Quotes and downloads from the annual lecture

23 January 2024

GGI's Annual Lecture is being delivered today by Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Jane, who is also this year’s Good Governance Award winner, is best known as the architect of the world’s only future generations act, established in Wales in 2015. She is chair of Wales Net Zero 2035 and has made an important contribution to the work of the One Planet Standard.

Jane’s lecture focuses on the role of good governance in meeting the many challenges facing organisations and governments today.

She said: “I believe that good governance has never been more important. Good governance must enable individuals, communities, organisations, countries, and even globally through institutions such as the UN, to deal with the poly-crises facing us and it must also help us do that in as easy a way as possible.

“This globe knows no country boundaries, knows no territorial discussions, knows no wars. But it does know storms and droughts and wildfires and desertification. It does know massive migration. It does know pandemics. It does know the consequences of human behaviour.

“How can we have a liveable world if we carry on using way more resources than we have available? We have to focus on how we can make less more and better for current and future generations.

“We all have a duty as human beings to recognise our role in protecting this single planet home of ours.”

Jane quoted Robert Greenleaf, author of Servant Leadership (1979), who said: “The real enemy is fuzzy thinking on the part of good, intelligent, vital people and their failure to lead.”

She continued: “If we think about that notion of governance being how we do things around here, then don’t we all have a duty to try and make that better? To be part of creating governance that is good for individuals, for organisations, for countries and the world?”

View the annual lecture here to find out more about how Jane and her colleagues in the Welsh government worked towards the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act, which became law in 2015.

The act made Wales the first country in the world to tie its legislative commitment to the performance of all its public services, resulting in numerous changes across a wide range of areas, from a ban on smacking children to promoting sustainable agricultural land management and improving road safety.

Download Jane's lecture slides here.

Quotes from the discussion

Sir Michael Marmot

“The Wales, or do I say the Welsh Future Generations Act really to my mind represents the kind of good governance that I’d like to see. It’s a country’s government thinking about the future, not the date of the next election.”

“One description of bad governance has to be the kind of chaos we’re now in. How can you possibly develop a programme for government when you’ve had seven chancellors of the exchequer in less than seven years?”

“I was commenting on a report yesterday that rickets has gone up, scurvy has gone up. Rickets! Scurvy! I could be reading Dickens’ Hard Times.”

“I try and get inside people’s heads and think ‘what are they thinking?’ but I can’t get inside anybody’s head and say why would you reduce the spend per pupil on education more in deprived areas than in non-deprived areas? In what universe is that anything other than immoral?”

Stefan Stern

“I think it was Ernest Rutherford, the physicist, who said ‘There is no money, we shall have to think’, and scarcity could lead to creativity, it could lead to new ideas, new solutions.”

"I think what we have seen, and you’ve all alluded to it so far, what there has been a terrific scarcity of in recent times among leaders and managers, I’m afraid to say, is integrity. There’s been an integrity crisis or shortage in our organisations.”

Jaideep Prabhu

“What we see in a country like India is that scarcity and a lack of money forces people to think in creative ways; the lack of resources forces them to be resourceful.”

Andrew Corbett-Nolan

“So what is good governance? Governance is a system for running organisations. Good governance is that that system is productive, and we talk about the four meaningful outcomes of governance, which are that you produce, for your efforts, an ethical culture; you have legitimacy; you have good control; but most of all you create value beyond profit and performance.”

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