Worldwide Blog Week 2021: summing up

Following a week of contributions from guest writers from across the globe, Liam Hill, the Intergenerational Foundation’s Digital Campaigns Officer, sums up the main themes from the different contributions to IF’s Worldwide Blog Week

The idea that each generation should pass on a better world to the next is a simple but powerful one. The notion of progress is etched deeply into much of our political language, but seems in some cases to be accompanied by a sense of inevitability. We are living through a time in which the inevitability of progress looks like a risky assumption.

Our Worldwide Blog Week is a fantastic opportunity for guest writers to share with us and with you different perspectives on progress from all around the world, as well as new solutions to stem intergenerational inequality here in the UK.

Climate change

Perhaps the greatest violation of the intergenerational contract, the climate emergency feels less and less like a crisis hiding just over the horizon. Record heats, extreme weather and biodiversity loss are already with us. Talk of 2050 targets feels like passing the buck to the next generation when action is required now.

Generation Climate Europe’s Agata Meysner wrote for us about how the European Green Deal could help to reshape the European and global economies, and how important it is to centre young people’s voices in that process. Caitie Gillett offered a positive picture about what the UK is already doing to fight climate change, adding that we should be more positive about the rewards of overcoming the climate crisis.

Our senior researcher Melissa Bui wrote about the need for intergenerational solidarity on the climate crisis, covering crucial issues like the cost of renewable energy and how trillions of pounds of pension could be invested in supporting a green recovery.

Mental health

Mental health was already a crucial issue before the pandemic struck, but there is little doubt that the lockdowns, recession and uncertainty have taken a huge toll on many people’s wellbeing.

It was great to get new perspectives on how other countries and their governments are experiencing and approaching mental ill health: María José Campero Rauld and Antonia Rosati Bustamante wrote about what they termed a mental health ‘syndemic’ in Chile in a very informative piece exploring the links between poverty, mental ill health, treatment and how to secure better outcomes for future generations. Aarthi Ratnam wrote for us about how mental health, especially children’s mental health, is understood in India — and about the need for coalitions in civil society to help de-stigmatise mental health problems and offer effective care.

Charlotte Rainer of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition wrote about the landscape for children’s mental health in the UK right now, including the campaign to provide a network of hubs offering early years mental health support to young children across the country.

Tax and spend and build

With so much intergenerational inequality stemming from how wealth and assets are distributed, measures attempting to reduce it will affect what we tax and how we spend.

Tan Suee Chieh set out starkly some of the challenges facing young people as a result of the pandemic, arguing for intergenerational co-operation and long-termism to prevent a ‘lost generation.’ Danny Dorling, conversely, wrote that intergenerational inequality stems from decades of mounting income and wealth inequality, and made the case that, with lower growth on the horizon, our society must get better at sharing the resources at our disposal more equitably.

Andrew Dixon makes the case for a major reform to property taxes: council tax places too much of the burden on younger generations and renters. This should be replaced with a progressive tax based on the up-to-date value of a property. Matthew Oulton and Chris Wongsosaputro, both members of the Young Fabians Economy and Finance Network, both offered some fresh solutions to tackle intergenerational fairness here in the UK, covering housing, tax, upskilling and more.

International perspectives

With so many ideas about how to improve public policy at home, insights from our colleagues from abroad have also proved incredibly valuable. Paul Kershaw from Canada’s Generation Squeeze wrote about a major victory for intergenerational fairness on childcare, but also about the major challenges facing younger Canadians on issues like housing and pensions. Sonia Arakkal and Megan Shellie, on behalf of Think Forward Australia, also painted a picture of the challenges facing young people, including unemployment and the lack of affordable housing. Claire Dale wrote about the growing scourge of child poverty in New Zealand, arguing that investment in the nation’s children is the only valid response to an ageing population.

Co-founder of the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations in Germany, Jörg Tremmel, wrote about how the breakthrough in vaccine science could have huge impacts on the health and wellbeing of future generations, while also providing a succinct summary of how German public policy might look post-pandemic. Annelise Riles, Executive Director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University, offered insight into how universities can adapt to a post-pandemic landscape, and how best to equip students for the economy of the future.

Changing our approach

A key theme in many of the articles we have published this week is about grounding policymaking in long-termism and ensuring the voices of young people, and the interests of future generations, are represented when decisions which affect them are made. Future Generations Commissioner for Wales Sophie Howe provided insight about how her role has helped to ensure policymaking in Wales takes into account the rights of future generations.

Thanks to all

We are very grateful to all of our contributors for your insights, and to all of those who read, enjoyed and shared these articles. We will see you at the same time next year for another Worldwide Blog Week.

Full list of articles

You may say “jam tomorrow”. But we say, “share today”

By Danny Dorling

IF supporter and Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford, Danny Dorling, argues that rather than promising growth tomorrow, policy-makers should give more to younger generations today

What should a mental health recovery from COVID-19 look like for children and young people in the UK?

By Charlotte Rainer

The vision of the UK’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC) is for all infants, children and young people to grow up in a society that prioritises and attends to their mental health and wellbeing. After a year of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, Charlotte Rainer, CYMPHC Coalition Lead, argues that this vision feels more important than ever

Generation Covid: how can we build back better and fairer across generations?

By Tan Suee Chieh

In this article, Tan Suee Chieh, Immediate Past-President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, explains how young people globally could become a “lost generation” unless policy shifts towards prioritising the long term.

What should a post-COVID-19 recovery should look like for young people in Germany?

By Jörg Tremmel

Jörg Tremmel, Co-founder of Germany’s Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations, looks at a post-corona-Germany in three decisive policy fields: public health, public debt and the climate crisis. 

The need to create a new property tax deal that benefits younger generations

By Andrew Dixon

Andrew Dixon, Founder of Fairer Share, a UK-based property taxation campaign group, argues that now, more than ever, we need a new property tax deal that benefits younger generations

Improving India’s record on child mental health

By Aarthi Ratnam

Aarthi Ratnam, a mental health campaigner, explains why India’s understanding of, and investment in, child mental health must change post-COVID-19

Intergenerational fairness: an economic approach

By Matthew Oulton

Matthew Oulton, Secretary of the UK’s Young Fabians Economy and Finance Network, economics student and young Labour activist from the Wirral, joins IF’s Worldwide Blog Week to discuss, from a left perspective, how to achieve intergenerational fairness post COVID-19

Mental health and the COVID–19 “syndemic” in Chile

By María José Campero Rauld and Antonia Rosati Bustamante

Community psychologists and mental health researchers from Chile, María José Campero Rauld and Antonia Rosati Bustamante outline the state of mental health in Chile before and throughout the COVID–19 crisis, which they argue is better described as a “syndemic” than a pandemic. They also call for better interventions which treat mental health as a human development concern, taking into account the social determinants of mental health, particularly focusing the relationship between mental ill-health and poverty

We need to move beyond “Check Mate” and think long-term for future generations

By Sophie Howe

Sophie Howe is the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. In this contribution to IF’s Worldwide Blog Week, Sophie explains how the office of the Commissioner is helping to lead Wales out of the COVID-19 pandemic sustainably

What should a post-pandemic economic recovery look like for younger generations?

By Chris Wongsosaputro

Chris Wongsosaputro, Co-Chair of the Young Fabians Economy & Finance Network, calls on the government response to COVID-19 to focus on improving younger generations’ skill sets

Is New Zealand trailing behind other countries on its COVID-19 economic recovery regarding children?

By Claire Dale

Claire Dale, Research Fellow at the University of Auckland Business School, explains how young people, and specifically children, have so far been let down by COVID-19 recovery policies 

Intergenerational tensions linger in Canada despite COVID-19 inspired child care breakthrough

By Paul Kershaw

Paul Kershaw, a policy professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Population Health, and Founder of Generation Squeeze, explains how spending on older generations’ pensions is passing structural deficits on to young Canadians 

Intergenerational equity: Covid-19 recovery within planetary boundaries

By Agata Meysner

As Europe slowly emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, Agata Meysner, Director of Generation Climate Europe, argues that we have a unique opportunity to redesign our economic system to fit within the Earth’s planetary boundaries and that the EU needs to move beyond the growth-oriented fossil fuel economy to create a green and just transition for Europe’s youth and future generations. 

How can universities equip students for a post-pandemic world?

By Annelise Riles

Annelise Riles, Associate Provost for Global Affairs, Executive Director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University and leader of the secretariat of the U7+ Alliance at Northwestern, joins IF’s Worldwide Blog Week to ask how universities can best equip students post-COVID-19

It’s time for post-COVID payback for Australia’s young people

By Sonia Arakkal and Megan Shellie

Australia has been called a “lucky country” thanks to very low COVID-19 deaths, but that has come at an economic cost to younger Australians who have not fared well. Think Forward, a newly established lobby group for young Australians who want politicians to prioritise and take action on issues of intergenerational fairness, argues that young people now deserve payback

What should an economic recovery post-COVID 19 look like for younger generations?

By Caitie Gillett

What should an economic recovery from COVID-19 should look like for younger generations? Caitie Gillett, Programme Manager for the Conservative Environment Network, lays out her vision

The climate crisis requires solidarity between generations

By Melissa Bui

Throughout the pandemic crisis, younger generations have taken a large hit to their quality of life in order to protect older generations who are most at risk of dying from COVID–19. IF senior researcher, Melissa Bui, explains how older generations can repay young people for their demonstration of intergenerational solidarity by taking essential and urgent actions on addressing an even bigger crisis around the corner: climate change

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