The Big Challenge
Chris Roscoe is part of the Future Generations Leadership Academy, which is a ten-month pilot programme with the Well-being of Future Generations Act at its heart.
The Academy is an initiative set up to demonstrate the value of leadership in the future by upskilling young leaders from diverse sectors to shape and influence real change in Wales.
Chris explains how he hopes his involvement in the Academy will lead to positive change.
Participating in the Academy on behalf of NRW has been a privilege. This experience with the Commissioner’s Office has given me a number of unique opportunities to engage in different events and speak with leaders from other countries looking to make similar positive change.
What I have appreciated the most however, is the chance to work closely work with other young people across the country, who are all committed to the future of Wales. Our academy cohort includes representatives from a wide variety of sectors.
Previously, the boundary between the Environment, the Arts, and the Third Sector was clear in my mind. However, through the time I have spent with academy colleagues, these walls have now come down. This work has been an eye-opener to how interconnected all of our roles are and how we must work together to achieve our goals.
The academy is spearheaded by the Future Generations Commissioner and draws heavily from the principles of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Academy participants attend talks and workshops on a variety of self-development and skills topics, as well as attending external engagements.
In January I presented a talk at the Welsh Government xChange event: speaking to leaders from Welsh Government and the wider public sector on my view of the Act and the opportunities it brings as we begin the new decade.
During ‘Wales Week’ in March, I travelled to Dublin and was part of a panel discussion on how the Act has influenced decisions in Wales and abroad. I also attended the Irish Foreign Office, discussed the Irish use of Citizens Assemblies with the Secretary General and joined with Dublin University’s Sustainability group for a discussion on their work.
At the moment I am working on a joint project with my academy cohort with the intention of preparing advice to offer to Public Service Boards on the steps that they can take to address the challenges we have in our society.
This output will be part of our cohort’s Big Challenge, which is focused on examining the issue of raising skill levels in Wales and how best to address the challenge of equipping the people of Wales with skills necessary for the future. This is a VAST and complex subject and so we decided to focus our remit to addressing the challenge of upskilling those currently outside of formal education.
Both the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Environment Act go hand-in-hand in developing a thinking-space that’s inclusive, grounded in fact, and focusses on the important. The foundation of the Wellbeing Goals and the principles of Sustainable Management of our Natural Resources have already yielded exemplary projects across the organisation e.g. Greener Grangetown, Water for Wellbeing and Healthy Hillsides.
The release of the Area Statements provides an excellent opportunity to continue our work in collaborative projects. By collectively addressing local issues (e.g. health inequality) through the lens of our duties to the environment, we can promote the use of SMNR in circles beyond our direct control.
To me this is a WIN-WIN: positive outcomes for the environment, positive outcomes for people, and a closer relationship between the two. I hold firm the adage that “we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught” and see the legislations’ framework as an opportunity to increase the understanding of the public about their natural world.
One of the challenges I set the xChange conference attendees was to look beyond applying the WFG Act through their work and begin to consider applying its principles in our personal lives.
For example, few would contest the goal of working towards a more environmentally resilient Wales, but how often do we prioritise the cheapest and most convenient items during our weekly shop, while overlooking environmental credentials. The aspiration of living in cohesive communities is admirable, but how many of us know our neighbours?
As individuals we have unquestionable power in the everyday decisions we make. The way in which we spend our time and money signals to others the items, services and behaviours we think are important. I believe that by living the Wellbeing goals in our day to day lives, we have the opportunity to lead by example, each of us then having the opportunity to share these standards with more and more people.
I’m really excited to be part of the Academy and the project we’re embarking on and feel like there is a lot we can all learn.