Challenges of Government Conference 2019

The New Generations

31 October - 1 November 2019, Blavatnik School of Government

Politics is experiencing a generational shift. People born after 1980 face starkly different economic, social, and technological prospects than previous generations. In almost every country, generational cleavages on core challenges of government are increasingly salient.

Our Challenges of Government Conference 2019 looks at how those under 40 are changing the world, and at the most important issues for millennials and Gen Z – from technology to climate change to generational equality.

Our speakers include activists, thinkers, politicians, researchers and practitioners from every continent - from bestselling authors to current and former young government ministers. The vast majority of our external speakers are under 40, including one of the youngest ministers in Asia (Syed Saddiq); former ministers from Paraguay and Yemen; mayors from Liberia, Afghanistan and Germany; elected politicians from Canada and Ukraine; and (by video message) Pete Buttigieg, Democratic US presidential candidate.

Download the conference programme (subject to change).

Register below to book your place at this year's conference


Shining a spotlight on young changemakers and generational issues, we will cover topics that will shape the challenges of government for decades to come:

The new economics: Sharp disparities across generations in income, wealth, job prospects, and housing, in a context of rising inequality, have changed the landscape of economic debates. How important are generational differences? Is capitalism broken, and if so how do we fix it? What new models look most promising?

The new civics: Among the younger generation and beyond, there is growing dissatisfaction with ‘the establishment’. Trust in the elite is at an all-time low. Many are looking to effect change from outside established institutions – through activism, citizen movements and social entrepreneurship. What new forms of civic engagement are emerging, and which are most effective?

The future of the planet: Younger generations have inherited a planet in great peril. How do we preserve it, and what are the right approaches when national governments and multilateral bodies aren’t moving fast enough?

Technological change and the public interest: The lives of the digital natives will be profoundly shaped by changing technology and by the data explosion. How can governments both harness and regulate technology for the widest benefit?

Cities: The majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and cities are dominated by the young and mobile. How does municipal government ensure its own legitimacy in the face of an ever-changing population?

Identity: Rapid changes in social norms, particularly around questions of identity – race, gender, sexuality – are disrupting political conventions and power relations. Meanwhile, nationalism as a source of identity is resurgent. How can these trends be forces for progress rather than conflict?

Throughout, we will ask the question ‘inside or outside?’ – should the young and the dissatisfied seek to change things from within by entering established institutions, or to drive change through external activism and building new institutions and networks? How do these approaches relate to each other, and to the career trajectories of the next generation of public leaders?


With more to be announced soon, speakers so far include:

  • Janar Akaev, Member of Parliament, Kyrgyzstan
  • Nick Allardice, Chief Product Officer,
  • Batool Asadi, Assistant Commissioner in Quetta, Pakistan
  • Josh Babarinde, founder and CEO, Cracked It
  • Yemi Babington-Ashaye, President, United People Global
  • Eric Beinhocker, Professor of Practice (Public Policy), Blavatnik School of Government, and Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Oxford Martin School
  • HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Ambassador, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
  • Jennie Bristow, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University, and author of Stop Mugging Grandma
  • Pete Buttigieg, (by video message), US Democratic presidential candidate for 2020
  • Maeve Cohen, ex-director of Rethinking Economics
  • Sir Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Pepper Culpepper, Blavatnik Chair in Government and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Stefan Dercon, Academic Co-director, Pathways for Prosperity Commission, and Professor of Economic Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Jiayang Fan, staff writer at The New Yorker, reporting on China and US politics
  • Temilola Fayokun, representative from the UK Students Climate Network
  • Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University and author of the bestselling The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
  • Blair Glencorse, director of Accountability Lab
  • Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Global Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Oliver Harman, Cities Economist, Cities that Work, Blavatnik School of Government
  • John Harris, Board Member, New York City Manhattan Community Board Five
  • Sharif Hassan, Kabul correspondent for the Washington Post
  • Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council climate lead
  • Freshta Karim, pioneer of mobile libraries for children in Kabul, and Blavatnik School of Government alumna
  • Peter Kemp, Associate Dean and Professor of Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Jefferson Koijee, Mayor of Monrovia, capital of Liberia
  • Nina Möger Bengtsson, transportation policy advisor in the European Parliament and member of the Danish Youth Climate Council
  • Aida Ndiaye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, and Blavatnik School of Government alumna
  • Soledad Nuñez Mendez, former Minister of Housing in Paraguay, and Blavatnik School of Government alumna
  • Nikhil Pahwa, Indian journalist and digital rights activist 
  • Mark Paul, Assistant Professor of Economics, New College of Florida
  • Anna Petherick, Departmental Lecturer in Public Policy, Blavatnik School
  • Snigdha Poonam, journalist and author of Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing Their World
  • Shoaib Rahim, former Acting Mayor of Kabul
  • Jeremy Roberts, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Canada, and Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, and Blavatnik School of Government alumnus
  • Syed Saddiq, Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports
  • Marian Schreier, Mayor of Tengen, Germany, and Blavatnik School of Government alumnus
  • Jane Shaw, Principal of Harris Manchester College, Professor of the History of Religion
  • Siddharth Shetty, Data Empowerment and Architecture Lead and Fellow for ISPIRT Foundation
  • Andres Diaz Silva, Head of Science, Innovation and Sustainable Development, Colombian Embassy
  • Joseph Sternberg, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Theft of a Decade
  • Lizelle Strydom, Director at Careerbox
  • Maya Tudor, Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Shahrukh Wani, Cities Economist, Cities that Work, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Dr. Marc Venhaus, Volkswagen AG
  • Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, and Professor of Global Economic Governance, University of Oxford
  • Lisa Yasko, member of the Ukrainian parliament
  • Enrique Zapata, CAF (the development bank of Latin America), and Blavatnik School of Government alumnus

Personal details

If you have previously registered, please use the same email address to confirm your parallel sessions below.


The full programme is available here.

You will automatically be signed up for all the main sessions on the days you indicate. Please also select which of the parallel sessions you wish to attend below.

Choose parallel sessions

Parallel sessions:
  • Bringing the benefits of technology to all
    While digital technologies appear to be ubiquitous, not everyone is benefiting from their potential to drive economic growth. In fact, three billion people – many of them young – will still be offline in 2023. How can the next generation bridge the divide and bring everyone into a digitally bright future?
  • A new economics for a new generation
    Many young people feel traditional economic models have let them down and are no longer fit for purpose. Inequality is high, and rising. What does the new generation of economists have to say, and what new models look most promising?

Parallel sessions:
  • The future of the planet
    Younger generations have inherited a planet in great peril. The school strike movement’s founder Greta Thunberg and others say governments and politicians have not done enough. At the same time, cities, businesses, and even some countries are setting and achieving targets few thought possible even a year ago. Where do ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ strategies work best, and how can they support each other?
  • Youth and the city (workshop)
    Over half of the world’s population live in urban areas, and the countries with the fastest-growing urban populations are also those with the youngest populations. Cities are dominated by the young and mobile. How does municipal government ensure its own legitimacy in the face of an ever-changing populace?

Parallel sessions:
  • Intergenerational climate policy (workshop)
    This interactive session comprises multiple small-group discussions that aim to tackle specific aspects of the climate crisis. Several senior policy figures will identify a pressing climate-related problem they face, and sit down with an international, intergenerational group to brainstorm solutions, supported by technical experts from Oxford University.
  • Renewing integrity: faming, not shaming
    A world in which people with power are more accountable, where resources are used more wisely, and where integrity is celebrated would help younger generations regain faith in government.

Parallel sessions:
  • Cultural change and identity
    Identity politics is nothing new – activists have always employed common identities in order to promote political change. How can we build meaningful political movements across newer identity divides?

  • Cities: Kabul - identity, legitimacy and governance
    What roles do cities, with their youthful populations, play in developing a sense of identity and legitimacy in fragile contexts?

Optional Q&A sessions for Blavatnik School students
Optional Q&A sessions for Blavatnik School alumnus/alumna

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The Challenges of Government Conference is the Blavatnik School's annual flagship event, which brings together the brightest minds in government, the private sector and academia to discuss policies, strategies and solutions to the world’s public policy challenges. View previous conferences.