Leaving no one behind – including youth and future generations
‘Young people are the leaders of today – not just tomorrow’ was one of the key headlines emerging from the Inter Parliamentary Union Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians gathering in Lusaka, Zambia, from 16 -17 March. Members of the Future Justice team were present in the discussions.
Whether it be sustainable development, inclusive political processes or democracy and peace, it emerged that young people and young parliamentarians have a critical role to play. They can be the driving force in securing a better, shared future for all. Greater efforts need to be made to engage with young people and allowing their voices to be heard. The Inter Parliamentary Union, the IPU, has been a long advocate for more young parliamentarians, in order to strengthen democracies, and improve the representation of unprecedented growing numbers of youth around the world.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offered a natural cornerstone to discussions, given the challenging, interconnected and transformational agenda they present. If Governments around the world are to meet the global goals by 2030, then concerted efforts, redirection of state spending and vastly improved awareness amongst the public is needed. Young people can play a key role, but their contributions are currently missing. Certainly greater access and an improved style of democracy is needed to engage the growing number of young people in this effort. Young people, and engaging with them, must be seen by national parliaments as an opportunity, not a liability.
Participants at the IPU conference pledged to channel young people’s views and concerns into national development plans, strategies, policies and laws by directly interacting with them through social media and other online tools and by boosting partnerships with youth organizations.
A session of the programme was dedicated to looking to future generations. Dr Sándor Fülöp, former Commissioner for Future Generations (Hungary), noted that considerable human activity today impacts on future generations. He reported on his former role to ensure that all legislation takes into consideration the rights of future generations. Dr Fülöp identified key characteristics of his role which allowed optimal impact: prestige, independence, access and compliant function powers. This opened up discussion to our proposal for more countries – and for the United Nations – to establish Guardians for Future Generations.
‘Leave no one behind’ has become the slogan to the SDGs, adopted by many to help communicate and pledge an underlying commitment to a complex agenda. The marginalised, people in vulnerable situations and living on the edge of society come to mind. They are typically voiceless and forgotten. Yet, what of future generations? They are also without a voice, and for whom full enjoyment of their human rights looks increasingly uncertain. If the global community manages to meet the goals by 2030, we will be closer to securing a safer and more stable planet for future generations to enjoy.
Claims of the transformational nature of the 2030 Agenda need to be supported by a new mindset which challenges current patterns where short-term interests often override the wellbeing of future generations. It is after all, the decisions made today that will affect them. Changes are needed to address the challenges posed by climate change, environmental destruction, extreme poverty and the widening gap between rich and poor, all of which pose enormous risks, not only to present generations, but to future generations too.
Ending poverty – a key part of the 2030 Agenda, is as much about future generations as present day. People cannot think and act long-term if their daily life is an existential struggle. Today, the impacts of climate change are most heavily felt by the poorest, threatening people’s basic rights such as the right to food, water and shelter on a daily basis. As a result, much of the world’s population is prevented from developing sustainably in a way that doesn’t compromise future generations.
Image by Aikawa Ke
Posted by Future Justice on 21 March 2016