Relationship democracy and sustainable development

Harnessing democracy and engagement for sustainable prosperity

As environmental crises become ever more severe, calls for authoritarian solutions are reappearing: Democracy, so the argument goes, has proven to be too slow to respond to urgent threats. In this paper, Marit Hammond and Graham Smith respond to this charge by revisiting the role of democracy within a transition to sustainable prosperity.

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Audit Committee report on Government’s lack of ambition on SDGs

The House of Commons Audit Committee recently published its report Sustainable Development Goals in the UK. The Committee is critical of the Government’s lack of ambition in embedding the SDGs. Throughout the report, the Committee refers to recommendations from the evidence provided by FDSD, particularly on the need for Cabinet-level leadership, partnership working and transparent reporting.

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Piketty’s call for a new political discourse on globalization

In a recent article for Le Monde, Thomas Piketty argues that unsustainable development – a pattern of globalization which has boosted inequality and so undermined communities and social justice as well as the environment – has brought about the recent democratic upheaval seen in the election of Donald Trump. He argues that in any trade...

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What Future Do We Want?

  As everyone woke up to Brexit on 24 June, there was a dawning realization that we were in uncharted territory. The campaign was focused on what we were trying to avoid, not where we wanted to head. That was true of the Remainers, with their increasingly apocalyptic warnings of what would happen if we...

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The EU Referendum and the UK’s Environment: What are the implications for democracy?

Charlotte Burns and Viviane Gravey argue that the EU Referendum debate in the UK has been "surprisingly quiet on the issue of the environment". They look at three options for the UK from the point of view of their impacts on participatory democracy, as well as point to the tension between participation and stable long term rules for environmental protection. They believe that the terms of the current debate are far too narrow. "National sovereignty is essentially a red herring that offers little in the way of genuine democratisation of environmental (or any other) policy area."

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IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation training programme | London, 3-4 May 2016

The environmental and social planning consultancy, Essential Planning Ltd., is offering a training course for the internationally recognised IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation, which will provide participants with an overview of public participation, best practices in the field, and dynamic techniques to enhance impact. It is a 2-module programme over 5 days, intended to provide...

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Launch event: APPG on Limits to Growth | London, 19 April 2016

On 19th April 2016, the newly formed APPG on Limits to Growth will hold its inaugural event Limits to Growth or Opportunities for Prosperity? The current Co-Chair of the Club of Rome, Anders Wijkman, is confirmed as the keynote speaker for this evening. The event will also mark the launch of Limits Revisited – a...

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Inaugural UKSSD Conference: towards a sustainable UK | London, 25 April 2016

The registration for the inaugural UKSSD Conference: towards a sustainable UK is now open. The new forum sets out to “be the catalyst for domestic action to set the UK on the path to sustainability, gathering 100 politicians, chief executives, practitioners, and academics to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality in the UK and...

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Floods, community resilience and the “civic middle”: learning lessons from Leeds

The floods that hit wide areas of the UK at the end of last year were devastating for many communities. In many places local crisis management was found wanting. But in Leeds, the spontaneously self-organised volunteering infrastructures were exemplary in their response. In a thorough and insightful assessment of Leeds’ post-flood response, written for the...

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Democracy, SDGs and COP – interview with János Zlinszky

János Zlinksy, one of our longest serving Trustees and an advisor to the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, reflects on the relationship between the Paris COP and the Sustainable Development Goals Interview by Nick Aveling There’s been a lot of debate as to whether Paris COP21 can be considered a ‘success’. As an advisor...

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Democracy in the face of climate change: exploring the present, 2050, and beyond

This report summarises and updates the analysis and practical implications of previous FDSD work on the The Future of Democracy in the Face of Climate Change. It investigates the links between democracy and climate change, as well as the drivers of change that might impact on that relationship over time. The result of that analysis is a series of...

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COP21 – the sound of the bell for system change

“Habemus consensus!” a Huffington Post article reads, summarising the sanguine diplomatic outcome of the COP21 conference in Paris. It might not be as binding as hoped by the hundreds of thousands of people engaging in the climate march; it does, however, signify a much needed paradigm-shift. While French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius was widely praised...

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JRF evidence review on community resilience to climate change

The concept of community resilience to climate change in the UK is multifaceted and comes with a wide range of associated activities. In order to build the evidence base and help support the development of community resilience to climate change, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a review of evidence and practice to explore this varied and contested field. Community...

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Sophie Howe appointed first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Following the adoption of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act in April 2015, the Welsh Government has appointed its first Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, currently Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. “Public bodies in Wales have been put on warning”, WalesOnline reports, “…if they think their duties under the Well-being of...

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LegislationLab.org – enabling public discussion of upcoming legislation

Legislation Lab is an online platform for enabling public discussion of upcoming legislation. International in reach, it offers citizens easy access to legislation – as well as examples of related experiences from across the globe – and uses a participatory model to collect their feedback. Click here to learn how Legislation Lab can be used to...

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The worrying rise of anti-democratic sentiments amongst climate scientists

In his latest essay Climate Policy: Democracy is not an inconvenience, Professor Nico Stehr – founding director of the European Center for Sustainability Research – reflects on the growing number of climate scientists who are not only expressing their impatience with Western democracies, but openly practise their sympathy for authoritarian political approaches. “Scientific disenchantment with...

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Climate Risks and Democracy

Ecological crises can make politics horrible: panic-inducing scarcity, ethnic and religious conflict, hunger driven imperialism. In his latest essay “Climate Apocalypse and/or Democracy“, Professor Jedediah Purdy is shedding light on the fact that an ecological apocalypse is a fundamentally political problem and needs to be tackled before turning into a harsh reality. In his view,...

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The Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability – reflections and background

FDSD’s first programme of work, 2009 to 2013, culminated in a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability, the guiding principles being: We cherish sustainability: meeting the needs of people now without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. But today, human activities have exceeded the earth’s natural limits. As a species we have...

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The Relationship between Democracy and Sustainable Development

At one level, the ideas and reality of sustainable development and democracy overlap and are interdependent. Common to both sustainable development and democracy is participation. There are also tensions and differences between the two ideas which need to be resolved in order for current political democratic systems to adapt in the direction of achieving sustainable...

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Peter Davies spoke at the re-launch of FDSD in London, June 29th 2015

Peter Davies, Welsh Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, spoke at the re-launch of FDSD about the innovative 2015 Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act and how it can inspire action and change not only in Wales but across the rest of the UK and beyond. The event, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Democracy, was held...

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20 May 2015, Launch of the Environmental Democracy Index, Washington DC

A right to know, a right to be heard, a right to access justice The Access Initiative and the World Resources Institute will launch the first ever Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) on May 20th at the National Press Club. Speakers Avi Garbow (Keynote speaker), General Counsel, US Environmental Protection Agency Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, World Resources...

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First ever Environmental Democracy Index

The Access Initiative and the World Resources Institute are launching the first ever Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) on May 20th. EDI is the first index to measure how well countries’ national laws protect environmental democracy rights, namely, the right of the public to: freely access relevant and timely information, provide input and scrutiny in decision-making, and seek justice...

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The State of Europe’s Environment

In March the European Environment Agency  published its State and Outlook Environment Report (SOER) 2015 (available here). The report highlights innovations in governance needed for long term sustainability. In addition, a section of the SOER website highlights global megatrends affecting the European Environment, one of which is Diversifying Approaches to Governance. Authors suggest key factors in diversifying...

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Common Cause fosters values such as care for others & concern for nature through supportive framing and language

Schwartz, S.H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M.P. Zanna, ed. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25. Orlando: Academic Press, pp. 1-65.

Common Cause believes it is important to tackle complex sustainability problems and democracy in a mutually supportive way by fostering “intrinsic” values that support self-acceptance, care for others and concerns for the natural world, rather than ones that reinforce, for example, wealth accumulation or status. It believes that values and the language or “frames” used to express...

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The first people’s Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability and website Platform

The Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability, was launched on 20th March 2013, with 81 individual founder signatories and initially 16 organisations. It includes six Principles and associated commitments whose purpose it to transform democracy to become a powerful force for sustainability. For reflections on the process of creating the Manifesto and on outcomes, further background information...

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Manifesto consultation, Conama, Spain

From 26th-30th November, FDSD worked alongside Madrid-based IIDMA (the Instituto Internactional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente) to run a consultation for the Manifesto in Spain, using the tenth national environmental congress, CONAMA, as a platform for a workshop and consultation stand.

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FDSD at Rio+20: panel session on defending the public

FDSD co-organised a workshop session in Rio de Janeiro as part of a two-day event Fair ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet hosted by IIED and the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC) The event was held at the (PUC) together with The Access Initiative, Center for Ocean Solutions, All China Environment Federation,...

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Are climate policy-makers to blame for lack of public support?

FDSD and Chatham House held a half-day seminar at Chatham House to consider how various climate change scenarios could affect democracy in the UK and US, and to ask whether international policy-makers should share some of the blame for why liberal democracies are finding it hard to secure broad public support for action.

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Mobilising Democracy to Tackle Climate Change

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.

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One World Democracy and Sustainable Development

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.

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Democracy and Sustainability in Emerging Economies: India as a case study

The event called for a new set of global ethical principles to underpin climate negotiations and real international democracy. There was also a strong theme around the gap between organic decision-making at the local level and official decision-making. Kalyan Paul advised patience: “It takes time to create democratic institutions.” And Sushma Iyengar believed that when pro-sustainable development practices at local level are lost, democracy can be weakened.

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Democracy and Sustainability event at the Dana Centre, London

Chaired by Lord Patten, people and organisations from business, civil society and government came together to explore the relationship between democracy and sustainability. There was recognition that sustainable development was not happening and that democracy needed to change in order to meet these challenges.

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Democracy and Sustainability

Responding to Provocations by Ian Christie and Sara Parkin, Tim O’Riordan argues that we need to increase ‘virtue’ - civic responsibility and political accountability, as well as debate and awareness – and sets out desired futures for a more ‘ecological democracy’.

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