Imagining Wales in 2100: Wales: A Beacon of Regenerative Wellbeing

Transporting himself in 2100, Piotr Swiatek imagines what the world’s future governance might borrow from the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

A Public Service Designer’s Keynote delivered to the Global Wellbeing Council in April 2100, on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015


The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge
Bertrand Russell’s message for future generations

I thank the members of the Global Well-being Council for their generous invitation to this meeting, even as I strongly feel the weight of this role on my shoulders.

Wales today barely resembles the world of our parents and grandparents. Back in 2015, the Well-being of Future Generations Act felt like a quirky experiment, a whisper of long-term thinking lost in the hustle of short-term economics. We were caught in a vicious cycle – general instability, social unrest, and an accelerating descent into biological and psychological entropy. It was a recipe for disaster, and disaster arrived.

Policy bores many, but the Well-being of Future Generations Act feels like a turning point to me, even after 85 years of existence. To policymakers back then, I imagine it must have felt like a maverick melody in a cacophony of discord, a whisper against the storm.

Around 2035, as we all know too well, the world hit a wall. Extreme weather became commonplace, floods and droughts ravaged crops, and food and biofuel prices skyrocketed. A desperate global population took to the streets in the Great Climate March, a unified cry for change that echoed across the planet.

Here in Wales, the once-novel Act and its eccentric thought experiment became our life raft. The framework it established, seen by some as idealistic, had us quietly laying the groundwork for a sustainable future: renewable energy, entredonneurship, and building strong, resilient communities. When the storm broke, we were a few steps ahead. Our foresight became a beacon of hope, attracting the world’s attention. It’s not just a local philosophy; it’s the foundation for a global movement spearheaded by none other than Wales itself.

As a modest public service designer at the Ministry of Regenerative Design, I’m extremely proud that our little nation, once known for rugby, sheep and song, is now the driving force behind a unified approach to global well-being and sustainability. 

It is a pleasure to be here together, at this annual meeting of the Global Well-being Council in the cyberbiosphere. Under your banner, nations today collaborate on everything from renewable energy initiatives to bioregional food production, and it is my pleasure to represent Wales today. As an aside, and as members of this Council will know too well, we owe this model to a Welsh visionary – Bertrand Russell and his audacious idea of a ‘unitary government of mankind’. Wales, with its long history of progressive thought and the success of the Future Generations Framework, truly became an unlikely champion!

My keynote to the Council will highlight some of the best practices we’ve developed within our augmented workflowscapes at the Ministry of Regenerative Design in Wales, in the hope that we may continue our role in devising new and better ways of working together.

The first, and maybe the most essential, is Universal Basic Service. Recognising the limitations of traditional universal basic income, Wales has implemented a Universal Basic Service (UBS). This goes beyond income security, providing access to essential services like clean water, locally produced food, renewable energy, and high-frequency cyberbiosphere. This removes basic needs as a barrier to personal growth and allows everyone to focus on their passions. 

With their fundamental needs met, all residents are free to explore their creative potential. They can pursue artistic endeavours, volunteer in their communities, or learn new skills. UBS empowers individuals to contribute meaningfully to society and build lives filled with purpose and fulfilment.

Another key point in our approach is Bioregional Governance.

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The map of Wales today is no longer a collection of counties or postcodes. Gone are the arbitrary lines drawn for administrative convenience. Instead, the country is a mosaic of Cynefins – vibrant bioregions – self-governing entities defined by natural boundaries like watersheds, mountain ranges, and ecological zones. These regions, informed by the unique ecosystems they encompass, empower communities to manage their resources and craft localised solutions to climate challenges. 

A coastal bioregion might prioritise harnessing tidal and wind energy, while a mountainous region might develop innovative hydro-power solutions and focus on sustainable forestry practices. This localised decision-making fosters a deep understanding of the local environment and encourages responsible resource management.

Over the last decades, Wales has also experienced a radical infrastructure redesign. Public transport is no longer an afterthought. Wales boasts a network of greenways  – dedicated pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, eco-pods and electric vehicles that connect bioregions. They are piezoelectric – meaning that they harvest energy from the constant pressure of traffic. Specially engineered materials embedded in the road surface convert the weight and movement of traffic into electricity. Abandoned roads have been repurposed as solar farms, doubling as energy sources and green corridors. Public buildings are living structures, integrating vertical gardens and rainwater harvesting systems to irrigate gardens and replenish aquifers.

Rising sea levels caused a significant damage in the past and forced exodus of many communities in-land. To counter this, we have built living Sea Walls – engineered ecosystems of salt-resistant plants and strategically placed boulders mimicking natural coastlines, absorbing wave energy and providing habitat for marine life. These living walls help to bring us closer to the sea again and regenerate aquatic life.

Finally, ‘Entredonneurs’ are key to our way of life in the We-conomy.

We have learnt that no ecological or systemic issues can be resolved with an economic paradigm focused on satisfying singular needs without referring to the ecosystem of which it is part. Consumerism has eventually given way to a robust collaborative sharing economy. Community tool libraries replace the need for individual ownership, while on-demand manufacturing hubs allow for on-demand production of essential goods, minimising waste and transportation needs. 

Bartering and exchange networks now flourish, fostering a sense of interdependence within and between eco-clusters. We support our network of entredonneurs to develop the next iteration of Atomically Precise Manufacturing which manipulates individual atoms to create objects at the molecular level. It could eliminate waste and create materials with superior strength, flexibility, and conductivity. Imagine printing custom clothing that perfectly adjusts to your body temperature or buildings that can repair themselves: these technological developments are now within reach.

Of course, the fight for a sustainable future of the planet is an ongoing battle. New climate challenges, unforeseen ecological disruptions and their societal implications are inevitable. We’re constantly innovating and adapting. My team and I are developing a Future Risks Observatory that utilises gAIa and data analysis to identify potential threats and develop contingency plans.

Just last year, flash floods devastated parts of the Ystwyth bioregion, displacing families and causing significant damage to infrastructure. We’re working on improving flood forecasting systems and developing innovative solutions like self-deployable shelters and flood-resistant building materials. Additionally, bioregional governance allows for localised adaptation. The Ystwyth bioregion is now piloting a program that restores wetlands and integrates natural floodplains into their landscape, aiming to mimic the natural water retention capabilities of pre-industrial ecosystems.

Among the displaced was my friend Daffydd; a brilliant young artist whose studio was completely destroyed. Daffydd is a sculptor renowned for his breathtaking works crafted from locally-sourced wood, which now is going to be strictly regulated. He wrestles with a dilemma. He fiercely believes in the bioregional approach and the importance of environmental responsibility. Yet, he fears that the limitations on wood will stifle his creativity and force him to abandon the artistic language he’s honed for years.

Another problem troubles my daughter Eira, a recent graduate, who struggles to find a fulfilling career path in a world where many jobs are automated and she is entitled to UBS. Automation has freed people from tedious tasks, but it has also created anxieties about job security and a sense of purposelessness. We’re designing personalised well-being programs that help citizens discover their strengths and passions, and connect them with meaningful volunteer opportunities and retraining programs focused on emerging fields like biomimicry and regenerative agriculture.

We achieved a lot thanks to long-term thinking – we eventually reached a balanced consumption rate resulting from the various measures put in place and avoided the Earth overshoot day. Eira wouldn’t believe the stories the grandparents tell her about overflowing landfills and single-use plastic. Now, everything has a second, third, even tenth life. She spends her afternoons tinkering with old drones in the community makerspace, repurposing them into environmental monitors for the local bioregion.

‘Dad-gu,’ she’ll sometimes ask, her brow furrowed in concentration, ‘Did people really throw things away back then?‘ My dad chuckles with the memory of a distant echo. ‘Yes, love. It seems crazy now, doesn’t it?’

By presenting this work to the Global Well-being Council today, we want to propose that the Observatory becomes a global effort. By addressing these challenges and continuously innovating, Wales can solidify its position as a leader in the global movement for a sustainable and equitable future. It’s a journey we must all take together, one where service designers like myself play a crucial role in ensuring well-being not just for Wales, but for generations to come. Thank you for your attention.

This essay is part of a series commissioned in collaboration with the National Infrastructure for Wales.

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Piotr Swiatek is a project manager at PDR, the International Centre for Design and Research.

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