World leaders to tackle short-termism in global decision-making: Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations

03 September 2012

© iStock

Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, will lead a meeting in Oxford today of international business, government and other leaders to address the gridlock in international and national attempts to deal with key global problems. The meeting launches the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations. The Commission seeks to address the growing short-term preoccupations of modern politics and identify ways to overcome today’s impasse in key economic, climate, trade, security and other negotiations.

The Commission will provide advice and recommendations on how to address longer term thinking and ensure that short-term crisis management does not overwhelm strategies, institutions and decision-making. The Commission will consider and inform a range of policy issues, including population and economic reform, energy supply and demand, impacts of scientific and technological advances, food security and climate change.

“Given the complexity and gravity of our economic, social and environmental challenges, understanding the implications of today’s decisions for the coming decades must be a priority for every responsible community and organisation,” said Lamy. “The scale of such future challenges means that countries and organisations with the capacity to think and plan over the longer term will hold a strategic advantage,” he added.

Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School, explained: “The crucial challenges facing the world are being crowded out by short-term preoccupations. As the pressures mount, there is an urgent need to focus on the legacy we are leaving for future generations. Among the areas that require attention are growing inequality, demographic change and migration, as well as threats to our shared resources - the global commons.” Professor Goldin stresses that: “Systemic risk and inequality is the underbelly of globalisation. Failure to address this will lead to slamming shut the doors of connectivity and to rising protectionism, xenophobia and nationalism. What is at stake is the progress of recent decades, not least for poor people and poor countries.

Mr Lamy added: “We need to find new ways of managing our collective interests. The Commission brings exceptionally experienced and wise individuals together to address the critical challenge of advancing our collective future.”

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations draws on the Oxford Martin School’s innovative interdisciplinary research, an analysis of global best practice, as well as a distinguished group of international experts from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, all acting in a personal capacity.

Chair: Pascal Lamy, Director-General, World Trade Organization

  • Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile; Executive Director, UN Women
  • Lionel Barber, Editor, The Financial Times
  • Roland Berger, Chairman, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
  • Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group
  • Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Board, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • Luiz Felipe Lampreia, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brazil
  • Liu He, Minister, Office of the Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Development Research Center of the State Council, the People’s Republic of China
  • Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
  • Trevor Manuel, Minister and Chair of the National Planning Commission, South Africa
  • Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India; former CEO, Infosys
  • Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), Chancellor, University of Oxford; Chairman, BBC Trust
  • Baron Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; former Executive Director, UNAIDS
  • Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow), former President, the Royal Society; Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge
  • Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University
  • Nicholas Stern (Lord Stern of Brentford), IG Patel Professor of Economics, London School of Economics
  • Jean-Claude Trichet, former President, European Central Bank
  • Robert Zoellick, former President, The World Bank
  • Ian Goldin, Director, Oxford Martin School; Professor of Globalisation and Development, University of Oxford

The Commission aims to produce a practical ‘must read’ guide to longer-term decision making and provide suggestions to help rebuild public dialogue and engagement in deliberations about the future. The final report of the Commission will be launched in the second half of 2013.

More information about the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations

Read the press release about the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations

Listen to Pascal Lamy talking about the Commission on BBC Radio 5 Live (1.55 on the clock)

View photos from the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations meeting