‘Politicians must be allowed to make mistakes if we want to see progress’ – Sophie Howe

The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales accepting failures means we encourage that innovation and allow politicians to do different things.
Society needs to accept politicians will make mistakes if we are to see progress, according to the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

Sophie Howe, who is the first person to assume the role that was created by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, was addressing a meeting of Cardiff Breakfast Club.

“The safe thing for our government is to do more of the same, because doing new things is risky and it often goes wrong and there is this intrinsic fear of failure amongst politicians. Often because we give them a right kicking when they fail,” she said.

“I think we as society have to accept that if we are to make progress, failure is inevitable, and we need to have a grown up

conversation with ourselves to encourage that innovation and allow politicians to do different things.”

Ms Howe’s role as commissioner is to help public bodies change behaviours and follow the new requirements set out in the legislation, which is to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of the people of Wales.

“I am the only future generations commissioner in the world,” she told the meeting at the Swalec Stadium. “My job description is to act as the guardian for future interests of future generations, so if nothing else it perhaps the coolest job title in Wales.”

The role means getting public bodies to think about the long term impact of their decisions. Forty-four bodies were named in the Act, and they include the Welsh Government, county councils, health boards, national parks, arts and sport councils, libraries and museums.

Ms Howe said in the next month or so she will issuing quite a “challenging” piece to government around the curent examination system, which she said “is not fit for the future”.

“Where we have AI and you can Google everything why are we testing kids on the basis of what they regurgitate in a two-your exam?

“Instead we should be focusing on skills which are human skills, which are human skills, intelligence, empathy, collaboration, the things that robots cannot do.”

Ms Howe was speaking at the first meeting of the new season of the Breakfast Club, and had recently returned from Seoul where she signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Assembly Futures Institute in the South Korean Parliament. She covered a wide range of topics that also included genetically modified children and smart toilets that determine the meal you should be having.

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