Towards a Sustainable Economic Recovery: Perspective on the Significance of Democracy and Youths

The relationship between the economy and environment has long been recognized from their contested nature (Spangenberg, 2005). Scholars have discussed that the relationship is reflected by their tension where the quality of the environment is degraded due to economic productivity (Tracey & Anne, 2008; Cato, 2011). Nevertheless, the mentioned contested nature between the two aspects is rooted by human exploitation of the natural resources. Therefore, people need to rethink how to manage the economy as the solution.

​The importance regarding rethinking the economy management derives from the interconnection of people, planet, and profits (Adams & Abhayawansa, 2021). The World Commission on Environment and Development stated that “the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” (Tracey & Anne, 2008). Since our earth’s resources are perishable, it will become a “calculated” cycle. To overcome it, global initiative and commitment with the idea of environmental sustainability was evident with the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement and of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016. The previous solutions are an effort of stabilizing the human needs and the earth’s capacity for ensuring the availability of the world’s future. Thus, the tension between the environment and the economy has slowly been solved.

Unfortunately, the focus has been further dispersed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to lockdown restrictions, the economic field is one of the most affected sectors as it has caused one of the worst economic recessions since the 1900s (Shan et al., 2020). Consequently, there was a relatively significant decline in GDP growth to -3,4% in 2020 since the world’s usual productivity shifted (OECD, 2021). The shifted economic practice has already transformed the way people live and think. Hence, COVID-19 pandemic has reorganized the existing world structure.

Nonetheless, COVID-19 has brought some positive effects on the earth’s environment. The world’s gas emissions level was reduced to 4,7% in 2020 due to less economic industrial activity and the declining of the industrial coal demand by 8% because of the decrease in electricity needs (Shan et al., 2020). The pandemic has become shock therapy for the world’s leaders regarding the importance of solving the conflicting nature between the economy and environment.

As a result, more concrete actions are imminent to be taken to provide a sustainable economic recovery. States, then, are required to reform their economic system. Hence, the international community needs to focus on transformation of sustainable economic recovery and lifestyle. It is no further a choice, but it is an obligation for the state, society, and business actors to build a common sense that sustainable economic practices are the “normal” ones. To achieve this momentous purpose, democracy plays an important role in promoting sustainable economic recovery.

The role of democracy in achieving sustainable economic recovery can be seen in a policy making’s political engagement which is identic with an inclusive, accountable, participatory, and transparent aid and service delivery (National Democratic Institute, n.d.). Nevertheless, democracy means more. Not only from political leaders and the business sector, there needs to be collective measures from society, especially the role of youths as they are the mediators–conveying sustainability ideas to grassroots and to policy makers. This measure has the ability to accelerate sustainable productivity that can push the stakeholders to act accordingly to the people and environment’s welfare. Therefore, democracy is valuable when the voice of the people is taken into account. Every individual has their right to speak their minds and be accepted from their voices as a form of obtaining a prosperous life. In this case, every individual’s action is a key in creating sustainable economic practices that would lead to the economic recovery from COVID-19. To conclude, the youths are capable of boosting the importance of sustainability to the international community and thus need to be included in a notable decision making since it will lead to the future’s stake.


Adams, C. A., & Abhayawansa, S. (2021). Connecting the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and calls for ‘harmonisation’ of sustainability reporting. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 102309.

Cato, S. M. (2011). Environment and Economy (Routledge Introductions to Environment: Environment and Society Texts) (1st ed.). New York, USA: Routledge.

National Democratic Institute. (n.d.). Democracy Delivery.

OECD (2021), OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Report March 2021, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Shan, Y., Ou, J., Wang, D., Zeng, Z., Zhang, S., Guan, D., & Hubacek, K. (2020). Impacts of COVID-19 and fiscal stimuli on global emissions and the Paris Agreement. Nature Climate Change, 11, 200–206.

Spangenberg, J. H. (2005). Economic sustainability of the economy: concepts and indicators. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 8(1/2), 47.

Tracey, S., & Anne, B. (2008). OECD Insights Sustainable Development Linking Economy, Society, Environment. Zaltbommel, Netherlands: Van Haren Publishing.

Belinda Nur Fadillah