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John Bird has global ideas for his Future Generations Bill

The Big Issue founder held a roundtable to discuss his plans with young political stars of tomorrow in a bid to make future thinking a staple of countries across the world

Lord John Bird may have launched his bid for the Future Generations Bill to bring prevention-focused thinking to the UK – but he also has his sights set on the world.

The Big Issue founder’s draft legislation was introduced to the House of Lords on Monday with its first reading.

Lord Bird followed that up with a Future Generations roundtable event as a part of the 2019 One Young World Summit, a global forum for young leaders that is running in London until Friday.

Delegates from Brazil, Andorra, Germany, Guatemala, Antigua and Barbuda and Italy, heard from the crossbench peer and discussed the Future Generations Bill with the hope that the ideas behind the legislation will propagate beyond UK borders.

The draft legislation aims to enshrine in law the creation of an independent UK Commissioner for Future Generations and a requirement on (non-devolved) public bodies, including the UK government, to balance the needs of the present with the needs of the future.

One of the young delegates, Italy’s Danilo Raponi, told The Big Issue that he thinks it is vital that his country also considers how decisions made now will impact on generations to come.

“It has become imperative, and urgent, for the Italian legislature to pass a Future Generations Act,” he said. “Enshrining the principle of sustainable development in law, and instituting a Commissioner for Future Generations, is essential to guarantee that Italy will become an innovative and low-carbon society which uses resources efficiently and proportionately, including fighting climate change and preventing poverty.

“The future belongs to the young: we owe it to them to ensure that the best is yet to come.”


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The 2019 One Young World summit – which also features speeches from Bob Geldof, Sir Richard Branson and Ellie Goulding – is the first time that delegates from Wales have attended the event.

The inspiration for Lord Bird’s Future Generations Bill came from Wales, where legislation came into force to create a Future Generations Commissioner in 2016.

Sophie Howe, who took over that role three years ago, also held an event discussing with delegates how the legislation has manifested in Wales. She will be addressing all 2,000 delegates at Westminster Hall on Friday.

“In Wales, we have a message to share with the world, that we are the only country in the world to have legislated on behalf of future generations and that Wales values the views and ideas of our young leaders,” she said.

“One Young World provides us with an opportunity to contribute to the global challenges we face, to share ideas and build a stronger movement for change.”

Transport for Wales delegate Emily-Rose Jenkins added: “The implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations has been a pivotal movement for Wales.

“This has resulted in a planning for the future and not just for the generations now, leading to a more responsible and resilient Wales.”