Wales sets out plan for sustainable future

31st May 2024


In January, the Welsh government consulted on a proposed white paper, 'Securing a Sustainable Future: Environmental Principles, Governance and Biodiversity Targets for a Greener Wales'

The white paper set out plans to embed environmental principles into Welsh law, improve environmental governance by creating a new body to oversee environmental law including compliance and enforcement, and to introduce a set of biodiversity targets.

Its aim is to reflect the Welsh government’s commitment towards “a greener Wales to tackle climate change and the nature emergency”.

IEMA hosted a workshop to gather views of members and other relevant stakeholders. It resulted in a robust, broadly positive response from IEMA as well as recommendations.

The consultation proposed a list of environmental principles (integration, precautionary, prevention, rectification at source and polluter pays) with definitions. IEMA pointed the Welsh government towards our paper Core Principles for Environmental Policymaking, along with a suggestion that the principles aim to improve nature rather than simply maintain the status quo. IEMA also recommended that the principles apply not just to ministers but to public authorities too.

The responsibilities and tasks being given to the new body are quite substantial, including monitoring and advising Welsh ministers on developing, implementing and complying with environmental law, receiving complaints from the public, scrutinising the delivery of statutory environmental targets and proactive intervention against risks. The new body will need to have the financial and human resources to carry out its role.

IEMA recommended that the oversight and enforcement role of the new environmental governance body should not repeat work that is already happening, and its role, particularly on enforcement, must be clearly communicated to those in government, organisations and the public.

The white paper proposes a strategic nature recovery framework that includes a headline nature-positive target in the bill: ‘to reverse the decline in biodiversity with an improvement in the status of species and ecosystems by 2030 and their clear recovery by 2050’. This will be supported by biodiversity targets in secondary legislation.

The framework will set out a long-term vision for a nature-positive Wales, action needed to achieve biodiversity targets, effective monitoring mechanisms, and a requirement for local nature recovery plans to be created by local authorities.

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