What are Future Generations? And why do we work for their rights?
„We promise to do everything in our power to help sustain life with all ist beauty and diversity for future generations […]“
From the Founding Document of the World Future Council
Everything we do – or don’t do – today has an impact on future generations. For example, every tonne of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere today will remain there for centuries, affecting the climate now and in the future. A river that is polluted can no longer be used by generations to come. Therefore, it is only fair and sensible to deal with all our resources in such a way that they can still be used for our children, grandchildren and their descendants – so that they can thrive and live in dignity.
Politicians often only act with regard to the next term of office; large parts of the economy only look at short-term profits. The principle of intergenerational justice means that we always consider future generations: the 7th Generation Principle, for example, takes into account the well-being of seven generations after us, which would be about 150 years. We don’t know what people’s lives will look like then – but we do know a lot about what humanity needs survive and thrive: Opportunities for action, a safe and healthy environment, access to clean water, healthy food, clean energy, space to work and learn, a cultural heritage, and much more.
Future generations, however, by their very nature, are not around today to stand up for their rights; someone has to do it for them. An ombudsperson for future generations can institutionalise this role. That said, future justice and intergenerational justice are concepts that must guide all political, economic and cultural action – otherwise the survival of humanity and all life on our Earth is in grave danger.