The World Future Council, one of the organisers of the recent Sustainable Futures Conference in Cardiff, has compiled a succinct summary of the key messages. Antony Mason takes up their invitation to spread the word
“Essential Ingredients for a Sustainable Future: Why do we need independent institutions, and how should they work for the long term?” – that was the full name of this landmark conference, which took place in Cardiff on 28–29 April 2015. We published a brief report on it shortly after the event. Since then, the World Future Council has produced its own summary, and encouraged all participants to circulate it widely.
To avoid repeating ourselves, we won’t publish this report here in its entirety. However, the “Key Messages” definitely deserve highlighting.
- If we are going to tackle the long-term global challenges, we need to improve our governance for the long term so that decisions made today take into account the needs of future generations.
- We hold the planet in trust; we must pass on the earth with its natural and cultural resources in at least as good a condition as we inherited.
- We need to create values of responsibility, recognising the effects of what we do on future generations, and foster such norms and values in current generations.
- It is important that democratic structures, which are heavily dominated by limited timescales, incorporate institutional structures that can improve decision-making for the long term.
- There are increasing examples of such institutions being established at the national and regional level, demonstrating a variety of models, dependent on the different cultural and constitutional models of different countries.
- Such structures are going to be critical if we are to take a longer-term view and achieve the targets for the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the 2050 climate change goals.
- The principle of sustainable development underpins the role of the institutions, but the framing against the needs of future generations as a focus is more engaging and relevant.
- It will be important for these institutions to be connected to share learning, but also there needs to be a focal point at UN level.
- There is a strong case for institutions to be independent of the government, with specific duties and powers.
(Source: World Future Council)