Brexit has been the dominant political focus in both Westminster and Cardiff Bay over the last year, reflected in the endeavour that WEL has put into ensuring that the principles that guide our present environmental governance are not in any way diluted through our likely departure from the European Union. The work undertaken both within Wales - and more widely with our UK Environment Links partners and Greener UK - is described more fully in the following pages.
Our 7 Working Groups have particularly targeted the influencing of post-Brexit management of our land and seas, where the continued devastation of habitats and species demands urgent implementation of sustainable solutions. Our members own or manage 5% of the land area of Wales, providing advice on land and marine management across the country.
Public concern over environmental issues is now ahead of both the economy and crime, beaten only by Brexit and health – and for young people only the Brexit outcome is given greater priority than environment. The widespread and growing support for climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion is further evidence of the preoccupation of these issues in the minds of those who will have to live with the decisions we take today.
Our members are, on average, seeing increases in numbers of volunteers and members, demonstrating that people want to act to protect our environment. WEL members now represent over 420,000 members and supporters, which is equivalent to 13% of the population of Wales.
I am pleased that the importance of WEL’s role in prioritising and coordinating the work of environmental NGOs has been recognised through the award of a substantial three-year grant by the John Ellerman Foundation. Together with other fundraising successes, our small central team has put the organisation onto a firm financial foundation in difficult fiscal times.
In conjunction with the further development of new digital communication tools, this has facilitated improvements in both the efficiency and effectiveness of internal working processes. In-kind support from members is at an all-time high, a further echo of the value in which WEL is held.
WEL works to foster sound, productive relationships between member organisations and the individuals who play a part in those organisations. I once again tip my metaphorical hat in awe of the diligence and expertise of our small group of staff, our member organisations and my fellow Trustees.