Manifesto highlights connection of sustainability and democracy "at all levels"

20. March 2013

People’s manifesto sets out a global agenda for action, supports the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly

With the support of a diverse group of initial signatories from twenty-five countries, a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability was published today. According to the document, human activities have exceeded the earth’s natural limits but democracy is “failing to deliver sustainability.” The drafters have identified areas where democracy most urgently needs to change to deliver a healthy environment and fairness for everyone at the same time. The document intends to “guide a global movement for change” that helps

Participants of a consultation workshop at the Salzburg Global Seminar in December 2012
Image: Rob Fish/SGS

“to transform democracy so that it is an engine for sustainability.”

“Democracy and sustainability are the two vital elements of what we will pass on to future generations, but their crucial inter-dependence has been neglected,” said John Lotherington, Chair of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development Foundation (FDSD), the organisation behind the international process that created the Manifesto.

Among other things, the manifesto emphasizes that “the interests of all people affected by public decisions need to be taken into account. Decision-makers at all levels should also be accountable to all affected people.” Accordingly, it goes on, “the scale and effects of sustainability challenges often demand that democracy bursts out of its national borders. In decision-making at the international level democracy, not the self-interest of individual governments or groups of governments should be the basis for engagement.” One of the commitments included in the document pledges support for the “creation of a Parliamentary Assembly of the United Nations as the first step towards a system of global democracy.”

The Secretary-General of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas Bummel, one of the manifesto’s “founder signatories” explained that “not less, but more democracy is the key to a sustainable world society that respects the Earth's natural boundaries. This is especially true with regard to the global level where democracy is still virtually absent. It is an outstanding feature of this manifesto that it calls for a strengthening of democratic decision-making, participation and representation at all levels of governance alike.”

Launch video of the manifesto

Sharan Burrow, another initial signatory and General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation stated that “we are all part of a global democratic movement for change. This is an important initiative.”

The manifesto is the heart of a new online platform which invites the public to share ideas and actions around the subjects of democracy and sustainability. The founder members include current and former politicians, experts, educators and activists, as well as concerned individuals, national, international and grassroots networks and alliances.

Read and endorse the manifesto here

Top image: The initiative’s logo, by FDSD