As an alliance of organisations we have worked together to produce a proposal for a sustainable development law for Wales. We published this last summer in ‘Shaping our Future’.
We worked together and with lawyers to propose what we would like to see in legislation. This is just a starting point and forms part of the debate with politicians, organisations and civil society in Wales – please get in touch with your response or if you would like to join the growing numbers supporting our ideas.
What we propose intends to achieve three things:
- To place in legislation a distinctive, robust and resilient Welsh definition of sustainable development, drawing on international and Welsh precedents.
- To place a duty on the devolved public sector to exercise its functions so as to achieve sustainable development.
- To create an independent Sustainable Development Commissioner, appointed by the Assembly rather than the Welsh Government, to hold public bodies to account.
These are steps we believe will build on Wales’ proud history of support for sustainable development while taking action to a new level.
A Sustainable Development Bill for Wales Proposed by the Third Sector Alliance on Sustainable Development
Recognising that sustainable development means achieving social justice and eliminating poverty in a way which is capable of being continued indefinitely by all of earth’s people by respecting environmental limits.
Recognising that in Wales, sustainable development includes sustaining and promoting the Welsh language, culture and heritage while protecting and enhancing the Welsh natural environment and using only our fair share of the world’s resources.
1 Duty to achieve sustainable development
(1) Every public authority must exercise their functions in order to achieve sustainable development.
(2) The Welsh Ministers shall, subject to section 3(6), publish guidance on the implementation of the duty in subsection (1) within 6 months of the commencement of this Act, having taken into account the opinion of the Commissioner, as established under section (3) of this Act.
(3) Public authorities must have regard to any guidance published under subsection (2) when implementing the duty in subsection (1).
(4) Public authorities must have regard to any recommendations or advice provided by the Commissioner in relation to the discharge of the duty in subsection (1).
2 Definition of sustainable development
(1) Sustainable development means meeting the economic, social, cultural and environmental needs of people and communities without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and includes the application of the following principles:
(a) ensuring a strong, healthy and just society
(b) living within environmental limits;
(c) using natural resources prudently;
(d) achieving a sustainable economy;
(e) promoting good governance
(f) using sound science responsibly;
(g) applying the precautionary and polluter pays principles;
(h) avoiding adverse international impacts;
(i) ensuring that the people of Wales use only their fair share of the world’s resources;
(j) promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language and strengthening Welsh-speaking communities;
(k) protecting and enhancing Wales’ natural environment.
3 Sustainable Development Commissioner for Wales
(1) The National Assembly for Wales shall appoint a Sustainable Development Commissioner for Wales (“The Commissioner”).
(2) The Commissioner shall have the function of promoting and facilitating the achievement of sustainable development as defined in section 2 of this Act, and may in particular ─
(a) provide and publish advice on matters relating to the implementation and enforcement of the Sustainable Development Duty;
(b) conduct research and inquiries into matters which the Commissioner considers relevant to sustainable development or the discharge of the Sustainable Development Duty;
(c) make recommendations or issue advice to public bodies, including Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales, in respect of the discharge of their duties under this Act.
(3) Any person may make complaints to the Commissioner in relation to any matter concerning the discharge of the Sustainable Development Duty by public authorities.
(4) The Minister may make regulations concerning the time frame and procedure for complaints, and the consequences of complaints that have been determined.
(5) The Commissioner shall provide opinion to the Minister in relation to the guidance published under section 1(2).
(6) Before publishing any guidance under this Act, the Welsh Ministers, or the Commissioner (as the case may be) must undertake a public consultation in relation to the guidance.
(7) The Commissioner must publish no later than 31 January each year a report setting out progress made in relation to the duty during the relevant period.
“public authority” means an authority that has functions of a public nature;
“public function” means a function, which is a function of a public nature for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998;
“relevant period” means the year ending on 31 December immediately preceding the date on which the report under section 4 is required to be published;
“sustainable development” has the meaning given in section 2;
“Sustainable Development Duty” means the duty set out in section 1(1).