Calling on the UN to better address the needs of future generations

World Future Council sets the case for a High Commissioner for Future Generations in order to safeguard the lives of tomorrow

Press release – for immediate release

London/NY, 1 July 2014 – The World Future Council has made a call for the UN to establish a High Commissioner for Future Generations to help facilitate a better understanding of how our actions today affect the lives of tomorrow. The appeal follows today’s UN convened discussion amongst governments and civil society on “Ideas and trends that can shape the lives of present and future generations” at the UN Headquarters in New York.

By only focusing on short term interests, the UN risks denying future generations a safe and healthy planet, warns the World Future Council. The proposed role of a High Commissioner has been broadly recognised by many governments and civil society as a solution to help ensure that UN decisions have lasting benefits to ensure inclusive, sustainable human development for current and future generations.

Today’s discussion follows last year’s release of a report[1] by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon on future generations. The report, titled “Intergenerational solidarity and the needs of future generations”, unequivocally stresses the imperative for leadership:  “The present generations need to understand why leaving the planet to our descendants in at least as good condition as we found it is the right or good thing to do.” The Secretary-General’s primary proposal for action is to establish a High Commissioner for Future Generations.

The World Future Council calls for Member States to act on the report and establish a new, dedicated office so that UN decisions have lasting benefits to ensure inclusive, sustainable human development for current and future generations.

Speaking on the panel, Catherine Pearce, Future Justice Director with the World Future Council, said:

 “We are failing to embody the culture of long termism in our actions – and quite simply closing down the options for fulfilling lives now and in the future. To break this deadlock we need mechanisms expressing the long-term costs of our decisions. Ban Ki-moon understands this, now it is time for governments to heed the advice and act, starting with establishing a High Commissioner for Future Generations to work at the UN level.”

Media Contacts

World Future Council
Alexandra Schiffmann
+49 4030 70 914-19 (Hamburg, Germany)

The World Future Council

The World Future Council brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. Its up to 50 eminent members from around the globe have already successfully promoted change. The Council addresses challenges to our common future and provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. In close cooperation with civil society actors, parliamentarians, governments, business and international organizations the World Future Council identifies “best policies” around the globe. The World Future Council is registered as a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany.

The High Level Political Forum
The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is held at UN Headquarters in New York from 30 June to 9 July 2014, with a ministerial segment from 7 to 9 July. The forum was created at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, to follow up on the implementation of sustainable development and to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations.  The forum has particular significance as sustainable development with its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – will be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.  The meeting will consist of interactive dialogues among governments, the UN system and other organizations, as well as major groups and other stakeholders from civil society.  The outcome of the meeting will be a Ministerial Declaration.