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Well Being of Future Generations Act

The Welsh Government has put in place a Well-being of Future Generations Act in order to achieve sustainable development. In other words, the act aims to create a better nation through improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of Wales.

The act consists of 44 public sector bodies who are all encouraged to think more about the long term, work better with communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take more of a joined up approach.

To ensure that all public bodies are working towards the same objective, the act puts in place seven well being goals that they must take into account when making decisions:

Goals_E

To achieve these goals, the act begins by outlining a ‘sustainable development principle’ which advises organisations on how to obtain their duties, whilst taking into account the impact their decisions will have on people living in Wales in the future. As a result, the act draws upon five fundamental points that public bodies need to consider when setting out their targets. Firstly, they need to recognise the importance of long term needs whilst balancing this with their short term goals.

They must also acknowledge prevention and how to act in certain situations in order to stop the same problems from occurring or getting worse. Furthermore, they need to consider how their objectives may impact each of the well-being goals set out by the act, their other goals or on the objectives of other public bodies. Organisations should also act in collaboration with any other person or body that could help the organisation achieve their goals.

Finally, they need to recognise the importance of involving people with an interest in achieving the well being goals and ensuring those who are included reflect the diversity of which the body serves.

 

It is crucial for organisations to apply this sustainable development principle to their work as it allows them to present their progress in achieving the well-being goals. As a result, the act puts in place a number of steps to ensure the public bodies are following this. To start, the public bodies must publish a well-being statement when setting their objectives, detailing how they will help them achieve the well being goals and how this meets the demands from the sustainable development principle. They must also include all those who are interested in achieving the well being goals and how they reflect the diversity of the area. Each year public bodies must also provide an annual report illustrating the progress they have made in reaching their objectives. Lastly, each organisation must respond to the future generations commissioner who makes recommendations to the public body. If they do not follow a suggestion made by the commissioner, they must state why and what alternate action they look to take.  The Auditor General for Wales is then responsible for carrying out examinations on the organisations in order to access the extent to which the public bodies have acted in accordance to the sustainable development principle and ensure the public bodies are held accountable in their performance in relation to the acts requirements.

 

In order to identify whether public bodies are making progress towards the well-being goals Welsh Ministers have set up national indicators. They must be expressed as value or characteristic that can be measured quantitatively or qualitatively against a particular outcome. The indicators must also reflect expectations of what indicators should show at certain points in the future. The act has been constructed in order to allow Ministers to review and amend the national indicators and milestones at any point so they can stay up to date and relevant. At the beginning of each financial year they must publish an annual progress report setting out the progress made over the last year. Ministers are also responsible for publishing a future trends report which includes predictions of likely future tendencies in the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of Wales and any related analytical data and information that the welsh ministers consider appropriate.

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