The Well-Being of Future Generations Act: Wales’s World-Leading Sustainability Legislation

As joint Cabinet Member for Future Generations, Mary has responsibility for equalities, biodiversity, community engagement and other areas associated with this Act.

The Well-Being of Future Generations Act, a pioneering piece of legislation requiring Welsh public bodies to work in a sustainable way towards social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being, was welcomed worldwide. Nikhil Seth, Director of Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations said:

“The Wales future generations Act captures the spirit and essence of two decades of United Nations work in the area of sustainable development and serves as a model for other regions and countries. ‘One Wales, One Planet’ captures it all. 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.”

The Sustainable Development Principle says that we must meet our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This requires five ways of working:

  • preventative – taking action to stop problems before they start;
  • collaborative – working in partnership for stronger decision-making;
  • integrated – making sure that action in one area doesn’t have unintended consequences for another area;
  • long-term – thinking about the impacts of today’s decisions on our shared future, and,
  • involving – ensuring the people our decisions will affect in this generation give their input.

The last one is particularly exciting for anyone – like me – who has struggled with the way decision makers often don’t listen to those who actually experience problems.

Every Public Body in Wales now needs to show how it is working towards seven Well-Being Goals. You can find more information about these online, but for example: the well-being goal of “A More Equal Wales” specifically mentions economic inequality as something we need to tackle. Having argued for many years that economic poverty is not a lifestyle choice or an attitude problem, but a set of traps created by an unfair economic system, I am very glad to see this. Hopefully the City Region Deal developments and our local push on benefit take-up will help towards that goal.

Cllr. Mary Sherwood