1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces

Highlights ...

Raising the Resilience of Brazil Nut Gatherers in the Amazon Basin: Towards Transformative and Sustainable Change?

Raising the Resilience of Brazil Nut Gatherers in the Amazon Basin: Towards Transformative and Sustainable Change? (26 Jan 2018) | Marcelo Cunha

How can the resilience of traditional quilombola communities in the Amazon Basin, whose livelihoods depend on trading the Brazil nuts they gather, be improved—while conserving forests? This think piece uses value-chain analysis to provide insights on how the institutions the forest dwellers are embedded in could be improved to provide a more enabling environment. The piece concludes with recommendations on how to achieve social, economic and environmental sustainability, and transformative change, in the region.


Participatory Guarantee Systems: A Transformative Public Policy to Boost Organic Farming in Bolivia

Participatory Guarantee Systems: A Transformative Public Policy to Boost Organic Farming in Bolivia (26 Jan 2018)

A social and industrial revolution is underway in Bolivia. With a new Constitution in 2009, based on the Vivir Bien, or Living Well paradigm, the country is promoting an eco-social approach to development. As well as nationalizing the main fossil fuel and water services, there is a strong emphasis in the Constitution on the right to safe and nutritious food for all. This think piece reviews policy reforms introduced to guarantee the right to food and considers their transformative potential.


Also...

War, Gender and Economics: Women at the Sharp End of Neo-liberal Reforms in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina

War, Gender and Economics: Women at the Sharp End of Neo-liberal Reforms in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina (8 Jan 2018) | Nela Porobić Isaković

In 2014, political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) adopted a socio-economic Reform Agenda, in a context of social unrest as well as preparations to pave the way to EU accession. This think piece argues that the Reform Agenda, based on neoliberal solutions such as austerity measures and stabilization policies, and lacking a rigorous feminist conflict and gender analysis, will fail to create a firm foundation on which a sustainable and just transition from conflict to peace can be made.


Rebuilding The Fiscal Contract? 5 Innovative Ways to Tax Informality

Rebuilding The Fiscal Contract? 5 Innovative Ways to Tax Informality (13 Dec 2017) | Maudo Jallow

The large size of the informal economy in the global South is often seen as an obstacle to increasing tax revenue. Yet some studies suggest that informal actors are not averse to taxation if it brings benefits, and prevents harassment by police and inspectors. So why is this putative social contract not working? This think piece explores the potential to rebuild a social contract between informal workers and the state, refilling coffers to finance social development and providing social protection to those who lack formal access to it.


Carving Out an Official Role for Waste Pickers in Urban Waste Management

Carving Out an Official Role for Waste Pickers in Urban Waste Management (5 Dec 2017) | V. Kalyan Shankar, Rohini Sahni

Waste pickers are key stakeholders in sustainable urban waste management, thereby contributing to local and global resilience. As recycling of materials has become more widespread in developed and developing countries, it has provided waste pickers with an opportunity to improve their status and well-being through collectivization and engagement with local urban government. This think piece explores how waste pickers in the Indian city of Pune have been able to organize and legitimize their labour and carve out a formal space for themselves in the city's waste management chain.


Life on the Land: Landowners Associations in the Italian Alps

Life on the Land: Landowners Associations in the Italian Alps (27 Nov 2017) | Cristina Poncibò

As the rocks collapse and mountainsides crumble into sometimes deadly landslides because of decades of neglect of the land and people leaving for the towns, small groups of mountain villagers in some parts of the Piedmont Region of the Italian Alps are quietly trying to improve the situation. This think piece shows how voluntary local initiatives for unified land management, supported by helpful public policy, are helping to improve sustainable rural development and the social-ecological resilience of mountain regions in Italy.


Realizing the Human Right to Clean Water: Time to Rethink the Legal Architecture?

Realizing the Human Right to Clean Water: Time to Rethink the Legal Architecture? (20 Nov 2017) | Julie Gjørtz Howden and Claudia Ituarte-Lima

Having access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as enshrined in human rights law and SDG 6, is intertwined with the governance of transboundary river basins and other issues connected to water and healthy ecosystems. Yet the laws governing human rights and international water law do not reflect this. This piece argues that a transformation of international water law, guided by human rights principles, is needed to foster the resilience of the legal system and achieve the SDGs related to water and ecosystems.


Let Them Eat Entrepreneurship: Women's Empowerment and Gender Inequality

Let Them Eat Entrepreneurship: Women's Empowerment and Gender Inequality (5 Oct 2017) | Manuel Montes

In many countries, women are heavily discriminated against in the ownership of economic assets and access to finance. To counter this, rich countries are contributing enormous sums to a major new World Bank intitiative promoting women's entrepreneurship in developing countries. This blog asks though where discrimination against women really begins and whether financing women’s entrepreneurship is the right entry point to empower women in developing countries.


SDG 17: Transformative Partnerships?

SDG 17: Transformative Partnerships? (21 Sep 2017) | Annekathrin Ellersiek

Partnerships are a central Means of Implementation (MOI) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to Targets 16 and 17 of SDG17. This emphasis on partnerships points to the need to effectively harness additional resources, while at the same time highlighting the aim of ‘leaving no one behind’. But are they always both effective and inclusive, and hence transformative? This blog argues that stronger alignment of different approaches is needed for partnerships to bring about the progressive change that the 2030 Agenda requires.


Policy Making in a Globalized World: Is Economic Growth the Appropriate Driver? An Example from Mesoamerica

Policy Making in a Globalized World: Is Economic Growth the Appropriate Driver? An Example from Mesoamerica (22 Aug 2017) | Andrea F. Schuman

This think piece traces transnational influences in national-level economic policies and their impacts on one municipality in Mesoamerica. Policy influences that emphasize economic growth, and propose “modernization” and market-based solutions led by the private sector, are found to undermine resilience at both household and community levels, and pose threats to the sustainable livelihoods generated by the activities and practices historically engaged in by the population. The policy implications are relevant across the region in question, and far beyond.