A public lecture by Sophie Howe, Commissioner for Future Generations
In association with the Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion
The Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) came into effect in April 2016, and with it established the role of Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. The role of the Commissioner is to act as guardian for future generations, ensuring that all 44 public bodies in Wales covered by the Act are taking account of the long term, and that they do not compromise the ability of tomorrow’s generations to meet their own needs. In her lecture, Wales’ first Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, will provide an insight from her eighteen months in office. When it was passed, the UN said: ‘what Wales does today, we hope the world will do tomorrow’. With its broad and holistic definition of sustainable development as ‘improving the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being’, Wales remains one of the few countries in the world to legislate for sustainable development, and turn the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into action.
The Commissioner will share an update on what that looks like in terms of practical implementation, how public bodies and the statutory Public Service Boards are responding to the Act, and how cultures and attitudes are beginning to change within the Welsh public sector. In particular, the Commissioner will discuss her office’s policy priorities. In the ‘fourth wave of the industrial revolution’, this piece of legislation has the potential to enable disruption and embrace innovation for the better. The Commissioner’s resounding message from her first eighteen months in post is that ‘business as usual is no longer an option’, and that the status-quo of reactive, expensive processes and services that may tick the box but miss the point are no longer fit for purpose. Having the legislation alone is not enough, how can Wales continue to be a pioneering nation when it comes to sustainable development in an age of technological and political uncertainty?