The Well-being of Future Generations Act is about bringing change to people’s lives and changing behaviours. This is complex, takes time and is a real challenge…

As Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, my general duty is to promote the sustainable development principle. I am a coach and a critical friend for public bodies, public services boards and anyone who can help contribute to the achievement of the national well-being goals. I support and challenge public bodies so that they embrace their duty to improve all aspects of economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being for the whole population of Wales. 

My work programme is structured around the following four purposes, which I set out at the start of my term of office:  

  1. Highlight and act upon the big issues and challenges facing future generations. 
  2. Support and challenge public bodies to use the Well-being of Future Generations Act. 
  3. Being part of and help to build a movement for change around the Act.  
  4. Walk the talk – be the change that we want to see in others. 

My Annual Reports for 2016/172017/182018/19, 2019/20 and 2020-21 show how I’ve taken my work forward and the impact that’s been achieved. 

How I plan my work

Going forward, my focus is to secure the implementation of the recommendations made in the Future Generations Report.    

It was a legal duty to publish this Report in May 2020, which explains what improving our collective well-being in accordance with the Act is all about. I made recommendations about how the different elements of the Act (such as the five ways of working, the well-being goals and the corporate areas of change outlined by the Act’s guidance) should be applied. The Report drew on the views of over 5,000 people and organisations. 

My work programme is set out each year in a plan which we call a “Roadmap”.  Whilst flexible to reactive issues and opportunities, the Roadmap is at the centre of what we do and how we work as a team. It sets out what we want to achieve, how, when and who’s responsible and involved.  

 

This year, in developing my Roadmap, I have:  

  • Involved alumni of my Future Generations Leadership Academy  
  • Shared early thoughts about with my statutory Advisory Panel, Audit Risk and Assurance Committee and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.  
  • Considered issues that have been raised with me by members of the public and through stakeholder engagement.  

Roadmap for 2021-22

Alongside the broad and wide-ranging nature of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the past two years have been dominated by the COVID pandemic which will have a profound effect on future generations.  There are many potential challenges which we will encounter as result of the pandemic but there are also opportunities for us to reconstruct a Wales which better meets the needs of the future and strives to anticipate and address future shocks and challenges.  With that in mind my work programme during 2020/21 refocused towards these issues and will continue in this vein until the end of my terms of Office in 2023. 

Summary: 

Table showing our plans for the next 12 months

The challenge that I set to my team, and for everyone involved in delivering change in these areas, is that every area of work should work as hard as possible for us and key to this is understanding the connections and overlap.  

 

More detail: 

1. Highlight and act upon the key issues and challenges facing future generations 

The Well-being of Future Generations Act provides a guiding framework for how we should seek to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Act allows us to make the right decisions, to help us shift towards a longer-term and preventative outlook on how we run our society and public services. Drawing on recommendations in ‘A Fit for the Future Programme for Government’, the focus of my work in 2021-22 will be to provide advice and challenge on a prosperous, green and equal recovery, as follows:  

  • Investing in other industries for recovery, such as housing decarbonisation and transport.  
  • Setting a long-term investment plan for making homes more energy efficient – saving people money on energy bills, creating jobs and eradicating fuel poverty in the next decade through doubling fuel poverty funding.  
  • Launching a National Nature Service to provide skills and create jobs, increasing opportunities for social prescribing (where patients receive non-clinical support in the community), while restoring Wales’ to natural environment such as forests, countryside and green spaces, helping Wales to become the world’s first eco-literate nation.  
  • Building on the power of culture and creativity in our COVID recovery.  
  • Increasing opportunities for lifelong learning.  
  • Targeting skills programmes in future-focused industries towards women, disabled people, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and those furthest from the labour market.  
  • Prioritising investment and job creation in a green and care-led recovery – paying care workers the Real Living Wage.  

 

Although they are just one of the public bodies covered by the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, it is crucial that the Welsh Government show leadership in working sustainably and creating the right policy and regulatory frameworks to enable all decisions in Wales to be contributing to our seven national wellbeing goals.   Over the last year we have seen a number of significant changes in policy direction from the Government which indicates that they are taking their duties seriously but there is still work to do.  I will therefore continue to  work with Welsh Government to address the barriers  to acting in the interests of future generations which I have highlighted in Chapter 2 of my Future Generations Report and in the Public Accounts Committee inquiry  

 

2. Support and challenge public bodies to use the Well-being of Future Generations Act.  

I will trial a new approach to supporting public bodies to implement the requirements of the Act through allocating a point of contact for every public body within my team.    

This will start in the Summer 2021. Having a point of contact within my team is something that public bodies have consistently told me will help and the Public Accounts Committee report echoed this feedback.  

I have recruited five new Change Maker Support roles for this purpose, who will work with public bodies to determine what support is needed and how we then respond.  

This will be evaluated at six months  and continuation beyond this point will be subject to assessing impact and the Government increasing my budget to fund this on a permanent basis  

I will continue to work closely with the Auditor General for Wales in the development of his new auditing regime. I will keep track of public bodies’ changing well-being objectives and public body annual reports, and as Public Services Boards’ annual reports are due out in July 2020, I will finalise my approach to reviewing these.  

My team will continue to respond to requests for advice and assistance as best we can.  

 

 

3. Be part of and help build a Movement for Change 

Our ground-breaking Act is attracting attention from across the world and we are increasingly being joined by new changemakers across the public and private sector and voluntary and community groups. Through the activities above I will find shared ground with others where we can build a movement for change together. I will continue to increase our profile and deliver on the creative work, build new relationships, involve and engage people and partners which took part in the Our Future Wales conversation and seek to expand this network. A key part of this is working with my Poet in Residence Taylor Edmonds. My relationship with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and other voluntary sector organisations is key to this work.  

Following the success of my 2019/2020 Future Generations Leadership Academy which trained 20 young leaders in the Act, I am aiming to establish a second academy programme by the end of 2021. I am delighted that many of last year’s partners have committed to join us again.  

Over the next twelve months, I will be working closely with Welsh Ministers and the Welsh Government’s International Relations Team to promote sustainable development globally, and to secure partnerships with international stakeholders to bring expertise on sustainability back to the Welsh public sector. I look forward to supporting these objectives in partnership with the Welsh Government’s Overseas offices and at global events such as the One Young World Summit, the World Expo in Dubai and the COP26 Climate Summit. I will also engage further on the development of plans to improve the way businesses in Wales are organised around the Act and showcase progress within Wales and globally.  

 

4. ‘Walk the talk’ – be the change that I want to see in others.  

I am committed to creating a culture that has a positive impact on us as well as in Wales and the rest of the world.  Some of the actions undertaken to date include: 

  • As a response to the pandemic and working from home, I created a Cheerleader structure whereby members of staff liaise weekly with allocated colleagues (their ‘stars’) to check on their welfare and personal development.  
  • Introduced the ‘You’ve been mugged initiative’ where each week someone is nominated for a treat in recognition of hard work or outstanding effort 
  • Launched a new policy that will allow staff suffering domestic abuse access to a grant or loan to ‘alleviate financial barriers’ to leaving the perpetrator. 
  • Signed up to be a real Living Wage employer    
  • Offer ‘anytime anywhere’ approach to working hours. This has reduced our need to travel unnecessarily, allows us to spend quality time with our family and is highly dependent on trust in each other to deliver.  
  • Weekly office yoga classes  
  • Introduced a volunteering policy where staff are able to take time out to share their skills with the community and bring understanding back into the office to inform our work.  

 

I will keep my organisational culture under review, particularly supporting my team who are been entirely working from home and in many instances having to balance work with home schooling children. I am seeking to share our experience with peers and learn from others. The more ambitious actions set out in my Art of the Possible ‘Journeys’ will form the basis of this. 

Our impact

I have chosen performance measures that allow me (and those who want to scrutinise my work) to see how my Office is influencing the evolution toward a more sustainable Wales. They follow a theory of change impact model, and work sequentially:  

  1. Frame debate and get issues on the agenda  
  2. Encourage discursive commitments from ministers, government and others  
  3. Secure procedural change in how public bodies go about their work  
  4. Affect policy content and commitments 
  5. Influence practical behaviour change in others 

 

Want to get involved?  

I’d like to hear from and work with people who have insight or ideas on any of the above issues. You can contact my team and I by email (contactus@futuregenerations.wales), Twitter or Instagram (@futuregencymru), by letter or telephone. We also publish a monthly newsletter.