The roles of civil society and business

A diverse civil society is a crucial part of creating and maintaining a healthy democracy and tackling sustainable development challenges. Examples include watchdogs; campaigning organisations; those representing people with little power; intermediaries between the citizen and business or government; information providers; or groups developing alternative ways of living.

The role and form of business in democracies is a crucial part of thinking through how democracy may need to change. In some areas, businesses have been leading transitions towards sustainability, whilst, in others, they have used their power and influence to block change.

Links and resources

Halina Ward asks what happens when community groups that self-organise on sustainable development choose not to engage with local government.

Decade of the citizen on Citizen Renaissance

Charles Secrett believes that NGOs could be part of the “first, peaceful system-transforming game-changer in history!” but only if they collaborate more, and go beyond just trying to change policy. And people have to recognise their power as citizens, consumers or shareholders.

Ian Christie  sets out four conflicting propositions: democracy is crucial for humane and just development; democracy poses huge problems for sustainable development; sustainability NGOs have been a massive success; sustainability NGOs are also a massive failure by their own standards.

Online Activism, Democracy and Climate Change, by Sally Hill