Today, 16 November 2023, marks the world’s first Intergenerational Fairness Day. Nine organisations around the world have come together to call on their respective governments to better consider the interests of younger and future generations. To celebrate, Liz Emerson, IF Co-founder introduces a week of articles from activist organisations around the world. #intergenerationalfairnessday
Intergenerational fairness crosses borders
At IF, we’ve spent more than a decade tracking the plight of younger generations in the United Kingdom. We’ve witnessed the position of the under-35s stagnate or decline in 9 out of 10 policy areas investigated. We’ve seen policymakers continue to prioritise short-term political gain at the expense of younger generations, be it: reneging on student finance reform; strangling desperately needed new housing; reducing spending on younger and future generations; overburdening young people with higher taxation; or watering down mental health reform or environmental policies that could better protect our children and grandchildren.
UK young people are not alone. Across the world, particularly in late western economies, younger people have to take on more educational debt, face lower earnings, pay more tax, pay more into pensions for lower returns, and work for longer into old age. In spite of all these pressures foisted on their generation, they are still expected to maintain a social contract that largely insulates older people (whatever their wealth), from contributing to the welcome, but increasingly costly ageing of our populations. And that is at a time when wealth is more likely to be found among older generations. It means that age-alone is no longer an adequate proxy for need for generations today and, without reform, will exacerbate inequality among generations that follow. Meanwhile, younger generations in developing economies fare differently; their population pyramids may differ (with larger numbers of young people and fewer numbers of older people to support in old age), but they risk being left behind in the global rush to renewable energy and sustainable investment opportunities, leaving them at the sharp end of the worse effects of climate change.
Across the world, in spite of rhetoric used, the voice of future generations is largely ignored by policy-makers, companies and organisations more interested in profiting in the here and now. The legacy present generations leave to generations to come must be a healthier planet, a fairer social contract and sustainable economies that work for both planet and people.
IF is delighted to introduce this week of international articles from our partners, and advocates across the world. We hope that these articles will inspire you to call on domestic policy-makers to implement fairer policy and better protect the interests of our children and grandchildren. Listen to the Intergenerational Fairness Day Podcast, join in community calls in Canada calling for an Generational Fairness Task Force and/or support the newly created Partnership for Future Generations Africa.
Here is a quick run-down of articles coming through the week:
United Nations – hear from Claudette Salinas Leyva, a Next Generation Fellow, on the need to be better stewards for younger and future generations.
Wales – in this article, Derek Walker, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, unpicks the myths surrounding protecting future generations.
Canada – it’s all about housing, debt and climate. Generation Squeeze will explain why younger Canadians are struggling to afford housing and raise families while worrying about growing public debt and the planet’s future liveability.
USA – people of colour and climate activism. Aissa Dearing-Benton, climate activist, will share her personal journey co-founding the Durham Youth Climate Justice Initiative in North Carolina.
USA – Sarah Swanbeck outlines the Berkley Institute for Young Americans agenda focusing on the pressures facing younger Americans.
Africa – a continent-wide alliance is forming. Alimi Salifou will write about the newly-formed Partnership for Future Generations in Africa, supported by the United Nations Foundation’s Our Future Agenda with an ambition to elect resident Ombudsmen for Future Generations in all 54 countries of Africa.
Australia – Housing, wealth, tax, student debt and pensions. Think Forward‘s Tom Walker, will explain how Australia’s young people are facing similar intergenerational unfairnesses to UK young people.
Germany – long-term thinking is essential. The Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (FRFG) explains why it stands for more long-term thinking calling for a move away from the obsession with the here and now.
The Netherlands – the far future needs our protection today. Michael Müncker of milliongenerations.org writes about why we need to protect the far future.
We hope that policy-makers around the world will join the conversation and commit to better protecting the interests of younger people today and generations to come.
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.