It’s a little cliché in sustainable development circles to say: “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” That doesn’t make it any less true. Future generations will always have to live with the decisions their forebears make.
Intergenerational equity promotes justice and fairness among those alive now, but ensures that we think about the impacts our actions will have on future generations.
While trying to equally distribute resources among nations and people, we must be aware that if we overexploit natural resources now, we’re ripping off our children and their children.
The importance of intergenerational equity becomes obvious when we see the disastrous environmental impacts that previous decisions still have today. Only a few decades’ worth of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) pollution has resulted in an ozone hole responsible for the sky-high rates of melanoma in Australia and New Zealand. Pumping waste into oceans has created dead zones where we can no longer fish, and the emissions released by industrialised nations, up to 250 years ago, are changing the climate today.
The damage we’re doing to future generations with our current rates of pollution and exploitation of resources is chilling. This is why at Rio+20, it has been proposed that the UN create a High Commissioner for Future Generations. This position would advocate for the interests of tomorrow, similar to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Young people are lobbying for a high-level representative for future generations to be kept in the negotiation texts. Attempts to stop the creation of such a role are deliberate attempts to weaken the sustainability component of sustainable development.
Anna Rose, co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, says “Removing reference to creation of a high-level representative for future generations means removing the voice of the future from these discussions. This would lead to more short-term thinking that got us into this mess. Young people today deserve representation of their interests at the highest level to reorient these kinds of summits towards long-term thinking.”
Young people from various organisations came together on Sunday outside the G77 meeting to protest the group’s attempts at blocking the creation of this role. With duct tape over their mouths, they stood outside the meeting room as delegates entered, holding signs saying “Give Future Generations a Voice.”
The concept of sustainability is inextricably linked with intergenerational equity. “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” means listening to future generations.
This article was cross-posted on symnews.org | Speak Your Mind News.