The Sustainability Lab shaping brighter futures

“The way we do things around here” – using the Wellbeing of Future Generations Framework to hold ourselves and our politicians to account

Einir's Blog: "From the Director's Chair"

by Einir Young

It’s a great pleasure to contribute to the Spring 2017 newsletter which summarises the ‘sustainable’ achievements of BU staff and students.

Since May 2016 the University has adopted the Well-being of Future Generations framework to explain sustainability and as a way of managing our decision making and activities.  As a Sustainability Lab we are fully aware that actions speak louder than words.

One of the emerging lessons this year is the constant reminder that messages need to be repeated many times for them to infiltrate the sub-conscious mind. According to our friends in the School of Psychology it might be necessary to reinforce a message up to fifteen times and more to be embedded as ‘the way we do things around here’.

So here’s repeating the summery of the wellbeing of future generations framework:

  • ONE sustainable development principle
  • FOUR pillars
  • FIVE ways of working (the 5 WOWs)
  • SEVEN well-being goals

The world in recent months seems to be a more unpredictable place – who would have foreseen the results of the ‘Brexit’ vote, the US election, the Turkish referendum etc. In the run-up to the Local Government elections in Wales and the Snap General Election in Wales and the rest of the UK we can use the Well-being of future generation’s framework to interrogate the political manifestos of all parties.

Do the Parties/candidates have a clearly articulated and credible vision for the ONE principle – i.e. ensuring that we can meet our current needs without jeopardising our ability to meet our needs in the future?

Are the Parties/candidates committed to giving equal weighting to the FOUR PILLARS – the economy, the environment, society and culture? Or are they putting all the eggs into the economic (or other) basket at the expense of the others?

Do the Parties provide evidence that they intend to adopt the FIVE WOWs?

Is the long-term context of their proposals clear?

Can they demonstrate how their proposals will prevent things from getting worse and do they offer ideas on how to improve things?

Will they integrate their vision along the lines of the seven well-being goals or do they have a tendency to ‘silo’ the issues?

Is there any evidence that they can collaborate with others and are inclusive?

The Well-being GoalsAnd how about the well-being goals? Have they got any ideas on how they will deliver:

  • A more prosperous Wales/UK
  • A more resilient Wales/UK
  • A healthier Wales/UK
  • A more equal Wales/UK
  • A Wales/UK of more cohesive communities
  • A Wales/UK of vibrant culture where the Welsh language is thriving (there is absolutely no reason why awareness of the Welsh language and culture is more widespread across the UK or why other languages and culture aren’t embraced and celebrated)
  • A Wales/UK that are globally responsible.

We can and should use these principles to challenge as many aspects of our lives as possible – at home, at the University, in our workplace and in the community.

How about it? How about taking up the challenge to park our cynicism and hold ourselves and our politicians to account and really make a difference?

We will be celebrating The Sustainability Lab’s second birthday in June. Many thanks to all of you for your commitment and enthusiasm as you collaborate with us. I look forward to another exciting year ahead.


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