Democracy is a process built by the people, not a system that can be imposed on people without their consent and against their traditions and political culture. This is because democracy is supposed to realize the freedom and the capacity for self-sustainability in the human person. Thus, awareness and civic engagement are two of the most important conditions for a truly free and democratic society. Citizens should be informed of the policies in their local governments, and must engage with these governing structures. Political representation and self-government are cornerstones of democracy.
In a democracy, the people are supposed to be active within their local governments. Self-sustainability policies are important in a democracy, because these policies enable people to support themselves. A healthy synergy should exist between the community’s culture (the sum of beliefs and traditions existing at the local level), the principles of human dignity, and the three main pillars of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental.
As we consider this synergy between local community, universal principles of human dignity, and international consensus at the UN on economic sustainability, we must not forget the basis of all of this. The integral development of the human person always comes first. The human person is the cornerstone for sustainability, which is as a holistic process that requires both global vision and a local approach to action. A genuine development focuses on the ability of the human person to foster innovation, to create an environment of trust and solidarity based on ethical actions, and to find solutions for the economy and the environment. The first principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the document following negotiations during the United Nations 1992 Earth Summit, states that “human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with the nature.” Thus, exponential population growth is not a problem but is a solution to the world’s problems, because 7 billion people in fact represent 7 billion ideas for innovation.
What we really need today is innovation, change of current patterns of unsustainable consumption, and implementation of development policies which build sustainable communities for people to achieve their full potential. Today, humankind spends more than it produces. How it is this possible? Humans today spend excessively by accumulating debt, which threatens the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs, and by unsustainably managing and consuming natural resources.
Our generation of young people around the world is responsible for acting in solidarity and for promoting a person-centered approach to development. This person-centered approach requires the building of sustainable societies in which people respond to their human dignity by reaching their full potential.
By Victor Ciumac, a WYA member from Romania