United Nations System Common Principles on Future Generations

In May 2023, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination endorsed the Common Principles on Future Generations, developed through the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) which approved the Principles at its forty-fifth session in March 2023.

The Common Principles were produced by the HLCP Core Group on Duties to the Future, co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), and are in support of the thematic pillar on Duties to the Future as contained in HLCP’s strategic narrative.   

The set of eight principles builds on the United Nation’s long history of acknowledging the importance of future generations, dating back to the UN Charter, including, in particular, the adoption in 1997 by UNESCO Member States of the Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generations towards Future Generations. A key goal of the principles is to ensure greater clarity on terminology and agree a set of common values across the UN system for use across various contexts.

As part of the Core Group’s subsequent efforts to help unpack the Common Principles, a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) was developed with a view to supporting the operationalization of the principles within UN system entities. The FAQs consist of nine questions structured across three parts: (1) foundational concepts and principles, (2) the rights of future generations, and (3) fulfilling duties to future generations. The document does not aim to provide definitive positions, but rather presents an overview of concepts related to duties to the future and intergenerational equity.

Additional information on HLCP’s work on intergenerational equity can be found on the Duties to the Future topic page.

  • Duties to the Future
  • Chief Executives Board (CEB)
  • High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)
  • Common Approaches
  • Joint Statements
  • Publications


  • United Nations System Common Principles on Future Generations.pdf

    PDF | 192.88 KB

  • FAQ on Duties to the future through an intergenerational equity lens (HLCP core group on duties to the future).pdf

    PDF | 433.81 KB