Blogs and Think Pieces
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.
Le fonctionnement du monde académique et la production des connaissances scientifiques peuvent expliquer la persistance, voire l’aggravation des inégalités sociales. Pour comprendre ce constat, il faut au préalable rappeler que les inégalités sociales ont des répercussions dans le domaine de la connaissance. Lutter contre les inégalités sociales passe donc irrémédiablement par une réduction des inégalités dans la production des connaissances scientifiques et par l’instauration d’une véritable écologie des savoirs, c’est-à-dire de rapports justes entre les savoirs. Les recherches qui associent les groupes qui subissent les inégalités à la production des connaissances jouent, de ce point de vue, un rôle significatif.
According to the IPCC, we need to take urgent and effective action on climate change to prevent irreversible damage to our planet and its ability to sustain us. What is it that stops a critical mass of people from coming together to advocate for environmental and social justice, as well as to make personal choices that will benefit the environment? Karen Bell explores the notion of environmental classism, or how divisions between different social classes undermine a sense of common purpose, and how to ensure that working-class people can be better included in the transition to sustainability.
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.
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.
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.
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 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….
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?
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?”