Including Future Generations in today’s decisions

In a recent article published by Le Monde, Mary Robinson, former President of the Republic of Ireland and current President of the Elders, a non-governmental organisation bringing together personalities renowned for their commitment to peace, justice and human rights, mentions the “Open letter calling on world leaders to show long-view leadership on existential threats” published by the Future for Life Institute and the Elders. She commented that “leaders need to act in the interests of living and future generations, and cannot claim that the danger is hypothetical or too far in the future to merit attention now“, a good reminder in our view of the need for a dedicated Future Generations representation in the European Union.

At the moment, several countries within and outside the European Union have already set up bodies responsible for preserving the environment, cultural heritage and natural resources for present and future generations. Others have put in place mechanisms to integrate long-term thinking into their policy-making processes. Some countries have even adopted legislation recognising the responsibility to preserve the future, and some have decided to set up institutions, ombudsmen, committees or parliamentary commissions with a mandate to represent the future, defend the interests of future generations or act on their behalf. They include Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Goa, Hungary, Israel, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Scotland, Wales, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. What sets these models apart is that they seek to combine knowledge and action, trying to understand the future impact of the choices we make today.

The initiatives undertaken by various countries and organisations to incorporate future generations into present decision-making processes serve as examples for broader global action. As evidenced by the establishment of dedicated bodies, legislation, and collaborative platforms like the Network of Institutions for Future Generations (NiFG), which is one of the supporters of the Future Generations Initiative, these efforts underscore the importance of considering the long-term impacts of our choices today. By recognising the imperative to safeguard the interests of future generations, we can strive towards more sustainable and equitable policies. It is imperative that we draw inspiration from these institutions and integrate similar frameworks at local, regional, and international levels to ensure a more inclusive and responsible approach to governance. Therefore, it is time to reframe the discussion around including future generations in today’s decisions, recognising it not merely as an idealistic notion but as a practical necessity for securing the well-being of all generations to come.