Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2014
The world currently faces increasingly complex governance challenges. While there is a growing recognition that we urgently need to take a longer-term view in order to deal with them successfully, many of the incentives that shape the thoughts and actions of leaders encourage myopia in the private and public sectors alike. Strategies with a high probability of success are available but not pursued because powerful short-term incentives are increasingly misaligned with the timeframes required for the solution of growing problems with profoundly destructive inter-generational impacts.
Thus far, legislators have not adequately addressed these inter-generational issues. In previous eras, when obvious and invidious injustices grew to intolerable scale due to the protracted paralysis of leaders, the necessity for action has often found its venue, by default, in the judiciary. Now, once again, courts – responding to specific fact situations – may well play a critical role in breaking this logjam. One likely legal strategy is based on the concept of fiduciary duty – the legal obligation to act in the best interests of others.