Welsh sustainability law to be introduced in 2014
New legislation that will require public services in Wales to consider the ‘economic, social, environmental and long term implications’ of their decisions’ will be introduced in ‘summer 2014’, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Future Generations Bill (previously known as the Sustainable Development Bill) aims to ‘help tackle the generational challenges Wales faces in a more joined up and integrated way - ensuring Welsh public services make key decisions with the long term well being of Wales in mind.’
The proposed legislation, first detailed in a December consultation, will require public bodies to ‘make every effort to safeguard the long term interests of the people of Wales, addressing intergenerational challenges such as health inequalities, raising skills, and mitigating the impact of climate change’.
According to the Welsh Government, the responses to the consultation outlined that the government needed to ‘better communicate the purpose of the Bill’ and so the name has now been changed to the Future Generations Bill to ‘help communicate its purpose and foster better engagement between organisations on how legislation is used to ensure that the decisions of today are better for the long term.’
The Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert, has said he has been ‘considering the consultation responses carefully’, and these will form the basis of the draft bill, expected to be released ‘later this year’.
Organisations that would be bound by the proposed duty include the Welsh Government, local authorities, Welsh universities, fire and rescue services, NHS Trusts, Local Health Boards, Natural Resources Wales, National Library of Wales, National Museum of Wales, and the Arts Council of Wales, amongst others.
Cuthbert said: “Our communities form the heart of our nation and culture and the purpose of the Future Generations Bill is to future-proof them, ensuring they and the people who live in them are protected from pressures that threaten their viability and survival. This means that in meeting pressing short-term needs such as mitigating the impact of economic and fiscal pressures and creating jobs and growth, that organisations make every effort to safeguard the long term interests of the people of Wales, addressing intergenerational challenges such as health inequalities, raising skills, and mitigating the impact of climate change.
“Our proposal is to legislate to provide a clear focus on the challenges the public service is seeking to address, and ensure that decisions recognise the connections between social justice, economic prosperity and the management of natural resources, both now and over the long term.”
The Welsh Government has said it will open a ‘national conversation’ in order to engage ‘as wide a variety of the public as possible on what the Bill will mean for them’.