Ambitious plans for our future generations decision making in Wales

A Welsh Government Bill which sets long-term goals to make a difference to the lives of future generations is perhaps the most ambitious piece of legislation that the Welsh Government has ever attempted.

That was the message from Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant speaking ahead of a debate on the Well-being of Future Generations Bill. The Bill, which was introduced by the Welsh Government in July, sets out a series of proposals which will put a duty on public bodies to look at the effect of policies on the long-term well-being of people and their communities in their decision-making.

The Minister said the Bill had the capacity to make a significant impact on the way our children and children’s children live. He said the legislation will require a fundamental shift in how public bodies and government tackle the big challenges the nation faces.

Carl Sargeant said:

“There have been criticisms that the Bill is “too aspirational” or that it creates an “unnecessary bureaucratic system”. This is not right. The Bill does not set up another layer of decision making or new governance arrangements, but instead strengthens those that already exist. It will only become bureaucratic if organisations see this as a ‘bolt on’ exercise, which is precisely what this Bill seeks to avoid.

“It will take time to achieve the shift in the way many of us think and work, but the problems that we are trying to tackle are long-term problems. In short, it will mean that we in the public service in Wales look to the long-term so that our children and grandchildren do not look back on us and regret the decisions we made.”

The National Conversation on The Wales We Want identified climate change, the natural environment, jobs and skills as the biggest issues facing future generations in Wales.

The Bill will put into law six clear, integrated, well-being goals for Wales. They are for a prosperous; resilient; healthier; more equal Wales; with cohesive communities; and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. A Commissioner for Future Generations in Wales will support public bodies in making better, more sustainable choices, and safeguard the well-being of future generations in Wales.

Carl Sargeant added:

“We’re bringing in this new law so that our public services work to a single, shared, aim – to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales.

“This legislation means that, for the first time, public bodies listed in the Bill must work towards achieving our shared well-being goals; it’s not just up to the NHS to make Wales healthier, all of our public services have a part to play. We should not be leaving our problems for the next generation to solve.

“Wales is not unique in trying to do this, but we are ahead of the game. Next year the United Nations General Assembly will agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals for the post 2015 development agenda. We have been keeping abreast of the international developments to ensure that what we do in Wales mirrors that at the UN level.”