Worldwide Intergenerational Fairness Week: begins here!

The Intergenerational Foundation has gathered voices from around the world, and voices with a global perspective, to report on the state of international intergenerational fairness. The result is a series of articles collected together in a Blog Week, starting today, and introduced here by IF’s editor, Antony Mason

Awareness days and awareness weeks are very much in vogue, and just about every day and every week of the year are claimed by some interest group or other. World Chocolate Day, anyone? (Bad luck – you’ve missed it! It was yesterday, 7 July).

Worldwide Intergenerational Fairness Week

At the Intergenerational Foundation we are continuing to gather ideas about intergenerational issues from around the world – and to focus minds we have decided to create an awareness week to that end.

So we’ve appointed the second week in July as Worldwide Intergenerational Fairness Week (WIFW), and that starts today.

Let’s hope the idea sticks and builds momentum, because – as our blog posts will show – many intergenerational issues are shared around the world, and there is much to be learned from how various countries are dealing (or failing to deal) with them.

Worldwide problems

At IF we are used to dealing with various well-aired intergenerational sticking points that threaten the welfare of younger and future generations in the UK: precarious employment prospects, inadequate housing provision, the burden of university tuition fees, the impending pensions crisis, the looming costs of an ageing population and the power of the “grey vote”, national debt – and a growing sense of critical urgency regarding climate change.

It is sobering to learn that these problems are shared widely around the world – albeit often in subtly different ways, according to climate, wealth, demography and so on.

What unites the voices in this field is a sense that intergenerational equity is being challenged and abused everywhere, and that this really matters.

By the same token, that notion of the salient virtue and importance of intergenerational equity can guide us – and our policy-makers, given the right pressure – to seek solutions that will restore the balance between the interests of the living and the interests of generations to come.

In that way, we may yet be able to produce a legacy that might bring us pride rather than shame – by passing on a fair, healthy and sustainable world to future generations.

These are the articles that we have in store for you during the week (and others will be joining this list):

Monday 8 July 

The smaller generation to come – worldwide 

by Danny Dorling 

Here’s some good news for the planet: the human population is set to peak and stabilise, not rising much above 9.7 billion, the total that it will reach around the year 2050, according to the latest UN figures. Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford University, explains how this works, and why it is something to celebrate.

Without intergenerational equity, say goodbye to civilisation 

by Rahul Basu

The Goa Foundation, an environmental NGO in India, has had a remarkable impact. Their clear perspective on intergenerational equity, and practical path to implementation, have scored major wins in Goa and India especially on mineral policy (a permanent fund and caps), and helped to bring about groundbreaking interpretations of the Constitution to protect and conserve natural resources nationally. Rahul Basu, Research Director of the Goa Foundation, explains how this approach can be rolled out more widely for the benefit of future generations.

Tuesday 9 July

The rich world’s intergenerational challenge through the looking glass of China and Japan

by Lauren A. Johnston

China and Japan face unique intergenerational challenges – and represent divergent examples of a binary pattern that the rest of the ageing world might learn from. Lauren A. Johnston is Founder and Director of New South Economics (a consultancy specialising in research and advisory on China, Africa, China-Africa and global trends), holds a PhD in Economics from Peking University and, until recently, was Senior Research Associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) in Berlin. 

Intergenerational issues in Italy: a family matter?

by Martin Solly

Martin Solly, professor at the Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin, looks at the implications of Italy’s ageing and shrinking population, and the perceptions and prospects of the young.

“A hand to count on”: a proposal to assist younger generations in Italy

by Luciano Monti 

The Bruno Visentini Foundation has looked at international intergenerational initiatives to propose ways to tackle the intergenerational problems of Italy, one of which is an “opportunity income” scheme. Luciano Monti, Scientific co-director of  the Bruno Visentini Foundation, explains the background, and the proposal.

Wednesday 10 July 

Intergenerational politics in Australia

by Danielle Wood and Owain Emslie 

In the 2019 election in Australia, the welfare of future generations was the focus of a raft of policy proposals – and from an intergenerational point of view the wrong side won. This might mark a regrettable setback for intergenerational politics as a whole. Report by Danielle Wood (Budget Policy Program Director) and Owain Emslie (Associate) at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne.

Uncovering the intergenerational stories of climate change in the Ugandan city

by Katie McQuaid

In Uganda, intergenerational tensions form one of the strands that intersect with other factors such as gender, ethnicity, religion, class, marital and migrant status, and urban/rural setting. Anthropologist Dr Katie McQuaid (Senior Research Fellow, School of Geography, University of Leeds) explains the need to look at the intergenerational dimension of climate change in this context, and why, in facing the challenges, urban settings should be taken fully into account.

Tap youthful energies to tackle climate change

by Kirsty Schneeberger

The growing sense of urgency about climate change has stirred government and institutions, but activists across the world still need apply their creative energies to keep prodding. Kirsty Schneeberger, Head of Strategic Partnerships at the environmental law charity ClientEarth, looks at the landscape of action, and sees the need for reenergised institutions with a truly intergenerational outlook.

Thursday 11 July

How can Wales invest in climate action today for future generations?

by Sophie Howe

Around the world, all who are interested in intergenerational issues look to Wales, whose government has created the role of Future Generations Commissioner to assess the long-term, intergenerational impact of policy and legislation. Here, the first Commissioner, Sophie Howe, tells us more about her pioneering role, but begins with an impassioned plea for action now to avert the real menace of climate change.

Principles of law might work

by Sándor Fülöp

Sándor Fülöp held the office of the first Parliamentary Commissioner for future generations in Hungary from 2008 to 2012 – a pioneer in intergenerational government. Here, wearing his hat as an environmental lawyer, he defends the vital role that the law – reinvigorated by public participation and reformed at the deep level of its principles – can play in environmental action.

Intergenerational poverty and conditional cash transfers in Brazil

by João Cláudio Rocha Baeta Leal 

Brazil’s Bolsa Família (Family Allowance) social welfare programme has clear intergenerational aspects, as João Cláudio Rocha Baeta Leal explains. A 24-year-old Brazilian public administrator currently doing an MSc on the Political Economy of Late Development at the London School of Economics, João Leal has carried out research in local development, poverty, democratic participation, government cooperation and microfinance in Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.

Friday 12 July

Brexit, democracy and intergenerational justice

by Thomas Tozer 

Brexit casts a long shadow that will unquestionably affect future generations. In the debate, the demands of democracy have been called upon by both sides. But when it comes to the interests of future generations, has democracy been found wanting? Thomas Tozer, author of IF’s “A New Intergenerational Contact”, leads us through the arguments.

Hope or fear in the face of climate change?

by Dominic Roser

Is there another justifiable attitude towards climate change besides doom and gloom? Dominic Roser – philosopher and economist and senior lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics and Human Rights at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland – explores other options.

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