Visioning our Futures is the last session in our Food, Farming & Healing Our World series – with Rob Hopkins, Jane Davidson and Gillian Burke. The event on 17th February will shift the focus forward, exploring radical shifts in our food and farming systems which can pave the way for a world where everyone thrives.
Jane Davidson, one of the speakers for this event, is Wales’ former minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing and the author of #futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country. This book recounts how she laid the groundwork for what eventually became Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015, “the first piece of legislation on Earth to place regenerative and sustainable practice at the heart of government. Unparalleled in its scope and vision, the Act connects environmental and social health and looks to solve complex issues such as poverty, education and unemployment.”
A groundbreaking step in the UK and Europe, this kind of sustainable thinking has existed at the foundation of indigenous societies across the globe since time immemorial. In North America, indigenous people have long spoken of the Seventh Generation Principle that puts our children and grandchildren – seven generations into the future – at the centre of all present decision-making. It holds that we must ensure a sustainable future for those who are yet to come – we are, after all, only borrowing the world from them.
The Seventh Generation Principle was formalised by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of indigenous nations thought to be the oldest participatory democracy on Earth. It includes the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. Much like many global unions that came afterwards, the nations in the confederacy are united by a common goal of living in harmony.
The Haudenosaunee constitution explains the philosophy as follows:
“In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.”
This ancient philosophy invites us to take bold action that not only addresses the problems of today, but guarantees long-lasting positive effects into the future. It invites us to move from impulsivity to careful consideration, from reactivity to regeneration. In imagining and building our futures, we must act fast, but think slow.