The aim of The Lab Future Generations (Lab Toekomstige Generaties, based in the Netherlands) is to make sure the wellbeing of future generations is taken into account in important decisions. They do this by advocating for future generations through an Ombudsperson, by involving diverse crowds in painting a picture of the future they want, and by researching cases and methods that help to bring the future into the now.
‘’We want to achieve awareness of the interests of future generations among the majority of citizens, institutes, companies, government and media in the Netherlands by 2025, in such a way that this is visible in undisputed, practical behavior among citizens. in verifiable policy goals at companies and institutes and in regulations and policy considerations at government.’’
The way to future-consciousness
The Future Generations Lab is a collaboration of professionals from different disciplines and with different backgrounds. The Lab originated from the 'Working Group Ombudsperson Future Generations' of the Worldconnectors Association. They have been working on the development of The Future Generations Lab from 2018 onwards. Starting with a first Round Table Meeting in 2017 to explore how an ‘Ombudsperson for Future Generations’ could be socially and institutionally anchored in the Netherlands.
In the first years the Lab mainly focused on growth, in order to increase the 'future-consciousness' of citizens and professionals. By increasing awareness, they aim for a mentality change. ‘’By 2025 the public and social debate will be conducted in a different way and citizens will naturally start questioning and educating each other and future generations in an increasingly 'future-conscious' way.’’
Next to creating awareness by becoming more and more visible in the public debate, the Lab started with its first two cases in 2020. Every case focuses on sustainability and inclusivity and covers a topic that affects us all.
Their Counter for the Future (Loket voor de Toekomst) is open to everybody who worries about the wellbeing of future generations. Everyone can make an appeal by raising an issue about a concrete situation in which they believe that we as a society do not take sufficient account of future generations. Each year a few cases are handled. A selected issue always follows a certain path, whereby steps are taken that represent specific distinguishing functions: testing, empathizing and substantiating. Finally, the Ombudsperson for Future Generations uses all the acquired knowledge and skills to make a statement on the matter.
At this point the Lab handled 6 cases and developed a Future Thinking Toolkit. This toolkit is a growing collection of academic and other methods that enable people to do the work of advocating for future generations. The methods help to make sense of the future, see opportunities, and determine what we can do now to ensure the wellbeing of future humans.
The Toolkit is used by the Lab but is also available to decision-makers in different sectors, in The Netherlands and internationally.
Accelerating systemic change
Triodos Regenerative Money Centre (TRMC) supports initiatives that challenge the status quo and strive for systemic change. The Lab Future Generations is a foundation committed to contribute to the best possible future of society and nature. The cases they address are relevant today but especially on the long term. With a combination of raising 'future-consciousness' and showcase concrete steps on how to integrate this into practical behavior, policy and regulations, the Lab contributes to reaching a tipping point in how we interact with the planet and its future residents.
The Lab provides real expertise and a professional yet playful look at today's issues. They have a long term view, something that many organizations only practice to a limited extent. The strength of the Lab lies, next to their passionate decisiveness, in the legal way of putting sustainable themes on the agenda, which connects to our highly legalized society.
Triodos Regenerative Money Centre has supported The Lab Future Generations with several donations, starting in 2017 with a donation to realize the first Round Table meeting. In the following years TRMC continued to follow and support the institution of the Lab. Our most recent support is mainly used for further scientific substantiation, further development of the ‘future impact report’ (toekomst effect rapportage)’, communications and a youth program.