Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
30 April 2024

Democracy and Climate

AHCD and the Kofi Annan Foundation co-hosted the first of a series of roundtables on the common challenges faced by democracies and the multilateral system worldwide.

Multilateral action and international cooperation and dialogue are hampered by growing polarisation, assertive nationalist agendas, and strong ideological divides, which are particularly marked around issues of democracy. How do we address the fraying link between democracy and the multilateral system, and how do answers to this question vary according to the global challenges at stake?

On 16 April, a Roundtable launched a two-year joint project by the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Kofi Annan Foundation which seeks to further a common understanding of how democratic, ethical, and inclusive leadership is essential to solving global challenges such as the climate crisis – the theme of the first Roundtable discussion organized as part of the project. An issue brief on climate and democracy, co-authored by AHCD researchers Christine Lutringer, Laura Bullon-Cassis, and Héloïse Bellenot, provided the basis of the discussions.

Close to twenty experts from international organisations, foundations, civil society, and academia participated in the discussion, which consisted of a comprehensive exploration of the relationship between climate change and democratic governance. It encompassed a wide range of topics, from lessons learned since the adoption of the Paris Agreement to examples of best practices. The discussion delved into various topics, including positive just transition policies, the merits of deliberative democracy mechanisms for climate policy, the democratization of climate multilateral negotiations, and the need for stronger cross-border mobilisations.

Among others, participants highlighted innovative mechanisms such as the first Global Citizens Assembly at COP26, discussed the United States’ Justice40 initiative  –  which made it a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of some climate policies flow to disadvantaged communities –, highlighted successful deliberative mechanisms implemented in the global North and global South, and addressed themes of climate science literacy and multidimensional understandings of justice in climate policies. They advocated for increased meaningful youth engagement and intergenerational justice, emphasizing the importance of broader representation in multilateral spaces.


The issue brief, entitled ‘Understanding the links between multilateralism & democracy to tackle global challenges more effectively’ will be made available here soon, along with the Roundtable’s outcome document.