NRW Response to Nature and Us: The Shared Vision for Wales

The cost-of-living crisis and the acute pressures that we are all facing on our services can feel overwhelming. Addressing the causes and impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change within the context of our ongoing financial constraints is a formidable challenge for us all, as we attempt to meet the well-being needs of current generations while at the same time dealing with the future threats to our well-being.

Earlier this year the Nature and Us Vision was published. Created by the people of Wales, it sets out an inspirational challenge for Government, Public Bodies and the third sector to work together and with citizens to find solutions to both the nature and climate emergencies, and the challenges to the services on which our citizens rely. In short, the Vision calls for a 2050 where society and nature thrive together; where people are more involved in decisions that impact on nature.

Now, more than ever, we need to work together as Public Services in Wales so that we can co-develop more inclusive and integrated solutions to overcome these acute challenges, and we draw on this Vision as a beacon for hope for the future.

For our part, NRW sees our work as contributing to the Vision and the well-being needs of communities in Wales in the following ways:

A shared commitment

Nature must be more integral to decision making for well-being, and we can all better reflect this in our collective business planning. Working with Audit Wales and the Future Generations Commissioner, we will help to identify blockers and share good practice in relation to governance and our collective biodiversity duty (to seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of functions), and help demonstrate why this supports well-being.

Involving people

Nature and Us shows us how important it is to involve people in action for nature. We want to join forces with other public bodies to improve how we give people a voice and agency – whether that’s through communicating our evidence or advocacy work, as facilitators and conveners, or through empowering communities. As a result, more people will be able to actively participate in decision-making to shape a nature positive future. Stronger partnerships with the third sector (such as the ‘Natur Am Byth’ and ‘Nature Neighbourhoods’ programmes) will be critical in achieving this.

Whilst the Nature and Us conversation shows that the majority of people are concerned about nature, we also understand that others may not agree with nor recognise the importance of the changes needed to deliver a future where society and nature thrive together. Through involving more people we will collectively better understand those views, acknowledging that responses to the nature and climate emergency may impact differently on communities. In doing so we will strive to achieve a just and fair transition.

Sharing knowledge and understanding

Sharing knowledge and understanding across sectors is vital. Improving the ways in which we share knowledge in relation to the science around the nature, climate and pollution emergencies will help integrate action for nature and people. We have a major role in supporting Wales’ evidence needs through our statutory State of Natural Resources Report.

Access to nature

We manage 7% of land in Wales through the Welsh Government Woodland Estate. The land in our care provides significant opportunities for people to enjoy nature, and to support cohesive and resilient communities, whilst creating spaces for nature to thrive. We want to work with others to ensure local environments continue to contribute to people’s health and well-being in a changing climate.

Much of our regulatory work is centred around preventing harmful levels of pollution to air, land and water. We will seek opportunities to focus our regulatory work where appropriate, to help address the inequalities that communities face in their access to healthy environments. But it needs us all working together to tackle the root causes of harmful pollution and to reduce it overall.

Greener systems and sustainable food

We will develop evidence-based positions on issues connected to the changes needed towards a nature positive future (such as energy, health, food and transport), and use this to support the policies of other public bodies and Government showing how they can contribute to addressing the nature, climate and pollution emergencies.

We will be proactive in supporting industry to innovate to decarbonise and adapt to the challenges of the nature, climate and pollution emergencies. We are already actively shaping the implementation of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in Wales. We will maintain a wider focus on global shifts in food systems and food security on the farming community, nature, and people of Wales, to help shape what is best for well-being in the long-term.

Demonstrating our commitment

As a commitment to the people of Wales involved in the development of the Vision, we will use our reporting processes to demonstrate the actions we have taken towards it, including where we deliver in partnership with others. We will be clear about the impacts that our collective actions have on people and nature, both directly and indirectly. In considering those wider determinants we will continue to work through a number of important mechanisms for collaborating with public services – most significantly, as members of Public Services Boards in Wales. We recognise the importance of using these statutory mechanisms for continued innovative collaborations across public services and integrating the outcomes of our work.

World Environment Day – 5 June 2024

To celebrate the collective efforts being made across Wales to address the nature, climate and pollution emergencies, and to create a future where society and nature thrive together, I plan to co-host an event with the Senedd Commission on World Environment Day 2024.

I know that many of you will already be working hard in this space, and the event will be an opportunity to showcase the best of the Public Sector’s efforts to address the nature and climate emergencies and deliver more for the people of Wales.

This event will also help us facilitate shared learning across sectors and allow us to identify synergies and opportunities for further collaborative working between our organisations. If your organisation would like to be involved or would like to find out more about the Vision, please contact Nature and us. 

Together, we can create a future where society and nature thrive together.

With best wishes

Clare Pillman
Prif Weithredwr, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru
Chief Executive, Natural Resources Wales

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