CIESIN Thematic Guides

Intergenerational Rights

A principal work on intergenerational rights in the context of global environment change is In Fairness to Future Generations (Weiss 1989), written under the sponsorship of the United Nations University. Especially noteworthy are chapter 2, "The Theory of Intergenerational Equity"; chapters 3 and 4, "Planetary Obligations" and "Planetary Rights," respectively; and chapter 5, "Implementation Strategies."

Thinking about intergenerational rights is necessarily intertwined with economic thinking about intergenerational allocation of costs and transfers of wealth. For example, the concept of discount rates is essential to discussion about intergenerational transfers of wealth. See "Economic Perspectives on Time Comparisons" for an evaluation of time discounting (Rothenberg 1993); "The Shadow of the Future" for a more legal perspective (Farber and Hemmersbaugh 1993); and "The Economics of Global Warming," for an economic analysis of the very long term (50 to 300 years) implications of global warming (Cline 1992). Brown (1994) presents a view skeptical of the utility of applying "market discount approaches to issues of planetary ecological management" (Plater, Abrams, and Goldfarb 1992) in Restoring the Public Trust.