Alive: culture, sustainability and intergenerational democracy

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Today, there are complex barriers to a sustainable future, resulting in the exploitative consumption of natural resources. Across the world, people of vastly different heritage are now living together, disconnected from the localities of their ancestors where their identity and culture were inseparable from the land and its natural systems. Rebuilding human relationships with their environments is critical to addressing the unsustainability of the planet. To assist the process of reconstruction a new public planning model, lntergenerational Democracy, has been developed. Its aim is to implement intergenerational equity, a primary objective of sustainability. Through the formalised age-based system of community consultation and capacity building, barriers such as: gender, ethnicity, religion and socio economics are minimised, with age becoming the equaliser. I.D embraces the movement towards participatory democracy and active citizenship, engaging whole communities from children to the elderly (9-99 years) in planning and managing their futures. It recognises that there are many quieter but equally legitimate voices that are rarely heard in government policy and planning forums. Developed and trialled in Australia (2006- 2008) the study involved 271 residents of a municipality in Sydney, Australia. The findings revealed the distinctive, multi-dimensional threads that are 'alive' and constitute a locality and its community, recognising that culture is a key connector. This model aspires to embed processes of regeneration, develop a renewed sense of belonging and promote sustainable environmental behaviour 'on the ground'. As expressed through the voice of a 25-year-old project participant who said, "I can't change the world but I can change my backyard."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-85
Number of pages19
JournalUNESCO observatory e-journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Sustainable Future
  • Non-Renewable Energy
  • Unsustainable Consumptiun
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Population Growth
  • lntergenerational Democracy


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