Wales: the new home of sustainability?
Every major public body in Wales will soon have a duty to maximise sustainable development. But will it simply be wise words or could it transform a nation? Alex Marshall reports
Since the first Welsh Government formed in 1999, the country has claimed to lead the UK – the world, in fact – on sustainability. But, more often than not, that claim seemed to be based on words rather than action. And a lot of words at that. In 2009, the government produced One Wales, One Planet, a 78-page document setting out the strategy for making Wales the first truly sustainable country. Its main target? To reduce Wales’s ecological footprint to ‘1.88 global hectares per person’ so it was living within ‘the global average availability of resources’. This was admirable, certainly, but it was also a target few policymakers, let alone members of the public, understood. As a result, the strategy stalled.
But change is in the air. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act received royal assent in April 2015 and this has the potential to turn the country into an indisputable sustainability leader.
43 public bodies
Under the act, 43 public bodies – from local authorities to Natural Resources Wales, and NHS trusts to fire and rescue services – are being given a duty to promote sustainable development. This is defined as maximising their contribution to the economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the country.
The legislation also ...