Future Generations

Future Generations

It is very welcome that we have a body within the Taoiseach’s Department looking at the idea of strategic foresight. I believe, however, that there should be stronger role for the Oireachtas in this regard. Looking to international examples, Finland is one that jumps out immediately. The government there must make a statement on the future. It also has a parliamentary committee on the future, which sits as one of our joint Oireachtas committees does. The Finnish committee looks specifically at the future.

The best known and probably the most comprehensive example is what we see in Wales which has established a future generations commission. It was legislated for by Jane Davidson when she was the Minister for environment. It sits their well-being framework down into a legislative context. It applies that future lens to government policy and to the action of state and public bodies. The role was occupied with some distinction until very recently by Sophie Howe.

I have a Private Member’s Bill before the Oireachtas, which puts this forward, but I would be more than happy for the Government to pre-empt me in this regard, to take it off my hands and to begin legislating in a serious way to take account of future generations.

Reply from An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar

Deputy Ó Cathasaigh mentioned Finland and horizon planning. I know a little bit about that but not enough. I am familiar with the fact that Finland has had a committee for the future for a long time. It probably dates back 20 years at this stage. I knew a Finnish member of parliament who was a member of, and advocate for, the committee. I have not had a chance to look at Deputy Ó Cathasaigh’s Bill but I will do so. I will see if there is space for us in that. We have an awful lot of committees, as the Ceann Comhairle will acknowledge, but perhaps it is something we could work up for the next Dáil. It could be a part of the programme for the next Dáil to have a committee in that regard.