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Will the Future Blame Us? Bringing future generations into today’s politics

On 19 April we hosted an event in collaboration with the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, bringing together actuaries and those from the policymaking community to talk about how we might embed long-term thinking in public policy, and how the actuarial skillset could be used to make this happen.

Image of panel at the eventWe were joined by Joerg Tremmel, Editor-in-Chief of the Intergenerational Justice Review, Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary at the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), and the IFoA’s own Louise Pryor, who is Chair of the Resource and Environment Board. The central question for discussion was how we might bring more long-term thinking into policymaking, to manage risks and uncertainties that transcend generations, and what this would mean for democracy today.

Joerg kicked off by pitting the actuaries in the room against a profession of much longer-term thinkers: geologists. We know actuaries are accustomed to dealing with long-term time horizons, but these pale in comparison with the millennia under consideration by geological epochs. The current buzzword in geological circles is the ‘Anthropocene’. This is the geological timeframe in which some argue we are currently existing, which reflects the relatively recent history of the earth’s ecosystems being significantly impacted by human activity – think mass extinctions of plant and animal species, oceanic pollution and changes to the composition of the atmosphere.

In this new epoch, do we need new political institutions to reflect the lasting impact that the human race is having on the earth, now and into the future? Joerg defined this in terms of the way our political leaders react to changing times:

The difference between a politician and a statesman is that the politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation. In the Anthropocene, the need for more statesmen is imperative.

The climate is arguably an area where longer-term thinking has been allowed to flourish. In recent years, you could say that climate change has become one of the few ‘mainstream’ long-term risks. For most people in the developed world, at least some of the potential impacts of climate change are well understood, and are increasingly becoming part of the national conversation. And in the developing world some of the consequences of these risks are already showing themselves.

It is no surprise then that we were given a range of examples where Defra, a department focused heavily on the natural environment, already incorporates long-term considerations into its work, and why it feels that much of its work in considering environmental impacts of policy leads to thinking about how decisions might play out over longer time horizons.  The Thames 2100 project for example, is based on climate change modelling looking into the next century. And on an international level, the Paris Agreement, while the true impact of which is yet unproven, represents a global effort to make substantive policy changes in the interests of future generations.

Clare Moriarty also provided the example of Patrick McLoughlin MP, who as a junior minster in the Department for Transport in 1989, was involved in the planning for Crossrail, which was only being constructed when he returned to the Department as Secretary of State in 2012.  The first travelers on the new Elizabeth Line will be at least one generation on from those who dreamt it up.

So there are some success stories, and examples of policies made with long time horizons in mind. But there is still a basic conundrum which lies at the heart of this decision-making process, which is how to convince the current generation to pay a cost in the short term when the benefits will be realised only by future generations.

All of this will of course be nothing new to actuaries. Understanding the long- term implications of decisions made today is at the heart of actuarial science. And we think these skills could be utilized more broadly by policymakers to help them make better decisions. Louise for example told us

I rarely talk about expected outcomes to my clients – I try talk about possible outcomes, and give some idea of how possible they are. And it’s possible outcomes that policymakers should be thinking about in the context of the long term.

We also discussed a number of ideas for reform, which could help to bring these concepts into decision-making in a more tangible way. The IFoA will be exploring these in more detail throughout 2018. If you have any ideas or want to contribute towards this work please get in touch using Policy@actuaries.org.uk.

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Events calendar

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2019

    Spaces available

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Sessional Meeting - Silent Cyber Assessment Framework

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    9 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The (re)insurance industry is faced with a growing risk related to the development of information technology (IT). This growth is creating an increasingly digitally interconnected world with more and more dependence being placed on IT systems to manage processes. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • CPD Member Event in Shanghai, China

    Function Room, F39, S1 Fuson Group, the Bund Finance Centre, No.600 Zhongshang East 2nd Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai Chinese address:BFC外滩国际金融金融中心,S1复星集团,39层报告厅,上海中山东二路600号
    9 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s President-elect Tan Suee Chieh will visit Shanghai. We will host CPD and Awards Presenting event on Monday 9 December 2019. The event is part of Mr Tan’s first presidential trip to China.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (10 December 2019)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ  
    10 December 2019

    Spaces available

    This event will be of interest to students and recently qualified actuaries.

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020.  The content and discussion at this session is particularly tailored to actuarial students and newly qualified actuaries working in any area and the format is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions with your peers.

  • IFoA Joint Member Event with the Sunshine Insurance Group, Beijing China

    Room TBC, Kuntai International Plaza, No.12, Chaowai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing 地址:会议室待定,北京市朝阳区朝外大街乙12号1号楼昆泰国际大厦
    12 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s President-elect Tan Suee Chieh will visit Beijing. We will co-host CPD and Awards Presenting event with the Sunshine Insurance Group on Thursday 12 December 2019. The event is part of Mr Tan’s first presidential trip to China.

  • ARC Sessional Research Event: Drivers of Mortality - Risk Factors and Inequality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    6 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The authors will focus on a large dataset obtained from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) and related sources. Data are available at the level of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) – small geographical areas with, typically, 1000-2000 residents and include death counts, exposures and a significant number of socio-economic variables including the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Spaces available

    This presentation covers the detail for how the matching adjustment is calculated. A small simple example spreadsheet is provided and discussed in detail.

    For actuaries wanting to get more involved with the matching adjustment, this is the opportunity to get a detailed description of the mechanics involved. This includes cashflows derisking, PRA tests as well as hypothecation.

    The presentation is provided by James Sharpe who has worked on a number of matching adjustment calculations with several firms.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Sessional Meeting - Operational Risk Dependencies

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 9 Queen St Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    20 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The Operational Risk Working Party aims to assist actuaries and others in the modelling and management of operational risk. One of the key challenges in modelling operational risk is the modelling of dependencies between operational risks, and between operational and non-operational risks such as market, credit and insurance risk. Their paper seeks to assist in this regard, and help develop good practice in setting assumptions and modelling operational risk dependencies. 

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy?

    Please join us on 25 March 2020 for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. 

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    Not to be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.