The climate crisis is real. Inequality is spiralling out of control. The poorest in the UK are the most affected by both the physical and economic effects of the pandemic, children are dying from air pollution and Big Issue co-founder Lord John Bird is determined to do something about it.
So the cross-party peer has teamed up with Green MP Caroline Lucas for the Future Generations Bill, intended to protect the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
“I’m of the opinion that every side of the house – left, centre and right – through laws of unintended consequences created bills, created acts that have added to many of the problems that we now face,” said Lord Bird when at the Bill’s first reading in March 2020.
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“Why do I want a commissioner and a bill that looks at the laws of unintended consequences? That looks at the wellbeing of future generations? That looks at the wellbeing of people yet to be born? That prevents people becoming a Big Issue vendor or from sleeping in the streets? Because we don’t have a very sustainable situation.”
At the centre of the Bill are the wellbeing goals, ensuring the UK is prosperous, resilient, healthy, equal, connected, vibrant and responsible. And this week The Big Issue is raising awareness of those goals.
The Big Issue’s Wellbeing Week will be marked with a series of virtual events for MPs to listen to young people about their concerns for the future and for future generations, to listen to the ambassadors of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill.
This is a real turning point in the #todayfortomorrow campaign where we have brought MPs together with young people, so that they have the opportunity to engage with them about the bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, and crucially, why the bill is so important to them.
The Government needs to learn the lessons of Covid and ensure the country is much better prepared for these sorts of crises. Scientists predict that, as the sea ice melts and ocean temperatures rise, extreme weather will occur more regularly. The planet needs to be prepared.
Today I'm launching a campaign around the 2nd reading of the #FutureGenerations Bill
It aims to tackle the climate, pandemics & poverty head on – but it needs your help to pass!
Please visit https://t.co/znsIod7I7Z to invite your MP to @BigIssue's Wellbeing Week 25th – 28th Jan
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) January 5, 2021
The issues many Wellbeing Week participants care about, which are interlinked with the bill, include everything from climate change and the environment to poverty and inequalities.
Three of our young ambassadors explain why they are getting involved and fighting for a better future.
Jayden Marsh, 21
I am a student at UEA, and I have decided to support the Future Generations Bill.
I support the bill because I feel that it is our duty to preserve our environment to safeguard the futures of our youth.
I believe that it is our duty to leave our environment in a better condition than how we inherited it, therefore we must work together to look into longer-term alternatives that all generations can benefit from.
These alternatives must ensure we provide greener opportunities throughout our future societies, ranging from our jobs to our urban environments. Through supporting this bill, I believe that we will be able to give our children better prospects in a much greener future.
Dominique Palmer, 21
This bill will mean that policies must address the implications it will have on our futures.
Now, more than ever it is essential that we embed long-term prevention and the interests of future generations at the heart of UK policy-making. The future we are inheriting must be equitable and tackle the climate crisis and intersectional systemic issues. Our futures are not a distant imagination or abstract thought, but a reality that is fast approaching.
The race to safeguard this planet and the overall wellbeing of the future has already begun, and so we must act. This bill will provide a starting point in which the UK government will act in pursuit of social, cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing.
For my generation, for the next, and for future generations, I support this bill.
Nicolle Moyo, 21
I believe the concerns and interests of young people and future generations should lie at the heart of policy-making; the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill does just that.
It presents the opportunity for young people to make well-informed decisions, engage in policy-making and interact positively with matters that affect their daily lives as well as their future.
As a third-year politics student, I have chosen the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill as a public policy of interest for my dissertation module. Working with Paul Bristow, MP for Peterborough, I am carrying out an empirical qualitative research project on the bill in my city.
I have been working with young people in both the Peterborough and North West Cambridgeshire constituencies to find out how we can establish an active, inclusive, prosperous and sustainable city, which will lead the way in championing for the ‘future generations principle’. We are the future…
If you haven’t done so already, write to your MP, via the draft email on our website todayfortomorrow.org.uk to ask him or her to attend one of the five-minute sessions with young people during Wellbeing Week.