Past Program

Dec 12 - Dec 14, 2012

Towards a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainable Development


Democracy and the rule of law get taken for granted in many parts of the world - even when voter turn-out dwindles and decision-making is paralyzed. Yet globalization, climate change and global economic slow-down are already highlighting the shortcomings of democracy in action. Looking forwards - especially as more countries embark on political transformation - it is critical to renew confidence in democracy as a force for positive social and economic change to address global threats.

Current systems of democracy, with their short-term approaches and preoccupation with GDP growth, are badly prepared for intergenerational challenges like climate change, resource scarcity and ageing or expanding populations. As accelerating environmental degradation places increasing strain on food, energy and water resources, the ability of existing institutions to cope with the resulting social, economic and demographic pressures will be tested to breaking point.

Action beyond government is clearly essential to keep advancing a responsible environmental agenda. How can the conditions to ensure that development is sustainable be democratically determined, from the level of local communities through to the international community?

Since 2009, Salzburg Global Seminar and Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD) have collaborated around the long-term systemic challenges of achieving sustainable development through democratic process. They have jointly organized seminars on 'Democracy and Sustainability in Emerging Economies: India as a Case Study' (New Delhi, February 2009) and on 'Mobilising Democracy to Tackle Climate Change' (London, April 2010).

In June 2012, FDSD launched international public consultations to develop a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainable Development. In December, Salzburg Global Seminar will host a focused seminar to debate this draft Manifesto and tackle key differences of perspective. The finalized Manifesto, setting out a vision, principles and a practical agenda for change, will be launched for sign-on by institutions and individuals early in 2013.

This seminar will launch Salzburg's multi-year series to address 21st century challenges to democracy, governance and the rule of law, within the broader framework of social and economic justice, sustainability and education for global citizenship.