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Representation of future generations

David FlintConcern for the future is a central issue in Green politics. Many of our key issues – biodiversity, climate change and the loss of natural habitats – have consequences beyond the life of a parliament or even of a person. The damage done by climate change in particular will be worst for generations yet unborn.

So when the UN invited everyone to contribute through the Talanoa Dialogue to its work on climate change it was natural that we should think about how to represent the interests of future generations in today’s decision-making.

So to cut it short the convener of the party’s Climate Change Policy Working Group (that’s me) wrote a draft. Other WG members suggested changes and Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) adopted the result as an official party document.

The paper is quite brief – we do want people to read it. It makes the case for formal representation of future generations and suggest how it might be done. Since this was for the UN it doesn’t say that every country should do the same things but does suggest two things:

  • A law requiring consideration of impacts on future generations.
  • An independent Commissioner for Future Generations. Wales has one!

We also suggested supporting institutions such as parliamentary committees (the UK has one of these) and university departments.

It’s hard to know what effect things like this have and the UN is not noted for speed! However the UN’s summary of Talanoa submissions did refer to the representation of future generations as a “promising high-potential solution” applicable to a variety of issues.

And Autumn conference passed a motion endorsing our work and urging party members to use the ideas in campaigning. We’re currently discussing campaigning options.

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