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Opinion

‘Cymru Can’ do better to improve lives for today and tomorrow

24 Nov 2023 5 minute read
Wales is the only country in the world with a Well-being of Future Generations Act.

Derek WalkerFuture Generations Commissioner for Wales

Young or old, we all have a stake in the future.

Many of us can take people and planet-friendly action, like reducing the plastic we buy, planting a garden, putting pressure on our politicians.

But if you work in public services in Wales, being a good ancestor is not just an ambition – it’s a legal obligation.

Wales is the only country in the world with a Well-being of Future Generations Act, which, put simply, means decision-makers must act today for a better tomorrow.

This unique legislation gains us accolades all over the world – inspiring everyone from the UN to Japan, Ireland and Scotland.

It’s led to the scrapping of a motorway that would have compromised nationally important habitats for nature – in favour of greener transport pledges, as well as a progressive school curriculum and a new way to define economic progress that puts people and the planet first.

But, despite this impact, and increasing pockets of good practice, the Well-being of Future Generations Act is not being implemented at the pace and scale we need.

So this week, I’ve launched Cymru Can – my team’s new priorities for the seven years I’m in post – created from eight months of speaking with people across Wales on how my role can have the most impact.

My priority will be ensuring the law works harder, with more ambition, so we see tangible improvements in the lives of people in Cymru, now and tomorrow.

To get there, we’ve set four other missions – responding to the climate and nature emergencies; more action to prevent ill health; a well-being economy; and protecting and enhancing culture and the Welsh language.

When I started the role as the second ever Future Generations Commissioner, on March 1, 2023, I said we need urgent and transformational change in Cymru, to act on our huge challenges in poverty, inequality and the climate and nature emergencies.

The world must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change and systems collapse and we’re running out of time.

Challenging 

In the Well-being of Future Generations Act, we have many of the solutions and while these are challenging times for those in public services, by working together, scaling up what’s already being done, we can make this law work better.

In Powys and Gwynedd, they’re helping to transform social care by supporting the set-up of micro enterprises to deliver care, rather than taking a one size fits all approach.

The Football Association of Wales is just one of the examples wanting to be a part of the Act.

We worked with them on their sustainability strategy towards becoming the first sustainable football association, and Ysbyty Gwynedd medics formed a Green Group – challenging the healthcare system to reduce its own waste and emissions, they’ve brought more than 80 others on board with their mission to save our planet as they treat patients.

Another example of how people are using the WFGA to challenge and break down barriers, features in our new Cymru Can film.

Câr-y-Môr, Wales’ first community-owned, regenerative seaweed and shellfish farm, in St David’s Pembrokeshire, used the Act to gain a 20-year license from Natural Resources Wales to produce sustainable Welsh seaweed and farm native oysters and mussels off the coast at Ramsey Sound.

One area that has the potential to deliver on all of our well-being goals is food. It’s a focus of Cymru Can, and I’ll keep advocating for Welsh Government to develop a long-term food strategy so that Wales can have a plan for feeding ourselves amidst growing global food insecurity and climate instability.

Experience 

Another star of our film is Natalie Evans, from the four Trussell Trust foodbanks within Rhondda Cynon Taf, who manages a volunteering team involving people with lived experience of food poverty.

Natalie, supported by volunteer and mum-of-three Esther, wants to secure free school meals for all children from families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

The NRPF condition prevents a person subject to immigration control from accessing a range of welfare benefits except in a very limited number of cases, and means many people with NRPF are forced to use food banks.

Over the course of one year, RCT foodbanks fed 1173 people with NRPF, 529 of them are children.

Natalie says schools have told them of children pulling out a carrot as their packed lunch, taking bread and butter as a meal and taking food home from school for their siblings. Cymru can do so much better than that.

Everyone and every organisation needs to play a part, and public services in Cymru to be even more inclusive and imaginative in the way they involve people in solving challenges.

The next steps of this work will be to join forces with organisations and changemakers who can help us in achieving maximum impact.

We won’t achieve our vision for Wales unless everyone is included, and systemic inequality is dismantled, and we can’t afford to keep using sticking-plaster solutions.

Several public bodies, businesses, those in the voluntary sector, have already pledged to join the Cymru Can movement.

Why can’t we have a Cymru with better lives for young and old and for people not yet born?

Cymru Can show what’s possible.


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Gareth
Gareth
3 months ago

As well meaning and beneficial to our people the future generations act is, it is only at the whim of Westminster, that it is still with us. Any act which is perceived to not be in Englands interest , will result in a law being passed in Westminster, ( eg the internal market bill ), to overturn the future generations act. They only way forward is independence, then and only then, will we be able to act in the best interests of our people, now and in the future, where Cymru will truly be better off.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
3 months ago

I applaud your benign and far sighted vision. But this can’t be achieved whilst we are shackled to Westminster. It is in their interests to keep us poor and dependent. So we work for the English and provide cheap, low skilled workers for companies reporting the fruits of our labour in London. To keep the “new military recruits” pipeline open by restricting meaningful work opportunities to our young and selling them a glamourous lifestyle of abseiling in Cyprus when the reality is living in substandard accommodation, being underpaid, with reduced human rights, or sent off to murder shepherds so that… Read more »

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