SoNaRR2020: Bridges to the future
Wales can bridge the gap between where it is now and where it needs to be to achieve a sustainable future
“What Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow” - Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary General
Using its Well-being of Future Generations Act goals as a guide, Wales can bridge the gap between where it is now and where it needs to be to achieve a sustainable future.
By building in consideration for environmental capacity, at the core of a regenerative economy and a more equal society, Wales could be a country with abundant natural resources. Wales could live within its fair share of the Earth’s capacity and have thriving communities, becoming a Wales which meets its well-being goals.
Pen and ink drawing of Bendigeidfran by Margaret Jones - National Library of Wales ©
A fo ben, bid bont’ - ‘He that would lead, let him be a bridge
In the 12th century tale of King Bendigeidfran, in the Mabinogion, the Welsh came to a river too wide to cross and with no bridge to let them reach the other side. Asked what advice he would give, the giant king said “Only this: he that would lead, let him be a bridge. I will be a bridge”.
Today Wales faces the seemingly unbridgeable obstacle of how to deliver the transformative change needed to meet the challenge of the nature and climate emergencies. Wales led the way in the first industrial revolution and is seeking to lead the way in the transition to sustainability.
Wales is starting to bridge the gap to sustainability, by using the well-being goals and ways of working under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, together with the SMNR principles from the Environment (Wales) Act to chart the route forwards.
In passing the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, Wales is unique in the way it is exploring how to bridge the gap to sustainability. Together with the Welsh Environment and Planning Acts Wales has the legal framework to make transformational change.
As Sir David Attenborough said on the television programme A Life On Our Planet “We need to learn how to work with nature, rather than against it”. Framing this future as merely sustaining ourselves and making ecosystems resilient to the pressures we place on them is not an inspiring vision. Humans can do more than just get by. Nature can be given a place where it can do more than just be resilient and cling on.
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