23 May 2024, 18:00 - 19:30
Blavatnik School of Government and online
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Book cover of Long Problems

Join Professor Thomas Hale, Professor in Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, in conversation with leading thinkers and policymakers, for the launch of his new book Long Problems: Climate Change and the Challenge of Governing across Time, in which he outlines political strategies for tackling climate change and other “long problems” that span generations.

Climate change and its consequences unfold over many generations. Past emissions affect our climate today, just as our actions shape the climate of tomorrow, while the effects of global warming will last thousands of years. Yet the priorities of the present dominate our climate policy and the politics surrounding it. Even the social science that attempts to frame the problem does not theorise time effectively. In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Hale examines the politics of climate change and other “long problems.” He shows why we find it hard to act before a problem’s effects are felt, why our future interests carry little weight in current debates, and why our institutions struggle to balance durability and adaptability. With long-term goals in mind, he outlines strategies for tilting the politics and policies of climate change toward better outcomes.

Join Professor Hale for a book launch and discussion with leading experts Cat Zuzarte Tully, Managing Director of the School of International Futures, and Professor Jonathan Boston of Victoria University of Wellington.

To link theory and practice, the event will also feature a panel discussion with leading policymakers seeking to tackle long problems at different scales. We will hear from Councillor Charlie Hicks, Future Generations Champion, Oxfordshire County Council, Ms Jane Davidson, who, as Welsh Government Minister, spearheaded Wales’ world-leading legislation on future generations, and Ms Michèle Griffin, who is leading the organization of the United Nations Summit of the Future for the UN Secretary General in September 2024.

This event is co-hosted with the Oxford Martin School.

Logo of Oxford Martin School

Speaker biographies

Thomas Hale’s research explores how we can manage transnational problems effectively and fairly. He seeks to explain how political institutions evolve – or not – to face the challenges raised by globalisation and interdependence, with a particular emphasis on environmental, economic and health issues. A US national, Professor Hale has studied and worked in Argentina, China and Europe. His books include Long Problems: Climate Change and the Challenge of Governing Across Time (Princeton 2024), Beyond Gridlock (Polity 2017), Between Interests and Law: The Politics of Transnational Commercial Disputes (Cambridge 2015), Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge 2014), and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing when We Need It Most (Polity 2013). Professor Hale co-leads the Net Zero Tracker and the Net Zero Regulation and Policy Hub.

Catarina Zuzarte Tully leads the School of International Futures (SOIF), a not-for-profit international collective of practitioners based in the UK who use futures thinking to inspire change at the local, national and global levels. SOIF has worked with organisations like the UN, Omidyar, NATO, the Royal Society and national governments to make the world fairer for current and future generations. SOIF also supports a growing network of Next Generation Foresight Practitioners. Previously, Cat served as Strategy Project Director at the UK Foreign Office and as Policy Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. She is a non-resident fellow at the US Government Accountability Office’s Center for Strategic Foresight and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Chilean Council of Foresight and Strategy. Cat’s mission is to inspire individuals, communities, organisations and governments to reinvigorate democracy by designing, scaling and embedding a range of innovations incorporating thinking about the future.

Jonathan Boston has published widely on a range of matters including public management, social policy, climate change policy, tertiary education policy, and comparative government. While at Victoria University of Wellington, Jonathan has served as Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies and Director of the Institute of Policy Studies. During 2000-01 he was a member of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission, and later helped to design, implement and evaluate the Performance-Based Research Fund. More recently he served as Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, established by the Children’s Commissioner. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2014 to undertake research on ‘Governing for the Future: Bringing Long-Term Policy Issues into Short-Term Political Focus’. His recent research has focused on the challenge of governing for the long-term in the face of strong presentist tendencies in democratic policy-making.

Charlie Hicks is Councillor for Cowley on Oxfordshire County Council, where he is also Future Generations Champion. He was born, went to school, and did his undergraduate degree and Master of Public Policy degree in Oxford. Charlie has worked and volunteered in a number of roles in Oxford, including as a mental health worker at the Warneford hospital and a school governor. He is Chair of the Oxford Localities Group on Oxfordshire County Council.

Jane Davidson is the author of #futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country, the story of why Wales was the first country in the world to introduce legislation to protect future generations. She is Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. From 2000 - 2011, Jane was Minister for Education, then Minister for Environment, Sustainability in the Welsh Government, where she proposed legislation to make sustainability the central organising principle; the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act came into law in 2015. She created a Climate Change Commission for Wales, the post of Sustainable Futures Commissioner, and the Wales Coast Path. In education, she piloted major curriculum changes, the Foundation Phase for early years, the Welsh Baccalaureate and integrated Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship into the Welsh Curriculum. Jane is a patron of the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and Tools for Self Reliance Wales (TFSR Cymru). 

Michèle Griffin has served as a senior policy advisor and director of policy planning to successive secretaries-general. She currently directs the Common Agenda/Summit of the Future Team in the office of Secretary-General António Guterres. Previously, Griffin coordinated many of the Secretary General’s signature initiatives, including COVID-19 policy and the Call for Action on Human Rights. Prior to this, she served for ten years in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, where she set up and ran the UN Mediation Support Unit, aiding peace processes around the world. Griffin has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and has lectured and published widely on UN matters.

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