United Nations

The United Nations is currently advancing several initiatives relating to future generations. Here is a summary of the activity and our actions.

United Nations Secretary-General’s

Our Common Agenda

“Our Common Agenda” is a report released by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in September 2021. The report outlines the UN’s vision for the future of global governance and provides recommendations for strengthening the UN’s role in addressing global challenges and promoting sustainable development.

The report identifies four major challenges facing the world today: recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, building more inclusive and equitable societies, and preventing conflicts and promoting peace. It proposes a series of actions that the UN and its member states can take to address these challenges and strengthen global governance.

The report emphasizes the need for collective action, multilateralism, and the involvement of all stakeholders in shaping the future of global governance. It calls for a renewed commitment to the principles of the UN Charter and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and proposes specific reforms to strengthen the UN’s effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.

Overall, “Our Common Agenda” is an important contribution to the ongoing global conversation about how to build a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world.

Future Generations within ‘Our Common Agenda’

The “Our Common Agenda” report highlights the importance of considering the needs and perspectives of future generations in shaping the future of global governance. It recognizes that the actions we take today will have profound and long-lasting impacts on future generations and that it is our responsibility to ensure that their needs and rights are taken into account.

The Secretary-General has also released a series of Policy Briefs in 2023 that provide more details on the proposals contained in Our Common Agenda. The first of these publications being ‘To Think and Act for Future Generations’, which makes specific proposals that are elaborated upon below:

UN Declaration for Future Generations

A declaration for future generations is an essential step into consolidating global collective commitment to securing the rights and interests of future generations.

UN Envoy for Future Generations

The UN Secretary-General intends to appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations to serve as a voice for future generations in the United Nations system.

Intergovernmental Platform

A dedicated forum for future generations has been proposed as a space for governments to share experiences and innovations, and to provide support for implementation of policies and actions to safeguard those yet to come.

Summit of the Future

The Summit of the Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to consider ways to lay the foundations for more effective global cooperation that can deal with today’s challenges as well as new threats in the future.


UN Declaration for Future Generations

A UN Declaration for Future Generations is being considered by Member States. This process is being led by co-facilitators (Jamaica and The Netherlands). To help guide discussions, an Elements Paper was produced in 2022. Several Network Members have participated in discussions and consultations.

At the beginning of 2024. virtual informal consultations with stakeholders were carried out to gather input on how to safeguard the interests of future generations. More specific, stakeholders were asked to reflect on the following guiding questions:

  • What are the principles that should ground our commitments in the Declaration on Future Generations?
  • What practical steps are needed at the global level to take future generations systematically into account?
  • What should the Summit of the Future aim to achieve so that we live up to our obligations to future generations?


UN Envoy for Future Generations

The UN Secretary-General intends to appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations to serve as a voice for future generations in the United Nations system. The Network has long campaigned for the UN and other countries to establish roles for future generations.

The UN Secretary-General proposes the following. “The Envoy would not be operational but would per- form advisory and advocacy functions, such as:

>  Representing and advocating for the interests of future generations across the United Nations system and in intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder processes as appropriate;

>  Facilitating efforts to collaborate and share lessons and best practices among peer institutions, committees and networks for future generations, including those at the national and subnational levels;

>  Supporting member states and the united nations system in raising awareness of and advising on the likely intergenerational or future impacts of policies and programmes under consideration, building on national examples and lessons learned, through research and the production of high-quality information, assessments and recommendations, as well as participation in relevant discussions;

>  Supporting Member States collectively and individually, on request, by serving as a focal point for efforts to embed future generations and long-term thinking in global, national and subnational policymaking processes and channelling capacity-building resources to that end;

>  Facilitating long-term thinking and better use of foresight and understanding of future risks, challenges and opportunities by the United Nations system, in support of Member States, leveraging the Futures Lab network and science advisory mechanism, among other resources.


Intergovernmental Forum

The recent Policy Brief for Future Generations, produced by the UN Secretary-General outlined further detail on a possible intergovernmental forum.

It read, “Declarations are especially effective when they inspire and link to concrete means of implementation at all levels of governance. As Member States seek to operationalize protections for future generations in their national contexts, a dedicated intergovernmental forum would give them an invaluable tool to share experiences and innovations.

To provide a space for Member States and other stakeholders to come together to advance the objectives of the declaration, consideration could be given to creating a standing intergovernmental forum for future generations under the auspices of the General Assembly. This forum would not be a decision-making body but would provide a locus for debate and collabora- tion. While the proposal contained in Our Common Agenda to repurpose the Trusteeship Council did not find favour among Member States, the idea of a dedicated forum for future generations nonetheless gained considerable traction during the consultations on Our Common Agenda.

The UN Secretary-General added, “The functions that such a forum could perform include:”

a. Deliberating and providing guidance on how the principles agreed in the declaration could be operationalized;

b. Receiving assessments from the envoy for future generations and other stakeholders on the impact of decisions on future generations;

c. Exchanging best practices based on national and subnational experience, and providing a locus at the global level for the growing number of national and regional level bodies, as well as representatives of the private sector, civil society, local authorities and young people to come together;

d. Ensuring meaningful participation of all relevant stakeholders, in particular children and young people as current and future decision makers with thegreatest affinity for future generations;

e. Mainstreaming future-proofing, which could be defined as improving the capacity of institutions, policies and processes to enhance the long-term survival of humanity, by accounting for the interests of future generations and addressing extreme risks.


Summit of the Future

Having welcomed the submission of Our Common Agenda, the General Assembly passed a resolution in 2022 (A/RES/76/307) to hold the Summit on 22-23 September 2024. Practical consultations on preparations for the Summit began in February 2023 and a Ministerial meeting will take place this year. The Summit of the Future will build upon the SDG Summit and breathe new life into the multilateral system so that it can deliver on the promises of the United Nations Charter and the 2030 Agenda.

An action-oriented Pact for the Future will be endorsed by Heads of State/Government at the Summit, showcasing global solidarity for current and future generations.