Proposal for Ombudsperson for Future Generations Published

World Future CouncilFebruary 2012: The World Future Council and the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development have published a proposal for an ombudsperson for future generations as an input to the negotiations leading up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20).

The proposal provides that the Rio+20 outcome document must commit States to a clearly-defined process for the establishment of a UN high commissioner for future generations, and outlines recommendations for the mandate of such a commissioner.

The proposal underlines that a high commissioner for future generations would be the UN's principal advocate for the interests and needs of future generations and should be an independent office within the UN, funded from the regular UN budget. It highlights that the mission of the high commissioner for future generations should not be to promote sustainable development, but to “promote and protect the interests of future generations in the context of the imperative to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It further recommends that the first task of a high commissioner be to work with the UN Secretary General to develop a UN-wide strategy for protecting the interests and needs of future generations, for adoption by a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution. The proposal identifies some of the powers and responsibilities that should be given to a high commissioner for future generations, in relation to the matters falling within the scope of his/her mission, as follows: international agenda setting and leadership; promotion and facilitation of public participation; capacity building for institutional innovation at national and sub-national levels; and enhancement of public understanding and evidence.

The full discussion paper on this issue will be published at the beginning of March 2012. [Proposal for UN High Commissioner for Future Generations]