Ground-breaking Bill leads the way in putting long-term needs at the heart of public decision making in Wales

The Welsh Government has taken the first step of any UK administration to set in law a range of ambitious goals for public bodies in Wales that are right for today and for the generations to come, said the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty Jeff Cuthbert.

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill will place a duty on public bodies, including Welsh Government; local authorities; national parks; fire and rescue services and health boards, to make decisions that leave a positive legacy for our children, and children’s children. It requires us all to think differently and plan over a longer period of time. The Bill requires us to plan so we help prevent challenges before they arise and grasp opportunities as they occur.

Jeff Cuthbert said:

“The Well-being of Future Generations Bill will set ambitious, long-term economic, social and environmental goals to reflect the Wales we want to see, both now and in the future.

“By putting these goals into law, public services in Wales will work towards achieving a prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal Wales with cohesive communities and a vibrant and thriving culture and Welsh language.

“This unique Bill is all about our generation taking responsibility for improving the well-being of Wales and providing a sustainable Wales now and for decades to come.”

The Bill will, for the first time anywhere in the UK, make public bodies look at what they do in the long term as part of their decision making. The long-term challenges facing us are not unique to Wales; they are common across the developed world. In tackling them, we will set the standard as a country where the well-being of people, environment, economy and communities is our top priority.

Key to the Bill is an understanding of what people want. Earlier this year the Minister asked the Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Peter Davies, to pilot a National Conversation on ‘The Wales We Want’. The aim of the conversation is to engage with people and to improve our understanding of the long term issues that future generations might face.

Mr Davies will present the first interim report of the National Conversations that have taken place so far. The Bill will establish an independent statutory Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, who will produce a report in relation to the better safeguarding of future generations’ needs, informed by engaging citizens of Wales through periodic conversations.

Jeff Cuthbert added:

“We are setting goals for the long-term well-being of Wales. This includes people and communities, our economy and the environment in which live.

“We need to move away from just making short-term decisions over a four or five year period of government to decisions that will have a positive effect in the longer term.

“Our vision is to make a step change in delivering services from one where we try to fix problems after they have happened to one where we act early to protect and improve our economy, society and environment.”

An example is the work to promote healthier lifestyles and campaigns on obesity, smoking and alcohol to help improve people’s health and help manage future demand on NHS Wales.

While we cannot predict future events, such as the impact of international events like the Recession, the Bill will change the law to provide stronger governance for achieving a prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal Wales with cohesive communities and a vibrant and thriving culture and Welsh language.