By Peter Jones, Conservation Officer RSPB Cymru,
The Welsh Government has published a Future Generations Bill for Wales. The legislation, due to be approved by the Welsh Assembly next spring, will require public sector bodies in Wales, such as councils, hospitals, universities – and the Welsh Government itself –to plan and deliver well-being for our children and grandchildren. Well-being means having the basic needs of each and every one of us met, but fairly and within the resource capacity of the planet – known as sustainable development. This is good news for us – but what about animals and plants – will they benefit too from this new law?
The State of Nature report showed us that sixty per cent of more than 3000 assessed species across the UK have declined in recent decades – will the prospects for the future be any better if the Bill is approved? The short answer is that we don’t know, but one of six goals in the Bill aims at ‘a biodiverse natural environment with healthy functioning ecosystems’, that is recovered and restored wildlife. We shall we carefully examining the bill over the coming months to assess whether it could do more to deliver for wildlife in Wales. The Welsh Government is also committed to introducing an Environment Bill in the spring of 2015 and RSPB Cymru is seeking a commitment in this Bill for a target to drive wildlife recovery. But wildlife will not recover and thrive, unless we in our daily lives – the fossil fuel energy we generate and consume, the land on which we build, the rivers and streams that we pollute – are more careful and have regard to future generations, both of ourselves and of all other life with which we share the planet.
There is a long way to go before we are living in harmony with nature in a sustainable world. However, in Wales the Welsh Government is leading the way with this bill which has the potential to deliver a more sustainable future for wildlife and the people of Wales. We shall continue to work constructively with decision-makers in Wales to put into law an Act that will meet the needs of future generations and wildlife. Succeeding generations will not thank us for destroying the wildlife inheritance that they have a right to expect, and we can only do this by changing the ways we live, work and think today. We can do it – and this Bill is a start!