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Generational Justice in Constitutions PDF Print E-mail

Generational Justice in Constitutions

In today´s elections, those individuals, who will be born in the future, cannot participate. They are not taken into account in the calculations of a  politician, whilst he is organizing his re-election. If they could make their interests in the political decision-making process heard, majority conditions for important political decisions would be different. Policy on energy may serve as an example here: At present, the form of power production, based on fossil fuels, as utilised by today’s generation, facilitates a uniquely high standard of living, but today’s generation is thereby creating serious disadvantages for itself and future generations in the medium-term between the next fifty to one hundred years. We already know today – and having this knowledge is the crucial point - that such an energy policy leads to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a consequence, the natural greenhouse effect is strengthened and temperatures rise worldwide. More and stronger hurricanes, inundations, streams of refugees and new conflicts will be the future results of this short-sighted policy. If future individuals, who are born in the next 200 years, could even just vote on energy policies, this would be create a huge majority which would facilitate a quick shift to renewable sources of energy.
            Figure 1: Relevant time scales for human and environmental development

Source: Handbook of Intergenerational Justice, p. 188

In the words of the former German president, Richard von Weizsäcker, “every democracy is, generally speaking, founded on a structural problem, namely the glorification of the present and a neglect for the future. It is an indisputable fact that we cannot and do not want to be ruled differently than by representatives elected for a fixed amount of time - with no more leeway at their disposal than precisely their legislative terms of office for what they offer as solutions to our problems. We are not saying that the all politicians are unconcerned with the future. It is only faced with the problem of having to acquire a majority.”

This fundamental dilemma of democracy leads to a preference for the present, to remain oblivious with regard to the future and to a structural disadvantage for succeeding generations. FRFG published examples how this problem can be mended in  the Handbook of Intergenerational Justice.

Part I - Foundations and Definitions of Generational Justice
1. Responsibility for future generations-scope an limits Dieter Birnbacher
2. Principles of generational justice Christoph Lumer
3. The impossibility of a theory of intergenerational justice Wilfried Beckerman
4. John Rawls on the rights of future generations Claus Dierksmeier
5. Justice between generations: the limits of procedural justice Michael Wallack
6. Rule change and intergenerational justice Axel Gosseries and Mathias Hungerbühler
7. The Economic Sustainability Indicator Peer Eder, Philipp Schuller and Stephan Willms
8. Protecting future generations: intergenerational buck-passing, theoretical ineptitude
    and a brief for a global core precautionary principle Stephen M. Gardiner
9. Institutional determinants of public debt: a political economy perspective
    Bernd Süssmuth and Robert K. von Weizsäcker
Read the introduction and Dr. Tremmel´s chapter for free...

Intergenerational Justice Review No. 3
We also discussed the institutionalisation issue in this edition of our magazin.

FRFG lobbied in the German Parliament succesfully for a change of the Grundgesetz. Read more...