In 2015, the Welsh Government, launched the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, with the aim to “improve the way in which decisions are made across specified public bodies in Wales” towards the achievement of the seven wellbeing goals. The Act is embedded in the Welsh Constitution. Public bodies are mandated to consider the long-term impact of their policy decisions and work with communities and with each other, to ensure their actions are complementary, and the people and communities involved are reflecting the diversity of the population that the particular bodies serve.
After the country’s biggest National Conversation on ‘The Wales We Want’, the Welsh Government (2015) identified a wellbeing framework, organised into seven core wellbeing goals: prosperous, more equal, globally responsible, resilient, healthier, cohesive communities, vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.
Measuring the Right Thing in the Right Way
It is also mandated that all public bodies design and publish ‘wellbeing objectives’ that maximise their contribution to achieving all seven of the defined wellbeing goals, publish statements about their set objectives, and report annually on their progress in a Wellbeing Report. In order to measure progress against these goals, a range of 46 national indicators have been identified. The emphasis was placed on identifying indicators that could be easily communicated to the general public and that reflect public priorities.
Public bodies are called to set ‘milestones’ to present their expectations for performance on the indicators in the future, in accordance with principles for “measuring the right thing” and “measuring the right way”. Both quantitative and qualitative e.g., survey-based data is gathered and published annually.
Ways of Working
To normalise a preventative policy making approach, the Welsh Government (2015) introduced guidance on five ways of working: employing long term thinking; taking an integrated approach so that public bodies look at all the wellbeing goals when deciding on their wellbeing objectives; involving a diversity of the population in decisions that affect them; working collaboratively to find solutions; and understanding the root causes of issues to prevent them from occurring.
Sustainable Development Principle
As the legislation has a particular focus on sustainability, a ‘Sustainable Development Principle’ has been defined, highlighting that the wellbeing of future generations should not be compromised by decisions which aim only to meet current needs. In order to ensure that the ‘Sustainable Development Principle’ is being promoted, the role of a Future Generations Commissioner has been introduced. The Commissioner acts as a guardian of future generations, supports and encourages public bodies to consider the long-term impact of their decisions, provides advice and assistance in relation to wellbeing objectives, and has the power to conduct a review into the extent to which public bodies are safeguarding future generations’ needs.
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