Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 1984 by George Orwell and the complete works of Shakespeare are some of the books that have shaped the way we think, inspired change and left an indelible mark on future generations.

For me the book that caught my imagination and inspired me to arrive at where I am today was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Inspiring and creating a movement for change is very much the ambition of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and our small nation’s aspirations for a big societal change to improve our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being.

Similarly, Hay-on-Wye a small border town with a big vision has inspired change by hosting the now world-famous Hay Festival, where, for a week you can rub shoulders with former presidents, much loved authors and some of the most exciting thinkers of our day.

And the success story of the Hay Festival is also worth telling. The story of a small, rural town that has transformed its local economy and created a cohesive community by placing cultural well-being at its heart.

The Hay Greenprint programme, now in its 11th year has also led the way in stimulating debate and discussion about key issues in the sustainable development and environmental agenda

Focusing on waste, transport, procurement and venues the festival has made some simple but effective changes to reduce its environmental impact. Installing a solar energy system for hot water, reducing printed materials, food composting for all catering outlets, promoting car share and local transport services and ensuring its procurement policies are aligned with its values and aims. The work also continues after the crowds have gone. An infrared camera is now used by the local town to help survey heat loss from homes, business and schools.

As I look back on the first year of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and my role as Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, this approach of collaboration, sharing ideas and practices is a reminder that a small, rural town in Wales continues to create change today for a better tomorrow and is a good example of the Act in action.

The blog is part of a series to mark European Sustainable Development Week (30 May — 6 June).