Our world is demographically divided – some populations continue to grow rapidly, while others are already on a shrinking trajectory. But it is becoming increasingly important to understand how population structures are actually changing, not just increasing in size. Many populations have been ageing in an historically unprecedented way, and an acceleration of global population ageing is almost certain for the coming decades. At the same time, the educational achievement among the young is improving dramatically in many parts of the world. This implies that the future workforce will be better educated and, in the context of ageing, the higher productivity of workers may (over)compensate for their relatively smaller numbers. It also implies that the future elderly will be much better educated than today’s elderly, with many consequences for their health and potential productivity. Dr Lutz’s presentation will provide an opportunity to put this whole complex picture of changing global demographics into the context of our vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change, as viewed from an intergenerational perspective.