Tag: Well-being of future generations

  • Walking the (sustainability) walk

    We founded Afallen in October 2018 on a set of values.

    We wanted Afallen to be the embodiment of our personal commitments to seeing Wales fulfill its potential as a sustainable country, demonstrating practical ways to improve the way we live, in a way which enriches every citizen and supports our ecosystems.

    One of the most important commitments we make is to keep more money, and people with talent, in Wales. Huge amounts of money – public and private – leaves Wales every day, along with many of our best and brightest in pursuit of job prospects elsewhere. In our own modest way, we aim to keep more of that money and opportunity in Wales; and not just in Wales, but to shovel it as furiously as possible out of Cardiff and into every corner of the country.

    Our commitment to the Future Generations approach is stated on the home page of the website

    We are building our network of partner organisations, sole traders and consultants; from Ynys Môn to Ynysybwl and everywhere in between, we believe that people work best where they are grounded and happy. We want people to be able to achieve great things in the places where they have made their lives. (By the way – if you’re a sole trader, or a small business, focused on delivering excellence in your field – please get in touch!)

    It’s also important to us to demonstrate that we not only say these things, we do them. That’s why we’re delighted to report that for the last year, nearly 97% of our spend was with people and organisations based in Wales. The remaining 3% was for some IT services and insurance.

    When you commission Afallen to work for you, you know that we will do our utmost to support local supply chains. We will endeavour to provide meaningful work for small businesses and individuals right across Wales. In so doing, we will help keep money flowing in the village shops, pubs and post offices which are so vital in maintaining community well-being and resilience.

    Indeed, many of the Well-being Goals could be read as no less than a requirement to focus on retaining money and talent in Wales through supporting local businesses.

    • A resilient Wales? By spreading our spend around small businesses we help build a plurality of choice for others which diversifies the tax base. We’re also able to influence others to become more climate-resilient in the way they carry out their work
    • A Wales of cohesive communities? With more money circulating in the small towns and villages, we have the opportunity to help safeguard essential civic resources.
    • A prosperous Wales? By keeping talent and money in Wales, we are helping to safeguard jobs, education and work opportunities for the young people of tomorrow.
    • A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language? Our commitment to providing all our services through the medium of Welsh (including this blog post!) guarantees that we are playing our part in enabling Welsh to become a natural language of business and community

    This report on our spend over the last twelve months is a pleasure to publish. Our promise is to continue striving towards the goal of 100%, and to help build a Wales that fulfils its promise to Future Generations.

  • Plastic pollution in Wales

    Wales’ role in plastic pollution

    The Committee on Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs of the National Assembly has published a report on plastic pollution. It makes twelve recommendations to Welsh Government on ways to improve our environmental performance, including:

    • Legislating to restrict microplastics
    • Create a 10-year strategy aimed at reducing plastic pollution
    • Implement an extended producer responsibility scheme for plastic
    • Implement a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

    Our partner, David Clubb, was invited onto Radio Cymru to discuss the recommendations of the report. The recording, including English translation, is below

  • The symbolism of the M4 in Wales

    The M4 decision

    With one tweet, the First Minister Mark Drakeford raised Wales’ aspirations, values, and environmental credentials. The decision was publicly opposed by a range of trade bodies and representatives of political parties, including some from the First Minister’s own party.

    The symbolism of this decision is hard to overstate. A project of Carwyn Jones, who would surely have pushed it through despite his own government’s Future Generations Act, this proposal is now where it rightly belongs – on the scrapheap of 20th Century ‘solutions’.

    In making his decision, Mark Drakeford stated that the financial position of Welsh Government would not permit him to make the compulsory purchase orders necessary to proceed with the project. However, he also said that he disagreed with the Inspector, and that the environmental considerations were also too great to allow the project to go ahead.

    The latter part of Prof. Drakeford’s reasoning will have given heart to the many thousands of environmental campaigners who have made this a cause célèbre for the wider environmental movement.

    Most interesting for Afallen though was the statement that the First Minister did not think that the Future Generations Act had been insufficiently regarded in the process.

    “The Member has asked me about the well-being of future generations legislation. I want to make it clear, Llywydd, that I read very carefully the evidence that was given by the commissioner, and I read very carefully the way in which the QC, on behalf of the Welsh Government, responded to her interpretation of the Act. My own view is that it was not a reading of the Act that I heard expressed on the floor of this Assembly that proposals for development have to satisfy all seven goals and all well-being objectives, and that they have to do so equally across all the goals and the objectives. It does seem to me inevitable that, in any plan for development, there will be some balancing between the different goals and the objectives that the Act introduces. I did not dissent from the view of the inspector, therefore, that the requirements of the Act had been fairly represented by the Welsh Government in the way that it presented its evidence on the Act to the inspector.”

    The wider symbolism

    As important – and welcome – as this decision was, there is almost as much value in the symbolism it provides for Wales’ aspirations and its environmental (and fiscal!) credentials. Many campaigners had made the point that were the decision made to press ahead with the project, the Future Generations Act would have been shown to be worthless.

    We do not reach that assessment – although it would surely have been a hammer-blow to the Act and to the credibility of the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner which has robustly opposed the project, including several detailed counter-assessments of its efficacy and proposals. However it’s hard to square the spend of billions of pounds on several miles of tarmac, with the needs of Wales’ citizens as yet unborn. In the public discussion following the decision, it is the future generations – the unborn – who have figured least on the part of supporters of the project.

    We consider that the First Minister was right to make the decision that he did, and to base it on financial and environmental grounds. But we side with the office for Future Generations, and do not consider that all aspects of the WFG Act had been appropriately considered.

    This decision has highlighted the divide that exists in the public debate about Wales’ future direction. If the battle of today in the UK is about #Brexit, in Wales it is as much about how our economy, environment and culture develops. The battle of ideas – and money – has been waged over the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, electrification of the main railway line to Swansea, and the naming of a bridge. The latest decision would appear to suggest that the struggle is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

    To date, it seemed that Wales, in common with standard economic orthodoxy, across the UK and in many other countries, was not sufficiently considering the responsibilities we owe to our citizens, environment and the global community. Perhaps yesterday’s decision redresses the balance somewhat – and there is excitement in the possibility that it may augur the start of a shift from 20th Century thinking more generally in Welsh Government policy.