Covid-19: The World Future Council’s Call on Governments, Multilateral Organisations, Leaders and Policy-makers of the World to Take Action

COVID/19 has been a wakeup call for humanity. The pandemic has created unprecedented emergencies. To overcome the current catastrophic scenario we need to act now, not only to respond to the health crisis but to build a just and sustainable future. We urgently need a strong and efficient multilateral system, we need global leadership, collective action and shared responsibilities in support of current and future generations.

Immediate targeted actions required out of deep respect for life on earth:  

  1. Ensuring the right to health for all

Health is a fundamental human right. International solidarity is required, so that all people in all countries have access to health services of quality, leaving no one behind. There must be full access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and medicines. The international community and governments have an obligation to ensure universal health coverage (UHC) at national level. Governments also need to ensure the right to clean air, clean water and sanitation, as well as the right to healthy and nutritious food. Children, refugees, internally displaced persons, elderly and persons with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable. They deserve special attention. We promote integrative health which supports resilience of the people and the planet.

  1. Providing financial and investment relief

We urge OECD governments to support the already established Global Humanitarian Response Plan and the Response and Recovery Fund for poor and middle-income countries. We underscore the necessity that governments drop austerity policies, stop evictions and expand public budgets for the health of people and the health of our planet. Countries need to prioritise investments to guarantee fundamental rights to health, water, food, housing and education. In order « to build back better », the significant reduction of developing countries’ foreign debt will have to be complemented by better access to sustainable investment for developing countries

  1. Creating decent and sustainable jobs

National governments as well as international economic and financial stimulus and recovery packages should secure millions of decent jobs, specifically for young women and men who are affected most by the crisis and enhance green new deals. COVID-19 measures should support sustainable, fair economies and disseminate green technologies such as renewable energy and agroecology. This requires to « build back better » with a new economy that addresses inequalities and that is more resilient, greener, healthier and safer for all. Economic stimulus packages must support meeting the Paris goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees.

  1. Halting armed conflicts

Armed conflicts kill many innocent people, aggravate the health and economic impact of pandemics, destroy the natural environment and thwart measures to contain the pandemic and deliver healthcare.  We emphatically endorse the United Nations initiative for a global ceasefire, and call on all warring parties in armed conflicts to lay down their arms and work in cooperation with the UN Special Envoys for sustainable and peaceful resolutions to the conflicts. We also call on governments to honour their obligations under the UN Charter to resolve international conflicts through diplomacy, mediation, arbitration and adjudication, and to reduce military budgets in order to release funds for public health and sustainable development.

  1. Securing children’s rights

Millions of girls and boys are experiencing a deep cut in the enjoyment of their rights like the right to education, to health, to food, to play and to protection. We urge governments to develop measures to keep them healthy, to provide them with water, sanitation and food, to allow children to continue their education and to protect them and their mothers from violence.

  1. Empowering and protecting women and girls

Women and girls are specifically impacted by the current lock-down by an increase in domestic violence and in their workload. They are the majority of health workers and their care work must be valued with adequate pay and childcare support. Reproductive health services also need be provided.

  1. Valuing health workers and service providers

Tribute needs to be given to all health workers, caregivers, food and basic services’ providers for being at the frontline of this pandemic and for putting their own lives at risk to serve and protect us all. They need to receive fair pay and benefits.

  1. Respecting nature and its life cycles

In order to prevent future pandemics we need to recognise the links between human health, infectious diseases, destruction of our ecosystems and planetary health. Every country must do its part to develop and implement comprehensive legislation to further sustainable energy and agroecological practices, protect animal welfare, ban wildlife sales, protect wildlife and ban trafficking of wildlife across borders. Markets for live animals need to be studied to address the disease vectors. Policymakers need to fight corruption that allows these activities to continue even when they are banned or illegal. They also need to protect and restore ecosystems, protect biodiversity and work towards an increase of protected areas on land and sea, as well as a substantial worldwide increase in forest cover, including through afforestation and reforestation, in order to ensure living organisms in the biosphere have the needed space without human interference. Actions addressed above should be integrated in the 2020/2021 meetings of the UN, the UN Biodiversity Summit and the World Food Systems Summit.

  1. Accelerating action on climate change

Addressing the COVID-19 crisis cannot come at the expense of solving the climate crisis: Governments need to continue developing rapid and far-reaching decarbonization of our energy and food systems by producing clean energy and implementing energy efficiency measures in the consumption. Governments must set domestic 100% renewable energy targets to keep fossil fuels underground and unleash investments to scale up across all sectors, including power generation, mobility, heating, cooling and cooking. We need to mitigate climate change through agroecology and sustainable forests. Investments should be redirected from subsidizing fossil fuels towards meeting the Paris Climate Agreement Goals. Action addressed above should be reinforced at the next UN Climate Summit.

  1. Enhancing effective global cooperation 

In order to better manage pandemics and other global health and environment issues, the UN should enhance its internal coordination mechanisms and ensure effective cooperation between UN agencies and a more systematic implementation at national level.

Business as usual is not an option. We must lay the foundations for a peaceful world of solidarity, equity and sustainability, by spreading effective future just policy solutions.

The World Future Council is composed of 50 eminent persons from around the world and was founded in 2007. We work with policy makers to bring the interests of present and future generations to the centre of policy-making, promoting the spread of future just policies across the world. We call for the international community to support and bolster the work of the United Nations and to implement commitments such as  Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, while promoting far more rigorous measures which are desperately needed to counter the global threats we face.



Building on our work as World Future Council since 2007, we call upon policymakers to reverse the planet’s interconnected crises, to ensure resilience for the long-term and to act urgently to implement far reaching, appropriate measures


  1. Enhancing livelihoods through ending hunger, adopting agroecology and protecting the oceans

Across the world, millions of people are threatened by hunger despite a global food system of over-production and waste. Hunger can be eradicated through regenerative practices that challenge unsustainable food consumption and waste. Visionary food system policies are needed that promote agroecological practices, widely endorsed by scientists, civil society groups and farmers, protecting smallholders, indigenous farmers and community supported agriculture. Localized food systems must be structured to create resilience in the face of our brittle globalized food system. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a symptom of a food system in need of transformation to address key health, nutrition, hunger, poverty, climate change and animal welfare issues at their roots. We request that the huge sums made available for restarting the economy be used proactively to further the food system’s agroecological transformation and assure long term resilience in the framework of food sovereignty and right to food.

With fishing grounds already overfished, many species extinct and the high pollution of our seas, we also call for the conservation of oceans by protecting at least 30 percent of the oceans by 2030 as recommended by the High Ambition Coalition of Governments.

  1. Establishing a regenerative economy within business and investment cultures 

Considering the overshoot of the planetary biocapacity, business and investments are required to consistently orientate their corporate strategies towards the externalization of benefits for human societies and natural habitats. From now on, entrepreneurial and investor success must be benchmarked against the regeneration of the natural bases of life and the development of the daily infrastructural needs of people. For safeguarding the ecological and material basis for our common future, the regeneration of the broad range of our common livelihoods must become a primary goal of our economic activities. This must be consequently supported by an adequate economic policy framework.

  1. Valuing and accounting for natural and social wealth

We underscore that natural and social wealth need to be valued and integrated into the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and incorporated into the valuation of companies and their performance measurements. To capture the positive and negative externalities, the broad range of social economic and ecological indicators must be integrated into accounting methodologies. The valuation of economic activities, their products and services along their full impacts on society and nature is a precondition for the global economic, social and environmental system transformation.

  1. Reviewing trade and investment agreements

As the Amazon still burns during the pandemic, all trade and investment rules and agreements need to be reviewed on the basis of environmental, economic, social and health impacts and effectively adjusted to achieve a regenerative life supporting economy. Furthermore, we also call for securing a legally binding multilateral treaty on transnational corporations’ respect for human rights at the UN.

  1. Developing technology serving people and planet

Technology is rapidly developing. Policy makers need to raise the question: Does the technology specifically contribute to human development, avoiding negative health and social consequences? Is the precautionary approach to human health, natural resources and ecosystems applied as well as the polluter pays principle? Can the technology leave no one behind and respect planetary boundaries?

  1. Advancing peace and security

We call on governments to reduce reliance on militarism and the threat or use of force, eliminate nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, drastically reduce the USD 1.7 trillion global military budget, and re-direct funds to common security and human needs. Financial and political support is needed for the United Nations and its mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and its agencies for advancing security. Such a shift from military to human/common security can secure the health of our people and the health of our planet, regenerating the very foundations of life – forests, soils, oceans, and the atmosphere.

  1. Educating for sustainable development

We recognize that all daily decisions can have severe global impacts. At all ages, we need to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and values to unfold human potential and foster responsible behaviour and lifestyles, that are compatible with the living Earth. We call for education for sustainable development to be widely implemented from the youngest age onwards.

  1. Safeguarding and promoting the rights of future generations

We strongly support the campaigns of children and young people who are demanding that today’s leaders take appropriate measures to protect the future of the living Earth. They rightly insist on being actively involved in key decisions that will affect their future and generations to come.

We call for effective institutions to safeguard the rights of current and future generations at all levels of government decision making across the world.

We also call for the recognition of our collective responsibility on intergenerational equity and to recognize that all decisions have long-term implications for the wellbeing of people and the planet.

May 2020

Spanish Version available here

Signed by

1. Hafsat Abiola, President, Women in Africa Initiative, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, Nigeria
2. Helmy Abouleish, CEO of the SEKEM Initiative, President of Demeter International, Councillor, World Future Council, Egypt
3. Charlotte Aubin, President, GreenWish Group, Councillor, World Future Council, France
4. Dr h.c. Maude Barlow, Chairperson, The Council of Canadians, former Senior Advisor to the UN on water issues, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, Canada
5. Dipal Barua, Founder, Bright Green Energy Foundation, Co-Founder & Former Deputy Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Founding Managing Director, Grameen Shakti, Councillor, World Future Council , Bangladesh
6. Kehkashan Basu, Founder-President of Green Hope Foundation, Youth Lead of Toronto-St-Paul’s Constituency Youth Council Canada, Youth Ambassador of World Future Council, Canada
7. Prof. Dr. Ana María Cetto, UNAM, Councillor, World Future Council, Mexico
8. Dr. Anthony Colman, Research Fellow , University of East Anglia, Columbia University and the University of Cape Town, former UK MP, Founding Councillor, World Future Council United Kingdom
9. Prof. Dr. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, DPhil (Oxon), MEM (Yale), BCL&LLB (McGill), BA Hons, Senior Director, Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) and Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, University of Cambridge, UK, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC CoP26 Climate Law and Governance Initiative (CLGI) and Full Professor of Law, University of Waterloo, Canada, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, Switzerland
10. Thais Corral, Founder, Women, Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Founder, SINAL do Vale School of Transformation Agents; Coordinator of the Adapta Sertão Project at the Center for Innovation and Sustainability and Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano (Network for Human Development), Councillor, World Future Council, Brazil
11. Dr. Daniel Dahm, Member of Advisory Board, Scientists4Future, Member, German Association Club of Rome DCoR, Managing Director United Sustainability Group, Senior Advisor, World Future Council; Germany
12. Inez Bjørg David, actress, Ambassador, World Future Council, Denmark/Germany
13. Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Honorary Councillor, World Future Council, Algeria
14. Dr. phil. Barbara Doll, ObGyn, Complementary Medicine, Senior Advisor, World Future Council
15. Anda Filip, former Ambassador of Romania to the United Nations, currently with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Councillor of the World Future Council
16. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President oft he 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Councillor, World Future Council, Ecuador
17. Dr. Olivier Giscard D’Estaing, Chairman, INSEAD Foundation and Comité pour un Parlement Mondial, former Member of the French Parliament, Honorary Councillor, World Future Council
18. Luc Gnacadja, President, GPS-Dev (Governance and Policies for Sustainable Development), Councillor, World Future Council, Benin
19. Prof. Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, CEO, Schweisfurth Foundation, Honorary Professor for Environmental Ethics, Humboldt University Berlin, Chair, Supervisory Board, World Future Council, Germany
20. Prof. Dr. Maja Göpel. Secretary-General, The German Advisory Council on Global Change, Councillor, World Future Council, Germany
21. Neshan Gunasekera, educationist and lawyer, Councillor, World Future Council, Sri Lanka
22. Randy Hayes, Executive Director of Foundation Earth, Rainforest Action Network Founder, World Future Council Advisor, USA
23. Dr. Hans R Herren, President and CEO, Millennium Institute, Co-Founder and President Biovision, Recipient of the World Food Prize, Councillor, World Future Council, USA/Switzerland
24. Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, India, Founding Member, World Future Council, India
25. Prof. Dr Rolf Kreibich, President, “A home for the United Nations Berlin”, Executive and Scientific Director of the Secretariat for Futures Research/Free University Berlin, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, Germany
26. Anja Leetz, Environmental Health Expert, Senior Advisor, World Future Council, Germany
27. Prof. Dr. Alexander Likhotal, Professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Councillor, World, Future Council, Switzerland/Russia
28. Dr. Rama Mani, Convenor, Enacting Global Transformation, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, Founder, Theatre of Transformation Academy, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, France
29. Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Chair, Alliance Bioversity and CIAT, Chair, Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Former Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature, France/Hungary
30. Jan McAlpine, McAlpine Consulting Washington DC; former Director, United Nations’ Forum on Forests Secretariat – Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNFF), USA
31. Frances Moore Lappé, Small Planet Institute, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, USA
32. Hiu Ng, Honorary Fellow, University College London, Honorary Councillor, World Future Council, UK/China
33. Dr. Auma Obama, Founder and Chair, Auma Obama Foundation, Councillor, World Future Council, Kenya
34. Dr. Anna Oposa, Executive Director, Save Philippine Seas, Councillor, World Future Council Philippines
35. Dr. Katiana Orluc, Political and Strategic Advisor, Founding Councillor, World Future Council
36. Prof. Dr. Michael Otto, Chairman of the Advisory Board Otto Group and Co-Founder and Honorary Councillor, World Future Council
37. Andrea Reimer, Former Vancouver City Councillor, Loeb Fellow, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Policy Practitioner Fellow, UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Canada
38. Cyril Ritchie, President, Union of International Associations, Senior Policy Advisor, World Future Council, Switzerland
39. Prof. Dr. Vandana Shiva, Director, Navdanya, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, India
40. Ilsabe von Campenhausen, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Germany
41. Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, PhD, Honorary President, The Club of Rome, Past Co-Chair, International Resource Panel, UNEP, Germany
42. Alexandra Wandel, Chair, Management Board, World Future Council, Member of the International Commission, Voices of Future Generations Book Series, Germany
43. Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Recipient of the Rights Livelihood Award, Councillor, World Future Council New Zealand/Czech Republic
44. Anders Wijkman, Honorary President of Club of Rome, Chairman of the Governing Board of Climate-KIC, former President GLOBE EU, former UN Assistant Secretary- General, Founding Councillor, World Future Council, Sweden
45. Barbara Woschek, Honorary Councillor, World Future Council, Project Manager: Ending violence against women and girls, Canada

 [1]Zoonotic diseases –those transmitted from animals to humans – cause 2.5 billion cases of human illness and 2.7 million deaths each year around the world, according to the National Institutes of Health. Viruses such as HIV, Ebola, Sars, Mers and Zika are also believed to have originated in animals.