Karin Bäckstrand, Principal Investigator for Transformative Partnerships 2030, is part of the team of top scholars whose article "Democratising sustainability transformations: Assessing the transformative potential of democratic practices in environmental governance" was published in this month's volume of Earth System Governance. Other authors include Jonathan Pickering, Thomas Hickmann, Agni Kalfagianni, Michael Bloomfield, Ayşem Mert, Hedda Ransan-Cooper, and Alex Y. Lo.
Pickering et al. draw on an integrative review of scholarly literature from 2011-2021 on sustainability transformations and the democracy-environment nexus to synthesize existing research on prospects and pitfalls for democratizing sustainability transformations. They advance a new typology for understanding different combinations of democratic/authoritarian practices and of transformations towards/away from sustainability. The authors also explore the role of democratic practices in accelerating or obstructing five key dimensions of sustainability transformations: institutional, social, economic, technological, and epistemic. They find evidence that democratic practices can foster transformation towards sustainability, despite common assumptions that democratic practices may preclude swift action on problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
The article has serious implications for policymaking and advances the scholarship on legitimacy in global environmental governance - two goals that are also shared by the Transformative Partnerships 2030 project. The article is open access and can be read in full here.