Monday 28 October 2013

Leaders 'must fight short- termism'

They are not making time for long-term planning for future challenges: Report
By Rupali Karekar, The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2013

LEADERS are too preoccupied with short-term crises and losing sight of major challenges that will determine the lives of future generations, a new report has said.

The report recognises that in a world of fast food and short attention spans, policymakers do not make time for long-term planning for the future.

"We must take a fresh approach if we want to build a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable future," said Mr Pascal Lamy, chairman of The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, which released the report, aptly titled Now For The Long Term, in London last week.

"Creative coalitions, reinvigorated institutions and renewed methods to value the future in business and government practices are urgently needed to accelerate change."

The report is the culmination of a year-long effort by the commission, which comprises academics, economists, business leaders, politicians and thinkers from 13 countries including Singapore, to come up with ideas for tackling pertinent problems of the modern world.

It aims to fight "the increasing short-termism of modern politics" and "break the gridlock in global affairs", and offers recommendations to improve the lives of current, and future, generations.

"The present generation is not taking good care of planet Earth, our only planet.

"If we destroy it, future generations will have no other planet to go to," Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and a member of the Oxford Martin Commission, told The Straits Times yesterday.

This is why the report is very significant, he said.

"It points out how we are destroying the fate of future generations and advises us how to avoid that horrible fate," he added.

The report identifies seven "megatrends", including a large and ageing global population; the growth of an urbanised and socially mobile middle class; the need for sustainability in terms of resources; as well as health and the shifting burdens of disease.

To tackle climate change, for instance, it recommends the creation of a C20-C30-C40 Coalition - a collaboration of Group of 20 countries, 30 companies and 40 cities - to counteract climate change through initiatives like energy-efficient buildings, faster market penetration of efficient vehicles and tracking emissions.

Another recommendation is to fight non-communicable diseases by setting up so-called "Fit Cities" - a collaboration of food, beverage and alcohol providers, public health and city authorities, as well as civil society - to reduce the burden on health systems.

To break the poverty cycle and reduce the scar of long-term unemployment, the report suggests putting in place social protection measures to help the younger generation.

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