Many people are worried that the future of the planet is negotiated by politicians who have a mere 5 year term focus and are concerned about keeping their jobs. What we need is people without vested interests who can take a longer view and help navigate the future with more vision and integrity.
Discussions are currently being held by the UNCSD to consider the shape and structure of the Rio conference ‘Rio+20’ from 20 – 22 June. Two themes for the event have been agreed:
- Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, and
- Institutional Frameworks for Sustainable Development.
Addressing new and emerging challenges
The declared objectives are to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges. Members of the World Future Council’s Future Justice team will be attending the negotiations and raising the proposal for “Ombudspersons for Future Generations” at all governance levels to safeguard the planet and its people.
“Ombudspersons, or Guardians, offer a clear solution to break the short-term orientation in our governance structures. They act as a representative for those who are not able to express their interests and bring sustainability to the heart of decision making. As a tried and tested initiative, this institution has proven to defend and protect the rights of future generations and the planet”, says Catherine Pearce, Future Justice Manager of the World Future Council.
Ombudspersons must see that sustainability goals are turned into reality
To create our common future, we need to have our voices heard through NGOs, the media and politicians. What’s missing is a voice with legal authority, a voice with the force of the law to protect our agreed goals. The commitments to a sustainable future made by politicians over the past years are commendable, but we fail to turn them into reality. Ombudspersons for Future Generations will help us turn sustainability goals into sustainability reality, and set us on the path to Future Justice.
Ombudspersons are responsible for
- balancing short-term interests of political institutions with long-term interests of society
- taking responsibility for oversight, for making sure sustainability policies work in synergy and are effective in practice
- bringing authority to agreed sustainability goals, holding governments and private actors accountable for not delivering on them
- connecting citizens and civil society with the core of policymaking, providing a formal channel for information on sustainability infringements.
The proposal is now gaining significant and high government support, including from the EU and Mexico. The 2011 Social Watch Report, comprising over sixty national reports by independent citizen groups, entitled ‘The Right to a Future’, released last Friday and due to be launched at the negotiations, makes a leading call for Ombudspersons for Future Generations:
“There is now a growing call to look beyond short term interests and instead, to safeguard our planet for all future generations. Independent Ombudspersons, working at the heart of government can bring a true interpretation of owning the sustainable development agenda to all, and in the process ensuring accountability.”
“Citizens around the world are expressing alarm at an increasingly uncertain and unstable future and deserve better mechanisms for representation and access to decision making. Long term thinking is not a radical approach: Rio must chart a new path to protect our future,” Catherine Pearce, Future Justice Manager of the World Future Council explains.