The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term effects of any decision they make, and consider the consequences, in terms of the prosperity of people in Wales, its environment, culture and communities. The aim is for Wales to develop long-term solutions to issues like poverty, ill health, poor air quality, low-quality jobs - in a non-party political way. Forty-four public bodies, including Welsh Government ministers, NHS Trusts and the National Park Authority, must meet this challenge.
Collectively, these public bodies spend over £6bn each year on goods, services and works, and the Act requires this money to be spent in a way that delivers wider benefits to economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being in Wales.
This world-leading legislation has attracted interest from many countries, as it models an exemplary approach to long-lasting, positive change for current and future generations. Wales is the only country to embed the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into law, and Sophie Howe is the world’s first – and only – Future Generations Commissioner with statutory powers.
The UK government may follow the Welsh example, with a future generations bill under way, spearheaded by Lord Bird and first read in the House of Lords in October 2019. Progress has been slow, due to Brexit and Covid-19, but if passed, the bill will require (non-devolved) public bodies, including the UK government, to balance the needs of the present with the needs of the future in its decision-making.
Although the Act enshrines the UN goals, these have been detailed as seven wellbeing needs and aspirations that are specific to Wales. In the four years since its inception, the Act has steadily gained traction, with the Future Generations Commissioner acknowledging that there is still a way to go. Projects and initiatives that fall short can be identified and called to account. A Section 20 review is the strongest use of the Commissioner’s powers under the legislation.
For the SNC-Lavalin group, this is an opportunity for our businesses in Wales to consolidate the efforts we have making. At both Faithful+Gould and Atkins, we have been partnering with Welsh authorities for many years, even before the establishment of our Cardiff and Swansea office, providing a range of design, project and cost management services.
We’re keen to highlight the work we’ve been doing with clients, embedding social value aims, and outcomes and monitoring, in the delivery of a range of projects. Take a look at our diverse portfolio of projects, using the links below, which we have curated to demonstrate how well this approach can work. The projects were chosen to illustrate our response to the Act’s seven wellbeing goals and to demonstrate the way in which different project types can exemplify the five ways of working required by the Act.
The collaborative Atkins and Faithful+Gould response goes beyond the projects we work on, encompassing our client and community relationships outside of project commitments. The Act’s requirements are very much in alignment with our businesses’ culture and values, and our social value approach in Wales is part of our groupwide commitment that extends throughout the UK and indeed globally. This extended reach is reinforced by clear policies and processes that optimise the delivery of social value within our clients’ projects and communities.
Going forward, we believe that our ability to support clients with the Act’s requirement will be vital to both our public and private sector work. Already we’re drawing on some great in-house tools, such as our social value calculator and our digital sustainability tool, SEED, both of which can be configured for specific local government requirements.