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Written Statement - The Future Generations Bill – national conversations

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

The Future Generations Bill is our opportunity to ensure that our public services work together to achieve our long term goals. We are making good progress on the Bill and central to its success after it becomes law will be ensuring all Welsh people are involved in deciding what those long term goals should be.

The complex challenges we face – on jobs and growth, improving health and tackling major environmental problems require long term and innovative solutions, and a collective effort.

Wales is not alone in trying to tackle these problems. Over the past two years there has been a global conversation facilitated by the United Nations with people the world over to seek their views on new sustainable development goals, building on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals.  Suggestions for new goals have been in the areas of tackling poverty; learning for all; improving health, equality and social inclusion and tackling climate change.

In Wales too, we need to build a consensus around the goals which are the most important to all of us, including our children and grandchildren.  

National conversations

We as a Government have a key role in promoting a more inclusive and empowered society, particularly for younger generations.

To support this aspiration and to make it real, I want to involve people across Wales in conversations on what are the most important issues for them in improving their lives and those of their families and communities.

I intend that the Bill will provide for a new Commissioner who will produce a Future Generations Report that includes analysis and findings from the periodic national conversations. The report will be laid before the National Assembly for Wales.

The purpose will be to enhance our understanding of the long term issues that future generations might face. We need to understand how the long term trends – demographic, technological, and environmental - will affect our long term goals. The conversation and the subsequent report are intended to set the agenda for the positive action that the devolved public service, in particular, can take.

I want to start the engagement process ahead of the introduction of the Bill. Therefore I have asked Peter Davies, Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, to pilot a national conversation in the spring of 2014.

This pilot conversation provides an opportunity to test out the potential role of a Future Generations Report, and also to test ways in which we can best engage communities, business, and the public sector in contributing to achieving our shared long term goals.

It will consist of a number of intensive engagement exercises over three months. There are likely to be a variety of approaches that we will need to use with a range of stakeholders – from youth groups to business groups.

I would urge Assembly Members to become involved and to encourage your constituents to join the debate.  The conversation will reach out across Wales and engage with as many people as possible. Reaching young people as part of this will be essential – they are the next generation and the parents and grandparents of future generations.

The pilot will culminate in an interim report on behalf of our Future Generations which will be published when we introduce the Bill.

It will be an opportunity for everybody to inform the long term goals of public services in Wales. This recognises the crucial role these services have with regard to the economy, our environment, the communities in which we live and our language, which is unique to us. The conversation will rightly build on “Y Gynhadledd Fawr” and the Real Conversations on skills. It will complement the Assembly’s current youth consultation, “Your Assembly – Your Say, Your Way”.

The pilot will be the first element of a ground-breaking piece of legislation that will affect every person, community and business in Wales. Doing it well will be hard at times and will depend on everybody working together to find long term solutions to our economic, social and environmental challenges.