Event Summary

Mobilising Democracy to Tackle Climate Change


Report of an event held by FDSD, Schumacher College, Dartington Hall Trust, Salzburg Global Seminar and Goodenough College, on 19th and 20th April 2010 at Goodenough College, London

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.

Participants felt that it was vital to mobilise citizens to achieve meaningful change on climate issues and that, while democracy is the best available form of government, it is diminished by its flaws; for example, following Colin Crouch, democracy has become ‘hollowed out’ partly through mass affluence and consumerism; or neoliberalism and rising inequality have made it hard to engage coalitions or have empathy for others. The event, however, noted some interesting innovations such as the UK’s Science and Technology Foresight Programme or the new Ecuadorian Constitution which includes nature as a litigant.

There also seemed to be agreement on the need to move beyond ideas of ‘electoral democracy’ to include more deliberative democracy, as well as considering electing people by lot, the wider roles of politicians in engaging civil society, and the need to spread both power and democracy more widely. The event considered ideas for business involvement, a revised House of Lords, festivals to promote participatory democracy and discussion over the role of democracy at international level. There was also acknowledgement of a need for more fundamental cultural shifts, with increasing use of dialogue, changes in people’s roles to become agents of change, recognising bioregions and ecological space rather than historical constitutional boundaries, and the importance of the creation of shared values.

Here’s a link to other speeches at event.

The event summary was written by Halina Ward.