Event Summary

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.

The 3-day event in New Delhi was organised by the Environment Foundation, (the forerunner of FDSD) in collaboration with 21st Century Trust, Salzburg Global Seminar, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and in association with TERI’s 2009 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, the question was asked: When and how does democracy facilitate sustainable development?

There was a call to ensure popular support and advocacy for change, but concern that, for example, meeting energy needs might not happen at the speed required. There was also a focus on the responsibility of citizens, such as lifestyle choice and modest consumption.

Summary written by Joydeep Gupta with additions by Halina Ward

February 2009, New Delhi