The Wellbeing of Future Generations: A Welsh Approach – Full Session – WGS 2019



what I wanted to do today was to show you how we're doing things here in back in Wales and what we're doing with our groundbreaking piece of legislation the well-being of future generations act now I don't know how many of you have been lucky enough to have been to Wales or even to have heard about what we're doing but to set some context we are a relatively small country as part of the UK we have a population of around 3 million people interestingly enough that's just slightly smaller than the population here in Dubai but what we want as a nation we may lack in size we certainly make up for in terms of our ambition and whilst the issues being discussed here at the world government summits are of course affecting issues on a global scale sometimes it's the small actions that make a difference or as a Japanese writer said individually we might be a drop but together we are an ocean so today what I hope whales are doing for the well-being of future generations through our unique legislation will be a ripple and across all four corners of the globe and in what in Wales and in the Welsh language we have a rather nice word that word is dusky and it means both to teach and to learn and I think that's very much what we're all doing here in this summit teaching each other and learning from each other but what I wanted to start with is this young man this is usman and Huisman lives in a place called Bettis which is a large social housing estate in a city called Newports back in Wales and I met him an honor on a visit to his primary school back last month and this is better it's not a particularly nice place to live it's an area of high socio-economic deprivation there are high levels of unemployment in the area around about 40 percent of people in this area are unemployed crime poverty drugs and alcohol problems are sadly an everyday reality despite the very close knit community there and for Millbrook primary school 34 percent of their children have special educational needs thirty percent are from families with low incomes so we could almost map out the life courses of all the life chances of these children so children who have experienced multiple adversity we know in Wales are 20 times more likely to end up in prison when they become adults they're more likely to develop long-term health problems and they're much less likely to be in employment when they become adults but there's a really determined head teacher in this school and she has vowed to change that in the school actually uses the lens of the sustainable development goals and our own Welsh national well-being goals to plan their work and it places a huge emphasis on kindness on doing small things for each other that make a big difference and it recognises the interconnections and role we all play in our well-being as individuals in society now Thurmond was quite shy and reluctant to get involved in lessons and he liked very many children in that school has experienced several issues of adversity but the focus that the school is put on supporting people pupils has not only built their level of aspiration for themselves but also for the planets because they work on the SDGs has enabled them to understand the connections between their own well-being and that of the planet and loserman told me how he wants to become an architect and he's already designed a house which which would be built into the side of one of our very many Welsh hillsides using the natural typography and having benefits in terms of energy efficiency I know Thurmond is 10 but he knows that that's really important in terms of meeting our carbon reduction targets another one of course is a representative of our future generations he's the representative of the sorts of future generations that we need future generations that have an understanding of the skills that we will need to protect our planet and have kindness and respect for each other and for our world and a few days after meeting Osman I spoke at a conference with the construction sector in Wales and I spoke about how the skills that we need for the future were evident in that school that we must be educating our children to meet the challenges of the future to help us tackle climate change to be able to thrive and stay safe in a world of artificial intelligence and where data is the new gold we need to make sure that they understand that they are not just global consumers but of course they are global citizens and critically we need to educate them not just for another pointless job but for a life well-lived and I was delighted to see through the medium of Twitter that a very generous lady who was inspired by hearing my story about husband sent him this book on cool architecture to help him take forward his dreams and we can see here that someone is showing an act of kindness to a future generation someone's investing in a future generation empowering them to go on and to create their own future and that this is a small act of kindness but what we really need is for all of us to show kindness to our future generations to demonstrate that our decisions take into account not just our people now but the needs and well-being issues of our younger generations and indeed those yet to be born because when it comes down to it I think no matter where we are in the world no matter where we're from or what we stand for our longing to make the world a better place for future generations is unquestionably universal it's of course what unites us but it's also what should drive us to act a greater pace taking the actions that we know we know need to be taken to leave the world in a better place than we found it and yet somehow when it gets down to it for some reason that often gets lost when it comes down to taking important decisions the question of well-being is often nobody's business and I think for too long we've thought that the defining measure of well-being has been around a nation's GDP or economic growth so economists historians politicians and business leaders have obsessed over GDP and gross but can we really say that this obsession has made people's lives better the vast inequalities that we see across the world are threatened natural environment and are plummeting natural resources are proof I think the GDP alone is not a good measure of the well-being of our people or planet and of course it was Robert Kennedy back in the 1960s who questioned this obsession about GDP saying the problem with GDP is that it measures everything in life except that which makes life worthwhile and I know that this is something that Her Excellency the Minister for happiness discussed during her panel session at Davos last month and if I were to ask you what makes you happy I doubt very much you would say economic growth you'd say things like we just heard Tony talked about you'd say spending time with your families or loved ones or friends music sport good food literature the beauty of our environment in the world around us and it's all of these things together and holistically that make our lives worthwhile and it's these things that increasingly governments must recognize in what could otherwise become a very disjointed and dystopian world and that's why I'm really proud that in Wales we have this piece of legislation called the well-being of future generations act and it's a pioneering piece of legislation that looks to improve the social economic environmental and cultural well-being of Wales and note the addition thereof cultural well-being which is part of what makes our legislation and so unique our legislation places a statutory duty on all of our public bodies in Wales or all of our main public bodies in Wales including the government to have to demonstrate how they've thought about the long-term impact of their decisions it places a duty on them to carry out sustainable development whereby they must act in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and our act is internationally groundbreaking there's a quote here from the United Nations we hope what Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow Wales remains the first and only country in the world to legislate in this way and to look at all four pillars of well-being and critically those four pillars of well-being are on an equal footing so we can no longer have a position where the economy Trump's the environment all of those four pillars have to be considered equally and of course what Wales has been doing is very closely linked to the UN sustainable development goals and you can see how there is this alignment to the SDGs and our own national well-being goals and I think sustainable development has always played quite a significant part in at least some of Wales's journey in terms of devolution and we can see that the decision to legislate in this way for sustainable development was closely linked to Rio twentieth summit in 2012 but as I said in 2015 we took this decision to go one step further and legislating ourselves and some of the key things that our legislation does so we set out seven national well-being goals this is the vision for the Wales that we want to see and this these seven national well-being goals were actually devised as part of a national conversation which happened across the length and breadth of Wales involving over 10,000 people so the people in Wales came up with these well-being goals themselves and what they also came up with with some really progressive definitions of these well-being goals so if we look I don't know if you can read it there but if we look at our definition of prosperity we talk about a productive innovative and low carbon society which uses resources efficiently and proportionately including acting on climate change it talks about a well-educated population with good skills and access to decent jobs not just any old jobs and so our definition of prosperity is really quite progressive and when you look at that in conjunction with our other six well-being goals and they all have to be looked at holistically so each one of our public bodies has a duty to maximize their contribution to all seven of those well-being goals we can see how our vision for Wales through these interconnected well-being goals is really challenging business as usual the other thing that our legislation does is sets out five new ways of working so if you like the ingredients and for how we're going to get towards this vision for of the Wales that we want so our government and our public bodies must demonstrate that they are thinking and planning for the long term they must demonstrate that they are taking preventative action and we all know that old adage of prevention is better than cure but actually when it comes down to investing in prevention when it comes down from taking spending from the acute end of public services to invest in preventing problems from occurring in the first place that's incredibly difficult but that is now a statutory duty in Wales it also requires us to integrate our decision-making so that's recognising the interconnection between all of our seven well-being goals so it's no longer the responsibility of the economic development department in government to just think about the economy it's as much their duty to think about the environment is as much their duty to think about the impact on the culture of Wales for the decisions they take and so on and that is the same Duty for each of the 44 public bodies covered by the Act the fourth principle is collaboration so this is a recognition no one public body or sector can solve the challenges and that we face now and the challenges that we will face in the future alone so we must collaborate and work together in partnership and the fifth way of working is around involvement so involving people who are affected by decisions in that decision-making process and involvement is a much more active form a much more active word and than sometimes what we get used to in government consultation high-level consultations that don't really reflect the lived experiences of the citizens that were developing policy and services for and so that word involvement is really crucial in terms of how our legislation is taken forward here in Wales so we are almost three years into the legislation so what change has happened I talk about this regularly not just about being a journey towards change but probably more of an expedition because what we're trying to do here through embedding those five ways of working are to change the habits of very many lifetimes it's very difficult for governments to plan for the long term it's really difficult to shift resources from the acute end to the preventative end but that is what we're required to do and this here is an example of one of the big impacts that our legislation is already driving so this is this was a procurement of a new rail franchise in Wales the biggest contract ever let in Wales a five billion pound contract for rail and metro services and because of our legislation the private sector who were tendering for this contract were required to demonstrate how that contract was not just going to deliver new trains and faster trains and more efficient trains as important that is but it was required they were required to demonstrate how they were going to contribute through that five billion pound contract to all seven of our well-being goals and you can see here some of the things that they are and that they have said that they will do so low-carbon low-carbon trains all of the stations will be zero carbon reduced fares for people coming from areas with high deprivation a focus on social enterprises and local business provision in stations and they are mapping that out across each one of our seven well-being goals the well-being of future generations Act is also driving action in our capital city who as a result of set a targets to shift from an 80 percent use of cars as the main the main way of getting about the capital city to a 50 50 % modal shift and the sorts of things that they're doing there are cycles super highways they're introducing next bikes they're the first local authority in Wales to be to have procured electric buses and they've actually brought in a public health official to help map out their public transport strategy and since then some smaller things our hospitals one hospital in Wales in particular has reflected not just on investing in medical equipment as important as that is but actually they've built in an art gallery into their hospital they've built an orchard in their Hospital which is helping them to ease recuperation for patients and also bringing in local communities to work there so I think we're making a huge impact in terms of what we're doing in Wales with this well-being of future generations Act and not least because this year the government's have also agreed to set a definition of preventative spend in their budget so I talked a lot about the challenges of shifting to prevention and my role as a commissioner is to challenge the government on how they are moving to that preventative spend and we had to start by doing that by having a definition so this is a definition that the government in Wales have now agreed this is a definition that will be used to map spare in all future government in all future budgets as far as I'm aware we're the first country to have set such a definition it is going to be a long process but having that definition set up initially is an important part of that we've also reformed planning policy in Wales so planning policy in Wales is now reflecting the well-being of future generations Act requirements it puts for example fossil fuel use at the bottom of the energy hierarchy it focuses on placemaking it requires decisions on planning and infrastructure to show how they're contributing to the social economic and environmental and cultural well-being of Wales and whilst I work very closely with the government I am an independent commissioner and that poses some challenges on occasions so one of the things and that I've intervened on is plans that have been on the book books of government for a significant period of time to spend most of our borrowing capacity in Wales on an extension to a motorway and interestingly what we can see now is that that decision has been paused the interventions that I have made the points and the legal arguments around how the government will comply with the well-being of future generations act are looking as though they may well drive a different form of decision-making in relation to this issue so we do have some significant achievements already just three years into the legislation but I am acutely aware that actually in order to drive the changes that we really want to see and this is about cultural change and legislation isn't always synonymous with cultural change I think often how we do public policy certainly in the UK and I'm sure probably across the world is that we have some really good ideas and innovation will have policy and legislation and sometimes if you're really lucky some finance to implement those good ideas but the bit we often forget is people hearts and minds and that's why I call this an expedition because we've got three million hearts mine's to change in Wales thousands and thousands of public sector workers and policymakers who have been taking decisions perhaps in the wrong way for very many years and it's those people that we need to focus on but our legislation is certainly giving us a significant and fighting chance to help win them over thank you [Applause]

1 thought on “The Wellbeing of Future Generations: A Welsh Approach – Full Session – WGS 2019

  1. المشكلة المحيرني إنو بنات العرب لمن يشمو الغرب يلبسن مثلهم لكن عندما تأتي بنات الغرب الي العرب لا يلبسن مثلهن.

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