Tim O'Riordan notes our reluctance to forego the benefits of a carbon-dependent world. We want sustainability but are not prepared to vote for it. The main problem is short-termism, exacerbated when things are financially tight.
Halina Ward spoke at a TEDx event for young people on future generations and intergenerational justice as the Minister for Future Generations in 2050, Septima Tulisa, jointly supported by FDSD, and held at London Zoo.
More than 2/3rds of British people believed in this 2011 IPSOS-MORI poll that the UK Government considers future generations too little in its decisions. Nearly half of those interviewed (45%) think passing on a healthy planet is more important than a thriving economy (9%), safety and security (16%), or an unspoilt countryside (4%).
FDSD joined 28 other organisations, including the National Trust and the Town and Country Planning Association, to call for the then Localism Bill (now Localism Act) to be amended to include a definition of sustainable development.
When FDSD learned that new administrative arrangements for Hungary’s Commissioner for Future Generations could water down the role of this unique institution, despite strengthened protection for the environment and future generations in Hungary’s new constitution, we drafted an urgent sign-on letter to MEP József Szájer.
Following the suggestions of Intergenerational Foundation’s report Hoarding of Housing: the intergenerational crisis in the housing market, Halina argues that the UK Government has no consistent approach to future generations, and that ‘future generation’ arguments are often used to justify taking things away in the present.
FDSD warned about ‘signs of erosion in the overall global political commitment to sustainable development’ and recommended urgent action to accept the reality of planetary boundaries, address political short-termism and create institutions to ensure that the needs of future generations are built into decision-making.
FDSD joined other NGOs to urge the European Commission to redress a bias towards economic and business issues in its communications leading up to Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.
FDSD submitted evidence to the PASC (Public Administration Select Committee) Inquiry into Government policy and the capacity for strategic thinking in Whitehall arguing that the UK needs to create new institutions to overcome short-term electoral cycles, and to have regard for the needs of future generations.
On 9th September 2010, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for a “horizon shift” to respond to a political culture and society which has become too short-term. Halina argues that, whilst the analysis is good, the proposed solutions - increased mobility and prosperity - seem inadequate.