1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development
Since the 1970s, UNRISD has consistently emphasized the imperative of integrating the social, environmental and economic dimensions in a holistic and "unified" approach to transformative development processes and outcomes. Research has examined the wide range of factors that impact complex human/nature interactions and both social and environmental change, including the role of social norms, institutions and actors, power asymmetries and technology. It has explored the social consequences of processes of economic and environmental change; and the ways people and communities organize and mobilize collectively to enhance their well-being while managing or protecting their natural resources.

UNRISD research has demonstrated that unequal social structures and relations have repercussions for how societies employ their natural resources, and that social inequalities and ecological degradation tend to be mutually reinforcing. Recent work has documented innovative efforts to simultaneously address social and environmental issues at local and national levels through, for example, socially sensitive environmental policies that strengthen the coping capacities and resilience of vulnerable groups, social protection policies that provide incentives to protect the environment, and co-benefit approaches that direct public bodies to address environmental and social issues simultaneously in their decision making. UNRISD research has also evaluated the potential of alternatives for more equitable and environmentally sustainable patterns of production, consumption, exchange and finance as undertaken by social and solidarity economy (SSE) organizations, which prioritize social and sometimes environmental considerations over private economic interests. UNRISD’s work on this issue led to the creation of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE.

The Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development Programme focuses on the intersectionality of social and environmental issues and policies at global, national and local levels. In order to identify and overcome the structural causes and drivers of unsustainable practices, a priority focus of the programme will be the role of international governance in the transformation towards equity and sustainability.


Promoting SSE through Public Policies: Guidelines for Local Governments

Sustainable Development Performance Indicators

Transformative Adaptation to Climate Change in Coastal Cities

Just Transition Research Collaborative (Phase II): Cities in Transition—Urban Struggles for Just Transition(s)

Just Transition Research Collaborative (Phase I): Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low-Carbon World

Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Protecting Vulnerable Urban Groups in Contentious Times: The Role of SSE

SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs

Opportunities and Challenges of Statistics on Social and Solidarity Economy

Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India

Social Dimensions of Green Economy and Sustainable Development

Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy

Photo credit: CIFOR (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr.