Yes Minister, you will be missed

Most politicians want to cling onto their seats for dear life these days, so it's somewhat refreshing when you meet one that has made a deliberate decision to hang up their hat early and leave on a high note.

This May Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson will step out of the political limelight when she leaves the Welsh Assembly after 12 years - a departure very much on her own terms, but one which many will lament. For Davidson, along with Caroline Lucas, is one of the most passionate and committed politicians out there when it comes to fighting for green causes. 

In the three years since taking up her environment portfolio, Davidson has helped engineer some formidable legislative firsts in the UK sustainability arena - statutory targets which will see Wales recycle 70% of its waste by 2025, a compulsory charge on single-use carrier bags, and the launch of a low carbon green building charter. 

Yesterday I travelled up to Cardiff Bay to interview the Minister and find out more about the legacy she will leave when she draws those Assembly office curtains to a close. While she has mixed feelings about leaving, she feels this is how politics should be - a healthy turning over of the soil every few years, bringing in new blood and fresh perspective. 

I first met Davidson six months ago, when she held a media briefing in London at the launch of Wales' Towards Zero Waste strategy. I was immediately struck by how open she was for a minister - she didn't gloss over questions or hide behind greenwash, but revealed numbers, statistics, the finer detail. There is no spin about Davidson, she is remarkably honest. 

More of what was discussed yesterday will appear in a later article, but for now what I can say is that we need more cabinet members like Davidson. Ones that aren't short-sighted with their portfolios, because their hearts are in it for the long term; they see the bigger picture. And ones that realise that so much is intertwined - good environmental policy goes hand in hand with social and economic policy. 

For Davidson, resource efficiency is all about living within our environmental means and only using our fair share of the world's resources. That we need to first recognise this, underpin it with a strong evidence base and then assemble policy around it to help us keep within those eco-limits. Wales is ahead of the game in this respect, which is why it has achieved so much on the waste management front in such a short space of time. 

There is no question that Jane Davidson will be a tough act to follow. But at least she has helped lay strong foundations for her successor to build upon. And for that, she will be missed. 

maxine perella

Topics: edie
Tags: | low carbon | waste management | zero waste
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