What makes an institution capable of acting for the long-term future?

Longtermism and Institutional Change explores how institutions contribute to embedding focus on long-term perspectives within research, social practices, governance and policy-making.

The stunning failure of short-term thinking in our stewardship of the biosphere around us has made the value and importance of long-term approaches to governance more obvious and urgent than ever before. However, implementing and embedding long-term perspectives into our civilisational design requires more than changing individual minds. Institutions, as a core and critical aspect of our social systems, must be re-oriented towards the long-term, and instilled with the capabilities necessary to act on this. What qualities, capabilities and structures enable an institution to act in the long-term? How can we better equip existing and future institutions to shape the long-term future? How can Longtermism guide institutional design?

Longtermism in Institutions

While individuals often naturally focus on immediate challenges from a short-term perspective, institutions, by their nature, can be designed to operate on much grander scales. In the political sphere, functional and effective institutions can often last hundreds of years, undertaking projects on behalf of generations that will not live to see their completion, for the benefit of generations who are not yet born. Yet, as the question of what world we are leaving behind for our children becomes an ever-more troubling concern, some have suggested reforming democratic institutions to better represent these future generations within the political process. What institutional design options are available to us? How effective might these be? Read more