Following seven days of guest-written articles full of insight and sharing new research, IF’s Digital Campaigns Officer Liam Hill summarises the blogs and draws on the themes and lessons from the Intergenerational Foundation’s Worldwide Blog Week 2022.
Starting at home
Our Worldwide Blog Week for 2022 has come to an end. With fourteen articles from fourteen writers, we have tried to bring our readers and followers new perspectives from writers across the globe.
We began the week here in the UK, with Danny Dorling’s thoughts on the effects of the political cycle on intergenerational fairness, and how the increasingly gerontocratic aims of our politics are essentially unsustainable: “You cannot skew towards the old for very long,” he wrote, “and get away with it.”
Staying at home, Fairer Share’s Andrew Dixon wrote a blog advocating for abolishing and replacing Stamp Duty with a proportional property tax, which would be fairer on younger generations and homeseekers. With candidates to be the UK’s next prime minister searching for tax cuts and ways to boost GDP, surely the time for the proportional property tax – which would do both – has come.
Our greatest challenge
From the housing crisis to the climate crisis: several of our articles this Worldwide Blog Week focused on humanity’s greatest existential challenge. The climate emergency was written about with great clarity and urgency by John Paul Jose, an activist based in Kerala, India, and Jonathon Porritt here in the UK. Both wrote of obligations – of the richest nations to the poorest nations in the fight against climate change, and of leaders and consumers today to generations yet to come.
Bill Anderson-Samways focused on the UK’s Net Zero aspirations, and the ‘discount rate’ that the UK Treasury applies to future generations’ lives. He argues that this rate is too high, and that the case for investing to achieve Net Zero faster and earlier is irresistible if you place sufficient value on the lives of future people.
The far-off future
Future people and their rights came up plenty more: in their article on storage sites for nuclear waste, Jörg Tremmel and Milena Weber pointed out that while there are just shy of 8 billion people alive on Earth today, over the next 50,000 years there will be a further 6,750 billion. With more than 800 times the number of people set to exist in the future, how can we countenance not doing what it takes today to make the world hospitable for them?
Cameroonian philosopher Ernest-Marie Mbonda also wrote (in both English and French) about our obligations to the next generations, including those beyond our potential grandchildren and great-grandchildren, drawing on strands of African ethics. He emphasised thinking of the earth we inhabit as a gift bequeathed by each generation to the next, and called on this generation not to be a weak link that damages the chances of the next.
Power and institutions
Several of our blogs focused on politics, power and institutions. They posed answers to the question: what will it take to make democratic political systems – in many of which, with ageing societies, young people are increasingly outnumbered at the ballot box – act in favour of young people today as well as generations to come?
From New York, Julia M. Puaschunder wrote two articles, the first touching on potential reforms to the US Judiciary that could make it more likely to act in the interests of younger generations, and the second on democratic rotation, and how the use of lottery systems could create generationally and demographically balanced representative juries. As our democracy evolves, these are ideas for challenging how we think about representation and decision making that could form the basis for changes that help democratic politics to favour younger and future generations, rather than letting them down.
Sarah Pickard contributed an article on the role of young people in French politics, increasingly dispirited with democratic choices at the ballot box and making themselves heard in the streets and online. She concluded that, ultimately, the onus is on politicians to be ‘more inclusive and less instrumental’ – a succinct and vital message which should be heard in France but also well beyond it.
Over in Canada, our colleagues Generation Squeeze contributed an informative blog by Umair Mohammed, threading the close links between the housing crisis in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, and low turnout in its most recent election. He concludes that those of us campaigning for intergenerational justice must work especially hard to combat political disillusionment.
Think Forward’s Thomas Walker wrote an article calling for a parliamentary inquiry into intergenerational fairness in Australia – a viable and practical goal, and one which it is easy to see could translate into changes of policy. The attention of leaders and policymakers is a vital resource through which we can make change – though not the only one.
Beyond the ballot box
Writing not about democracy at the ballot box, but about power and organisation in groups, Jessica K. Taft shared an overview of her research about how communities of working children in Peru are campaigning for social and ecological justice. They provide, she says, an excellent example in their horizontal approach to activism, and there is much we can learn from how these young people approach campaigning and advocacy.
Across the Pacific, from Kagawa, Japan, Tatsuyoshi Saijo, contributed a piece on how to ensure citizens making decisions can think from the perspective of future people. He drew on experiments in which town planners and citizens design public services and city spaces with future people in mind. He wrote about how we can, collectively, make decisions on behalf of our future selves and the generations to come – and become “Homo Futurabilis”.
We hope you have found much to enjoy during this Worldwide Blog Week: the guest contributions, in all their variety, have given us plenty to think about how we approach our campaigns and how we want to reshape how decisions are made.
On behalf of IF, I would like to thank all of our guest contributors for their time and effort, for their patience and their insights.
Help us to be able to do more
Now that you’ve reached the end of the article, we want to thank you for being interested in IF’s work standing up for younger and future generations. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far. And with your help we can do much more, so please consider helping to make IF more sustainable. You can do so by following this link: Donate