Cybernetic implants to increase intelligence or strength? An end to inequality? Sensors under the skin to monitor health? How do you see our lives in 2050?
With average life expectancy set to increase to as much as 91 for women and 89 for men, we will almost certainly have an older population in 2050. And with Oxford’s population set to increase to around 190,000 people and the rise of technology such as virtual and augmented reality, community life in Oxford could also be very different.
This week, as part of Oxford City Council’s Oxford2050 consultation, Oxford residents and businesses will be asked for their thoughts on what life in the city should look and feel like in 2050 – in terms of the health and wellbeing of themselves, their family and their community.
Oxford today is a young and multi-cultural community. The city has the youngest median age (29.9 years) of anywhere in England and Wales, and over a third of citizens are not from white British backgrounds.
However, although 78 per cent of Oxford adults are physically active – the highest rate in England – and smoking rates (at 11 per cent) are lower than the national average, Oxford has stark inequality and two areas of the city are amongst the 10 per cent most deprived in England. Men in the most deprived area of Oxford die, on average, 9.3 years younger than those living in the least deprived area.
Residents and businesses this week will be asked how they would like to see this change over the next 33 years – how people could live healthier and happier lives in Oxford, how communities could become safer and more cohesive, and how Oxford could become a more welcoming city to everyone.
Last week (6/11), Oxford City Council launched the Oxford2050 consultation to find out what residents and businesses in Oxford think their city should look like in 2050. The aim is to create a single document that sets out everyone’s aspirations for Oxford, so that the whole community can work towards one goal.
Each week during the five-week consultation people will be asked for their views on an aspect of life in the city, ranging from transport and housing, to the economy and culture. This week’s theme is people and community.
For more information, and to take part in the consultation, residents and businesses in Oxford can visit: www.oxford2050.com.
Kate Smart, Director of Asylum Welcome, said: “At Asylum Welcome, our vision for Oxford 2050 is a kindly city that is a close-knit community but also has compassion for the wider world, that balances the pursuit of excellence with the promotion of equality, and a city that retains its historic identity while finding room for people who need shelter to thrive."
Lesley Dewhurst, Joint Chief Executive of Restore, said: “Our vision is a caring community free of mental health stigma. We’ve been working hard for 40 years to build a world in which people with mental ill-health are valued and treated equally, and we plan to keep on putting people at the heart of what we do.
“In 2050 we’ll be combining our decades of hands-on coaching, training, and support with our desire to innovate and speed up all the progress we’re seeing. People feel they can be open about mental health and we want to ensure everyone with mental ill-health can learn new skills, gain experiences, gain insights into their strengths, find and stay in a job, and lead meaningful and enjoyable lives.
“In 2050, we expect one thing to be the same. For 40 years Restore and our members have thrived because of the passion, commitment, and kindness of tens of thousands of volunteers and funders. We don’t know whether our volunteers will go home in self-driving cars that charge themselves after they’ve put in a shift at one of Restore’s recovery groups. But, we know they’ll put in that shift.”
Dr Kerry Lock, Community Engagement Manager at Resource Futures, which runs CAG Oxfordshire, said: “The CAG Project in Oxfordshire has been supporting local groups to take action on climate change and reduce waste for over 20 years and we hope to have many more people involved in these activities by 2050.
“CAG groups hosted over 2,000 events last year – everything from swap shops to local produce markets to bike repair workshops. These all help to strengthen our communities, inspire people to come together to support each other and enhance our sense of wellbeing. The people we meet as part of the CAG network bring such positivity to the community and by 2050 we hope to bring even more people together to enjoy that important part of community life.”
Dr Samuel Chen, Founding Director of Oxford Sustainable Enterprise (OSE) and Summit Education Enterprise (SEE) said: “Oxford has been widely known as a historical university town for its world-class learning and intellectual environment. The growing academic communities, the city and the county at large have also become national and international hubs for technological, cultural and social innovation and experimentation, global knowledge exchange and transfer, vibrant socio-economic development, progressive environmental thinking and action, and healthy and sustainable living.
“With its strong legacy and capacity to link the past, present and future and to exert global impact Oxford will continue to play a prominent and even unparalleled role in these and other key areas of modern life domestically and internationally in the next several decades.
“OSE and SEE have been working increasingly with a wide-range of academic and professional organisations, and the city and county councils in some of these areas and are committed to do so in the coming decades to continue to promote and facilitate strategic international collaborations that will bring tangible and lasting benefits to the local communities and beyond.”
Professor Michael Keith, Director the Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy and Society and Co-Director of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities at the University of Oxford, said: “We know that the city is already international in outlook and will become more multicultural in its diversity by 2050. This provides great opportunities for the city to draw on new networks that cross the globe but also challenges to make sure that all see a shared future for themselves in the emergent city of coming decades.”
Councillor Dee Sinclair, Oxford City Council Executive Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “Oxford’s community has changed a lot in the last 33 years. In the 1980s, hearing a language spoken other than English would have been unusual, but now it is wonderfully commonplace.
“This diversity of background has enriched Oxford, opening the minds of natives like myself to new ideas and experiences. Personally, I find it fascinating, when I sit on the bus into Oxford, to try to guess which languages I’m listening to – and it is lovely that people from around the world want to live in this great city.
“What is humbling is that these new communities have largely dispersed across Oxford, but I think there is more we can do to encourage this. My hope is that, over the next 33 years, there will be even greater unity of the different communities, so that everyone is working together to make this city an even more successful and happy place to live and work.”