Intergenerational Collaboration to Protect our Planet
By Nadine Clopton
Of the many, multifaceted challenges facing our global community that we must address, climate change and environmental injustices are inseparable from meaningful Intergenerational partnership. But what does Intergenerational partnership truly entail? An Indigenous philosophical principle originating with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people, the Seventh Generation Principle is the guiding framework that any decisions made today should be sustainable and guided by an ethic of care for those living seven generations into the future. Intergenerational partnership is seeing not just the value of collaboration between generations, but it is understanding that doing so is critical for our continuation as a species. In our world of over extraction of Earth’s precious resources, exploitation of human and natural capital, and measurements of success hinging purely on fiscal measures, we are in desperate need of a shift in perspective.
The Localizing Climate Justice Conference Series (LCJC): Nature-based Solutions event in December 2020 explored how science, Indigenous principles, and people of all generations can weave a different story for our planet. The event brought together Indigenous youth activists, a Geoscientist in the Alaskan Boreal forest, an environmental lawyer protecting wetlands in Iran, a Sensei passionate about reconnecting people with the Earth, and more to discuss how we can look to nature as our guide when discussing climate justice solutions.
Earth’s systems are a delicate balancing act. A spirit of intergenerational partnership goes beyond adding a token young person to the decision-making table. It is a cultural shift, a renaissance where knowledge and stewardship flows between generations. In ancient Celtic traditions, the newly crowned King would enter into a symbolic marriage with the land as a powerful commitment to caring for the land. In 2021, I do not anticipate land marriage ceremonies becoming a trend again, but perhaps we can try to imagine ourselves as being in a lifelong relationship with the land we walk upon. How would we, Homo sapiens, change how we walk upon the Earth? Global Citizenship and Intergenerational partnership become achievable when we as individuals see ourselves as belonging to the Earth and in service to one another.
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