The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations focused on the increasing short-termism of modern politics and looked for solutions to favor long term issues.
It identifies seven megatrends:
- demographics (large, ageing populations);
- mobility (urbanisation and a growing middle class);
- society (inequality and unemployment);
- geopolitics (power transitions);
- sustainability (resource insecurity);
- health (shifting burdens of disease);
- technology (information and communications revolution).
Five challenges that arise from these megatrends:
- Society: How can growth and development be made more sustainable and inclusive?
- Resources: How can food, energy, water and biodiversity be made more secure?
- Health: How can public health infrastructure and processes respond to the needs of all?
- Geopolitics: How can power transitions be the basis for fresh forms of collaboration?
- Governance: How can businesses, institutions and governments contribute to more inclusive and sustainable growth?
According to the report, possible responses to these challenges are:
- New targets on growth and employment, and a focus on youth workers and flexible workplaces
- Increase resource transparency and information sharing and measures to counteract climate change.
- Goals to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs), remedy deficiencies in public health systems, and creatively partnering with the pharmaceutical industry
- Countries are advised to identify shared interests, update institutions and develop cybersecurity capacity
- Better governance will aid this quest, particularly if technology is used creatively,
- Rewiring business to invest for the long term.
Five shaping factors make positive change difficult:
- Institutions: Too many have struggled to adapt to today’s hyper-connected world.
- Time: Short-termism directs political and business cycles, despite compelling exceptions.
- Political Engagement and Public Trust: Politics has not adapted to new methods or members.
- Growing Complexity: Problems can escalate much more rapidly than they can be solved.
- Cultural Biases: Globalisation can amplify cultural differences and exclude key voices.
Finally, the reports makes five recommandations:
• C20-C30-C40: a Coalition of the Working comprising countries, companies and cities to counteract climate change.
• CyberEx:a new early warning platform to promote a better understanding of common threats amongst government, corporate and individual users.
• Fit Cities:a city-based network to fight the rise of non-communicable diseases.
2. Innovative, Open and Reinvigorated Institutions:
• Decades, not Days: invest in independent, accountable institutions able to operate across longer-term horizons.
• Fit for Purpose: incorporate sunset clauses into publicly funded international institutions to ensure regular review of accomplishments and mandates.
• Open up Politics: build on initiatives such as the Open Government Platform to optimise new forms of participation and transparency.
• Make the Numbers Count: establish Worldstat to improve the reliability and availability of statistics. • Transparent Taxation: address tax abuse and avoidance through a Voluntary Taxation and Regulatory Exchange.
3. Revalue the Future to reduce bias against future generations:
• Focus Business on the Long Term: ensure companies and financial systems give greater
priority to long term “health” and look beyond daily or quarterly reporting cycles.
• Discounting: future generations should not be discounted against simply because they are born tomorrow and not today.
• Invest in People: remove perverse subsidies on hydrocarbons and agriculture, and redirect support to the poor.
• Measure Long-term Impact: create an index to track the effectiveness of countries, companies and international institutions on longer term issues.
4. Invest in Younger Generations: Greater attention should be given to promoting a more inclusive and empowered society, particularly for younger generations:
• Attack Poverty at its Source: break the intergenerational cycle of poverty through social protection measures such as conditional cash transfer programmes.
• A Future for Youth: countries should invest in youth guarantees to address unemployment and underemployment.
5. Establish a Common Platform of Understanding: The ability to address today’s global challenges is undermined by the absence of a collective vision for society. To remedy this, the Commission urges renewed dialogue on an updated set of shared global values around which a unified and enduring pathway for society can be built.