Problems such as climate change, energy issues, and increases in social security expenditure and government debts are resolved only from a long-term perspective, which essentially represent intergenerational conflicts of interest, and near-sighted responses and decisions by the current generation of people could cause considerable disadvantage to future generations. As unborn generations have neither a say nor way of negotiating with the current generation, it is no wonder that decisions made now are based only on their own interests. In the May issue of the RIETI Report, we present "Future Design: Toward policymaking reflecting upon the interests of future generations" by Consulting Fellow Keishiro Hara.
To address these challenges and create a sustainable society that lasts into the future, Hara explains that it is necessary to overcome near sightedness and develop mechanisms and institutions that can complement markets and other social systems that are not equipped to allocate resources to future generations. He adds that a study is underway on "future design" that aims to design visions of a future society through decision making that represents the interests of future generations. Under the future design approach, the current generation group and the "imaginary generation group" resolve intergenerational conflicts of interests, coordinate their interests, and design visions and make decisions in ways that explicitly reflect the interests of future generations by engaging in negotiations and consensus building with each other. Finally, Hara looks at whether the imaginary future generation can function properly and at plans to apply the future design approach to actual policymaking and designing of future visions.