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Dr Alan Netherwood

Dr Alan Netherwood – One Wales: One Planet: What progress has the Government made?

Dr. Alan Netherwood has been running his own company, Netherwood Sustainable Futures, for the past four years, working with a range of clients on sustainability and climate change initiatives.

Dr Alan Netherwood launched the WWF Cymru commissioned report, ‘Progress in embedding the ‘One Planet’ aspiration in Welsh Government?’
The report concludes:

  • Welsh Government has a good overall vision and has made good progress on the short term actions required.
  • However, there is a lack of consistent application to achieve the goal of a One Planet Wales, both across government and in its advice to the public sector.
  • There is no plan, with key milestones, driving cross-government action in meeting the One Planet goals. There is a lack of assessment of the impact on carbon and ecological footprint of individual policies, programmes and expenditure and their cumulative impact. Therefore, it is impossible for Welsh government to know whether its plans and programmes are sufficient to achieve the goals.

Speaking to delegates, Dr Alan Netherwood outlined the key findings of the report, which looked at what progress the Welsh Government has made in achieving a One Planet Wales:

He raised the question of whether the policy architecture set out in ‘One Wales, One Planet’ is right to deliver sustainability.

He stressed the importance of documentary evidence of a commitment to sustainable development, as it provides a framework for the Welsh Government and other organisations and gives a strong sense Government accountability.

Is Welsh Government living up to the aspiration of footprint reduction? The report drills right down into whether sustainability is being delivered, even on the level of regional transport strategies – for instance, what has been funded in transport in North Wales? It has been mainly roads with a small amount of rail.

Dr Netherwood highlighted good examples of footprint reduction: 

Food and agriculture are exemplary areas where One Planet Wales had been embedded right down, as a result of fantastic Ministerial leadership. ‘Food for Wales: Food From Wales’ and the Farming Strategy are excellent examples of forward thinking, well researched and evidenced policy.

Waste – Footprinting has been put at the centre of national and regional waste strategies and sectoral strategies. 

He discussed areas of concern:

Sustainable travel towns – Policy intervention is not matching up to the scale needed. Policy hierarchy, including Regional Transport Plans, the National Transport Plan and capital programmes are failing to show how transport footprint reduction could be realised.

Public sector - There has been a huge shift following the Local Government Measure and opportunities to drive home the One Wales, One Planet agenda, but footprint was not part of the discourse.

Housing strategy – This does not include anything about One Planet. How are we to move towards a One Planet Wales if this is not taken into account?

 ‘Economic Renewal: A New Direction’. One Planet Wales is absent from the Economic Renewal Programme. There is no mention of sustainable consumption and emissions reduction, despite there being a narrative for green jobs; this shows a lack of credibility.

Ministers must learn from what has worked, such as food and agriculture, and correct what has not, such as the Economic Renewal Programme.

Urgency and importance in Government – Is the Welsh Government’s action on climate change urgent and important in their priorities?

There is no evidence that there is linking up within departments in Government on sustainability or that the cumulative effect of small measures adds up to what is required, and there is little activity for external engagement. 

He suggested measuring footprint for all areas of policy, and making it part of performance management. The Welsh Government can compel this in the wider public sector through the Sustainability Bill.

We can make changes incrementally, or Wales can have a route map. The Sustainable Development Bill is a massive opportunity to create a plan in Wales that is different and that holds us to account.