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.

Confirmed speakers range from the youngest ever Member of European Parliament (Kira Peter-Hansen) to Germany’s youngest mayor (Marian Schreier) to the youngest Minister ever appointed in Malaysia (Syed Saddiq), and include activists, researchers and practitioners from every continent.


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:

  • Rafat Ali Al-Akhali, Fellow of Practice, Blavatnik School of Government and former Minister of Youth and Sports for Yemen
  • Nick Allardice, Chief Product Officer,
  • 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
  • Jennie Bristow, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University, and author of Stop Mugging Grandma
  • 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
  • Temilola Fayokun, UK Students Climate Network
  • Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Global Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government
  • Kira Peter Hansen, Member of the European Parliament for Denmark, Socialist People's Party, the youngest ever MEP
  • Sharif Hassan, Kabul correspondent for the Washington Post
  • Thomas Hockenhull, Curator, British Museum
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Siddharth Shetty, Data Empowerment and Architecture Lead and Fellow for ISPIRT Foundation
  • Joseph Sternberg, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Theft of a Decade
  • Lizelle Strydom, Director at Careerbox
  • Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, and Professor of Global Economic Governance, University of Oxford
  • Enrique Zapata, CAF (the development bank of Latin America), and Blavatnik School of Government alumnus

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.