A co-creation towards an institution for Future Generations in the Netherlands.
A Worldconnectors, Earth Charter NL, NIFG, The Hague University cooperation with contributions by VNG, WRR, Missing Chapter Foundation and Rathenau.
Location: (Haagse Hogeschool) The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
At the crossroad between current, young and future generations some 100 participants met at the University of Applied Sciences in The Hague to discuss the rights and protection of the generations to come. Indeed, we are even advocating to appoint an Ombudsperson for Future Generations in the Netherlands, following the footsteps of similar initiatives in Hungary, Israel and Wales.
The day started with a welcome by Alide Roerink, on behalf of all member of the organisers, the Worldconnectors and Earth Charter Friends Working Group Future Generations. She invited Jan van de Venis, Tineke Lambooy, Kayin Venner, Lavinia Warnars, Miranda Willems, Ties Mouwen and Christiaan Kuipers. “You are looking at the Acting Ombudsperson for Future Generations. We are not one person, although the name Ombudsperson suggests this. Without Jan we would not be her, and he is our figure head, but he is not alone. We are fortunate to have a large group of young people supporting us. We will act as ONE. Until the official Ombudsperson for Future Generations is institutionalised in The Netherlands, this group will take on the task to keep the function on the agenda, receive complaints and questions from society and come up with conclusions and advice.” Alide expressed the ambition of this day, namely to co-create the Ombudsperson with participants from all ages and contributions from Missing Chapter Foundation, Rathenau, WRR, College Rechten van de Mens, Louis Bolk Institute and more. And from all relevant angles and themes on our agenda, such as ‘business’, ‘environment and land use’, ‘knowledge for the future’, ‘creating an inclusive society’, ‘education’ and ‘institutions’.
The audience was also welcomed by Jan Lintsen, member of the Executive Board of the University, which is preparing students as world citizens. Jan van de Venis, the acting Ombudsperson for Future Generations in the Netherlands, welcomed the audience as well, and stated we are all bound to each other through connections, our history, systems, cultures and via future generations. We will hand over to future generations a heritage they cannot refuse. With more technology and more solutions to come, let’s enure it’s smarter, cleaner, more connected. Institutions play a vital role in that sense. Indeed, official guardians for Future Generations are needed more than ever, not only in the Netherlands, with global systems based on debts, pension and social security systems under pressure, a globally declining rate of wildlife of 70%, deforestation rates sky high, CO2 levels increasing, and climate change worsening.
Jan van de Venis: ‘I hereby declare everyone in this room as the Ombudsperson for Future Generations’.
Then the programme included a very special guest in our midst: Princess Laurentien van Oranje of the Netherlands, a personality with an inspiring vision and principles, while advocating procedural justice for young and future generations through her organisation, Missing Chapter Foundation. The Foundation includes 75 children’s councils in organisations, institutions, companies and more. Children are not the target group, but rather the changemakers, the co-creators of our world. Her journey with working with children has been a humbling one, learning from them and vice versa. Working with young generations stimulate a mental shift with intergenerational equity in practice. However, ‘we should redefine Sustainability in the sense that it should not say ‘development meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future ones’, but instead, we should rephrase it into, ‘sustainability meeting the needs of Future Generations, determining how the present one meets their needs”. We should accept we are no longer in the driver seat, and we should not even aspire to do so. Secondly, Princess Laurentien pinpointed that children are equal citizens and stakeholders now, which can be put in practice by connecting the young with the older generations. So, thirdly, we should empower the young, not representing them, while clarifying who is accountable and responsible for what, and change the mindset of adults. Thát will lead to change.
Then 5 children of 13 and 14 years young shared their experiences and standpoints on issues such as what sustainability is to them, how you can change the world by starting with yourself and then helping others to help themselves. Take small steps, but keep taking steps. Wise words from young minds. This part was followed by a presentation of youth representatives of political parties. They presented the Manifesto for an Ombudsperson for Future Generations which was signed by all of them and formed the basis for advocacy in their respective parties. Two party programmes for the elections, namely GroenLinks and ChristenUnie ow propose the Ombudsperson for Future Generations in The Netherlands. In the PvdA a discussion came up as a result of the advocacy of youth that a Ministry for Sustainability would be a strategy to go for.
The next speaker was Marcel Szabo, former Ombudsperson for Future Generations in Hungary. He stated that no generation had ever such a big impact on the destiny of our children and grandchildren than ever before. Therefore, any institution which considers the long term is good and should continue doing so. Connecting an Ombudsperson for Future Generations with a Human Rights approach should be striven for.
Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner of Wales since 2016, followed by saying that it is important to include future generations into legislation in order to protect them. We have to focus on intergenerational equity, since that seems to be the most important issue of our time including social, health, economic, and environmental issues such as obesitas, water issues, climate change, and deforestation.
The last foreign representative was Shlomo Shoham, former Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations from Israel. ‘Everyone should ask themselves the questions: Who are you? What do you want? And where are you going? This should be debated on the personal, social and global scale. Train that mind muscle, for a desired future on economic, social and environmental issues‘.
A musical performance by Ayla van Kessel and Luuk Janssen was an impressive part of the program. With music especially composed for this occasion on the famous poem ‘History Rhymes’ from Seamus Heaney (https://soundcloud.com/in-fluxus/history-rhymes)
Don’t hope on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up
and hope and history rhyme.”
There were several break out sessions after these inspiring plenary presentations and speeches:
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