Is democracy able to help us through the challenges of the 21st Century? – join in the debate with FutureLab Europe

Posted on 19. February 2013

by Zuzana Novakova

Zuzana Novakova NEWDemocracy as a political system is not able to help us facing the challenges mankind and our planet will face in 2052. A very strong position by Jorgen Randers, member of the Club of Rome, made us reflect after watching an interview on ZDF. Here are some reflections from FutureLabbers. What is your view? Join our discussion!

In this interview the Norwegian professor of climate strategy presents the main ideas of his latest publication “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years”. It’s with an environmental perspective that Randers predicts a world overwhelmed by frequent natural disasters, extreme atmospheric phenomenons and a self-reinforcing climate change.

Such pessimistic picture leads Randers to reflect on human beings and their ability to respond to the challenges of our times. In Randers’ view, attempts to educate population on the dangers of climate change have systematically failed because human beings are mainly guided by their short-term considerations. These individuals are the ones dominating decision-making in democratic political systems, therefore imposing a series of policies that deprive future generations of their wellbeing in the name of immediate (mainly economic) profits.

In sum, democracy is not the way forward in the context of the current crisis. Politicians find themselves constrained by the short-term nature of their population, and decisions entailing a clear long-term benefit do not success in being implemented. Randers praises the centralised Chinese polity, in which elites build the country with the tacit support from the citizens with the result of efficient infrastructures and responsible choices vis-à-vis the community.

These controversial declarations raise the interesting question does democracy jeopardise efficiency in a political system? Are the citizens the real short-term players in democracies, or do politicians reinforce this attitude encouraged by the perspectives of being re-elected? Should the Chinese model guide the Western world – and is this model more concerned with respect to the environment than its western counterparts? Join the discussion!

With special thanks to Leticia Díez Sánchez