Blogs and Think Pieces
We are living in a time of rapid change, driven by increasing digitization and disruption of many of the institutions and relationships around which we structure our societies and our lives. In this first think piece in the From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development series, Kelly Stetter reflects on the role of international human rights frameworks in addressing these challenges and ensuring that no one is left behind.
The increasing use of big data with its inability to accurately take account of the most vulnerable has the potential to exacerbate socio-economic gaps and result in states’ failure to meet their obligation to protect those “most left behind”. This Think Piece addresses the challenges of both identifying and understanding the position of the most vulnerable in big data, and demonstrates the limitations of existing alternatives like disaggregation to include the most vulnerable statistically. The piece concludes by suggesting how the gap between the increasing use of big data and the exclusion of the most vulnerable in data can be filled.
Big data is being heralded by some as the solution to the missing statistics which are needed to measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. But big data is beset with its own flaws and pitfalls that may in fact compound human rights issues associated with the SDGs. This think piece discusses the role of indicators and whether new forms of statistics gathering are helping or hindering efforts to leave no one behind.
Despite the popularity of “data for development” in global policy circles, we are still far from a data revolution capable of promoting equitable and sustainable development. Available data may not be sufficiently “big” or representative to address “wicked” development problems, and the collective right to development and self-determination may be obscured by the privatization and commoditization of data. This Think Piece explores how public policy and governance frameworks must adapt in order to harness the gains of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and ensure communities’ rights to their own data.
It isn’t news that we live in an exciting moment for technology. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to robotics, 3D printing, virtual realities or smart environments, it seems like these so-called emerging technologies will soon become an everyday reality that could underpin progress worldwide. But are these new technologies designed for all? There are one billion persons with disabilities globally and as societies become older, more and more people will face functional limitations related to age. Will these technologies be accessible for them as well?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting economies, business models, and societies around the globe. But what about human rights concepts and practices? This piece argues that human rights defenders are not immune to the winds of change. Not only are civil society and international human rights mechanisms facing painful restructuring, but emerging technologies pose tough questions to traditional concepts, especially privacy and human agency. Far from being a rich country problem, these issues are everyone’s concern and require a new generation of human rights.
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.
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.
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.
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.