The Welsh Government is bringing forward legislation which will place a new sustainable development duty on public bodies in Wales.
In introducing the Welsh Government's legislative programme for 2011 - 16, the First Minister said, 'Sustainability lies at the heart of the Welsh Government's agenda for Wales; it also lies at the heart of this legislative programme'.
The Programme for Government states that the Welsh Government will legislate on sustainable development to:
- Make sustainable development the centre of all activities and decisions of the Welsh Government and public bodies in Wales; and
- Create an independent sustainable development body for Wales.
The proposed Sustainable Development Bill aims to strengthen the commitment set out in 'One Wales: One Planet' by changing it to a legal duty. This will require all public bodies to:
- take a long term approach;
- work better together; and
- use evidence when making decisions so that they provide the best value for the people they serve now and in the future.
The Welsh Government has also notes that it does not want a tick box approach to compliance, nor add unnecessarily to the burden of bureaucracy.
The proposals include a scrutiny role for the Auditor General for Wales which could include a duty to undertake sustainable development examinations.
The WAO recognises the fundamental implications of these proposals for concepts such as 'value for money, strategic decision making in public administration and to public audit. On the 25 October WAO organised a briefing session for staff to raise awareness of the forthcoming legislation and provide an opportunity to discuss its implications. The event was attended by the Auditor General for Wales and about 50 staff in Cardiff, and by video conference to Ewloe and Swansea.
Keynote speakers at the event were Rhodri Asby, from the Welsh Government and Peter Davies, Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales. Rhodri Asby provided an update on the progress and process of drafting the White Paper, which is currently the subject of public consultation. Details of the consultation [Opens in new window].
Peter Davies outlined the proposals for the independent sustainable development body and emphasised the importance of developing a close working relationship with the WAO.