Exploring the green promises of deliberative democracy: A multi -country analysis
This dissertation explores the influence democracy has on a country's capacity to commit to sustainable development and more specifically the role of the particular sub-features of democracy that constitute deliberative democracy.
Certainly, achieving sustainable development will require a thorough understanding of how ecosystems work and how economic and social choices impact on them. Yet, achieving sustainability is not a scientific question alone. The main hypothesis developed here is that sustainable development is a discursively created outcome whose inherent indeterminacy of meaning, uncertainty of means, ethical dimensions and implementation requirements make it particularly suited for a political setting that encourages democratic deliberation.
Because deliberative democracy is defined as a decision-making process facilitated by discussion among free and equal citizens who are committed to rationality and impartiality, this dissertation argues that it is a golden key for sustainability.
Having established that deliberative democracy and in particular its three core elements—reciprocity, publicity and accountability—are especially appropriate to deal with the challenges of pursuing sustainable development, this dissertation proceeds to answer empirically the following questions: (1) Are democratic governments more committed to sustainable development than non-democratic ones? (2) Is the private sector in democratic societies more committed to sustainable development than in non-democratic ones?
The results from the empirical analysis reaffirmed the hypothesis that democratic countries are more committed to sustainable development than non-democratic ones and that democracies, by allowing free flows of information (publicity), public debate (democratic deliberation), and regime responsiveness (accountability), empower citizens and organized groups to encourage, pressure and reward governments' and companies' commitments to sustainable development, even though there are exceptions, especially in the private sector.
The dissertation concludes by asking if these findings could be applicable at the transnational level, and discusses the possibility of reciprocity, publicity and accountability having the same “sustainability” effects at transnational levels as they have nationally. The Free Trade Area of the Americas is an example that supports this hypothesis: as the FTAA negotiating process increases transparency and effective civil society participation, the inclusion of environment and sustainability factors into the final outcome have also increased.
0616: International relations