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.:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
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Join the online consultation on Future Generations

The political outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), The Future We Want, invited the Secretary-General to present a report on promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations (paragraph 86).

The Division for Sustainable Development has launched an online consultation through which it hopes to receive views related to future generations by the general public, experts, and other stakeholders. Some of these views may inform the report of the Secretary-General.

We invite all those interested in sharing their thoughts on one or several of the following questions to send an email to (subject line: Online consultation on Future Generations), post a message under the e-consultation event on our Facebook page ( , or tweet to @SDinAction using #FutureGenerations, by 10 July 2013.


  1. Common ethical principles and observed human behaviour lead to the conclusion that many of us tend to care most deeply for those closest to us in time and space, e.g. our immediate family, friends, and those from groups we identify with. How can we be expected to care about the fate of distant future generations especially if it requires significant sacrifices from us and our children? What is the basis for such an ethic or set of morals?
  2. Mindfulness of the needs of future generations is central to the definition of sustainable development, yet policies are not normally crafted with a time horizon that internalizes their impact more than a few generations hence. How then to create conditions where policies expected to have not just near-term but mid- to long-term welfare impacts are designed with a view to well-being of all affected generations, including more distant future generations?
  3. Which academic disciplines and practical developments are relevant to the discussion of intergenerational solidarity and justice for future generations? Which perspectives are crucial to be included into the Report?
  4. National action lies at the core of sustainable development. Can you share examples of policies or institutions that have been effective in safeguarding the interests of future generations? What are lessons that have been learnt with institutions such commissioners/ombudspersons for future generations?
  5. If we could establish an advocate or office for future generations, how could it be made as effective as possible? What kind of mandate, structure, and resources do you think would be needed? How can we avoid an overlap with the work already done by existing institutions and organizations?

Background information

A recording of the Expert Panel on Intergenerational Solidarity that took place in May 2013, as well as a video by the Chief of DSD's Policy Analysis Branch, David O'Connor, in which he answers several questions that we received via social media in the run up to the discussion, can be found on the sustainable development knowledge platform: