Ensuring that the best decisions possible are made today is a way of preserving the democratic legacy. That means policies should consider the needs of all generations: the eldest, the youngest and the ones that aren’t born yet.

Luis Xavier Lobos, Director Strategy and Planning at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Putting intergenerational fairness into practice

Concerns about intergenerational fairness have steadily climbed up the priority ladder over the past decade. The 2020 OECD Report on Governance on Youth, Trust and Intergenerational Jusice outlines the intergenerational issues underlying many of today’s most urgent political debates, and we believe these questions will only intensify in coming years.

Ensuring effective long-term decision-making is hard. It requires leaders and decision-makers across public, private and civil society to be incentivised, and for all citizens to be empowered to have a say around the future. To do this will require change in our culture, behaviours, process and systems.

Our work on the Framework for Assessing Intergenerational Fairness and the Intergenerational Fairness Observatory are practical first steps to creating this change.

The observatory

Introducing the Observatory

The observatory helps decision makers to act in ways that are more intergenerationally fair within communities, countries, regions and across global systems.

It has been established to:

  1. Drive awareness of intergenerational issues and build coalitions for change across communities
  2. Build demonstrator projects that help ensure decisions are made in ways that are intergenerationally fair
  3. Hold each other to account for the short-term and long-term impact of our decisions on all generations.

Watch a talk about intergenerational fairness and strategic foresight

Policy assessment

A framework for assessing intergenerational fairness

The School of International Futures and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have created a methodology to assess whether a decision is fair to different generations, now and in the future.

It can be applied by national and local governments, independent institutions, international organisations, foundations, businesses and special interest groups to evaluate the impact of decisions on present and future generations.

The policy assessment methodology has been successfully piloted by independent institutions across Portugal on live policy areas (for example, Banco de Portugal on Pensions Reform), and on legislation moving through UK parliament by volunteers overseen by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Future Generations. 

The policy assessment methodology is freely available for use under the Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.

Learn more about the assessment framework launch in Portugal or get in touch with the team if you have any questions.

The expertise and communities behind this framework

To design this framework, we drew upon a 50-year legacy of different communities who have wrestled with the questions of effective long-term decision-making.

Over 400 experts, citizens, researchers and policymakers contributed to this work through roundtables, interviews, reviews and pilot testing of the framework.

These include technical contributions from leading experts such as Roman Krzanic and from our Advisory Board who provided guidance and insight on this journey: Fatima Azevedo,
Ricardo Borges de Castro, Jim Dator, Jane Davidson, John Keane, Simon Webb.

Framework launch

Read more abotu the assessment framework launch in Portugal.

Specialist report

Learn the details of the design and development framework.

IGF Toolkit

Download everything you need to get started including the tool, how to guide and example assessment reports.

Training

Register for a one-hour introductory class or three-hour training on conducting an assessment.

What is Fair?

We use a simple definition that builds on common sense and the work of the Brundtland Commission Report on Sustainable Development (1987). Policies that are fair from an intergenerational standpoint:

  • Allow people of all ages to meet their needs
  • Meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The tool assesses whether a specific policy is intergenerationally fair by answering 5 questions. Does the policy: 

  1. Move society away from its vision for the future?
  2. Disadvantage any generations, alive now or in the future?
  3. Disadvantage people at any specific life stage?
  4. Strengthen the transmission of inequality through generations?
  5. Restrict the choices of future generations?

Elements of the framework

  • Institutional ownership determines how this policy assessment methodology is embedded within government and society.
  • National Dialogue ensures the policy assessment reflects this society’s culture, values and possible futures. 
  • The tool helps assessors determine if a given policy is intergenerationally fair.

The tool is simple and flexible and allows for a comprehensive and structured analysis.

Banco de Portugal

The feedback from MPs has been really positive including ‘this is absolutely fantastic and we should definitely be doing this’ and ‘these are excellent’.

APPG Future Generations

Intergenerational fairness

Training on the framework

The Framework helps assess the impact of public policies on present and future generations and make decisions better informed by the long-term.

SOIF is currently offering free training events including a one-hour introductory class, and a three-hour training that will help you get started with policy assessment.

The one-hour introductory class:

  • explores what Intergenerational Fairness is and why it is critical
  • introduces strategic foresight approaches to improve long-term decision making
  • introduces the Framework for Intergenerational Fairness
  • helps identify how it can be used in your work.

The three-hour class Introduces the framework and teaches how to use the methodology on a real policy example:

  • provides a detailed walkthrough of the policy assessment methodology
  • helps you practice using the tool on an example policy.

Upcoming training dates

Introduction to intergenerational fairness (10:00 - 11:00 GMT+1)

10 August 2021 10:00 - 11:00 GMT+1
Register

Introduction to intergenerational fairness (16:00 - 17:00 GMT+1)

14 September 2021 16:00 - 17:00 GMT+1
Register

Getting Started with Policy Assessment for Intergenerational Fairness (10:00 - 13:00 GMT+1)

15 September 2021 10:00 - 13:00 GMT+1
Register

Introduction to intergenerational fairness (10:00 - 11:00 GMT+1)

12 October 2021 10:00 - 11:00 GMT+1
Register

Getting Started with Policy Assessment for Intergenerational Fairness (10:00 - 13:00 GMT+1)

20 October 2021 10:00 - 13:00 GMT+1
Register

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News

ICSOs and intergenerational fairness: Why long term thinking is important and empowering in today’s whirly world

28 July 2021 | International Civil Society Center

All big current global issues have huge intergenerational fairness and equity dimensions, both between different generations alive today but also not yet born. Intergenerationally fair policies and strategic decisions allow people of all ages to meet their needs, and meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ICSOs have an important role in ensuring that decision-makers take such considerations into account beyond current political cycles. But they also have a responsibility to ensure that their own organisational decisions are also fair for all generations.

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Embedding strategic foresight into decision making through the lens of Intergenerational Fairness

2 June 2021 | Global Foresight Summit

Younger generations are becoming more vocal on the impact of the decisions made in the past that affect their present opportunities and future. With this shift in political landscape, how can policymakers ensure that the decisions they make now are fair to future generations? At the last Global Foresight Summit, Julie Jenson Bennett presented a policy assessment methodology on intergenerational fairness that helps make decisions guided by the long-term.

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The growing importance of intergenerational fairness in rebuilding better

12 January 2021 | Business Fights Poverty

The question of fairness, rights and distribution between the generations alive now and in the future is becoming increasingly salient. Hear more about building intergenerational fairness from an excerpt of SOIF Managing Director Cat Tully’s podcast with Business Fights Poverty.

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Today, policy-makers decide the fate of generations to come

11 January 2021 | Apolitical

How can we build a Europe that is resilient, prosperous and sustainable in the face of significant uncertainty and an ever-increasing pace of change?

Read more →