Annual General Meeting

&

Formal Business Of The APPG

The following positions were voted on and elected as:

Chair

Bambos Charalambous MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretariat

Sam Hilton and Caroline Baylon, currently funded by the Centre for Effective Altruism.


 

 

 

 

 

Introductory Remarks

 

Lord Bird opened the meeting, thanking Parliamentarians for attending, and highlighting the importance of prevention and beginning the movement of future generations legislation.

 

Caroline Lucas MP (Green) explained how the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill is based on the simple premise of placing future generations at the heart of decision-making and how that concept is often challenging for politicians who tend to not consider long-term effects.

She emphasised that the current situation, especially related to climate, makes it even more important to support this bill now. She is grateful to collaborate on the issue and hopes to host a debate in Parliament and gain cross-party support for the bill.

 

Sophie Howe began by explaining how the Welsh Wellbeing of Future Generations Act , which the UK bill is based upon, developed through grassroots movements and places a duty on public bodies to consider long-termism.

NGOs were significant in developing the national conversation to create the seven national wellbeing goals which public bodies work towards and the five ways of working. The act also created the role of an independent future generations commissioner, which Howe has been for the past four years, to monitor, assess, and advise, public bodies.

She explains how the implementation of the act isn’t changing the world, but is undoing years of short-termism through changes in policy, culture, and thinking.

 

Some examples of changes since implementation of the act are:

  • Increasing pledges to create national forests

  • Agricultural policies

  • School curriculum revisions

  • The government’s commitment to climate change has increased, with an estimated 28% increase in funding for climate emergencies since the implementation of the act.

  • A recent challenge has been assessing whether GCSEs are fit for the future.

 

An example of cultural requirements actively changing behaviour in cities are public health consultants working on city transportation structures in Cardiff. This partnership resulted in mass rollouts of bikes for hire, investment in safe cycle routes targeting in areas of deprivation who can benefit from physical activity.

'Although there were challenges to implement the act in order to undo short-termism, the legislation provided framework for many major changes in Wales.'

Professor Daniella Tilbury emphasised that the overall goal is to end short term decision making and enshrine rights of Future Generations in law. She explained how it is necessary to work with government departments one on one to unpack the way of thinking and consider alternative ways of working so that intergenerational equity and sustainability are embedded in how things are carried out.

 

Gibraltar asks public bodies and government departments to set their own sustainability objectives, but ultimately they still report to Parliament. She encourages the creation of an independent UK Future Generations Commissioner through this bill in order for public bodies across the UK to be committed to long-termism and have a preventative focus.

 

The commitment to future generations is not only important to address the climate emergency and poverty, but also to focus on youth dis-empowerment. This bill would open doors to engage younger generations to construct a much better future. She explains how the bill is about connectivity, by connecting present and future generations and creating a duty to work across governmental departments.

 

She looks forward to working with the UK and creating change.

 

Professor Graham Smith thanked Lord Bird for his work on the bill and recognised the need for this type of legislation.

 

He explains three main reasons for the failure of Parliament to respond to pertinent issues such as:

 

1. The voices of future generations are not here to defend their own interests, so there is an absent voice at the table.

2. Short term electoral cycles drive politicians to consider only short term returns.

3. Entrenched interests are blocking change, within the government and beyond.

 

He explains how it is useful to learn from similar campaigns in other countries to create wellbeing objectives and then place a duty on public bodies to embody them. This bill makes a case for a UK Future Generations Commissioner and a joint committee in Parliament to review incoming legislation through a long-term lens.

 

He encourages a three-pronged campaign, through getting involved with Lord Bird’s office, The Big Issue, and the public, to raise awareness and garner support for the Today for Tomorrow campaign, along with working with civil societies and businesses as they realise this is vital for their future. He acknowledges that the bill is not perfect, but that it is a good start that he hopes will encourage creative conversation and dialogue.

 

Chris White explains his involvement with the Social Value Act and how that process has a similar effect to this bill. The Social Value Bill was not expected to pass through all stages of legislation, but it did and resulted in making major differences and saving the government billions of pounds. The Social Value Act now has been extended from only considering social value to accounting for social value, which results in a big impact on cultural change. He emphasises the need for cross party support of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill in the House of Commons and gives his total endorsement.

 

 

Open Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Next Steps

 

Bambos Charalambous MP (Lab) concluded the meeting and emphasised the importance of scheduling a backbench business debate to further discuss the bill. He confirming with a vote that attendees were happy with the APPG for Future Generations officially supporting the campaign for a Future Generations Bill. Vote passed.

 

Lord Bird thanked the speakers for their participation and calls on Parliamentarians to help in order to grow the campaign. He explained that the present system is unsustainable and money needs to be budgeted properly in order for sustainable development to progress. 

 

Chris White emphasised that the purpose of this bill is not about money, but instead about changing the culture and thinking around policy. Focusing on long-term impacts provides savings rather than just costs.

 

Lord Bird reiterated that funding needs to be reallocated in order to consider the wellbeing of future generations. He then closed the meeting by thanking the attendees and encouraging the support of the Today for Tomorrow campaign.

Attendees:

1. Lord Aberdare (Crossbench)

2. Baroness Andrews (Lab)

3. Abena Appong-Asare MP (Lab, Erith and Thamesmead)

4. Baroness Benjamin (Lib Dem)

5. Lord Bird (Crossbench)

6. Baroness Blower (Lab)

7. Kevin Brennan MP (Lab, Cardiff West)

8. Baroness Burt of Solihull (Lib Dem)

9. Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con)

10. Bambos Charalambous MP (Chair, Lab, Enfield Southgate)

11. Simon Fell MP (Con, Barrow and Furness)

12. Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con)

13. Baroness Greengoss (Crossbench)

14. Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab)

15. Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick (Crossbench)

16. Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill (Lab)

17. Lord Young of Cookham (Con)

18. Wera Hobhouse (Lib Dem, Bath)

19. Baroness Howe of Idlicote

20. Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales)

21. Baron Hunt of Chesterton (Lab)

22. Lord Judd (Lab)

23. Stephen Kinnock MP (Lab, Aberavon)

24. Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)

25. Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)

26. Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion)

27. Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con)

28. Lord Mair (Crossbench)

29. Lady Massey of Darwen (Lab)

30. Baroness Parminter (Lib Dem)

31. Baroness Prashar (Crossbench)

32. Lord Rees of Ludlow (Crossbench)

33. Lord Roberts of Llandudno (Lib Dem)

34. Liz Saville Roberts MP (PC, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)

35. Lord Sawyer (Lab)

36.Professor Graham Smith (Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development)

37. Alex Sobel MP (Lab, Leeds North West)

38. Lord Tebbit (Con)

39. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd (Crossbench)

40. Richard Thomson MP (SNP, Gordon)

41. Baroness Thornton (Lab)

42. Alison Thewliss MP (SNP, Glasgow Central)

43. Professor Daniella Tilbury (Commissioner for Sustainable Development, HM Government of Gibraltar)

44. Baroness Tyler of Enfield (Lib Dem)

45. Baroness Uddin (Non-Affiliated)

46. Claudia Webbe MP (Lab, Leicester East)

47. Baroness Wheatcroft (Non-Affiliated)

48. Baroness Whitaker (Lab)

49. Chris White (Institute for Industrial Strategy, King’s College London)

50. Philippa Whitford MP (SNP, Central Ayrshire)

51. Lord Whitty (Lab)

52. Lord Wigley (PC)

53. Baroness Wilcox (Con)

54. Lord Woolley of Woodford (Crossbench)

55. Daniel Zeichner MP (Lab, Cambridge)

 

Observers:

56. Sam Hilton (Coordinator, APPG on Future Generations)

57. Harry Cobbold (Office of Jo Churchill MP)

58. Liam Geraghty (Journalist, The Big Issue)

59. Zoe Hayward (Marketing and Communications Director, The Big Issue Group)

60. Sarah Howell (Social Media Producer, The Big Issue)

61. Lynette Huntley (Office of Baroness Hayman)

62. Ruth Law (Group PR Manager, The Big Issue)

63. Vicky Major (Marketing and Communications Executive, The Big Issue Group)

64. Lara McCullagh (Executive Director, The Big Issue Group)

65. Paul McNamee (Editor, The Big Issue)

66. Peer Marie Oppenheimer (Research Assistant, Office of Lord Bird)

67. John Ricketts (Researcher, Office of Lord Bird)

68. L’Myah Ross (Senior Researcher, Office of Lord Bird)

69. Priya Shivaram (Research Assistant, Office of Lord Bird)

70. Oliver Sidorczuk (Adviser, Office of Lord Bird)

Co- Chair

Lord Bird

Anna McMorrin MP

Dame Cheryl Gillan MP

Daniel Zeichner MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Simon Fell MP

Officers

Lord Balfe

Lord Harris of Haringey 

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick

Lord Rees of Ludlow 

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock 

Vice-chair 

Baroness Prashar

Question 1

A Labour MP commended another example of a devolved administration driving change in the UK and asked how would legislation of this sort practically impact the government?

Answer 1

Sophie Howe responded that the duty falls on the government on how they follow sustainable development principles and then assessments are made on how those proposals meet objectives. A close example in Wales was the extension of the M4 corridor around Newport where the commission published the “Transport Fit for Future Generations Report”. After a public enquiry and a recommendation from the inspector the project was stopped, with the First Minister referencing the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. In terms of her powers as commissioner, she can’t stop anyone from doing anything, but she can make recommendations and call out public bodies on behalf of future generations.

Question 2

A conservative Peer explained the difficulties of enacting an act of this type but emphasized how important and game changing the final product is. She encouraged colleagues in Parliament to cross party lines and support future generations.

Question 3

Labour Peer asked how children and young people are involved in this initiative?

Answer 3

Sophie Howe responded that youth are involved in a national conversation and that she works closely with the Children’s Commissioner in Wales to include her work in recommendations. There is also direct engagement with young people in Wales including schools, online platforms, and the Welsh Youth Parliament.

Professor Graham Smith said that within the proposed bill there is a specific focus on getting views from youth. The bill specifically requires both the Commissioner and the Secretary of State to consult relevant youth and student bodies, such as the United Kingdom Youth Parliament and the National Union of Students, and take their feedback into consideration while writing reports.

Question 4

An SNP MP asked about the involvement of devolved governments and the role of a UK Commissioner when many of the government’s abilities are devolved. How will this bill interfere with devolved governments?

Answer 4

Professor Graham Smith responded that the writers of the bill were desperate not to step on the toes of other governments such as Scotland and Wales. They understand that devolved nations already have taken steps towards protecting future generations and they are willing to work together to bring the movement UK-wide.

Question 5

A Labour peer asked what the main challenges are of implementing the bill?

Answer 5

Sophie Howe explained the issue of culture versus process and how she chooses not to take an audit role as commissioner, but instead she attempts to change the culture within public bodies. The difficult part is that culture change can’t be legislated for, it must be encouraged by setting objectives. Her role has no individual casework power, and she explains how she is nervous suggesting some due to the breadth of the bill, but some sort of casework powers that allow a focus on specific areas would be helpful.

Question 6

A Labour Lord asked about the appraisal of products and if there will be a different mechanism used for discount rates to analyse future value?

Answer 6

Sophie Howe explained how the legislation gives overarching principles and then the processes on implementation can sometimes contradict. A key area that relates to the social value act is procurement, and she is about to trigger a review into how contracts over a certain value can better align with the Act. An example of this is that the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) is now aligned with the Act as well, as can be seen in their annual reports.

Question 7

A Liberal Democrat MP asked a question about ACEs and how childhood trauma fits into the context of bill?

Answer 7

Sophie Howe responded that one of the propriety areas of her office is childhood trauma. Although the primary focus of the Act is environmental, it also focuses on major societal issues such as trauma and public service boards have duties to set wellbeing plans as well.

Question 8

A Conservative Peer asked Sophie Howe how many people worked in her office and what budget does the office have?

Answer 8

Sophie Howe responded that the budget is about 1.5 billion pounds and there are 30 people who work in her office. They also team up with organisations with similar goals.

Question 9

A non-affiliated Peer & a Crossbench Lord asked how the impact of discrimination and racial inclusivity is included? How do you build into the framework the ability to tackle the subtle race penalties that particularly blight the wellbeing of children?

Answer 9

Sophie Howe said that one of the main principles behind the Act is a more equal Wales. Although there can be some challenges between new policy acts and implementations, an example is the main cancer centre in Wales working with BAME communities to create courses and provide opportunities.

Question 10

A Plaid Cyrmu MP asked what one single change to your work would be that would make you confident you’re having a real, measurable impact?

Answer 10

Sophie Howe responded that it’s difficult to measure impact and one must be careful about only looking at outcome statistics because there are thousands of decisions being made every day that are not in alignment with the Act. Because of that, it would be useful to have a bigger budget and more influence in order to address every issue

'Infrastructure, homelessness, social care, and the climate crisis'

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