What we did: We launched a new work theme on Climate Change and Democracy.

What we achieved: In support of ongoing dialogues, we produced a discussion paper and convened an expert discussion that addressed the most critical issues.

Impact area: Democracy Assessment

Climate change is the defining issue of our time, impacting on democratic governance through its effects on food security, conflicts, water scarcity, migration and natural disasters. 

Responding to this, ahead of last year’s COP 26 conference in Scotland, International IDEA launched a workstream on democracy and climate change, initiating it as we marked our 25th anniversary

The workstream was developed based on the understanding that democracies need to formulate and implement effective responses to climate change to deliver for current and future generations. 

Events included: the European Union-financed INTER PARES project held a global virtual conferenceCatalysing Parliamentary Action to Fight Climate Changeon 11–12 May 2021. It followed up on 6 October with a satellite event at the World Forum for Democracy, entitled Parliaments, Climate Change and Intergenerational Justice.

International IDEA convened an expert discussion on Constitutionalizing Institutions for a Safer Environment on 16 September, focused on the role of constitutions in ensuring effective environmental protection and sustainable governance.

On 26 October, International IDEA launched a discussion paper, Democracy and the Challenge of Climate Change. It analyses the opportunities and challenges for democracy in this changing world, while presenting proposals for how democracies can build on their strengths to tackle climate change.


‘We are in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. The same storm in this case is the climate crisis, and different boats that we have nations with the least capacity and resources to adapt despite having contributed the least to the climate crisis.’

Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder of Green Generation Initiative and sustainability analyst at Sustainable Square


‘Climate cannot be the icing on the cake of policy. Rather, it needs to be baked into the very recipe for the future and the present. Legislators have such a wide range of tools to promote inclusive, sustainable development that successfully tackles the climate crisis.’

Helena Marschall, Climate Activist, Fridays for Future


‘When the world needs action on the ground, it looks to its parliaments. You give these issues the oxygen they need. With your careful scrutiny, you identify problems before they happen, and you find the policies that make a difference to citizens’ lives.’

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries


‘The trend towards including environmental rights and responsibilities in constitutions is an encouraging and necessary step towards achieving a just and sustainable future for everyone.’

Dr David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment


Knowledge resources: 

Democracy and the Challenge of Climate Change Discussion Paper


Constitutionalizing Institutions for a Safer Environment webinar agenda, 16 September 2021

Global Virtual Conference on Catalysing Parliamentary Action to Fight Climate Change agenda, 11–12 May 2021

Relevant links:  

Discussion Paper launch

Global Virtual Conference, Catalysing Parliamentary Action to Fight Climate Change, 11 May 2021

Constitutionalizing Institutions for a Safer Environment webinar, 16 September 2021

Satellite Event of World Forum for Democracy, Parliaments, Climate Change, and Intergenerational Justice, co-organized by INTER PARES, International IDEA and Council of Europe, 6 October 2021, exploring the question of parliaments, climate change and intergenerational justice from diverse perspectives