Sustainability law moves closer to reality

Anne Meikle says that the Future Generations Bill can make a real difference to sustainable development in Wales.

Did you turn off your lights for WWF’s Earth Hour?

If you did, you might know that our annual celebration of the planet was a special one in Wales this year.  That’s because we had a story to tell the world about our unique approach to becoming a world-leading sustainable nation – a story that is attracting international interest.

The Future Generations Bill is an opportunity to make a real difference for the health of our planet. The first law of its kind in the UK, the Bill is due to be introduced in the Assembly this summer. If successful, it will change the way government and public services work, so that all decisions are designed to benefit people and nature both today and in the long term.

For that reason, we launched our ‘Welsh Wish’ campaign as part of Earth Hour – for people to show their support for a ‘One Planet Wales’ – making our country one that thrives, while using our fair share of the earth’s resources. It’s designed to complement the Welsh Government’s ‘National Conversation’ on the future of our country, ‘The Wales We Want’.

Welsh Wish has been a great success. Launched in early March, by the day of Earth Hour we were celebrating over a thousand wishes on our campaign website. We’ve had support from two Welsh Government Ministers and a total of 22 Assembly Members from all four parties – see the infographic for more details below:










This support is important because if we get the Future Generations law right, it will help us achieve a ‘One Planet Wales’ and inspire other countries with a great example of how to be truly sustainable.

Today, we’d need more than two planets if everyone in the world lived as we do in Wales. Globally, we’re using the earth’s resources too quickly which means we’re facing massive threats to people and nature, such as from climate change and the loss of forests and marine life.

If, like me, you care deeply about our planet, then this is a time of mixed emotions. While each day seems to bring news of damage or threats to the natural world, there is also the feeling of optimism that we in Wales could be about to make a positive difference.

The world is now watching – can Wales really live up to the expectation that we will lead as a sustainable nation? Leading thinkers such as Jonathan Porritt, Sir Stuart Rose and Earth Hour Co-Founder Andy Ridley have all expressed hope that our Future Generations law can be a positive force in the world.

I chair an alliance of over 20 organisations – including the Bevan Foundation, RSPB Cymru and Oxfam Cymru – which has put forward its own proposals for the Bill, following our concern that initial proposals for the law were too weak.

Over the coming months, we’ll be watching closely. Important questions will need to be answered: Will the law place a strong enough duty on government and public services? Will it set up a powerful and truly independent commissioner who can speak up for future generations? Will it change how public money is spent to support a sustainable future?

The success of Earth Hour and Welsh Wish give me added confidence that we have broad support for making the changes we need today to make sure our planet thrives for future generations.

Furthermore, in a poll of Welsh adults conducted by Beaufort Research, 68% of people agreed that ‘Welsh Government should take responsibility for making policy changes that will protect the planet for future generations’, with just 11% disagreeing .

We have the will to act – so let’s do the right thing and make future generations proud of our legacy.

Anne Meikle is Head of WWF Cymru.

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