Byline: John Griffiths
SUSTAINABLE development is a phrase that is used so often it is easy to forget what it really means. Sustainability is much more than a green idea, it is about developing the best long-term path for Wales that will deliver a good, healthy, sustainable quality of life for all people in Wales both now and in the future.
It means that when we are faced with difficult choices, we choose the option that is best for the long-term future of Wales, rather than the option that is quickest, easiest or cheapest.
It means investing now in better early education and support for families, to prevent social hardship, and all the health and economic problems that come with it, later. It means helping Welsh householders and businesses to become more energy efficient, so they can save money and prepare for inevitable energy price rises in the future.
I believe such an approach will help us to achieve economic, social and environmental wellbeing for all, and ultimately enhance the quality of life of people across Wales.
In my view sustainable development is not just right for Wales; it is policy that should be applied globally. The financial difficulties that are currently being experienced throughout Europe and the world, and the global issue of climate change, both give weight to the need for decision-making to focus on long-term stability rather than short-term fixes and the need to live within our resources, environmentally and economically. Wales might be a small country but we are genuinely championing some leading sustainability policies and I believe those must be fed into the global debate. With this in mind I will shortly be attending the Rio+20 United Nations conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.
The Rio+20 Conference will see world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, coming together. The objective of the conference is to look at how we can reduce worldwide poverty, advance social equity and ensure the protection of the world's environment despite our planet becoming ever more crowded.
The fact is that one billion people around the world still go to bed hungry every night and those people who were poorest 20 years are still the poorest now. The injustice of our world means that just 20% of the word's population actually consume 80% of the world's resources. When you look at facts like this it is clear change is needed and urgent action is a necessity.
Of course I am not claiming Wales holds definitive answers to any of these large scale and daunting problems. I do believe however that we can make a valuable contribution to the international debate on sustainability and how it can be integrated into Government policies across the globe.
Here in Wales we are currently consulting on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill. In practical terms this would mean us placing a legal requirement on …