The power of intergenerational solidarity

The Future, by Tamas Matusik, flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
‘The future’. Photo by Tamas Matusik, flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This year’s International Youth Day (IYD) focuses on the power of intergenerational solidarity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, while leaving leave no one behind. This includes promoting youth voices and meaningful participation in decision-making processes.

SOIF supports this worldwide endeavour by enhancing young people’s actions across the three corners of its ‘triangle’

The SOIF triangle. Intergenerational fairness needs to work at the level of cictzens, organisations, and leaders.
The SOIF triangle. (SOIF)

Citizens from all generations

Building the future should, first, be centred on the needs, experiences, and desires of citizens from all generations–including the unborn ones. There needs to be meaningful and age-appropriate ways of engaging everyone in thinking, imagining, and shaping fair futures for all. The Next Generation Foresight Practitioners (NGFP) network is full of inspiring examples. It includes young citizens from more than 80 countries who have been recognized over the last five years. They have used their futures thinking and activism to support their communities in imagining and shaping a positive future.

Second, organisations across the private and non-profit sectors need to be prepared to do their part. They can help citizens and employees realise their preferred futures. This means both listening deeply to a diverse range of voices across generations, genders, geographies, and walks of life and deliberately increasing the foresight capabilities of the next generation of leaders. One example of this is the African Leadership Development Programme (ALDP), delivered by SOIF and funded by the Small Foundation

Youth leadership

The ALDP mentorship programme focused on providing opportunities for African foresight activists. They were able to accelerate their leadership skills, develop different visions for the future of their communities, and translate that into action. SOIF is also investing in youth leadership among its staff members, contracting NGFP fellows and other young professionals to lead some of its projects.

Finally, leaders at all levels need to keep intergenerational fairness and solidarity at the front of their minds. For this reason, SOIF has developed, in partnership with the Gulbenkian Foundation, an intergenerational fairness framework for public policies. This is explicitly designed to help policy-makers to assess the impact of a public policy proposal on the lives of all generations. This includes those who are alive and those who are not born yet. If we’re going to take intergenerational fairness seriously, it needs to be more than just an aspiration.