“We’re not making enough progress in delivering the Well-being of Future Generations Act, as there is a mixed picture against national indicators. We need to use this report to encourage bold and urgent action,” says Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

The 2023 Well-being of Wales reports finds children and young people are struggling most since the pandemic with decline in life satisfaction, and low levels of sport participation.

The annual report produced by Welsh Government, provides an assessment of Cymru’s progress towards achieving the seven well-being goals set out in law under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, and is published during another period of significant turbulence for public services and communities across Wales.

The cost-of-living crisis features regularly throughout this report, highlighting the real impact on people’s lives today, particularly those on low incomes.

· Between 2019-20 and 2021-22, more than a fifth of the population (21%) were living in relative income poverty after paying their housing costs.

· An estimated 14% of households of Wales were living in fuel poverty in October 2021. Despite interventions to mitigate the impact, up to 45% (614,000) of households could be in fuel poverty following the price cap increase on April 2022.

The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Derek Walker, said;

“This flagship report shows a mixed picture of progress across our well-being goals. Some of it is understandable given the exceptional circumstances we have just faced. However, seven years have passed since the Well-being of Future Generations Act was established and I am disappointed that we have not been able to make more progress, and for its impact to be felt consistently by communities across Wales.”

“There are areas to celebrate, but we must go further and faster to demonstrate positive change throughout all our aspects of our lives. I urge all parts of Government, Public Bodies, Public Services Boards and others to use this information to focus their actions and in setting priorities, budgets and making policy decisions.”

“It’s crucial that we continue to understand, monitor and respond to data and stories as we address the pressures ahead. Behind every statistic in the Well-being of Wales report is a story – stories of struggle, of success and of optimism. We owe it to current and future generations, to ensure our actions take this report seriously.”

“These annual reports provide part of the picture in ensuring we are collectively held accountable for the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. As we continue to face uncertainties and challenges, I will work with public institutions and others to harness the data collected and help transfer the statistics into solutions.”

“I particularly welcome the supplementary report published by Welsh Government on ethnicity and well-being, which aims to bring together existing evidence in order to explore progress towards the well-being goals for different ethnic groups. I agree with Welsh Government that statistical reports like this are one part of the evidence base and alongside other sources this report will hopefully act as a useful tool to inform long-term evaluation of the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan.”

“The report is clear that we must do more across all sectors to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, it was estimated that emission released in the atmosphere directly from within Wales totalled 36.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, an increase of 7% from 2020. It is clear, that national policy and local decisions need to urgently focus on meeting emission targets.”

“I’m pleased to see that one of 2022’s goal to increase the percentage of people who volunteer by 10% by 2050 has been met – this is a testament to the hard work of policy officials, the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, and the voluntary sector organisations.”

“In November 2023, I will be publishing my office’s strategy, which is my contribution to supporting public bodies deliver their statutory requirements. It is designed to address some of our pressing challenges, many of which have been highlighted in the findings of the Well-being of Wales report. The strategy is my commitment to demonstrating that Cymru can do better, and can, through working with others meet our national milestones.”

“Wales is the only country in the world with a Well-being of Future Generations Act. The legislation requires public bodies to work together to ensure improved cultural, economic, environmental and social well-being for people living in Wales now and in the future. The commissioner has been working with people and organisations on a plan for his office’s future work. You can find out more about Our Future Focus, here.”


The evidence suggests that children and young people are struggling the most since the pandemic. The reports highlights that this is a challenge across all policy areas, sectors and services;

· The percentage of babies with a low birth weight has risen to its hight level this year

· Fewer four-year-olds were at the expected level in maths, language, literacy and communication than pre-pandemic

· Data on life satisfaction levels declined or young people

· Fewer 16 – 24 year olds were in education, employment or training

· The School Sport Survey 2022 recorded the lowest levels of sport participation outside of school among children

· And the 2021 Census highlighted that children were the group to experience the largest decrease in the percentage who could speak Welsh.

The Well-being of Wales report sets out the progress made against Wales’ milestones which provides the public sector, from health to transport and other public bodies, with a plan for the future.

Milestones Well-being of Wales Report commentary
The national milestone on healthy life expectancy is to increase the healthy life expectancy of adults and narrow the gap in healthy life expectancy between the least and the most deprived by at least 15% by 2050 The data shows healthy life expectancy continues to be worse for those living in more deprived areas but has remained relatively stable between 2011-13 and 2018-20.
The national milestone is to increase the percentage of adults with two or more healthy behaviours to 97% by 2050. In 2022-23 the majority (92%) of adults reported following two or more of the five healthy lifestyle behaviours
The national milestone is to increase the percentage of children with two or more healthy behaviours to 94% by 2035 and more than 99% by 2050. The data shows the percentage of young people meeting the national milestone in 2021 was 90%, slightly higher than the 88% reported in 2019 and 2017.
The national milestone on mental wellbeing is to improve adult and children’s mean mental wellbeing and eliminate the gap in between the most and least deprived areas in Wales by 2050 Adult average mental wellbeing was broadly unchanged this year, however, due to the difference in data collection modes, it is difficult to draw longer term comparisons for this indicator.
The national milestone to have 30% of people volunteering has been reached this year but will need to be sustained. Volunteering increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022-23 results show this higher level has been maintained (from 26% in 2019-20, to 29% in 2021-22 and 30% in 2022-23).
The national milestone on biodiversity is to reverse the declining biodiversity with an improvement in the status of species and ecosystems by 2030 and their clear recovery by 2050. An experimental indicator on the status of biological diversity in Wales published in 2021 showed that the distribution of species in Wales has declined over the long term but has been stable more recently. Although there have been improvement in the status of populations of some species in Wales, SoNaRR 2020 shows that overall, biodiversity is declining.
A national milestone on participation in education and the labour market was set in 2021 which is that at least 90% of 16 to 24 year olds will be in education, employment, or training by 2050. Provisional estimates for 2021, show a decrease in young people’s participation in education and the labour market, driven by an increase in the economic inactivity rate (excluding students) for 16 to 18 year olds. It is too soon to assess the full impact of the pandemic on this trend.
One of the national milestones on qualifications is that 75% of working age adults in Wales will be qualified to level 3 or higher by 2050. In 2022 66.8% of working age adults in Wales were qualified to the level 3 threshold.
One of the national milestones on qualifications is that percentage of working age adults with no qualifications will be 5% or below in every local authority in Wales by 2050. In 2022, three of Wales’ 22 local authorities have 5% or less of working age adults with no qualifications.