Quite Simply, the Act Is about Improving the Social, Economic, Environmental and Cultural Well-Being of Wales; Future Generations Comissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, on Why Future Generations Should Not Pay the Price for Our Decisions Today

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 13, 2018 | Go to article overview

Quite Simply, the Act Is about Improving the Social, Economic, Environmental and Cultural Well-Being of Wales; Future Generations Comissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, on Why Future Generations Should Not Pay the Price for Our Decisions Today


AS a world-leading, gamechanging piece of legislation, the Well-being of Future Generations Act has the power to change the way we do things in Wales today, for the future.

This is not just a nice thing to do, but a statutory obligation to ensure we are acting in the best interests of our future generations.

Quite simply, the Act is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales, where all four aspects of well-being are as important as each other.

However, there is ongoing tension between striving for the lowest cost and achieving the wider benefits, and that it can cost more at least in the short-term, even if it offers long-term savings.

We know that, whilst saving costs in a time of continued austerity is still essential, we are burdening future generations with an unfair amount of debt and an empty bank of world resources.

At the heart of the Act is the idea of intergenerational equality, that future generations should not pay the price of our decisions today.

How can we move towards an economy that is fit for the future? The Well-being of Future Generations Act defines a prosperous Wales as an innovative, productive and low carbon society that recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources proportionately and works to reduce and mitigate climate change.

It also supports the development of a skilled and well-educated population, generating real wealth and providing decent work through which everyone can take advantage of that wealth.

There is no mention of GVA or GDP and this new definition crucially shifts the emphasis away from measuring wealth in terms of how much money we have or don't have.

Across the world it is even being widely recognised by the traditional, global institutions such as World Bank and World Economic Forum who are focusing more on Inclusive growth. Alternative measures such as the Social Progress Index (which "measures social progress not wealth") or Measures of Wellbeing (which monitors "how the UK as a whole is doing these days") or even the Happiness Index (which "measures what matters") may have much more to tell us about whether or not we are moving towards an economy that delivers well-being for future generations.

At the same time globalisation and technological innovation are continually moving the economic goalposts and Wales faces considerable challenges in keeping up with, let alone getting ahead of, these changes. …

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