Summer 2016: Democracy, sustainable development and Brexit

If, one month later, the shock of Brexit has subsided, the confusion that now defines our politics shows little sign of abating. In this edition of the FDSD newsletter, we submit a number of certainties.

No matter how things shake out in the absence of EU regulation, it will fall to NGOs, citizen groups and individuals to collaborate all the more determinedly – not only within the UK but across borders – to build a sustainable future (John Lotherington). Already, elements of academia, civil society and the private sector are rallying around the SDGs (Emily Auckland).

Talking amongst ourselves won’t be enough, however. As is now fairly clear, some of the strongest leave votes came from places that have not done well out of globalisation. The divisions between globalisation’s winners and losers in the UK will need to be addressed, not least through widening participation (Andrea Westall). The Wales We Want process provides one example as to how (Peter Davies).

Finally, the Brexit debate need not have been so unedifying. Other jurisdictions do referendums better (Graham Smith).
As always, we're bringing together rigorous thinking and practical examples in partnership with others to help inform and create change. Please get in touch at if you or your organisation would like to work with us, share inspirational examples, write reports or provocations, or comment on any of our pieces.
The UK has rejected the supra-national institutions of the EU, but many of the key problems facing our future cut across national boundaries. It falls to NGOs, citizen groups and individuals to collaborate all the more determinedly – not only within the UK but across borders – to build a sustainable future.
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A Divided Britain
Amongst many other things, the UK’s vote to leave the EU was a cry for recognition from people with very different lives and opportunities. It was also a stark reminder of ‒ or, for some, a sudden insight into ‒ different priorities and viewpoints and the deep inequalities between people and places. We still have a lot to do, says FDSD Trustee Andrea Westall.
In his former role as Wales' Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Peter Davies led the Wales We Want conversation, which engaged thousands of groups and individuals in helping to shape the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act. Now, as one of FDSD's trustees, he considers whether the process holds any lessons for the UK post-Brexit.
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Referendums are only as good as the information they're based on, argues FDSD Chair Graham Smith. What can other jurisdictions teach the UK about improving voter knowledge? Lots, it turns out.
Brexit Britain and the SDGs
With EU regulation on the way out, will the new government comprehensively embrace the SDGs? It would appear unlikely, says FDSD trustee Emily Auckland. Thankfully, civil society, businesses and other stakeholders are banding together to keep SDG implementation on the agenda.
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News and comment from around the web
"Experiments in new manifestations of democracy are proliferating," says the Guardian in the aftermath of Brexit. "And some may offer a more tangible experience for ordinary people than the remote, mundane exercise of voting for a stranger once every four or five years."
Three policy experts from the Green Alliance provide insight into the likely impacts of Brexit, considering a range of scenarios.
'Take back control'? Leaving the EU will not make the UK more democratic, argues Harry Farmer on the Involve blog.

Browse previous newsletters here

:: Images ::
Flag by the pavement - (CC-BY 2.0) courtesy of Ben Chapman / Flickr
What future do we want? - (CC BY-SA 2.0) courtesy of Anna & Michael / Flickr
A Divided Britain - (CC BY-NC 2.0) courtesy of / Flickr
Lessons from Wales - (CC) courtesy of
The unedifying Brexit debate: learning lessons from across the pond - (CC BY 2.0) courtesy of Silke Remmery / Flickr
Post-Brexit UK and the SDGs - courtesy of UKSSD / shutterstock

The people trying to take democracy back from itself - (CC BY-NC 2.0) Alex / Flickr
What will Brexit mean for UK energy, resources and natural environment policy - (CC) Green Alliance
Leave promised more democracy – now the government must deliver - (CC BY-NC 2.0) SUXSIEQ / Flickr
Copyright © 2016 Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, All rights reserved.

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