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Lessons from a Small Country

By Jane Davidson


“What Wales is doing today, the world will do tomorrow.”—Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary General

The story of how one small nation responded to global climate issues by radically rethinking public policy for future generations

In #futuregen, Jane Davidson explains how, as Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales, she proposed the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015—the first piece of legislation on Earth to place regenerative and sustainable practice at the heart of government. Unparalleled in its scope and vision, the Act connects environmental and social health and looks to solve complex issues such as poverty, education and unemployment.

Davidson reveals how and why such groundbreaking legislation was forged in Wales—once reliant on its coal, iron and steel industries—and explores how the shift from economic growth to sustainable growth is creating new opportunities for communities and governments all over the world.

#futuregen is the inspiring story of a small, pioneering nation discovering prosperity through its vast natural beauty, renewable energy resources and resilient communities. It’s a living, breathing prototype for local and global leaders as proof of what is possible in the fight for a sustainable future.

Reviews and Praise

Kirkus Reviews— 

'Wales stands as a leader of sustainability. Davidson, the former minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales, among many other public roles, chronicles the complex, ultimately successful process by which the nation created the Well-being for Future Generations (Wales) Act, which became law in 2015. . . .A useful primer for environmental reform.'

Foreword Reviews

'Wales, though small, is a vanguard when it comes to integrating sustainable development via government policies and actions. The chief architect of its Well-Being of Future Generations Act, Jane Davidson, chronicles the law’s enactment in the lively #futuregen, which encompasses both her personal evaluations and the sweeping policy shift’s intriguing processes.'

Booklist, Starred Review—

'A valuable insider primer for those hoping to enact equally sweeping green legislation in America and beyond.'

‘Be inspired by this fascinating story of how Wales made into law the obligation for a country to pursue sustainable development on behalf of future generations.’–Gro Harlem Brundtland

‘A truly pioneering Act that puts sustainability at the heart of every governmental decision combined with a country seeking to reimagine itself – the story of this revolutionary engine for change holds enormous possibility and is a true beacon of hope.’–Michael Sheen OBE, actor and UNICEF ambassador

‘As the effects of climate change and ecological degradation become ever more apparent it is not despair that must drive us, but action. Jane Davidson’s wonderful #futuregen tells the inspiring story of how one country stepped up with just that – a groundbreaking new law to protect the interests of future generations. For those searching for hope, this is a must-read.’–Tony Juniper CBE, Environmentalist

‘Once at the forefront of the industrial revolution, Wales now leads the world in the sustainability revolution. At the intersection of sustainability, economics, law, morality and politics, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act enshrines the responsibility of a government to take care of its citizens, especially the vulnerable, and extends that responsibility to those who are the most vulnerable because they do not yet have a voice – the generations as yet unborn. In #futuregen, Jane Davidson, its chief architect, relates what inspired this groundbreaking Act and what impact it has had in the five years since it was passed. Politicians are not generally noted for their long-term, upstream thinking. Influenced by systems thinker Donella Meadows, Jane Davidson is an inspiring exception and has earned the gratitude of generations both future and current.’–Roz Savage MBE, ocean rower and sustainability advocate

‘Please give this book to the sons and daughters of our leaders, then ask them to give it to their parents. Maybe they won’t make the change needed for the people who voted them in, but they might just do it for their children.’–David Hieatt, co-founder of Hiut Denim Co. and of The Do Lectures, author

‘The very definition of sustainable development embodies the need to ensure the well-being of future generations and yet, until Wales in 2015 enacted its Well-being of Future Generations Act, no country had passed legislation to look ahead and give itself the ambition, permission and legal obligation to improve social, cultural, environmental and economic dimensions of well-being for current and future generations. Jane Davidson was a pioneer in pushing forward Wales’s pathbreaking Future Generations Act, blazing a trail for the rest of the world, and WWF was delighted and honoured to support her on that journey. Decision-makers everywhere should read her book to understand the importance of putting future generations at the heart of all they do and the actions needed to make that a reality.’–Pavan Sukhdev, President, WWF International