Future-Just Lawmaking Methodology

Our “Best Policies” are those that meet the Future-Just Lawmaking Principles and significantly support fair conditions for future generations. The International Law Association adopted Seven Principles for Sustainable Development Law as the result of 10 years of academic work. These were then agreed in 2002 by 192 states participating in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

Professionals dealing with policy-making and evaluation regard these principles as the first blueprint for the emerging field of sustainable development law and policy.

The World Future Council uses these future-just lawmaking principles in evaluating policies nominated for the Future Policy Award.

Future-Just Lawmaking implies a 360-degree perspective on policy development. The Future-Just Lawmaking Principles reflect the interconnected nature of the challenges we face and help to avoid unintended inconsistencies and consequences in our reactions to them. We have created a methodology based on the principles that can inspire and support your work for sustainability.

Future-Just Lawmaking Principles

The goal of principled policy work is to ensure that important universal standards of sustainability and equity, human rights and freedoms, and respect for the environment are taken into account. It also helps to increase policy coherence between different sectors.

1. Sustainable use of natural resources

Our forests, minerals, oil, land and water are not limitless. Nor is the capacity of our world to absorb pollution. Overuse of natural resources and over-burdening of natural systems is becoming an increasing problem. This principle is the foundation of best policy practice. Without sufficient natural resource, life for current and future generations will become increasingly difficult.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law result in fair and sustainable use of natural resources?
  • Will the law support easing of the global challenges facing all humanity, such as climate change, overfishing and biodiversity loss?
  • Will the law mandate respect for nature and encourage citizens to act as its trustees?

2. Equity and poverty eradication

While many people are overwhelmed with choice, billions of people still struggle to survive. Our economic system has tended to concentrate wealth while excluding the poor and vulnerable. Social and economic exclusion increases anxiety, wastes human potential and undermines communities. It hampers wellbeing even in rich societies and will result in instability and tension for future generations. The equity and poverty eradication principle helps create societies in which people are treated with fairness and dignity.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law explicitly address poverty reduction and uphold human rights?
  • Will the law improve social justice, gender equity and indigenous rights?
  • Will the law acknowledge the needs of future generations, protecting opportunities for them?

3. Precautionary approach to human health, natural resources and ecosystems

Humanity has already learned the consequences of unchecked pollution. Resources are wasted, ecosystems are damaged, people suffer and clean-up costs ensue. When a precautionary approach is adopted, the threat of serious irreversible harm is reduced, and technology and the economy are guided to respect human wellbeing and nature. The precautionary approach is a policy principle that saves money and saves lives.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law promote prevention and precaution in the face of scientific uncertainty?
  • Will the law place the burden of proof on the economic operator to demonstrate product safety?
  • Will the law give people a voice in setting an acceptable level of risk?

4. Public participation, access to information and justice

If policy makers don’t talk or listen to their constituents, they are missing out on opportunities for public engagement. This means that people cannot hold their policymakers to account. Democracy and the rule of law are likely to suffer. Only with full information can people engage in responsible citizenship. Openness and transparency are fundamental to good governance. This principle is about enabling open, educated and engaged societies.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law provide procedures and opportunities for public consultation?
  • Will the law mandate open access to information?
  • Will the law uphold the right of appeal and the right to seek redress if citizens feel negatively impacted?

5. Good governance and human security

Armed violence and abuse of power undermine trust in institutions and authorities and promote corruption in society at large. The wasted opportunities for development and social justice from impunity, bribery and corruption are eroding secure living conditions. Respect for the rule of law, democratic principles and active post-conflict reconciliation increase people’s sense of security. Stable and open democratic government means human potential can flourish.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law mandate specific institutions to implement and enforce the law?
  • ill the law promote peaceful conflict resolution and reduce fear and want?
  • Will the law prohibit corruption and abuse of power in its implementation?

6 Integration and interrelationship

Few problems, whether local, national or international, have simple direct causes. Poverty for example may be caused by environmental degradation, poor education, unfair economic systems, social inequalities, poor government, or more likely a combination of all these factors. Effective policies are those that consider and address all factors influencing the policy outcome, and are bold enough to cut across government departments to provide an integrated approach.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law integrate social justice, environmental protection and economic stability?
  • Will the law reflect the environmental and social impacts of development?
  • Will the law measurably improve environmental protection and social justice?

7. Common but differentiated responsibilities

When addressing global challenges, it is clear that different societies, regions and communities are starting from different situations. While international policymaking has demonstrated the will to set common goals to address the biggest challenges, different nations should assume differing levels of responsibility for bringing the goals to life, depending on their capacities. The same may apply within nations: it is realistic to expect that wealthy partners can contribute more, especially if they gained wealth from an activity that has caused harm and needs cleaning up.

In order to evaluate whether this principle is being respected the following questions should be asked:

  • Will the law take into account historical inequalities when imposing obligations?
  • Will the law reflect the local reality as regards technology, resources, values and traditions?
  • Will the law minimise costs faced by the poorest and most vulnerable?

A History of the Seven Principles

The 7 Principles of Future Just Lawmaking build on several global and local policy-making frameworks for sustainable development including:

Further Resources

Future Justice means putting the values that are essential to our survival at the heart of every law, and every policy. To help with this, our brochure explains the seven policy principles for future-just law-making.

Further information can be found in this paper:

Selecting Best Policies and Law for Future Generations. Prof. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger and Rajat Rana, with advice from Prof. Salim Nakhjavani, Ashfaq Khalfan, Dr. Katerina-zoi Varfis, Daniel Taillant, and Dr. Maria Leichner Reynal.

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