UK’s first Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, visiting Dublin to share Welsh learnings on protecting future generations by law
Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner is visiting Dublin, Ireland, this week as both countries share learnings on protecting future generations by law.
A commitment in the Ireland Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan launched in March 2021 by the First Minister of Wales and Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.
Wales was the first country to legislate in the interest of future generations with a Well-being of Future Generations Act in 2015, and Sophie Howe will promote the global benefits via a series of future-focused events.
Ireland, which progressed the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that inspired Wales’ seven well-being goals, has been guided by the Welsh law to join Scotland and New Zealand in developing its own national well-being framework.
Ireland’s new plan brings economic, societal and environmental goals – so instead of only measuring GDP as a measure of success, what matters most to people for a good quality of life is reflected, such as housing, skills, work, health and community.
Sophie Howe’s role is to hold decision-makers including Welsh Government, to account on how their day-to-day decisions are being made with future generations in mind, via long-term plans that involve communities.
As well as meeting the Irish framework’s policy teams, the commissioner will be speaking at several events in the country, including at Dublin City University on the importance of legislation to protect the interests of future generations.
The commissioner, who has helped influence change in Wales such as a new transport policy that prioritises active travel and public transport, a future-focussed curriculum and a universal basic income trial, said: “Wales and Ireland have been working closely to share ideas on how we can best protect the well-being of current and future generations. I’ll be supporting both governments as they develop their plans and long-term policies. I hope every country enshrines well-being and sustainable development in law so that they can adequately prepare for the impacts of the climate, nature and cost emergencies on people born decades into the future.”
Diarmuid Torney, co-director of the DCU Centre for Climate and Society, said: “Wales has played a pioneering role in involving the voice of future generations in policymaking.
“Other countries, including Ireland, can learn a lot from the Welsh experience and the role that Sophie Howe has played. We are delighted to be hosting her at the DCU Centre for Climate and Society and look forward to hearing her insights.”
This month, Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, was in Cork for the annual Welsh-Irish forum – under a cooperation agreement, both countries have committed to sharing and developing policy around well-being and sustainable development.
Last year, during the inaugural Ireland Wales Ministerial Forum the commissioner and young people from Wales met Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney, who was enthusiastic about how Ireland can learn from Wales on future generations. Ireland has also supported calls from the UN Secretary General for the UN to incorporate future generations into UN governance and Sophie has been advising the UN team on its recently announced proposal for a Special Envoy for Future Generations.