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Can a chair remind us of the interests of future generations?

Published on 16 October 2022
Updated on 19 March 2024

The Future Chair is a concept that should be used in diplomatic meetings and negotiations to remind us of the ‘presence’ of one missing actor: future generations.

Vitra wiggle chair made by  architect Frank Gehry out of cardboard.

Frank Gehry’s cardboard chair from 1972 is, so far, the most inspirational design for the Future Chair. Do you have other suggestions for the design of the Future Chair? Send it to us or leave it in the comments.

In this busy and uncertain diplomatic fall ahead, the ‘future chair’ should be placed in every negotiating room of COP27 and other international meetings.

The rights of future generations are gaining a stronger footing in global diplomacy as the UN Secretary-General’s report ‘Our Common Agenda’ calls for:

  • a social contract for the future,
  • a special rapporteur on future generations,
  • a repurposing of the UN Trusteeship Council to become a place to protect the interests of future generations. 

The Future Chair can help foster a new diplomatic culture that would deal more directly with long-term public goods and the survivability of humanity.

Moving beyond election-cycle governance is critical when dealing with long-term crises. Negotiators must consider intergenerational justice in all matters relating to the environment and basic resources for humanity’s survival.

The Future Chair can help us transcend the sharp divisions of our time and come together around our shared drive for biological and cultural survival, just as it has been for millennia.

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The Future Chair will be present at all meetings organised this autumn as part of Diplo’s 20th anniversary celebrations.  Diplo’s Creative Team will use a mix of AI, science, and fiction to envisage the interest of future generations. Learn more about the Future Chair and the rights of future generations now.

The Future Chair should wake us up from policy sleepwalking and intellectual inertia by moving beyond the fashions of the moment, the heavy weight of institutional thinking, and the collective anaesthesia of political correctness.

An open, respectful, and constructive culture that enables searching for complex tradeoffs between current interests and future concerns would be fundamental to this awakening.


You can join Future Chair Initiative: future_chair@diplomacy.edu

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