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Long-term thinking resource helps organisations protect the health of future generations

Published: 27 March 2024

A new resource to help organisations use long-term thinking to reduce health inequalities is being launched by Public Health Wales in partnership with the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner.  It provides tools and case studies which show how we can move on from just treating disease to promoting good health and preventing illness whenever we can. 

Helping organisations to think for the long-term can enhance current projects and processes and improve the quality of the important decisions that drive their work every day. 

The new resource aims to inspire those in Wales and beyond to reduce health inequality by exploring methods to enable long term thinking and sharing case studies which show how those approaches have been applied in Wales. It guides users through identifying relevant trends, generating a future vision, and setting a course for a desired future. Methods discussed include horizon scanning, the futures triangle, axes of uncertainty and scenario planning, among others. 

Case studies include: defining a 100 year long-term strategy for the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, preparing for the long term implications of a new piece of environmental legislation in Wales, exploring what the housing system in Wales could and should look like, and many more. In exploring each case study, the resource guides users through the various approaches to long-term thinking that have been used. It offers tips on approach, who to involve, time required, outputs, and recommends specific toolkits for more detailed guidance. 

Louisa Petchey, Senior Policy Specialist at Public Health Wales said “This is a valuable resource to help organisations plan for a better future and fulfil their obligations under the Well-being of Future Generations Act for Wales. It offers practical help to identify next steps as well as essential insight into real-life examples where long-term thinking is being put to great use to help reduce health inequalities. We are facing challenging times in Wales with our healthcare services, wider public sector and third sector are under great strain. This makes it more important than ever that we balance managing the crises of today with the preventing the crises of the future.” 

Derek Walker, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales said; “Health inequalities have a huge impact on the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of people in Wales. We need to consider how we can address and prevent these in the long-term so that our current and future generations have equal access to the building blocks of a healthy, happy life - education, housing, access to nature and social connections. In these times of uncertainty and complexity, it is more vital than ever that we think about the future impacts of our decisions and act now for a better tomorrow. This new resource can help people and organisations in Wales think and act longer-term and improve the lives and health of the people of Wales now and in the future." 

Luke Maggs, Lead Operational Researcher for Natural Resources Wales said; "As Wales stands on the edge of an unprecedented nature and climate crisis, now more than ever we need a focus on long-term decision making.  It is vital that we ensure that the transition to nature positive and net zero is done in an equitable manner which also tackles health inequalities so prevalent in our communities and builds a regenerative economy for the people of Wales. We welcome this new resource from Public Health Wales and Future Generations Cymru which helps partners explore these issues using futures and foresight techniques."