IMR Academy seminar: “How to accelerate sustainability transformations with slow democracy?”

Wednesday 5 June 2024, 12:30 pm - 2 pm

Climate change is urging us to speed up societal transformations towards sustainability. However, current decision-making procedures are dependent on democratic, hence slow processes of deliberation. Alternatives to democracy, such as authoritarian regimes have even worse track records in climate change policies and are problematic in other ways. In current political democratic practices, we have designed structures for deciding on long term climate proofing of our countries. Examples are the Dutch Delta committee on water safety, a variety of EU Directives related to sustainability, and the EU Green Deal. But these policies are often further distancing decision making from the daily world of citizens. 

What can we do? Are the remedies for a secured, long term and larger scale governance of sustainability creating barriers for democracy? It seems as if the more we are pushing for changes, the greater the gap between ‘distanced’ policies and the ordinary life world of citizens becomes. And only in times of blatant crisis (Covid 19) we are willing to compromise a little on our democratic rights. 

In this seminar we are discussing answers to this dilemma. Kristof Jacobs, Associate professor at the Department of Political Science of our Faculty, opens the discussion. His research focuses on contemporary challenges to democracy, their consequences, and the responses to them. He will first go into the support for further climate policies - and lack thereof. How is the perception of urgency in the Netherlands? And to what extent is climate change politicised? Then, he will discuss answers to the challenges of democracy. What other ways of democratic decision-making (citizens platforms, citizens fora or climate tables) can be helpful and does this solve the crucial problem of the widening gap?

Emeritus-Professor Pieter Leroy responds to this contribution, and provides further directions answering the dilemma. Can we design new political arrangements that preserve both democratic grounding and expertise-based prudency? In other words, do we have to find a new balance between democracy and technocracy – a balance that Covid-19 illustrated the delicacy of -? Or is the problem much more related to policy performance and to the connection between input- and output legitimacy? Can citizens’ frustrations mainly be linked to non-delivery of our current governments? 

In short, what are realistic answers to this ‘sustainability transformations and democracy’ - dilemma? We will have an open dialogue on the challenges and solutions, thereby bridging the core issues of the hot spots TransAct and Sustainable Democracy of our Faculty.

This seminar was prepared by Mark Wiering, Pieter Leroy and Kristof Jacobs.

Wednesday 5 June 2024, 12:30 pm - 2 pm
Dr K.T.E. Jacobs (Kristof), Prof Pieter Leroy
EOS N 01.780
Contact information

Contact person: Mark Wiering, IMR Head of Academy