Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
Today I am launching Wales’ first Natural Resources Policy (NRP), marking the next step in implementing our ground-breaking Environment (Wales) Act.
Everyone has a stake in our natural resources and ensuring these resources are sustainably managed. In Wales, with our abundant natural resources and beautiful landscapes, we are fortunate. At the heart of our well-being, they support our health, livelihoods and vibrant culture. However, we cannot take this for granted. The evidence is clear that our natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems have been in decline for many years. Climate change is already driving change, with very real consequences for our communities.
Healthy, resilient ecosystems are central to our approach. They enable us to tackle the big challenges we face, to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, tackle flooding and air pollution and to support our nation’s health. Being more efficient with our natural resources has crucial benefits, less pollution, less waste and less impact. Using them to best effect can play an important role in supporting our future competitiveness, creating jobs and new market opportunities for businesses in Wales.
Through consultation feedback and the findings of our extensive engagement exercise, 3 national priorities for the management of our natural resources have emerged. The 3 priorities are:
- Delivering nature-based solutions - working more effectively with nature to tackle our big challenges
- Increasing renewable energy and resource efficiency – and setting out a clear pathway for investment in these areas
- Taking a place-based approach – to respond to local needs and opportunities.
Focusing efforts on these priorities will allow us to address the challenges affecting our natural resources, as set out in the State of Natural Resources Report, and help realise our Well-being Goals. As we define a new place for Wales in the world in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, this will be ever more important. The Natural Resources Policy will drive action across the whole of government. The range of visits I will be undertaking this week demonstrates the breadth of application of the NRP and its priorities across farming, energy production and marine and fisheries.
Ultimately, it is only by working together we can implement the national priorities in the context of local needs and opportunities. The next step is therefore for Natural Resources Wales’ Area Statements to address the priorities at a local level. In addition, my Brexit Roundtable and working groups will continue to play a central role.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.