The Environment Foundation

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Democracy & Sustainable Development

The Environment Foundation has championed efforts to build understanding on some of the fundamental underpinnings of sustainable development. Public participation and access to information have long been recognised in this way. Today, the scale and pace of environmental and social change and the urgent need for action to tackle the challenge of climate change have led us to a new agenda: the relationship between democracy and sustainable development.

As Environment Foundation Chair John Elkington asks:

“Can we vote our way to a sustainable future for a world of 9 billion people - or are new forms of leadership going to be necessary?

What kinds of systems of governance and decision-making best place countries and people to move towards more sustainable forms of development?

Can the time-frames of democratically elected governments deliver sustainable development?

If not, what needs to be done - and by whom?”

The Environment Foundation began work on Democracy and Sustainable Development in 2007 with a consultation and public event in London. In February 2009 we turned to India, the world’s largest democracy, for a seminar on Democracy and Sustainability: India as a case study.

In April 2009 the Environment Foundation welcomed a new Director, Halina Ward, to lead further work in this area. She will be linking with partners to work out who needs to do what to make sure that democracy delivers sustainable development. The Environment Foundation’s events and analysis will raise awareness of tensions and good practice. And through practical action with others we will work to support decision-making fit for the challenges of twenty-first century sustainable development.