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Sign for a voting polling centre. Under half the countries in the world are fully democratic, according to Nobel Prize.

Having democratic rights to influence decisions made on your behalf is seen by many as one of the key human rights of all people – for human freedom, empowerment, peace and security. Sustainable development is often challenged by democracy through, for instance if a populous will not give government the mandate to make changes that it wants and needs to make to secure a sustainable future for its people.

Perspectives on Democracy

RST team | Empowering marginalised communities: why and how?

It's easy to focus on big, hard-hitting targets: corporate strategies, government policies, intergovernmental agreements etc. But often, the big achievements in sustainable development have come from working with ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

Open-air voting in Switzerland

Halina Ward | Building a movement for democracy and sustainable development

Effective sustainable development requires effective democracy, but can democracy in practice move fast enough for the challenges we now face? Halina Ward explores the challenges of democracy and outlines a road map for the future.

Francesca de Gasparis | The Green Belt Movement

The Green Belt Movement won the Nobel Peace Prize for its founder, Wangari Maathai. Francesca de Gasparis looks at how the movement has developed.


Timeline for Democracy

Go to Sustainable Development Timeline to see milestones for all themes.