The Bregenz Declaration – A Call to our Collective Consciousness

The World Future Council and all participants of the World Future Forum 2017 in Bregenz (c) Kongresskultur Bregenz. Photo by: Dietmar Mathis

We, the World Future Council commit to take action for systems change.

We commit ourselves to support the regeneration of our societies, our economies, our agriculture, our cities, our humanity and our Mother Earth, at this fragile moment in time when systems are disintegrating and degenerating.

Today, everyone’s actions – and failures to act – can decide the future of humanity.

 

 

If you, like us, believe this time of breakdown is and can be a time of breakthrough;

if you are willing to commit yourselves, as are we, to be the transformation that we know is possible;

if you, like us, see the compelling need for regenerative change –

join us.

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WFC Ratsmitglieder und Mitarbeiter bei der 7. Jahresversammlung in Bonn

10th World Future Forum: in 2017 the World Future Council convenes in Bregenz

From March 30th – April 2nd, more than 50 Councillors, Ambassadors and members of the Supervisory Board will convene at the World Future Forum 2017 “10 Years World Future Council: Best Policies for Future Generations”, which will take place in Bregenz, Austria, with the generous support of the Festival House Bregenz and their partners. 

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World Future Council mourns death of founding member and Honorary Councillor Sir James R. Mancham

The World Future Council is deeply saddened by the loss of founding member and Honorary Councillor, Sir James R. Mancham, who passed away on January 8, 2017, aged 77. Read more

Judge C.G. Weeramantry

World Future Council mourns death of founding member and Honorary Councillor Judge Weeramantry

The World Future Council is deeply saddened by the loss of founding member and Honorary Councillor, Judge C.G. Weeramantry who passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 5 January 2017.

Judge Weeramantry was a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from 1991 to 2000, serving as its Vice-President from 1997 to 2000 and a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka from 1967 to 1972.

During his time as an ICJ judge, Weeramantry contributed to several landmark cases before the Court. These included a case on the illegality of the use and threat to use of nuclear weapons where he shared remarkable and poignant observations, and the case concerning the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project which contributed to the furtherance of international sustainable development law.

In the course of his professional career of over five decades as lawyer, legal educator, domestic judge, international judge, author and lecturer, Judge Weeramantry played a leading role in several developing areas of the law. These included the illegality of nuclear weapons, sustainable development, rights of future generations, exploring the interface areas between law and religion and promoting cross cultural understanding.  He was also a passionate advocate of peace education which he believed should include teaching principles of international law at an early age.

He has written over twenty books, most of them extremely influential and translated into many languages, and lectured extensively on these topics in over forty countries.  His book, ‘Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility’ pioneered the concept of ethics in science, challenged the notion that science is neutral, and introduced the idea of a ‘Hippocratic oath’ for scientists. His book ‘Tread Lightly on the Earth’ offers a pronounced insight and analysis of the concerns of the world’s principal religions with the preservation and nurturing of the natural environment.

After stepping down from the ICJ, Weeramantry took up the position of President of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and continued advancing the application of international law for the benefit of peace and humanity in his new position. This included drafting, and presenting to the UN Security Council a seminal statement on the illegality of the preventive use of force, endorsed by over 200 prominent judges, legal scholars and lawyers from around the world. As IALANA President he also penned an influential public statement, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, on the application of future justice principles to nuclear energy – in order to highlight its illegality and stupidity.

The Judge was founding Chair of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law’s International Commission, and then, for 16 years, Patron‎ of the Centre, which is based at McGill University in Montreal, Cambridge University, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Chile.

Weeramantry also founded the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research which produced a vast corpus of research and writing based on Weeramantry’s legal knowledge and philosophy for humanity.

Judge Weeramantry received a number of prestigious awards including the Sri Lankabhimanya (highest National Honour of Sri Lanka), Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’) and the UNESCO Peace Education Prize, which he received in recognition of his commitment and concrete undertakings in support of the concept and culture of peace through his career.

With this letter our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. Judge C.G. Weeramantry will be missed as a friend as well as a moral authority.

Breakthrough: How to claim back our future

Speech by WFC Founder Jakob von Uexkull
at the IPB World Congress 2016

In the early 1990s a former British government adviser called Sir Peregrine Worsthorne reviewed the Cold War period and his own role in it and was horrified. He realised how easily war could have broken out in Europe in the 1980s through a misunderstanding while the Soviet Union was already dis-integrating. As NATO Policy was to respond to a perceived conventional Soviet attack with nuclear weapons, he envisaged a scenario where President Reagan would have consulted his friend PM Thatcher about starting a nuclear war and she would have asked him, as her advisor, and he would have adviced her to go ahead. Read more

The Brexit Chaos

Last weekend the CEO of Nasdaq complained in the Wall Street Journal about ‘The Overblown Brexit Market Panic’. Repeating the absurdity that the vote has created an “independent Britain”, as if the EU is a colonial power, he assured readers that “over the next two years, the timeline for EU withdrawal, Britain has an opportunity to become a trading magnet”.

It is rare to find so many errors and misunderstandings in such a short space. First, there is no panic because there has been no Brexit, only a non-binding referendum. This generated a small pro-Leave majority, which – according to numerous polls since – would not be repeated today.

Britain is a representative democracy with a sovereign parliament which chose to make this referendum non-binding. The Prime Minister who promised to implement it has since resigned. While the House of Commons could find strong reasons to ignore the vote, they will not (yet) dare to do so because of the fanaticism of the Brexiteers. Thus, Dominic Lawson, a columnist in the ‘Sunday Times’ has claimed (July 3rd), that ignoring the vote would cause such anger that “we could see tanks on the streets”.

So what is the most likely outcome? Will the British Parliament pass Brexit legislation, which most of its members do not believe in? The current House of Commons has a large pro-EU majority and it is unlikely that this will change after the next election.

So for now, it is likely that the process of the UK leaving the EU will go ahead, despite the growing opposition. Over 1000 lawyers have called for an independent body to examine the consequences, followed by a parliamentary vote.

Before the referendum, David Cameron said that the UK would trigger the EU exit clause (Article 50) quickly after a Brexit vote. Today this date is receding ever further into the future, with government ministers not wanting it triggered until the end of the year or even next year. Why? Because, having no Brexit plan, they have only now realized the complexities of unravelling 40 years of EU membership. As the Article 50 timetable stipulates that the UK will be outside the EU two years after triggering it, they are panicking that this will leave them without an alternative arrangement and at the mercy of their ex-partners. (Unanimity would be required to extend this two-year period). Experts have calculated that concluding negotiations and passing the required legislation may take seven years. The Austrian Minister of Finance experts Britain to still be an EU member in five years’ time…

As for negotiating new trade agreements, this may take even longer. For decades such agreements have been concluded at the EU level and the UK no longer has the required expertise. Last week, the media reported that New Zealand had offered to help out by lending London some trade negotiators…

While there is yet no panic, the Brexit insecurity is growing: “Sterling falls despite reassurance”, “Banks promise to boost lending to stop Britain falling into recession” (both headlines in the “Daily Telegraph”, July, 6th), and “Brexit vote may be the undoing of Italian Banks” (“City am”, July 6th). One of this paper’s columnists recommends that the UK adopts the cold war UN strategy of Stalin’s Foreign Minister Molotov and turns up at the EU Council of Ministers to “veto every proposal on any subject whatsoever, regardless of its merit”, until the EU agrees to Brexit negotiations before the UK has triggered the Article 50 exit clause.

One can only imagine the animosity and harm this will cause. Already, xenophobic and racist incidents have surged in the UK since the referendum. The vote has also created new inter-generational conflicts. Most young Britons voted to remain in the EU and many are furious with parents and grand-parents for depriving them of their freedom to live and work in other European countries.

So, as a result of holding this referendum at a time of strong anti-government feelings, and resentment against the privileged establishment after years of austerity, and promising to implement a non-binding vote come what may, the UK and EU now face many years of turmoil and disruption. At a time when many urgent issues — climate change, economic instability, terrorism, the refugee crisis, a resurgent Russia etc. — require the attention of European decision-makers, they will be busy unravelling the details of the UK’s EU membership and implementing alternatives. The simplest, guaranteeing continued full UK access to the EU market, would involve joining Norway and Iceland in the European Economic Area (EEA). Yet the UK will soon find that this involves accepting most EU laws and obligations — including free movement – but with no ability to influence them, and at equivalent financial costs for EU membership. The UK may believe it can get a special deal but this is very unlikely as the other members – who would all need to approve the outcome — would not want to create precedents.

So what is the most likely outcome? Will the British Parliament pass Brexit legislation, which most of its members do not believe in? The current House of Commons has a large pro-EU majority and it is unlikely that this will change after the next election.

The more time elapses since the Brexit vote, the more likely it is that MPs will assert their primary duty to act in the best interests of their country. This will particularly be the case if Scotland moves towards independence and the peace in Northern Ireland is threatened by Brexit, which will necessitate border controls between N. Ireland and the Republic.

In such a case it would be very surprising if MPs did not prioritize the peace and integrity of the UK above a non-binding vote taken years ago.

So, while it is likely that Article 50 will be triggered to appease the Brexit fanatics, it is even more likely that it will later be rescinded, i.e. that the UK withdraws its application to leave in a few years time. International treaty law allows this. Of course, this would require reversing the complex legislative process, wasting more years and risking more vetos along the way. David Cameron’s foolishness and arrogance will cost his country and Europe dear.

So what about immigration? Of course problems arise when health and educational facilities face years of under-funding due to austerity policies. But there can be little doubt that media anti-immigrant propaganda played a greater role in the referendum than actual immigration. I live in London which often really feels overcrowded with foreigners. But London voted to remain. On the other hand, areas of Britain which seem “unchanged since the 1950s” (to quote a retired lawyer living in Cheshire) voted to leave, despite very few immigrants. Voters there read the “Sun”, “Daily Mail” or “Daily Telegraph”, which worked hard to convince them that this was their last chance to stop the mass invasion of dreaded foreigners reaching their village…

“Solutions exist, it is up to us to overcome silo thinking”

Excellencies, Members of Parliament, dear Friends, dear Children,

A few years ago I spoke to a young audience in Canada about the global environment, when a teenage boy suddenly stood up and ran out of the room, shouting “Thanks a lot for leaving us a world like that!” So it is not easy to speak the truth about the state of our world to an audience like this.

I call myself a possibilist, for I know that solutions exist. But implementing them will require more allies than General Facebook and Admiral Twitter. Social Media are a great means but change requires power and this means getting engaged in public and political action. There are many examples of children and youths shaming their parents and decision-makers into changing course…

The World Future Council works to establish parliamentary Guardians of Future Generations – and a UN High Commissioner – with the mandate to ensure that our decisions, laws and agreements respect our responsibilities to them. We have developed a Global Policy Action Plan – a first attempt to bring together the key policy changes we need to tackle the major inter-linked challenges we face.

Our Future Policy Award, “the Oscar for best laws”, which we present in close collaboration with the UN and the IPU, last year honoured the best laws protecting the rights of children. The top award went to Zanzibar’s pioneering Children’s Act which includes an innovative programme of community-level child participation and peer-to-peer learning, in line with SDG 16 and 17 on inclusive decision-making. Another award went to the environmental education regulations of Maryland (USA) which mandate that all students must be environmentally literate when graduating, in line with SDG 4 calling for education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles.

Our Youth Ambassador, Kehkasan Basu from the UAE, was honoured by the Voices of Future Generations last year and I am very glad that this project is now attracting exciting stories from young authors in Asia, Africa and Latin America!

The good news is that solutions already exist for the major threats facing us. It is up to us to overcome our compartmentalised silo thinking and start focusing on the “how”, to implement these inter-connected solutions.

The UN SDGs provide an important agreed framework for action. But they contain a basic conflict, as continued economic growth threatens to destroy our natural environment, on which all life depends, long before the poverty abolition goals are reached. We must therefore build societies and economies of sharing and co-operation. There is no alternative, for you cannot negotiate with melting glaciers or spreading deserts.

With sufficient pressure, new paths to a shared, flourishing global future can be opened up quickly. In a crisis big steps are often easier than small steps because they inspire and mobilise.

On this path, you, our children, play a key role for you have not yet been conditioned into silo thinking but retain a sense of wholeness and wonder and (I hope!) a trust that you have the power to change the world!

These powerful books of our child authors provide not just hope that there are different ways but provide practical guides for the challenges ahead. They will help reframe and deepen the debate about our shared future. Thank you very much!

With his speech Jakob von Uexkull adressed UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNEP, UN SDG child ambassadors and children from local schools at the Houses or Parliament for the event “Children share visions of a just future” in London. The event was jointly hosted by the Voices of Future Generations initiative and the Mary Robinson Foundation at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The children offered insightful views on issues such as gender equality, climate change, human rights and access to education and emphasised the need for children to know about their rights, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

WFC Councillor receives prestigious award

Dr Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger honoured with 2016 Justitia Regnorum Fundamentum Award

The award, founded by the Ombudsmen of the United Nations Human Rights Commission of Hungary in 2007, is granted for exemplary, outstanding achievement and professional  activities carried out in the field of protection of human rights, including the rights of future generations, and is presented each year on the occasion of the anniversary of the  establishment of the Ombudsman institution.

WFC Councillor Dr. Cordonier Segger received the award for her achievements spanning two decades representing the interests of future generations and environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity, natural resources, and sustainable development, for her contributions as senior legal counsel and member of important global institutions for environmental and social justice, for her tireless efforts in development of treaty law and jurisprudence, and for her commitment to enlightening and mentoring a new global generation of international lawyers through editing and authoring over 80 publications, lecturing in prestigious universities, and founding international neducational institutions and initiatives.

Other award recipients in 2016 included Mr Ferenc Snétberger, a Hungarian guitar artist of Roma origin, one of the worlds most renowned Roma jazz musicians. Besides receiving numerous awards, he is famous for his achievements in supporting, encouraging and mentoring musical talents from disadvantaged background, including the founding of a truly outstanding music school in 2011 by Lake Balaton.

“The Global 100% Renewable Energy Coalition” called upon national governments to commit to 100% renewable energy targets and strategies

Press release – for immediate release

Warsaw, 18th November 2013 – The Global 100% Renewable Energy Coalition today called at the UN climate summit upon national governments to commit to 100% renewable energy targets and strategies. According to a joint statement from the coalition, “communicating and proving the urgency and feasibility of 100% renewable energy is key to breaking the climate deadlock.” Members of the coalition including World Wind Energy Association, World Bioenergy Association and the Fraunhofer ISE Institute criticized “the ongoing stagnancy of the climate negotiations and their struggle to agree upon and implement measures that effectively combat the climate crisis.” The organizations applauded the fact that „local, regional and national governments across the world are leading the way.”

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World Future Forum: 9th Annual meeting of the World Future Council in Hamburg

More than 50 Councillors, Ambassadors and members of the Supervisory Board convened for our Annual General Meeting “Identifying Policy Solutions for a World of Growing Disorder and Inter-linked Crises” in Hamburg, Germany from 5-7 March. Councillors and Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu will provide keynote speeches and Councillors from all continents provided their view of the future and ways to achieve a peaceful, sustainable and just future.

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