National Conversation helps to shape legislation

Peter Davies explains how the ‘National Conversation’ has contributed to the Well-Being and Future Generations Bill

What is the Wales you want by 2050? What legacy do you want to leave to behind for your children and grandchildren? How can we make Wales a thriving, flourishing country which attracts long-term investment, bringing sustainable employment and which respects our culture, language and heritage, whilst living within environmental limits?

These have been some of the questions on which people across Wales have been sharing their views through the National Conversation on The Wales We Want. With the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, I launched the conversation in February, and I have had the good fortune to join The Wales We Want conversations across Wales.

Since the launch of the pilot National Conversation in February 2014, we have engaged a wide and diverse range of groups, networks, individuals and sectors, representing different interests and audiences; from schools and youth groups to women’s institutes, business networks, academia, voluntary sector and local councils, through online surveys, social and traditional media, postcards, events, roundtables, to share with us the long-term goals for Wales. The interim report launched today highlights many of the comments and views that Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales has been gathering over this period – much of these reflect views on the draft set of goals proposed by Welsh Government at the launch.

The key purpose of this first stage of the National Conversation has been to respond to these draft set of long-term goals to be included in the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill. These initial proposals have been a stimulus for the conversation and we have been providing fortnightly feedback to the Minister to inform the drafting of the Goals which are now included in the Bill laid before the National Assembly today.

However, the concept of setting long term goals to provide a common focus will only work if they can be shaped, understood and owned by people, communities, and businesses across Wales. The conversation has stressed that they need to be emotionally engaging, provide a clear sense of direction, clarity on ‘what we want to be famous for’ and backed up by stories that can make the words real. Leadership, creativity and enterprise have been key themes and seen as essential prerequisites for driving the culture change to achieve The Wales We Want.

The conversations have been consistent in saying that goals are important but will mean little unless there is clarity on the measures that will tell us whether we are going in the right direction.

This Interim Report presents a summary of views and comments on the draft Goals, along with the emerging trends and issues from the first phase of the National Conversation. The second phase of the conversation will extend the network of Futures Champions, go into more depth on the long term generational challenges, focus on sustainable solutions and make recommendations on the genuine measures of progress that matter to the people of Wales. This will culminate in the Report on behalf of Future Generations in March 2015 which will set out recommendations to Government in implementing, what we hope will become, the Well-Being and Future Generations Act.

It is important that the National Conversation represents views across Wales and I hope this Interim Report will be a stimulus to extending its reach and role in shaping The Wales We Want.

Peter Davies is the Commissioner for Sustainable Futures.

One thought on “National Conversation helps to shape legislation

  1. Yes, yes, but don’t legislate. It is ridiculous to legislate for aspirations. Why not pass a law forbidding cancer or excessive rainfall? A national plan, if you wish. But then you need policies and resources to implement it. It won’t happen by legislation. Why is this simple, simple fact beyond the people who are wasting their time and our money?

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