nuclear plant

Sustainable development requires memory of past legacies

The environmental legacies we leave to future generations will last centuries and millennia. How can we try to provide useful information to future generations so they can make knowledgeable decisions? In May earlier this year, the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures co-arranged a workshop to discuss these questions. They have now published their report from the workshop, resulting in a set of principles for future work.

”The national archives hold a lot of information today. But will they exist centuries and millennia from now? Will the information be understandable? We must think of strategies involving several avenues and several institutions, including the local hosts of the legacy. Hence the importance of reaching wide”, says Claudio Pescatore, affiliated researcher at the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures and nuclear engineer.

Up to now, nobody – other than in the nuclear field – is thinking in the long-time scales, says Pescatore. The Environmental Agency of Sweden, for instance, does not have a long-term approach. Therefore, the idea of an additional agency that deals with these questions this was discussed during the workshop. The very subject of the workshop had not been widely discussed before. In Sweden, there are a handful of specialists.

”But now, we can claim that tens of people that need to know have been aware of the issue and have some information at hand. And most importantly, we have issued a set of principles and goals to inform future work. This is unique and the widest set in the world right now”, says Pescatore.

These principles will be applied in the ongoing project ”Minne över generationerna" that involves major partners – like National Archives, Swedish Radiation protection Authority, Linnaeus University, the Swedish Spent Fuel Management Company, the Östhammar Municipality – to start creating a practical use over the following years.

The workshop was arranged by Linnaeus University’s UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste, National Archives of Sweden, and Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.