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G7 governments must lead in providing citizens with the same protections and facilities in the digital, online realm as are established in the physical, offline realm. To defend liberal democracy, social participation, freedom of science and of the press, tackle disinformation, and promote digital order and digital progress requires states to step up to their foundational responsibility to protect their citizens.
The G7 should create the standards and taxonomy to enable globally verifiable digital identity that allows every citizen to authenticate themselves, control their personal data, and participate in the development of public data goods.
G7 nations have a significant opportunity to strengthen the social contract between their governments and citizens, reconciling their economies and societies in ways that foster greater social cohesion. Equipping citizens with the participatory tools to navigate through future periods of uncertainty – including the next set of economic and environmental transformations – should be a priority for G7 governments as they continue to strive towards open societies, democratic freedoms, and enhanced political participation. Achieving such objectives will require three actions. First, G7 governments must replace the inadequate social safety nets of the past with new robust and resilient welfare systems, tailored to the needs of economies and societies in the 21st century. We call these systems ‘Universal Social Protections’. Second, G7 countries must leverage the potential of digital democracy, recognising that data is a new form of capital which will be critical to the running of our economies and societies in the future. Redirecting the flow of benefits from the digital transition into the hands of citizens themselves is essential if we are to rebuilding trust and social cohesion throughout G7 and G20 countries, and the wider world. Third, G7 countries need to redefine prosperity to encompass social and environmental flourishing, and develop new metrices to measure progress against these goals.
Our recommendations in this Issue Paper thus reflect a ‘New Multilateralism’ for the 21st Century: the belief that many of the challenges facing us today are inherently global in nature, requiring collective participation and co-operation. This expanded notion of social cohesion will only be achieved through a series of interlocking actions and policies linking social resilience to economic transformation, digital citizenship and multilateral decision procedures. This will require new institutions and new forms of collaboration with citizens themselves.
For far too long, economies have focused on established economic orthodoxies related to the aggregate figures of GDP, economic growth and job creation as measures of prosperity. However, G7 countries have the opportunity to adopt a bold, new and radical approach with the use of citizen-led prosperity indices that collectively reimagines the foundations of prosperity within G7 economies from a bottom-up perspective.
The IGP is calling for G7 countries to adopt new citizen-led indices that link local priorities to policy-making to create and measure placed-based prosperity reflecting the lived experiences of citizens and communities in the 21st century. Our research identified ‘secure livelihood’ as the most important factor that drives people’s prosperity and lays the foundations for people to lead fulfilling and flourishing lives. Creating the “open, inclusive and democratic societies” that the G7 values highly means enabling citizens to participate, actively shape place-based policy-making and social action and influence the everyday decisions that impact their lives.
The Roles and Relationships of Vocational and Higher Education in Supporting Economic Recovery and the Just Transition
This policy brief considers the interconnected themes of economic recovery and the Just Transition (JT) – achieving net-zero emissions through greater social justice, linked to Presidency Priority 2 – Economic stability and transformation: setting the course for economic recovery, financial stability and for a sustainable, social and just global economic system. This sits within the strategic purpose of the G7 to promote democracy and pluralism. There are several related challenges in achieving Net Zero as we seek to ‘build back better’ following the COVID era. These include the conceptual challenge of understanding the relationship between different types of crises; reducing class gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and making ecological sustainability a possibility for low-income groups and vulnerable populations that are most impacted by the climate emergency. The Policy Brief starts by describing the multi-layered crisis and locating the JT in relation to other sustainability initiatives and concepts. The JT is then conceptualised through a multi-level social ecosystem model that embraces different levels of society from the micro- to the macro-, with a particular emphasis on the middle scalars (meso and exo) that embrace communities, organisations, and local/regional economies and governance. These are underpinned by local democracy. The Brief explores different dimensions of the JT, with specific reference to technical and vocational education, including higher education (TVET) and the role of TVET institutions in relationship to local and regional JT systems. Proposals include recommendations that TVET institutions collaborate, in a pluralistic way, with each other, with wider civil society partners and climate campaigners to generate the skills in support of a comprehensive Just Transition Action Plan.
G7 countries will need to better align their tax systems with social protections to create the reciprocity necessary to support stronger social cohesion.
A combination of tax simplification and direct assignment of revenues from private taxes to universal protections creates a sustainable fiscal structure that enables stronger cohesion.
Amidst the rising cost of living, post-pandemic recovery and the urgent need to meet net zero requirements, our proposals for tax reform and implication provides a clear example of how such reforms using analysis from a G7 country such as the UK can foster greater social cohesion and solidarity. We argue that using a flat rate definition of incomes where both active (earned) and passive (unearned) incomes are treated equally forms the basis of a more socially just and equal society.
A renewed commitment maximising the productive potential of their citizens is the relevant and high-profile contribution the G7 can make to a global and socially just transformation.
Universal access to basic services has underpinned prosperity in the G7. Public services now need to be expanded for the 21st century, to include protections that enhance people’s capacities, capabilities, and opportunities for economic and social participation while also supporting the climate transition and leveraging the potential of digital democracy.
G7 countries should commit to providing universal access to transport and digital services as part of a comprehensive set of Universal Basic Services that, together, enhance productivity, increase social cohesion, and protect citizens through the global energy transition.