Event Summary

Democracy and Sustainability event at the Dana Centre, London


This event was organised by The Environment Foundation (precursor to FDSD), 21st Century Trust and the Dana Centre on Democracy and Sustainability at the Science Museum, London, 18th March 2008

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.

Dr Camilla Toulmin from IIED thought there should be a shift from ‘economics’ to ‘justice’; Doug Miller from Globescan reported on public opinion support for environmental change but distrust of politicians and the political process.

Jenny Pidgeon provided a youth perspective outlining changes in the distribution of power, the need for a more inclusive, participative and values-driven democracy, and the importance of moving away from individual policies or silos of learning. Group discussions focused on spreading techniques such as full life-cycle analysis, the role of leadership outside mainstream politics, innovations at city and local level, the need to counter an increasingly fragmented and disaggregated world, and the ‘embedded inertia’ of current democratic structures, making it hard to see what should be done.

Summary written by John Lotherington and John Elkington