War. Floods, droughts, storms, fires, and other climate impacts. Not to mention the persistence of extreme poverty and widespread lack of access to energy, food, and education. These challenges threaten to swamp even medium-term plans, let alone long-term plans and actions by governments.

A landmark United Nations report, Our Common Agenda, considers ways through and beyond the stream of present crises, towards action on long-term challenges and goals. One of its key proposals is for states to issue a Declaration on Future Generations on the rights and interests of those not yet born. If successful, it could mark an inflection point in longstanding multilateral efforts to manage crises and place long-term sustainable development on secure foundations.

To support the design of an effective Declaration on Future Generations, this policy brief draws on the current academic literature to outline:

1. Why a Declaration on Future Generations bolsters efforts to address present crises;

2. Key principles a Declaration on Future Generations should advance;

3. A survey of existing international and national legal instruments on Future Generations;

4. Concrete options for institutionalising and operationalising a Declaration on Future Generations.