This paper aims to explore a possible relationship between democracy and the environment, more specifically between freedom and environmental sustainability (environmental performance). The conceptual lenses of the Quadruple and Quintuple Innovation Helix Frameworks were used as they emphasize the importance of democracy and ecology (environmental sustainability) for knowledge and innovation and vice versa. The empirical model focused on the following research question: What is the correlation between political freedom and environmental performance? In essence, all countries in the world with a population of one million or more were included (a total of 156 countries), and the reference year was 2016. The empirical outcome of the correlation analysis was a positive Pearson correlation of about 0.56 (or 0.73 if we examine regional country groups), and, perhaps even more significantly, this correlation was significant at the 0.001 level (two-tailed). The correlation results lend themselves to the following interpretation: The higher the political freedom in a country, the more likely it is to have a higher environmental performance. Similarly, the lower the political freedom in a country, the more likely it is to have a lower environmental performance. As a preliminary proposition, therefore, democracy, environmental sustainability, and innovation-driven knowledge economies may have a highly symbiotic and synergistic dynamic and non-linear relationship.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.