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“Essential Ingredients for a Sustainable Future”

Anticipation is high that 2015 will be a landmark year for sustainable development. The 70th UN General Assembly in September will culminate in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals with targets for all countries, up until 2030. It is in this favourable context that the conference ‘Essential ingredients for a sustainable future – Why do we need independent institutions, and how should they work for the long term?’ will take place in Cardiff in Wales, on the 28 and 29 April. The event is organised by the World Future Council, the Welsh Office of the Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, the Welsh Government, Sustain Wales and the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations. It will be the occasion to highlight the positive processes achieved or outstanding, at all levels; UN, EU, national, regional, etc.; where the needs of future generations are being actively considered and implemented.

The programme includes panels and workshops led by several eminent speakers from different horizons; including Edith Brown Weiss, Professor of International Law from Georgetown University Law Centre in Washington DC and Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, UNDESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs). Themes will include ‘New institutions to drive the change – working with purpose and impact to protect our common future’, ‘Identifying the gaps for institutional innovation’, ‘Learning from the rich experience of existing examples elsewhere’ and ‘Looking to the future – perspectives in practice’.

As the conference coincides with the passage of the Well-being of Future Generations Bill in the Welsh Assembly, Cardiff offers the perfect backdrop to speak about a sustainable future. Indeed Wales is leading the way in taking on board the interests of present and future generations in the decision making process. The current Commissioner for Sustainable Futures has led a ‘National Conversation’ to build a picture of ‘the Wales We Want’ by listening to the people of Wales on their pressing concerns and the threats that they fear will face Wales in the future. More information on the Bill can be found here.

The conference will bring together a global community of institutions serving to safeguard the needs of future generations, all named by the UN Secretary-General in his Report of 2013, ‘Intergenerational Solidarity and the Needs of Future Generations’[1], including

–       the Committee for the Future in Finland, which deliberates parliamentary documents referred to it and, makes submissions to other committees on future-related matters.;

–       the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in Canada, Julie Gelfand, who is responsible for assessing whether federal government departments are meeting their sustainable development objectives, and overseeing the environmental petitions process;

–       Hungary’s Ombudsman for Future Generations, Dr. Marcel Szabó, whohas the task to ensure the protection of the fundamental right to a healthy environment. He examines individual measures and monitored policy developments and legislative proposals to ensure that they would not pose a severe or irreversible threat to the environment or harm the interests of future generations;

–   the Australian Capital Territory’s Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Robert Neil who encourages sound environmental practices and procedures to be adopted by the Territory and Territory authorities as a basis for ecologically sustainable development.

–   Germany’s Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Developmentserves as the advocate of long-term responsibility in the political process, should structure policy for future generations and support the work of the bodies created by the Federal Government.”

All these institutions are the proof that future generations are being increasingly considered, and that dedicated mechanisms can support and facilitate the process.

Measuring the Long Term

Abstract

“The world’s continued fixation with economic growth ignores a rapid and largely irreversible depletion of natural resources that will seriously harm future generations. Coupled with the increasing short-termism of modern politics and a general inability to look beyond our own self-interests, the result is a crisis of opportunity for unborn generations. Long term perspectives are rarely factored into our decisions while future generations remain politically powerless; their interests limited to the whims of the present generations.”

How can we best assess how our current decisions and actions are impacting future generations? WFC Senior Policy Officer, Alistair Whitby, presents some of the most noticeable alternative indicators that can help governments and businesses with their long term planning and make some recommendations to ensure these efforts have real impact.

Help Ensure Every Child Born is Wanted

Abstract

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) set out by the UN in 2015 will drive the global development agenda on social, economic and environmental issues for the next 15 years. Out of the stated goals, none specifically refer to population policies. Yet coherent and sustainable population policies, including universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights, are necessary to achieve the majority of the development goals outlined. The Global Policy Action Plan (GPACT) recognises these links, and this paper elaborates on the necessity of coherent and future-proof population policies.

“Ideas and trends that can shape the lives of present and future generations”

New York: The United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was held at the United Nations headquarters from 30 June to 9 July 2014. WFC Future Justice Director Catherine Pearce was amongst the panelists of the moderated dialogue. More information can be found here.

Seven Principles for Future Just Lawmaking

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Abstract

Future Justice means putting the values that are essential to our survival at the heart of every law, and every policy. To help with this, we have developed seven policy principles for future just lawmaking.

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. Read more

Model Institutions for a Sustainable Future

Budapest: WFC Councillors Judge C. G. Weeramantry, Dr. Sándor Fülöp, and Dr. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger as well as Future Justice Director Catherine Pearce contributed to this intensive three-day conference hosted by the office of the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations.

Alternative Indicators for Wealth

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Abstract

It is now widely recognised that the objectives that have dominated economic policy for the last 40 years and more – maximising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and market efficiency – are no longer adequate goals for society. There is now a broad coalition that recognises that economic growth alone cannot deliver sustainability, social justice and improved well-being. Institutions such as Eurostat, the OECD, the World Bank, National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and others are responding to the desire from governments and civil society to consider a more nuanced set of economic policy objectives. At the same time non-governmental actors are using alternative ‘Beyond GDP’ indicators as an advocacy tool to promote more radical societal change including greater equality, higher levels of well-being for all and a vision of progress that is consistent with long-term environmental sustainability.

 

BRAINPOoL Conference

Paris: At the conference “Beyond GDP – from measurement to politics and policy”, the key findings and recommendations of the BRAINPOoL project on alternative indicators were presented.>>

Rio+20 Failure

World Future Council calls on governments to spread Future Just Policies

Rio de Janeiro, 22 June 2012 – As the Rio+20 Summit has failed to agree upon appropriate actions and targets in the interest of future generations in Rio de Janeiro, the World Future Council is now calling on governments, parliaments, intergovernmental bodies, media and youth to accelerate action towards a fair and sustainable shared future at international, national and local levels.

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