Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

It’s hard to believe that over three weeks have passed since the inaugural Green Recovery Wales - a four day virtual festival focused on farming and land management, sustainable food systems, restoring wildlife and working together towards a greener future for Wales.   

One of the week’s many highlights was the live panel discussion, Question time: The way forward for Wales, where Welsh political parties discussed what it’ll take to secure a green recovery that delivers for nature, people and the economy. 

Below is a summary of what the politicians from the five political parties taking part said about securing a green recovery.

Huw Irranca-Davies: Labour

  • Huw argued that every political party in Wales should have an explicit commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity declines and tackle climate change - then allow that commitment to prioritise the way government makes individual decisions.

  • We need a proper joined up way of how we move investment right across government to achieve a green recovery (a sentiment that was echoed by each political party). It’s not a case of allocating a certain percentage of the overall budget to the environment.

  • Huw believes believe that a future Agriculture, Food and Land Management Bill should be centred on public money for public goods which delivers environmental outcomes like water quality, public access, carbon sequestration and biodiversity enhancements.

  • Tree planting can help reverse biodiversity declines and halt climate change; however we need the right tree in the right place!

Plaid Cymru: Llyr Gruffydd

  • Plaid Cymru would also develop a public goods scheme which pays farmers for delivering environmental benefits. Plaid would also want to maintain an element of direct income support for farmers; however, it would need to represent value for money and deliver against a host of economic, social and environmental outcomes.

  • Plaid are very interested in the Less is More Report findings, which highlights the economic benefits of farming in harmony with nature. In Llyr’s own words - “We have to stop mining the land, and work with it.”

  • If in government, Llyr would hold discussions with the agriculture industry regarding aspirations for reversing the nature crisis.

  • Plaid Cymru pushed back slightly on setting nature targets as there is a danger of complacency once they are met. However, Llyr acknowledged that setting targets can help change mindsets and drive you towards a goal. In these instances, targets need to be ambitious. 

Andrew RT Davies: Conservatives

  • The Welsh Conservatives would want to introduce a Clean Air Act, so that the air is clean wherever you live in Wales.

  • Andrew highlighted the importance of agri-environment schemes as an example of how farming can help restore nature. He argued that the European Common Agricultural Policy has exacerbated biodiversity losses, and we need a new agricultural policy to help reverse nature declines.  

  • It’s vital that Government brings the Welsh public along with them on the green recovery journey, and that they are part of the decision-making process. This could be done via a People’s Assembly.  

  • Having previously objected to building the M4 relief road over the Gwent Levels, which would damage several Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSIs), one cause of concern for RSPB Cymru was the view that building this road is compatible with a green recovery, and that it sits within the environmental goals of Welsh Government”.

Anthony Slaughter: Green Party

  • Anthony stated that investment is needed now in order to reverse the declines in nature and the environment. The environment cuts across all aspects of government, therefore we need a cross government approach to achieving a green recovery.

  • Everyone needs to be involved in the conversation surrounding a green recovery, and discussions must be inclusive and reflective of wider society.

  • The Green Party would redirect agricultural subsidies in order to achieve environmental outcomes. They would also commit to establishing more localised food systems and economies, both in rural and urban Wales.

  • Anthony agree with RSPB Cymru’s Director Katie-Jo Luxton’s call for a Green Task Force for young people offering jobs on projects that would boost the environment.

 William Powell: Liberal Democrats

  • William highlighted the importance of farming for delivering nature benefits, referring to the Hedges and Edges session at Green Recovery Wales and the NT’s work at Rhosili.

  • The Welsh Liberal Democrats would maintain the current levels of agricultural funding and redirect money towards facilitating nature friendly farming. They would introduce a Universal Basic Income for farmers for a robust exchange of environmental goods and services.

  • They would also ensure that high environment, animal welfare and food safety standards are maintained. William proposed to establish a Commission for Food and Farming, with an independent commissioner to hold decision makers to account.

It was encouraging to hear strong commitments to securing a green recovery, particularly cross party agreement on securing agricultural policies that help restore and enhance nature; the need to invest in a green recovery right across government; more green and sustainable jobs; and more education around nature, climate, food and farming.  

There is clear evidence that if we make the right decisions now, we can recover better and build the equitable, climate-safe, nature-rich, healthy Wales that we all want and need. However, this will only happen if those in power fully commit to delivering a green recovery; there will be more information about how you can make this happen over the next couple of months, but for now you can watch the full session here.