by NAEE.
“We hope that what Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow. Action, more than words, is the hope for our current and future generations.” – Nikhil Seth (2015) Former Head of Sustainable Development at the United Nations.
Wales’ Future Generations Commission was formed after the passing of the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015, which was spearheaded by Jane Davidson, an ex-Welsh Labour politician, Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity St. Davids and Chair of Wales Inquiry, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. The implementation of the Act was a long and hard fought process (you can read more about this in Jane’s book #futuregen). However, following its passing, the act became the first piece of legislation in history to place regenerative and sustainable practice at the heart of government. It is completely unparalleled in scope and vision, connecting social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being, aiming to solve complex issues through better decision making which is held to account by the Future Generations Commission and its Commissioner, Sophie Howe.
Sophie has stated that her role is to ‘promote the sustainable development principle, in particular to act as a guardian of the ability of future generations to meet their needs and encourage public bodies to take greater account of the long-term impact of the things they do. . . and to monitor and assess the extent to which well-being objectives set by public bodies are being met’. The Commissioner has published the Future Generations Report 2020 for promoting the importance of future generations, as well as focusing on six key aspects of society that support this.
The six aspects of the Commission are Skills, Health and Wellness System, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Land Use Planning and Placemaking, Housing and Transport, which have been identified as areas of focus that will have the most impact on Welsh society, as well as detailing how the Welsh Government can level-up Wales by using the six aspects.
– Skills means giving people in Wales the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning, allowing people to best serve their own futures, as well as their communities.
– Health and Wellness System is best explained by Sophie Howe herself, “We need to shift the system to prioritising keeping people of all ages mentally and physically well, to enable them to live healthy and fulfilled lives”.
– Adverse Childhood Experiences. Acknowledging these is crucial to the development of Welsh society and this aspect of the Commission aims to “prevent and mitigate the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences’, which is a cross-cutting theme and is essential to future generations’ health and well-being”.
– Land Use Planning and Placemaking works in coordination with the Design Commission for Wales. It stated that “the way places are planned, designed, developed and managed has the potential to positively shape where and how people will live, work, socialise, move about and engage. Placemaking is ensuring that each new development or intervention contributes positively to creating or enhancing environments within which people, communities and businesses can thrive. It places people at the heart of the process and results in places that are vibrant, have a clear identity and where people can develop a sense of belonging”.
– Housing is a hugely important aspect of Welsh development. However, the current house building efforts that are currently in place in Wales do not meet the need for housing or Wales’ carbon emission targets. The Commission states that having good quality homes that meet our needs is vital’ to the future of Wales.
– Transport has been a hotly debated topic in Wales for decades and the Commission argues that “new ways of planning for transport and mobility in Wales are fundamental to the achievement of the well-being goals. Mobility is an important part of everyone’s lives. If we get it right for our most vulnerable citizens, we will get it right for everyone, with a positive impact on our ability to reduce air pollution and meet carbon reduction targets”.
The Commission has also published a Manifesto for the Future which outlines what the Commission envisions for Wales, with many aspects of the manifesto being implemented by Welsh political parties. It is best summarised by a quote from Roman Krznaric, “When politicians fail to look beyond the next election – or even the latest tweet – they are neglecting the rights of future generations’. That is what the Commission and the Commissioner stand for – looking towards the future and ensuring that the future generations enjoy the highest standard of living within an environment that is protected, maintained and flourishing.
The Commission is unique to Wales, attracting interest from countries across the world as it offers a huge opportunity to make a long-lasting, positive change to current and future generations and many think that Wales has set the standard for sustainable development.
Tom can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org