1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces

Highlights ...

Fault Lines and Front Lines: Shifting Power in an Unequal World

Fault Lines and Front Lines: Shifting Power in an Unequal World (31 Oct 2018) | Katja Hujo, Maggie Carter

Economic and social inequalities have grown within and between countries over recent decades, with the growing divide between the privileged and the rest fracturing society in new and more dramatic ways. In a context where governments have agreed to redouble efforts to address inequalities as part of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, this introductory think piece to the UNRISD series Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization raises questions around the drivers and consequences of inequalities, and how people, communities, social relationships and institutions are shifting, adapting and innovating in response to them.


Safe Havens for Economic Elites and their Wealth: Money, Visas and Artwork

Safe Havens for Economic Elites and their Wealth: Money, Visas and Artwork (12 Dec 2018) | Andrés Solimano

Personal wealth is very concentrated in small economic elites: according to the Credit Suisse 2017 Global Wealth Report, those with net wealth over USD 1 million represent nearly one percent of the total adult population but own an overwhelming 46 percent of the world’s personal wealth. So where do the very rich place their assets and where do they choose to reside? This think piece considers three factors which influence their decisions and suggests that fair taxation and regulation may be part of the solution to this damaging concentration of extreme wealth.


Also...

Gone Fishing or Gone Organizing? Multi-level Community Development as a Pathway to Reduced Inequalities

Gone Fishing or Gone Organizing? Multi-level Community Development as a Pathway to Reduced Inequalities (31 Oct 2018) | Peter Westoby

Community development is often thought to be about “sitting under the mango tree” together, but if we want to make it work really effectively for marginalized people, we need to think bigger. This is the premise of this think piece, which argues that a multi-level community development framework is needed which scales grassroots social innovations up and across levels of intervention. Two examples from South Africa and Uganda show how multi-level community work has served to reduce inequalities in access to land and protection of the commons.


Legal Literacy: An Essential Complement to Digital and Scientific Literacy

Legal Literacy: An Essential Complement to Digital and Scientific Literacy (7 Dec 2018) | Thérèse Murphy

The popular view holds that, when it comes to new technologies, law either dawdles or moves too soon. This think piece argues that we should see law differently and that if we want to govern technology wisely, legal literacy is as important as scientific and digital literacy.


Profiling and Automated Decision Making: Is Artificial Intelligence Violating Your Right to Privacy?

Profiling and Automated Decision Making: Is Artificial Intelligence Violating Your Right to Privacy? (5 Dec 2018) | Tomaso Falchetta

Artificial intelligence is affecting our human rights, in positive and negative ways. And particularly so when it comes to privacy. As states and businesses increasingly use big data analytics and artificial intelligence to obtain fine-grained information about people’s lives, this think piece asks what human rights violations can ensue, and how legal frameworks could protect our human rights in the age of AI.


Progress Towards a Just Transition on the Island of Ireland

Progress Towards a Just Transition on the Island of Ireland (14 Nov 2018) | John Barry and Sinéad Mercier

Progress towards a Just Transition on the island of Ireland from fossil fuels in particular and unsustainable (and neoliberal) models of economic development in general, is full of deep and as yet unresolved contradictions, but also great potential. Although transition to a 100% renewable energy system is entirely feasible, there is sluggish movement on decarbonization and greenhouse gas emissions reduction across the island, and at best only a rudimentary understanding of what a ‘just energy transition’ means from a trade union’s perspective. And then there is Brexit and the problematic post — conflict politics of Northern Ireland to contend with….


Squaring Urgency and Equity in the Just Transition Debate

Squaring Urgency and Equity in the Just Transition Debate (13 Nov 2018) | Peter Newell

Is it possible to accelerate transitions to a low-carbon society and economy in inclusive ways? Can rapidity be squared with attending to questions of equity and social justice? The question here then is less whether transitions can be just, but can rapid transitions also be Just Transitions?


Dear Len McCluskey: There are no Union Jobs on a Dead Planet

Dear Len McCluskey: There are no Union Jobs on a Dead Planet (13 Nov 2018) | Gareth Dale

Len McCluskey, the leader of the UK's Unite union, supported the vote for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and called for Labour MPs to vote with the Tories (Conservative and Unionist Party) and DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). Gareth Dale argues this was a setback for trade unionists the world over: “McCluskey appeals to the interests of Heathrow workers and their children and grandchildren. But what lives await them if global warming accelerates unchecked?”


Winning Across the Agenda: Tackling Policy Incoherence to Localize the SDGs

Winning Across the Agenda: Tackling Policy Incoherence to Localize the SDGs (8 Aug 2018) | Paul Ladd

Trying to get global initiatives to gel with local needs and priorities, and make sure we leave no one behind across all dimensions of sustainable development, has always been a challenge. In this blog, UNRISD Director Paul Ladd thinks aloud about how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is faring.


Just Transition, States and Businesses

Just Transition, States and Businesses (4 Jul 2018) | Diego Azzi

One reason why climate change is such a complex and fascinating issue is that it affects everyone everywhere. It simultaneously touches upon a wide range of interests, both private and public. Within the climate negotiations space, Just Transition is a contentious issue for the various actors involved, primarily states and firms, as well as NGOs, social movements and trade unions that do their best to monitor and influence the negotiation outcomes.