Devolution Is Green Right at Its Heart; the Wednesday Essay: Jonathon Porritt, Who Steps Down as Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission on Sunday, Looks at How Green Jobs Can Offer a Prosperous Future to Wales

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Byline: Jonathon Porritt

The year 2009 marks a turning point for Wales. It's 10 years since the formation of the National Assembly, formed with a statutory responsibility for sustainable development.

This coincides with the launch of a radical scheme, designed to make sustainable development the "central organising principle" of the Welsh Assembly Government.

That means not just respecting "environmental limits", of course, but also promoting social justice and wellbeing.

"Central Organising Principle" - three words that give me great cause for optimism.

As I prepare to step down as chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, a decade into Welsh devolution, the idea of a sustainable future has clearly become mainstream, to the extent that it will now guide every decision by the Welsh government.

Yet it's not quite time to pop the champagne corks; it's one thing to have principles and yet another to deliver on those principles.

Despite many examples of good practice, Wales is still far from being the sustainable country which its leaders - quite rightly - aspire to achieve.

The years ahead will require radical change to make that happen and to deliver on the targets that the Government has set itself in One Wales.

Not least, we now have a commitment in Wales to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per year from 2011.

Key to this will be developing a green Welsh economy.

The SDC is calling for a rethink of how we do business, questioning the pursuit of conventional economic growth in a world of limited resources and climate change.

We propose substantial new investment in energy efficient build-ingssustainable transport and renewable energy to lift us out of recession and put Wales on a more sustainable path.

The SDC is working with the Welsh Assembly Government to develop advice on how to cut carbon emissions in every part of Wales.

The transition to a low-carbon nation can look daunting, but the good news is that with this work will come jobs and a huge opportunity for business at a time of recession.

Around the world, governments are waking up to this fact - Wales needs to grab a piece of this "green revolution" or its businesses and workers could lose out on a massive opportunity.

The Assembly Government's new Green Jobs Strategy, "Capturing The Potential", rightly recognises the need to cut carbon emissions and the use of natural resources, but further questions remain.

For example, what level and quality of support will be available to help businesses operate sus-tainably? Howill we ensure that the Welsh workforce has the right skills to be green workers? …