The Commission for Future Generations was established in Israel in 2001 and lasted for one term of office until 2006. The Commission had a specific focus on the practices of the Knesset: the Commissioner was empowered to examine any parliamentary bill and secondary legislation where it judged potential harm on future generations and to express opinions during legislative committee deliberations or as an attachment to bills. According to the first (and only) Commissioner, its mission was ‘enhancing long-term and sustainable thinking among policymakers and in the state of Israel at large and ensuring that these considerations are included in primary and secondary legislation’.
While the Commission had extensive rights to information and participation in the workings of the Knesset, perhaps the most significant power it possessed was of delay: ‘the right to be given enough time to prepare an opinion on a bill’. As the first Commissioner noted: ‘The commissioner can introduce uncomfortable delays… on issues he deems critical – but in doing so, he risks drawing antagonism from all sides. Thus, this authority was rarely invoked; when it was, it was done implicitly and behind the scenes rather than in a formal manner’.
Drawing guidance from the concept of sustainable development, the Commission was able to engage on any subject on the parliament’s agenda, but aimed to select issues where it would have the most scope for effect, including education, health, environment, national economy and budget and science and technology.
The Commissioner was abolished due to, according to Teschner: ‘the cost of its operations and their feelings that the Commission received too much authority to interfere in their work’. In the view of one of the Members of the Knesset, ‘no proper differentiation was made between providing facts and a spectrum of positions, and determining morally what is good and what is bad… depriving us of our role and interference in it by an external party’.
You can find further information in:
- Boston, J. (2016) Governing the Future: Designing Democratic Institutions for a Better Tomorrow, Bingley: Emerald.
- Shoham, S. (2010) Future Intelligence, Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsman Stifung
- Teschner, N. (2013) Official Bodies that Deal with the Needs of Future Generations and Sustainable Development, The Knesset Information and Research Center.