Dan Banik: Democracy and Sustainable Development
Published in Anthropocene Science, 2022.
The democratic discourse on climate change and sustainable development is becoming increasingly polarized. While some voters are pushing back against the movement to wean the world economy away from fossil fuels, others are questioning the huge costs that the transition to a green economy will impose and whether such attempts will have the required impact. This essay discusses the relationship between democracy and sustainable development by comparing the records of China and India in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It argues that the politics of sustainable development has not received the attention it deserves. With a growing number of actors involved at various levels of society, the sustainable development narrative has often focused on a win–win narrative while glossing over areas where political agreement is more difficult to reach. While autocracies can achieve good results, democracy provides the best platform and guarantees for difficult negotiations and deliberations that are required for the achievement of sustainable development.