Exploring the potential for a Wellbeing of Future Generations Act for Vermont with Sophie Howe

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Vermont Business Magazine A group of local organizations concerned about Vermont’s sustainability, wellbeing, and prosperity is now exploring a potential law to do exactly that.

This week, the Vermont Prosperity Project will host Sophie Howe, the first ever “Future Generations Commissioner” of Wales from 2016 to 2023, who will speak at the University of Vermont and with legislators.

The role of Future Generations Commissioner results from Wales’ landmark Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which became law in 2015 after widespread public consultation asking: “What kind of Wales do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?” 

As a result, the people of Wales identified important wellbeing goals: a prosperous, resilient, more equal, and healthier Wales built on cohesive communities, vibrant culture, thriving Welsh language, and global responsibility. 

The Vermont organizers believe that such a law makes sense here. They say they are further inspired by last month’s landmark Montana court decision that youth have a constitutional right to a healthy environment.

The event is open to the public.

Tuesday, September 19, 10:00 – 11:30 am 

Grand Maple Ballroom, Davis Center, University of Vermont 

Live Stream: https://go.uvm.edu/howe 

Sophie Howe led successful interventions around transportation planning, education reform, and climate action. She has also represented Wales at the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and is currently the chair of the Network of Institutions for Future Generations

The Wales Wellbeing of Future Generations Act was passed into law in 2015 after widespread public consultation on the question: “What kind of Wales do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?” 

The result was the identification of wellbeing goals including a prosperous, resilient, more equal, and healthier Wales built on cohesive communities, vibrant culture, thriving Welsh language, and global responsibility. 

This event is being organized by the Vermont Prosperity Project and co-sponsored by the Lintilhac Foundation, Wellbeing Economy Alliance, UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, UVM Gund Institute for Environment, and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

More information on Sophie Howe and the landmark legislation are included below.

To Learn More: 

Well-being Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 essential guide 

Well-being and Future Generations approaches across the world 

Our Network - Network of Institutions for Future Generations 

Sophie Howe keynote at the Beyond 2022 Conference 

Sophie Howe TED talk in 2020 

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in a nutshell: 

  • The Act required the government to develop intuitive indicators to measure progress towards the achievement of the 7 wellbeing goals, resulting in a set of 50 national indicators. 
  • Government departments and most public bodies need to set wellbeing objectives and targets in accordance with these wellbeing goals and report annually on their progress towards the achievement of these objectives. 
  • Governance and decision-making was reformed in line with five principles or “ways of working”: Collaboration, Integration, Involvement, Long-term, Prevention. 
  • A Future Generations Commissioner was appointed to represent the needs and the interests of future generations. Together with the Auditor General for Wales, the Future Generations Commissioner monitors and evaluates public bodies’ achievement of the seven wellbeing objectives and the extent to which they are acting in line with the five ways of working. The Commissioner has a seven-year tenure, longer than the electoral cycle. 
  • The Act applies to government bodies at all levels and while progress is monitored at the national level, each community is empowered to design bespoke strategies to support their achievement.