All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations

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Matt Lerner

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations (APPG) works to make the welfare of future generations salient to policymakers in the present.

What problem are they trying to solve?

Current political systems are undeniably short-term. Future generations have no political representation, yet their wellbeing is dependent on the actions that we take today. The future is not guaranteed – a global catastrophe such as a civilization-ending plague could destroy not only the current generation but, as a consequence, every generation that would have come afterward. If our generation causes or fails to prevent such a disaster, we will be robbing trillions of future people of happy lives. The APPG works to ensure that the United Kingdom parliament and government takes the welfare of future generations into account when making policy.

What do they do?

The APPG provides support to UK parliamentarians in combating short-termism, thinking about the long-term future, and combating existential risk by conducting speaker events and roundtable discussions, producing research and briefings, and building networks among like-minded policymakers. They assemble research in order to inform Parliamentarians on catastrophic risks and the policy options available for avoiding them.

Why do we recommend them?

Track record of success

APPG has demonstrated a concrete preliminary impact on UK policymaking:

  • • The APPG supported Lord Martin Rees to successfully call for a 1-year Special Inquiry Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning in the House of Lords.

  • • The APPG published a paper on risk management in the UK, drawing lessons from COVID. A launch event included 32 parliamentarians, as well as civil servants. The UK government has since committed publicly to reviewing its risk assessment methodology.

  • • The APPG supported Dr. Philippa Whitford MP to draft a resolution for a ‘Wellbeing of Current and Future Generations’ Bill to be introduced in Scotland. The Scottish government has since committed to requiring public bodies in Scotland to consider the long-term outcomes of their decisions.

  • • The APPG has supported the drafting and laying of Wellbeing of Future Generations bills, which have drawn support from more than 70 MPs and more than 40 Peers and received significant press attention.

  • • Evidence sessions conducted by the APPG on long-term policy making have been attended regularly by MPs and Peers; nine such sessions have been conducted as of this writing and past guests have included a Nobel laureate and a former NATO ambassador.

Clear plan for future growth

The APPG plans to continue holding events and roundtables, growing its membership, and expanding with new initiatives (see following section). Because of the low attention currently accorded to future generations, the APPG’s continuation of its existing work is additive and immensely useful, and we believe that expanding its capacity to do similar work will amplify its impact.

What would they do with more funding?

  • • The APPG plans to work with political parties to on explicitly setting out their long-term visions in 2024 general election manifestos. Additional funds could support a new research inquiry to establish what UK citizens across the spectrum would want in such a manifesto.

  • • The APPG would like to conduct additional research and run events on topics such as AI policy and cyber threats, or on the extreme risk threat horizon research, to look into the threats posed by extreme risks and what implications they have for UK policy.

  • • The APPG hopes to continue and expand Future Check, a process to check proposed legislation for its impact on future generations. APPG is currently iterating on this idea with input from MPs.

Message from the organisation

In 2019 the secretariat to the APPG for Future Generations set ourselves goals to provide impartial education, support and advice to Parliamentarians to assist them in ensuring that the UK Government (i) fairly considers the rights of future generations, (ii) takes a longer-term approach in policy making, and (iii) is effectively addressing existential and catastrophic risks. At the time we expected that making headway on this kind of policy change would be challenging and slow. At their core these ideas require some fairly fundamental reforms to how our democratic systems work for the long-term and protect the interests of those who will follow us. The work has undoubtedly been challenging but we are making clear rapid demonstrable progress towards our goals. We have built strong cross-party support, achieved a number of policy wins and seen the ideas discussed at the APPG spread across Parliament, government, the UK and even globally. Policy wins include a new Select Committee on risks, plans in Scotland for a Future Generations commissioner and more. We are excited to build upon this success and believe that the impact we have had to date makes a strong case for scaling up our team, our projects and our research.

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Matt Lerner

Matt joined Founders Pledge as Research Director in July 2021. He is a social scientist by training and inclination, but his career has been pretty varied so far. He has led surveys of entrepreneurs in Egypt, written software to evaluate returns to education in the US, and given an interview in (broken) Spanish on drive-time radio in Medellín. He received his BA from NYU and his MA in quantitative social science from Columbia.

Outside of work, Matt likes to play guitar, draw cartoons, and learn languages.