Christmas parties cancelled. The best we can hope for this year is a virtual crush on a crowded Zoom. That’s what we got at last week’s launch event for our National Strategy for the Next Generations (NSxNG) launch event. There were 100 people there, from UNHCR, the OECD, the European Commission, and UK Government departments (FCDO, Cabinet Office and MOD were represented). Of course we presented the findings of our pilot programme and our 2021 plans. But we also ran an interactive roleplay session in which participants played the role of future citizens of 2045.
The exercise was designed and run by Finn Strivens (our NGFP Walkabout Prize Winner 2020 for under-25s). It was inspired by other insight-driven roleplay work, including future design from Japan, and the transcultural data pact from the UK. As Finn said, “We wanted to use this session to break open some of the tired and traditional ways that public consultations are normally run.”
We invited participants to take on the personas of citizens of 2045, and then bring ‘messages from the future’ back to 2020. These 2045 voices told us what they’d like us to do to put the UK in the strongest position on the world stage in the next generation.
Here’s what they said:
- “I would really like to ask people in 2020 to be very considered about the decisions they make; to think about the knowledge they have – especially about the climate crisis. To find a way to not be scared of that information but to mindfully engage with it. It will save millions of lives in the future.”
- “Invest in democratic reform so that your children feel like they have a say in creating the future.”
- “Teach today’s children not to be afraid about thinking about the future and to plan.”
- “You can still prevent the breakup of the UK.”
Reflecting on the exercise afterwards, people observed:
- “It was a relief to hear about the future with a sense of hope.”
- “We need a more honest reconciling with our history—instead of living with a construct – and an honest reflection on our future.”
We also ran a ran a private session about the NSxNG programme for UK parliamentarians. As our participants stressed:
- “A national strategy needs to be developed through a dialogue and debate with civil society, so that there is a vision for the UK’s role in the world that has a wider degree of public convergence and—crucially—reflects the views of the next generation.
- “We have an opportunity to think differently as we emerge from COVID. We have to invest to regrow our economy and society. What is worth the effort to rebuild forward? If we just spend money to get back to where we started in 2019, we will have completely missed an incredible opportunity.”