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The Knesset The Israeli Parliament “As I came to a world planted with trees, I will plant trees for the coming generations...” (a saying of an old man,

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Presentation on theme: "The Knesset The Israeli Parliament “As I came to a world planted with trees, I will plant trees for the coming generations...” (a saying of an old man,"— Presentation transcript:


2 The Knesset The Israeli Parliament

3 “As I came to a world planted with trees, I will plant trees for the coming generations...” (a saying of an old man, the Talmud) Commission for Future Generations

4 Created by a top-down process An establishment of the parliament Imposed on the legislation process Authority over almost every topic De-facto status vis a vis the government (not formal) Main characteristics of the Commission

5 The Knesset Law - Section 8 A Commissioner for Future Generations

6 The Knesset Secretariat will pass to the Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations all bills tabled in the Knesset. The Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations will notify the Knesset Speaker periodically about laws and bills which he considers to have particular relevance to future generations; the Knesset Speaker will inform the chairmen of the Knesset committees responsible for the areas covered by the laws or bills. Authority and Modes of Action

7 Knesset committee chairmen will invite the Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations to debates on bills or secondary legislation which he has declared to have particular relevance for future generations in accordance with sub paragraphs (c) and (d). The Committee chairmen will coordinate the timing of the debate with the Commissioner, allowing reasonable time – at his discretion and in accordance with the issue – for the collection of data and the preparation of an evaluation. The Commissioner may participate in any debate of any Knesset Committee, at his discretion;

8 Once the Commissioner has given his evaluation regarding a bill, a summary of this evaluation will be brought before the Knesset plenum...” Acquisition of Information “The Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations may request from any organization or body being investigated as listed in clause 9 (1) – (6) of the State Comptroller Law... any information, document or report (hereafter – information) in the possession of that body and which is required by the Commissioner for the implementation of his tasks; the aforesaid body will give the Commissioner the requested information.”

9 The Role of the Commissioner The Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations:| i) Will give his assessment of bills debated in the Knesset which he considers to have particular relevance for future generations; ii) Will give his assessment of secondary legislation, that has been brought to one of the Knesset committees for authorization or for consultation, and that he considers to have special relevance for future generations;

10 iii) Will present reports to the Knesset from time to time, at his discretion, with recommendations on issues with particular relevance for future generations; iv) Will advise MK’s on issues with particular relevance for future generations; v) Will present to the Knesset, once a year, a report on his activities in accordance with this law.

11 Commission ’ s Areas of Activity Education Health Demography Justice Quality of Life National Economy Environment Natural Resources Planning & Construction Science, Development & Technology

12 A little bit of history… The Commission was established in 2002 MK Yosef Lapid suggested its creation through an amendment of the Knesset Law His idea was to create an inner-parliamentary entity that would ensure the interest of future generations Commissioner Shlomo Shoham was chosen by an ad-hoc Committee and appointed by the Speaker of the Parliament

13 A repetitive flaw, a blind-spot in democracy- whereas no representative can be genuinely committed to the interests of those that can’t participate in the democratic process, meaning- future generations Due to her/his limited life-time, a presently acting politician will not have to take responsibility for the consequences of her/his actions and can also no longer be liable for them. What’s behind the rights of future generations and our obligation towards them?

14 Different approaches towards the rights of future generations Prof. Wilfred Beckerman - interests of future generations cannot be protected within a framework of any theory of justice Prof. Rev. Emanuel Agius- moral sensibility to unborn generations Prof. Michael Wallack- principle of Minimum Irreversible Harm

15 Beckerman- Rights attached only to existing people- no moral standing (theory of justice cannot be applied) No possibility to fulfill the rights (resources might no longer exist in the future)- who will carry the obligation? Possibility to “Moral Obligation” only- taking our effect on future generations interests in account Efforts should be directed to protecting existing people’s human rights

16 Agius- Future generations as disadvantaged, “downstream” and “mute”; Common heritage of main kind- environmental and cultural resources; The shared right of access to the common goods (no right to ownership), Quoting Whitehead’s paradigm of human society as a relational structure of experience:relations extend over both space and time, scope of our relationship broadened to include the whole family of humankind- past, present and future generations, as one community. (opposed to Rawls’ Theory of Justice)

17 Wallack- Assuming utility rather than altruism in our approach towards future generations Irreversible harm is to be minimized and: activities resulting in irreversible harm are to be limited: In time- to the shortest feasible time in space- to the smallest feasible location of application Regarding damage that has not yet been formatted- “slippery slop” principle (I.e. bio-ethics)

18 Commission’s Objectives Empower thinking of and awareness to the future dimension (rather to the survival dimension), to the needs of future generations and to long-term planning in the parliamentary decisions and among government officials, policy makers in different sectors and the entire Israeli public Promote sustainable development in Israeli legislation and executive actions, according to the following definition: “Development that meets the needs of the people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” ( From the UN World Commission on Environment and Development) Preserve the resources of the country and create sustainable infrastructures for the coming generations enabling them to freedom of choice.

19 An establishment of the Parliament- The Commission, as a body of the parliament, acts in accordance to the unique role of parliaments as- -State’s legislator- incorporating Sustainable Development principles into laws -Inspective authority over the government- holding government accountable for its actions and ensuring transparency in the parliamentary work The challenge is met on two main levels- -The personal level- fostering the members of Knesset in sustainable development issues -The institutional level- presenting an integrated approach in all parliamentary committees

20 Increasing the awareness to Israel’s ability to change its future

21 OLD THINKING: overlooking long-term issues Anxiety about the future Fool’s circle or Viscous Circle Turning inwards Preserving the present reality Using force to prevent change A reality that ignores the future No energy for planning and creating a future

22 A Proposed Model of Influence: Creating a new way of thinking about the future Faith Credibility Goal-setting and release Intuitive study of the field Changing awareness Listening and containing Openness to differences and to what is shared

23 The different partners Within the knesset Parliamentarians Committees Speaker Research Center Public level Academic institutions NGO’s Public/media The Media Government Ministries Local Authorities Inter- ministerial entities International level UN CSD Unesco Parallel Institutions Council of Europe

24 Quality of the environment Natural resources Planning & construction -Raise awareness to environmental and sustainable development issues among members of Parliament, policy makers and the public - Incorporating environmental considerations into existing laws - Acting on recognizing the right to sustainable development as a constitutional right of present and future generations - Encourage the executive authority into more careful management of land, water and air resources- limited resources - Blocking the trend of unsustainable construction and efficiently preserving open spaces

25 Legislation that the Commission contributed to:  Basic Law – The constitutional right to Sustainable Development  The Mediterranean coastline  Preserving the Gulf of Eilat  Planning and construction – national infrastructures  Rehabilitation of the Dead Sea  Preservation of open spaces  Changes in Israel railways  Reinforcing the Committee for Planning and Construction in Open Spaces  Tax for removal of hazardous materials

26 Other Projects on Environmental Issues Non-Ionic Radiation Industry Treaty on Sustainability and the Clean Air Act Prevention of the construction of a coal power plant in Ashkelon Economic Policy Law for Fiscal Years 2002, 2003 and 2004 Publication of a Research on Air Pollution from Dioxins and Furans in the Knesset Sub-Commission for Environment Tunneling of an environmentally sensitive section of the Cross-country Road No. 6 (18 th Section) Preventing construction in the outskirts of the area designated to the Ayalon Park in Tel Aviv Prevention of the realization of the “Village of Science Settlement” in the Negev National Infrastructures Planning and Building Committee

27 economics  Encourage sustainable development policy in the allocation of budget by the Ministry of Finance – especially assimilating the use of externalities  Recommending specifically on the framework of multi-annual budget that manifests long-run investment in infrastructure  Encourage an efficient use of resources that will allow future generation to have a range of choices  Ensuring a sustainable and transparent structure in decision making over the national budget

28 Education Health Justice system  Encourage a sustainable education system, which empowers students on a personal level and combines principles of education to sustainability  Changing the concept of medicine into health – allocate resources to prevention of diseases and tracking its primary causes (mainly environmental ones)  Acting to social equality, ensuring reasonable quality of life to all sections of society  Ensuring participatory democracy guidelines as transparency and incorporation of civil society in the decision making process- in the parliamentary and governmental activities

29 Science and Technology Acknowledging scientific research as an infrastructure that supports sustainable development, anticipating future trends in all areas of living (Responsibility of scientific community to raise awareness to environmental causation and health). Fostering scientific research and technological development as leading futuristic areas Developing of future oriented thinking in the work of the Parliament by acting as a facilitator introducing scientific knowledge into the work of the Parliament Raising awareness in public and government to issues of effect on the future by application of technological progress and bio-ethics.

30 Institutionalization of rights of future generations- what needs to be considered? Definition of “future generations”. Determination the interests of future generations. Institutional Framework- governmental/ non governmental, Politicized/professional. Range of authorities and of topics under supervision.

31 Who are future generations? Relating to “Succeeding generations”- including the rights of children and youth. The prospect of “future” and “generations” as future humanity

32 Interests of future generations- is sustainable development enough? Sustainable development as a main platform, but not as an inclusive manifestation of the rights of future generations. Other principles for caring for future generations: Creating enabling mechanisms in a political arena Using “back casting” for planning the future Constitutional protection for future generations

33 economics  Multi-annual budget  Pensions law  Retirement age law  Child allowances law  Childbirth grant

34 Education Health Demography Justice system Environment  Law ensuring availability of information regarding legislation on children’s rights  Laws of evidence  Services for children at risk  Public libraries  Special education  Loaning school books  Loans for university tuition  Long school day  Educational TV  Well-Baby clinics

35 Well baby clinics Special education law Law on free education for sick children Public libraries law Child allowances law Law on loaning schoolbooks As part of the Economic Program – June 2003 Loans for university tuition National electricity services Amendment to laws of evidence Services for children at risk Childbirth grant

36 Economic Arrangements Law – December 2003 Laws of evidencePublic Housing Long School dayChild grants Fund for children at riskClinical trials Committee for Planning and Educational television Construction in Open Spaces Disbanding of local committeeDisposal of hazardous materials Water taxes

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