Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill – we can do more

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Lila Haines, Oxfam Cymru

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill is a step in the right direction, but we can do better

Monday 7th¬†July saw the launch of the 1st¬†draft of the Welsh Government’s Well-Being and Future Generations Bill.

As part of an alliance that includes WWF Cymru, Friends of the Earth Cymru, The Bevan Foundation and the National Federation of Women’s institutes, we have been campaigning on important factors that we feel need to be addressed in the Wellbeing and Future Generations Bill and we are pleased that some of those issues are recognised in the first draft.

The Bill as it stands is a step forward for sustainable development in Wales; however we feel there is room for improvement.

The two main pillars for Oxfam Cymru’s work are climate change and inequality and the two are inevitably interlinked. We believe that you cannot effectively address one without the other.

In light of this, we feel the bill does not go far enough to recognise Wales’ impact on the rest of the world by firmly addressing the issue of climate change and Wales’ contribution to a warming planet.

Climate change does not recognise geographical or political borders and what happens in Wales impacts on the wider world as much as what happens internationally impacts on Wales. We are pleased that the Welsh Government has responded to concerns about a lack of a goal relating to the welsh environment, but we feel they could do more.

Research indicates that the world’s poorest people face the greatest risks from climate change. In Wales we have significant inequalities in income and wealth, with figures released from the UK government last week, revealing 24% of households in Wales living below the average income after housing costs. In light of this, the existing and potential impacts of climate change on people in poverty in Wales, as well as globally are not insignificant.

Failure to embed international scope within the Bill dilutes the meaning and potential of sustainable development as a driving force for positive change and does not provide clear leadership for the rest of the public sector.

The Well-being of Future Generations Bill can help address inequalities at home and abroad but more needs to be done to embed sustainable development into decisions made by public bodies.

We welcome the appointment of a Commissioner for Future Generations, but feel the significance of this post is diminished if it has no more power than to write reports and is appointed by the Welsh Government as opposed to the National Assembly. Appointment by the Assembly would ensure the Commissioners’ independence and their ability to hold the Welsh Government and public sector to account.

We look forward to working with all parties to develop a stronger piece of legislation that will give future generations the life they deserve.

Oxfam Cymru is a member of the SD Alliance.