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DEMOCRACY

In a Changing Climate

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This years theme was chosen with several political events happening during 2022 in mind. On the same day as the theme was decided, President Putin of Russia ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This has of course made issues of democracy, peace, and justice even more pressing and relevant.

Democracy is a critical factor to combat the climate crisis, attain healthy citizens, and achieve peace within and between countries. When the world slowly moves towards an end of the pandemic, both new and old global challenges resurface and demand attention, debate, and solutions. 2022 is a politically charged year, literally speaking.

 

Several important political events take place this year. For instance, the Swedish general election, presidential elections in Brazil and France, the US mid-term election where seats in the house of representatives and parts of the senate are up for grabs, and the 20th Party congress in China with probable reelection of – and imbued power for – President Xi Jinping. And all these events will transpire in the shadow of the war in Ukraine. Reigniting the debate on security and defense for many countries and underlining the importance of democracy for peace.

 

Issues related to human rights, inclusion, accountability, and other factors that can be placed under the umbrella of “democracy” has more and more been discussed concerning the current climate crisis. Not only in relation to what parts of the world have the biggest climate impact but also in relation to what parts of the world will pay the highest price. Climate justice is only one example of new buzzwords that have arisen in the sustainability debate the latest years next to other buzzwords such as climate refugees and climate migration.

Climate [noun]

  1. [countable, uncountable] the regular pattern of weather conditions of a particular place

  2. [countable] a general attitude or feeling; an atmosphere or a situation that exists in a particular place

    (Oxford Learners Dictionaries, 2022)

Climate as a wider concept

The term climate can be interpreted as a wider concept than just the ecological climate. Because next to, and maybe because of, a hardening ecological climate and an increasing climate crisis, a hardening tone is also taking place in the political climate. This became more prominent during the covid-19 pandemic where the polarization in certain issues such as vaccines and freedom came to the surface.

In Sweden, the political tone has changed and during the latest years, the political landscape has been re-drawn where previous alliances and blocks have been broken up. In the backwash of all this, there has been an increase of critique against social media and so-called filter bubbles has been highly debated and some claim that these phenomena contribute to the polarization. Individualized newsfeeds and closed forums let us to a greater extent only receive information that is coherent to our political views.

This year's theme: Democracy in a Changing Climate

Through this year’s theme Democracy in a Changing Climate, we want to increase the understanding of the connections between the social and the ecological climate. How do these areas impact each other and what synergies can be seen in their respective developments in a long-term perspective? What social effect does the climate crisis have, and what social aspects are driving the climate crisis? How does the lack of, or access to, human rights, democracy, inclusion, peace, and equality affect the climate? – And the other way around?

 

These questions will be highly relevant in elections and political events, on local, national, and worldwide levels, around the globe this year.

Further reading

Climate Change 2022:

Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Democracy Report 2022:
Autocratization

Changing Nature?

V-Dem Institute 

Global Issues: 

Democracy 

United Nations

Policy Brief:

Do Democracies Perform Better Combatting Climate Change?

V-Dem Institute

Policy Brief:

Does Democracy Bring International and Domestic Peace and Security?

V-Dem Institute

The theme and the Global Goals

Examples of relevant Global Goal targets
 

  • 5.5 Ensure Full Participation in Leadership and Decision-Making

  • 10.2 Promote Universal Social, Economic and Political Inclusion

  • 13.1 Strengthen Resilience and Adaptive Capacity to Climate Related Disasters

  • 13.5 Promote Mechanisms to Raise Capacity for Effective Climate-Change Planning and Management

  • 15.5 Protect Biodiversity and Natural Habitats

  • 16.6 Develop Effective, Accountable and Transparent Institutions

  • 16.7 Ensure Public Access to Information and Protect Fundamental Freedoms

  • 17.5 Invest in Least Developed Countries

  • 17.1 Enhance Availability of Reliable Data

Explore - Learn - Act!

What are the facts about the Global Goals? Is Sweden actually doing its part to realize the Agenda 2030?

 

On the Goal Tracker Platform you can find out how one might measure such a performance, and assess Sweden’s contribution.

Sustainable development in academia

Get your facts, learn, and asses! As a student you have the right to
know what your university is doing and have the opportunity to
influence it´s decisions.

What is sustainable development according to Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg? What is the role and responsibility of science and academia in shaping the world?

Learn from each other, act together

Some say that reason is an isolated process. The lonesome thinker chiselling out the perfect argument. Others say it´s a group process flowing with creativity. Arguments crashing, new ideas and perspectives adding to the ever-growing canvas.

 

However it may be, action for change is best carried out together. Students and student unions have a proud tradition of changing the academic institutions, sometimes even the world, through collective action.

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Act Sustainable is Chalmers University of Technology´s and the University of Gothenburg´s annual sustainability week for students, researchers, teachers and staff. The aim is to bring the universities closer together in multidisciplinary perspectives on sustainable
development through inspiration, and knowledge.