Ecological Justice in Times of Transition: National and Global Perspectives from the World Future Council

Ecological Justice in Times of Transition: National and Global Perspectives from the World Future Council

On 13th October the World Future Council hosted a dialogue on ecological justice and political transition between WFC Councillors and students of the Masters in Transitional Justice of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

This session formed part of Councillor Dr. Rama Mani’s course on ‘Transformative Justice in Theory and Practice.’ Councillors Ambassador Anda Filip and Professor Alexander Likhotal were invited to share their national experience and international expertise on this subject. The almost 30 graduate students in this MA programme hail from all continents. Many come from societies that underwent violent conflict, authoritarian regimes or other forms of violent transition, and several have professional experience in this area.

Participants shared their expertise on ecological justice at the international level, and responded to incisive questions and comments from highly experienced students from Cyprus, Mexico, Cambodia, Canada and Syria/USA. The ensuing dialogue ranged from the ecological causation of wars, to the nature and ramifications of democracy and globalization, to the role of business, to the criminalization of environmental crimes.

Dr. Mani introduced the session by explaining why ecological justice must be addressed as a priority issue in transitional societies, and indicated some innovative ways this has been and could be done. Ambassador Filip and Professor Likhotal shared a penetrating analysis of the political transitions in Romania and the former USSR respectively, and the relevance of ecological justice in these transitions. Professor Likhotal underlined that ecological justice had been a decisive issue in the transition in the former USSR, and how President Gorbachev had recognized this and responded to environmental grievances, despite the economic cost. Ambassador Filip provided an insightful personal perspective on the evolutions that precipitated the dramatic political transition in Romania, and gave her honest appraisal of the positive and negative developments since transition.

Councillors also shared their expertise on ecological justice at the international level, and responded to incisive questions and comments from highly experienced students from Cyprus, Mexico, Cambodia, Canada and Syria/USA. The ensuing dialogue ranged from the ecological causation of wars, to the nature and ramifications of democracy and globalization, to the role of business, to the criminalization of environmental crimes. Professor Likhotal underscored the vital need for a new paradigm based on a systemic understanding of the current crises and a recognition of the limits to growth, and cited some innovative and successful new business models. Ambassador Filip shared the key positive lessons from the Interparliamentary Union’s process of consultations with parliaments on the Sustainable Development goals, which give room for optimism even in these turbulent times of uncertain transition.

Following the dialogue with the Councillors, our Geneva Liaison Office Coordinator Ingrid Heindorf presented the work of the World Future Council in the context of ecological justice in greater detail. She explained WFC’s groundbreaking work on Future Justice, on crimes against future generations, and demonstrated how the Future Policy Award serves as an innovative and influential vehicle for ecological justice.

Overall, this fascinating and intense interaction between the World Future Council and the graduate students of the Geneva Academy underscored that ecological justice is a priority issue that is systemically interconnected with the range of other political, economic and social issues, both nationally and globally. It also highlighted how, with creativity and innovation, there are manifold ways in which, like the Future Policy Award, new policy instruments and economic and political incentives can be developed to implement ecological justice in times of volatile transition.