Policymaking for the Long-term Future: Improving Institutional Fit

    Authors: Maxime Stauffer, Konrad Seifert, Nora Ammann, Jan Pieter Snoeij

    Draft No. 1 (submitted to Futures)

    Read the full draft here.

    This paper contributes to the interface of longtermist philosophy, global catastrophic risk research, and policymaking. We introduce the concept of long-term institutional fit to identify key areas of improvement for current policymaking institutions. To effectively contribute to the resilience and advancement of civilization, improvements have to be made on four dimensions of fit: spatial, temporal, functional, and representational.

    Our preliminary assessment suggests that the long-term impact of current policymaking institutions is, despite noteworthy contemporary achievements, limited by several factors: fragile and relatively underdeveloped means of global coordination; a lack of preparedness to anticipate, prevent or recover from potential global catastrophes; siloed structures incapable of coping with cross-cutting challenges; pervasive short-termism leading to negligence of future generations; and underdeveloped capacities for policy learning.

    Building on these observations, we suggest three avenues for improving long-term institutional fit: representing future generations; embedding into policy agendas the prevention of global catastrophic risks, as well as the recovery and learning from inevitable shocks; and shifting popular narratives to focus on the creation of transgenerational global public goods and adaptive capabilities.

    To boost institutional changes, we propose five improvements: fostering moral reflection; training systems thinking; improving the science-policy interface; training decision-making under uncertainty; and facilitating group deliberation.

    Throughout the paper, we adapt existing theoretical frameworks from systems, political, and decision science and synthesize relevant evidence.

    We aim to inspire future scholarship and equip policy practitioners with an overview of how to transform policymaking for the long term.

    Read the full draft here.