Education

The education session set out to collect the ideas and opinions of the participants as an orientation on the subject of education. The education session started off with unanimous agreement among the participants regarding the crucial role of education with regard to the interests of future generations. We need to be thought to encompass those interests in our thinking and actions and education is the tool for that. The suggestions and opinions were discussed in four categories where each category provides input for the shaping of the next in a closed loop. The used categories where Teacher Student relationships, Teacher Training, Organization of Education, Research.

Teacher Student relationship – Three issues stood out when discussing this category. First, education could become more rooted in ‘real life’. This means an outwards directed orientation, learning from the world outside the classroom and using current events for teaching. Second, education should stimulate a much broader development of students in which student happiness is to play a guiding role. All students are unique and should be able to develop all their talents and forms of intelligence. Including social, emotional, creative or spiritual intelligence, which are now still often neglected in favor of cognition or theory. Also skills, how to treat yourself, other people and the earth, norms and values should be given more attention relative to current practices. The image of customized “bottom-up” education where students form the base of a pyramid and government the top fits with this notion. Third, teachers should be given more freedom to express their own enthusiasm, values, opinions, passions, visions and personalities through their teaching. This helps to inspire their students to develop their own personalities.  This also requires more freedom for teachers to design and adapt their classes to their unique situation and students. Examples of the above suggestions can be found in the Dutch documentary ‘Leraar aan de Macht’, Waldorf schools or elementary school Bloemhof where a teaching philosophy by Henk Oosterling is being applied. Identified barriers to the above suggestions are the current focus of effectiveness and short term and the (low) social status of teachers.

Teacher Training – Much of what has been said about student teacher relationships applies to teacher training as well. In this case the future teachers find themselves in the role of student. Teacher training should pay more attention to broadening the horizon of future teachers. It should focus more on self-awareness and -consciousness of the own identity. On developing a teacher’s emotional and soft skills. On teachers forming their own opinions, lifelong learning and guiding the development of students, relative to content. Half-open curricula and peer-2-peer learning are examples that with these notions.

Organization of education – Keywords that were emphasized when discussing the organization of education where flexibility and adaptability and an ‘outward focus’. This means the school should be firmly embedded in the local community with students learning from projects that are related to the (local) community. Organizing education in such a way requires the before mentioned adaptability and flexibility, stimulates experimenting and investigating by the students and transcends the boundaries of course and disciplines. Something valued by the participants because it would stimulate students to think in systems. Other suggestions for organizing education focused on horizontal organizations and direct democracy solutions where students, parents and teachers are the driving force. Semcor style and toekomstbehendig.nl where mentioned as examples of this type of thinking about organizing education.

 Education research – Finally with regard to education research the participants pointed out the importance of participation by students and teachers in research and the benefits of short feedback loops.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society

[NL] Corporate Governance

Panelists: Wim Bartels (KPMG), werkt op het bredere gebied van corporate reporting; Remco Renes (NBU), werkt met name op het gebied van corporate governance; Tineke Lambooy (NBU), is hoogleraar ondernemingsrecht.

Tijd: 14:15 – 16:00 uur.

Sessie werd gestart met een voorstelrondje. Vervolgens werd de nieuwe corporate governance code besproken. Nieuwe code wordt gezien als een termijnbreuk in vergelijking met de voorgaande codes, Code Tabaksblad en Code Frijns, omdat lange termijn waardecreatie in de nieuwe code is opgenomen. Lange termijn waardecreatie is vastgelegd in hoofdstukken 1 en 2. Echter, wat moeten we verstaan onder ‘lange termijn’? Voor wie moet er waarde gecreëerd worden? Lambooy legt uit dat de corporate governance code semi-juridisch is. De corporate governance code kan zelf niet juridisch binden, maar in boek 2 van het Burgerlijk Wetboek is een ‘comply or explain’-bepaling in opgenomen. Deze ‘comply or explain’-bepaling ziet op de best practices alsmede op de principes die zijn vastgelegd in de corporate governance code.

Uit de zaal werd gevraagd hoe jongeren een plek kunnen krijgen in de board room of raad van commissarissen. Lambooy geeft aan dat ze het liefst jongeren in besturen of raad van commissarissen wil hebben. Als dat niet lukt, dan kunnen jongeren eventueel in een schaduwcommissie/stakeholderscommissie. Een participant uit de zaal merkt op dat de profielschets in hoofdstuk 2 van de corporate governance code etniciteit niet benoemt. Lambooy geeft aan dat de King Code IV uit Zuid-Afrika wel etniciteit benoemt, maar dat het in Nederland als discriminerend over kan komen en daarom niet benoemd is. Een andere kritische deelnemer geeft aan dat de corporate governance code te vergelijken is met een auto die casco wordt opgeleverd, waarbij nog gekozen kan worden of men de auto wil voorzien met sjoemelsoftware of met de inhoud van een Tesla.

Renes geeft aan dat accountingstandaarden van de International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) nog niet altijd gericht zijn op de lange termijn. Olie mag bijvoorbeeld meteen geactiveerd worden, maar wind niet. Dit zou betekenen dat oliebedrijven een rooskleurigere balans kunnen presenteren in vergelijking met bedrijven die zich richten op duurzame energie. Een ander probleem is dat regels internationaal afgesproken worden. Volgens Bartels kunnen regels via een lange weg veranderd worden, namelijk als het besef verandert bij de regelgevers dat we naar een andere, circulaire, economie gaan.

De IASB bestaat uit werkgevers, werknemers en accountants. Renes geeft aan dat bestaande regels niet toereikend zijn. Het onverhoeds aanpassen van regels kan bijv. tot gevolg hebben dat banken om kunnen vallen.

De IASB kijkt vooral nu naar huidige en gerealiseerde waardes. Het is heel moeilijk om iets toekomstig te waarderen. Bijkomend probleem is dat de balanswaarde van een vennootschap en de beurswaarde niet congruent zijn. De beurswaarde is in algemene zin hoger dan de actuele balanswaarde.

Het veranderen van standaarden is bijzonder complex. Stel dat de autobranche een verkeerde keuze heeft gemaakt door in fossiele energie te investeren en dat door een verandering van standaarden bedrijven in deze branche een stuk minder waard worden. Pensioenfondsen die geïnvesteerd hebben in dergelijke bedrijven zijn hierdoor een deel van hun investering kwijt, waardoor de uitkering van onze pensioenen weer bemoeilijkt wordt.

De voorzitter van de Financial Stability Board spreekt van de ‘tragedy of the horizons’. Klimaatverandering heeft een zodanige horizon dat we nu iets moeten doen anders zijn we te laat. Probleem is dat bedrijven nu alleen huidige waardes moeten aangeven. Er is daarom een reporting framework nodig dat zich richt op de lange termijn, waarbij een focus moet liggen op toekomstige risico’s.

Een vraag die gesteld werd was tot slot of bedrijven alleen op finance moeten richten of ook op impact. Moet het wel financieel blijven als je zaken zoals mensenrechten wilt kwantificeren? De participanten denken van niet.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society

Creating an Inclusive Society

Ecological (and economic) aspects of sustainability are often emphasised at the expense of social aspects of sustainability. In order to represent the interests of future generations, the ombudsperson should equally uphold all pillars of sustainability, whether economic, social or ecological. Social sustainability and inclusivity go hand in hand and the Ombudsperson Future Generations can play an important role in combatting the social problem of exclusion.

Creating an inclusive society starts by ‘disclosing one’s personal bias’. In this process, it is vital to recognize differences; in other words, people should not pretend differences do not exist. Yet, in the same way, these differences should not matter.

Inclusivity has a lot to do with power; who determines and defines the norm? Currently, white, middle-aged, heterosexual, Dutch men determine and define the norm in the Netherlands. As a consequence, many are excluded in society because of their gender, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or mental and physical ability.

The ombudsperson should take an intersectional approach to inclusivity, as opposed to representing the interests of minorities separately. After all, everyone suffers from the consequences of exclusion in some way or the other, albeit some are excluded more than others.

  • The future is inclusive. The ombudsperson should play a role in explaining and interpreting the societal problem of exclusion in relation to the interests of future generations.
  • The ombudsperson should identify what problems various groups are facing and it should combat these whilst upholding an intersectional approach.
  • The ombudsperson should explicitly invite people to address issues of exclusion by referring to the ‘Loket’.
  • The ombudsperson should monitor the effect (governmental) policies have on different groups in society and should intervene when policies lead to inequality and inequity in the future.
  • The ombudsperson should operate in an inclusive manner by, amongst other things, introducing a sounding board consisting of minorities and children.
  • The ombudsperson should embrace a positive approach when addressing the issue of exclusion in society, for example by introducing a prize for the most inclusive companies and/or municipalities in the Netherlands.
  • Inclusivity should not be optional. Education and training can be a powerful tool with regard to combatting the societal problem of exclusion. Therefore, both children and people in powerful positions (CEO’s and recruiters) should receive inclusivity training.
  • ‘Future generations’ should be added to article 1 of the constitution.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society

Environment and Land Use

The participants of the break out session on Environment and Land Use developed recommendations for the Ombudsperson for Future Generations in the Netherlands. They strongly support the idea of an Ombudsperson for future generations, while the organisation should also invest in its network and it should therefore be called the Ombuds Persons for future generations. While the Persons could increase consciousness, they should also investigate opportunities based on:

  1. The Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek).
  2. Human Rights.
  3. Lawsuit of Urgenda and Friends of the Earth against the state on climate change theme as inspiration for other environmental themes necessary to tackle (climate, biodiversity, soil fertility, and more).

In addition, the Ombuds Persons should at all times take the interests of future generations into account with every decision making process with future effects. Other issues which were raised were: True Costs Pricing, Green Taxes, connecting it with the Sustainable Development Goals, and taking primary needs out of the market system, including agriculture, food, water, healthcare and others.

Finally, the transition steps regarding the Global Footprint should be taken into account while developing policies for the Planet and its current and future inhabitants, including:

  1. Stop ongoing growth of our Global Footprint.
  2. Introducing a quota for scarce resources.
  3.  Introducing a quota for energy and CO2, while combining those two as well.
  4. Extend with specific species and rare raw materials.
  5. Set a quota for Europe, in the global perspective, as a start towards Footprint Justice and a crucial step for future generations.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society

Knowledge

Knowledge related to future generations is still combined with a linear way of thinking on divided and separate fields and disciplines. However, a cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary collaboration is emerging with sustainable development. When such a new topic starts to be institutionalised, it develops into a discipline with its own vested interests. Yet, knowledge for future generations requires a more integral and holistic thinking and acting on the local, regional and global scale, with a web-of-life concept in mind. As such, we need to develop the ability to deal with complexity and integrated systems, seeing them as complementary in nature rather than mutually competing with one another. Within this wide field of various types of knowledge, power relations and diverging interests play a role. This is to be expected since this is something we come across in all social domains. We need to be aware of this in order to deal intelligently with such differences.  As such, the concept of Theory U of Otto Scharmer was discussed: the notion of observing, feeling and acting in the sense of the ‘open mind, open heart and open will’. Furthermore, the importance of technology and (open) data was discussed, which could be of use considering the rights and needs of future generations.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society

Institutions

In order to include future generations and their equity/rights, we need to include the notion into our institutions. A precondition for that is independence as an Ombudsperson since that person needs to be able to speak up and be listened to, independently from any political party or other institution. We need to focus on principles, legislation and implementation, while legislation is power and empowering. In addition, obtaining and developing concise, correct and good data can help support arguments in favour of protecting the rights of Future Generations.

Full list of reports break-out sessions:

Institutions
Corporate Governance
Knowledge for the Future
Environment and Land Use
Education
Creating an Inclusive Society