Our History

We’re sustainability experts who help organisations create a fairer and more secure future. Since 2002 we’ve been part of Wales’ journey to end short-term thinking and become a leader in sustainable development.

From our beginnings as a membership network, our role has evolved. Having played a key part in developing the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act, our focus has shifted to enabling practical action towards realising the Well-being goals and the sustainable Development goals.

Today, we’re a non-profit enterprise and registered charity, providing advice, training and networking opportunities.


The establishment of the organisation was led by Sue Essex AM, the then Minister for the Environment in the Welsh government.

The Sustainable Development Forum for Wales was registered in 2002 and established in 2003 to be an independent body working alongside government to advance sustainable development in Wales.


To coincide with the launch of Welsh Government’s One Wales: One Planet we launched the first ever Wales Green List in the Senedd, celebrating the achievements of 52 Green Heroes from across Wales.


From 2012 we supported Welsh Government on a wide-range of initiatives; providing the secretariat for the Climate Change Commission Wales and managing the Sustainable Development Charter as well as supporting the former Sustainable Futures Commissioner, Peter Davies.


For over two years we worked with the Welsh Government and the former Sustainable Futures Commissioner, Peter Davies, to deliver Wales’s biggest National Conversation on ‘The Wales We Want’.

The Conversation was launched in February 2014 with the support of award-winning Welsh actor and UNICEF supporter Michael Sheen.


In 2014, we became a registered charity: promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the public.

We are the first charity in Wales to have this as our primary aim.


‘The Wales We Want’ Conversation featured the voices of 6474 individuals and helped to shape and inform the ground-breaking, Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act – the first law of its kind in the world.

In November 2015 we launched the inaugural Sustain Wales Awards – recognising sustainable leadership in Wales.

A new chapter


In 2016, following the formation of the new Office of the of the Commissioner for Future Generations, our contract with Welsh Government ended.

Determined to build on the existing knowledge, skills and experience; four staff with the support of the board took the first steps towards establishing the organisation you see today.

In November we became the official accreditation body for the real Living Wage in Wales.


In 2017 we began our partnership with The Carbon Literacy Project and delivered our first accredited Carbon Literacy course.


In November we launched the Sustainable Academy Awards with RenewableUK Cymru.  Bringing together the best of the Sustain Wales Awards and the Wales Green Energy Awards.

We also became part of WCVA’s group structure with the ambition to bring together complimentary skills to strengthen and enable new project partnerships.


We reached a key milestone and celebrated our 200th Living Wage Employer in Wales.


In April 2020, Cynnal Cymru was recognised as the first Carbon Literacy Training Organisation (CLTO) in Wales.

In the same year in response, to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic we also launched our first distance learning Carbon Literacy course.


We piloted and launched our new eco-literacy training Nabod Natur – Nature Wise.

With the support of Welsh Government, we launched the Living Wage for Wales website and gathered stories from about the positive impact of the real Living Wage on organisations and workers.

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