Championing the Future: The Role of the United Nations in Protecting the Interests of Future Generations

“As a young Mexican, I am proud to stand in support of Intergenerational Fairness Day and emphasise the crucial importance of safeguarding the interests of younger and future generations.”In this article, Claudette Salinas Leyva, UN Next Generation Foundation Fellow, delves into why this day matters, the vital role played by the United Nations, what needs to be done, and how supporters can actively get involved.

My journey

I aspire to be a responsible ancestor, shaping a world where the interests and needs of those yet to come are safeguarded. Among the many reasons why I decided to advocate for intergenerational fairness comes my own story. I grew up in Tamaulipas and amidst the war on drugs, my parents inspired me to dream for more. Although their parents were housekeepers and small farmers, they told me fairer futures were possible. 

This “living for the hope of it all” mindset has been a constant fuel in my journey. From moving to a big city to study Law to leading an international platform for future generations, there has always been a resounding call to address the inequalities and systemic issues that persist. In my current position, as a United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow for Future Generations, I and others work to ensure that the voices of younger and future generations are not neglected on the global stage. Now, more than ever, we need a Day as a reminder that no crisis is final and that brighter futures are attainable as long as intergenerational solidarity exists. 

The Importance of Protecting Younger and Future Generations at the UN Level

The significance of safeguarding the interests of younger and future generations within the framework of the United Nations (UN) is underscored by recent developments and initiatives. After UNESCO’s Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generations towards Future Generations, the “Our Common Agenda” report laid a compelling case for fostering a profound deepening of solidarity between generations. It emphasizes that our collective commitment to the welfare of future generations and the planet is not only an ethical imperative but a pragmatic necessity in addressing pressing global challenges. 

Following its launch, the United Nations System has taken significant steps by adopting a set of Common Principles on Future Generations, highlighting a growing acknowledgment of the importance of intergenerational equity within the UN framework. Additionally, there is an ongoing intergovernmental process to produce a Declaration on Future Generations. This initiative will underline the international community’s commitment to the well-being of those who will inherit the consequences of today’s decisions.

While the UN has shown commendable progress, it remains essential for young people and civil society to actively engage in ensuring the effective implementation of these initiatives and holding leaders accountable for their pledges. Ultimately, the ownership of these principles and accountability at the grassroots level are the driving forces behind meaningful change. It is not only crucial to bridge the gap between global aspirations and local actions but also to actively involve communities and empower them to play an active role in shaping the future.

What Needs to Be Done to Better Protect Younger and Future Generations?

As Aarathi Krishnan puts it, “to better protect the interests of younger and future generations, we need to understand the systemic structures of injustice and inequity that happen now, and how might this be replicated or enhanced in the future. Because whatever that the society looks up now, that’s what will unfold”. 

We possess vast potential to forge a more promising future, but first, we must comprehensively grasp and represent the diverse groups that will shape it. This endeavor transcends a mere call for global south representation; instead, it embraces a broader vision that enriches our epistemic diversity and enables us to engage in intergenerational practices without replicating injustices.

How Supporters Can Get Involved

Let’s work together to create a more equitable and sustainable future for young and new generations. With our voices joined in the Intergenerational Fairness Day, we can advocate for intergenerational equity on social media, in our communities, and through correspondence with our elected representatives. By sharing knowledge and raising awareness about this cause, we can inspire others to join us in this movement. Through our engagements, we can urge our governments to prioritize intergenerational concerns both globally and locally.  

If you’re a young person, consider joining the Engine Room and supporting UNF initiatives to address intergenerational issues at the international level. Together, our active involvement can make a significant impact in shaping a brighter future for all.