The seminar focussed on: what innovations are needed in democracy and participatory decision-making, if we want them to deliver the actions required to mitigate and adapt to climate change? It was aimed at leaders and change makers in central and local governments, businesses, NGOs and communities.
Halina Ward believes that the UK’s Sustainable Communities Act, 2007 takes a conservative approach to sustainable development, seeing economic, social and environmental issues separately, rather than creating an “integrated approach to decision-making”.
Leaders from UK NGOs met to explore insights into the relationship between democracy and sustainable development, ways forward, and whether and how NGOs should work together to get democracy working for environmental justice and sustainable development.
Halina Ward uses the example of eco-town proposals by the UK central government to illustrate the tensions between top-down sustainability planning and local needs. She argues for the development of processes that marry the two successfully, rather than allowing only for central imposition or local undeliberated responses.
Halina Ward argues that online voting illustrates some of the problems with simple direct democracy, including an absence of informed and accountable processes.
Halina Ward believes that if we take the concept of ‘one world’ thinking, developed by Peter Singer in One World: The ethics of globalisation, our democracies have not responded to the challenges of interconnectedness. While the tools of one world thinking are well developed, such as environmental footprints or impact assessments, they are not used enough.