Blogs and Think Pieces by Date
- The Future of Work in the Post-Covid-19 Digital Era (8 Apr 2020) | Maria Mexi
The coronavirus crisis has spurred the growth of online work. The genie is not going back in the bottle and we must plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’.
- Our Common Right to Health (8 Apr 2020) | Gabriele Köhler
As we tremulously open the newscasts or our inboxes each day to read of the ever increasing numbers of the Covid-19 victims, we need to “instrumentalise” this pandemic for the SDG commitments: stop all preventable premature deaths, be they from acute pandemics or from chronic conditions, build equitable health systems for all everywhere. We can use the 2030 Agenda to frame the polices we need.
- How Social Development Steps Up To The Plate in Times of Crisis: Learning from the Past, Surviving the Pandemic, Creating Sustainable Futures (7 Apr 2020) | UNRISD
This moment of reckoning demands of us reflection, and action. Action certainly in our own communities, right now, but also on national and global scales when the immediate threat fades. How can we (re-)build our social, political and economic systems to bring about lasting transformative change, that will not only leave us better prepared for future crisis events, but also bring us closer to a vision of social justice, equality and sustainability, such as that laid out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? As we seek to re-assess and recover, UNRISD’s substantial body of work provides important arguments and lessons: now more than ever, universalism in social policies; no resilience without a just transition; renewed commitments to international solidarity and multilateralism; and the role of research in making sense of the crisis.
- Labs Versus Lies? Evidence for Policy Making in Our Post-Truth World (19 Feb 2020) | Paul Ladd
Over the past two months, UNRISD Director Paul Ladd has spoken at two events exploring the linkages between evidence, experts, research, policy decision making and social change. In a world that could be characterized as “labs versus lies”, he argues, we must persist in our commitment to science, recognize that the pathways by which evidence leads to better policy and action are under threat—and adjust our actions accordingly.
- Filling the Right Knowledge Gaps: What Tools do Policy Makers Really Need to Promote SSE Through Public Policies? (17 Dec 2019) | Samuel Brülisauer, Gabriel Salathé-Beaulieu
The UNRISD project "Promoting SSE through Public Policies: Guidelines for Local Governments" aims, on the basis of original empirical evidence from six cities, to develop guidelines that local governments can use to design and implement public policies that support SSE organizations and enterprises. What type of information do policy makers want to see in these guidelines? To find out, the research team interviewed policy makers at different levels of governance (city/regional/national) active in Catalonia, Cyprus, Mali, Mexico City and South Africa. This think piece summarizes what they told us about their needs and expectations, and can guide further research as the project moves ahead.
- The Shifting Landscape of Inequalities—What Have We Learned? (12 Dec 2019) | Maggie Carter, Katja Hujo
While inequality has now firmly positioned itself as a key public policy issue, the development community still tends to focus in large part on the bottom of the pyramid, the poorest of the poor. This think piece rounds out a series which was launched as a way of continuing the conversations that began during the UNRISD conference Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization and seeks to shift the perspective towards the top of the pyramid.
- Politiques de la reconnaissance et justice sociale en Afrique : Les stratégies d’inclusion politique par l’identité ethnique contribuent-elles à la réduction des inégalités ? (11 Nov 2019) | Anatole Fogou
Depuis le milieu du XXe siècle, la revendication de droits collectifs et sociaux prend de plus en plus de l’ampleur au détriment ou concurremment aux droits individuels. Ceci a donné lieu dans certains pays à composition multiethnique, à des politiques publiques qui prennent pour fondement la reconnaissance d’identités particulières et notamment ethniques sans forcément résoudre les problèmes d’inégalités et d’injustice sociale. Cette réflexion assume l’idée que la solution pour ces sociétés multiethniques réside dans le façonnage d’un imaginaire national où les individus se pensent d’avantage comme citoyens égaux que comme membres d’une communauté particulière.
- Inequalities: Are Our Hands Tied? Answers from Four Rockstars of the Realm (11 Sep 2019) | Martyna B. Linartas
Not only is economic inequality on the rise, but the research agenda on inequality has also moved decisively from the fringes to the centre of policy as well as academic interest, producing a vast amount of literature. In this think piece, Martyna B. Linartas reviews four of the most influential, but substantially different, recent works on the origins of economic inequality and the solutions they suggest to the problem. What is at the root of these competing narratives, and what implications do they have for policy making?
- Citizenship and Equality in Latin America: A Troubled Link (8 Aug 2019) | Luciano Enrique Andrenacci
As the 20th century drew to a close, Latin America witnessed an unexpectedly virtuous alignment of factors favouring “inclusive” citizenship. A combination of global economic and political change weakened long-standing power arrangements, providing a window of opportunity in the region to strengthen the otherwise troubled link between citizenship and equality. So how did this come about? This think piece traces the historical genesis of the connection between modern notions of citizenship and equality, and the highs (few) and lows (many!) of how it has played out in Latin America up to the present day.
- We Cannot Take on Inequality Without Tax Justice (2 Jul 2019) | Fariya Mohiuddin
At the heart of inequality is uneven access to key human rights such as health, housing and adequate living standards. Effective taxation is fundamental to addressing inequality in this form: by funding access, it creates a pathway for the progressive realization of human rights. Yet the links between inequality, rights provision and taxation have not always been clearly made in policy or in activism. This think piece is a contribution to filling this gap.
- Shrinking Opportunities: Social Mobility and Widening Inequality in Vietnam (20 May 2019) | Andrew Wells-Dang and Vu Thi Quynh Hoa
Rising inequality is threatening Vietnam’s continued socio-economic development. Young people have fewer opportunities for higher earnings and improved social status than a decade ago. These trends make it harder for Vietnam to meet its commitments to achieve the SDGs and stand in contrast with its past experiences of inclusive growth. Our research shows how social mobility can provide a window into understanding mechanisms of inequality, especially among youth and disadvantaged social groups such as ethnic minorities. For many young people, industrial-led development is not delivering on expectations of greater social mobility.
- Acciones para enfrentar la crisis global de aprendizajes en México: el caso de la Medición Independiente de Aprendizajes (MIA) (23 Apr 2019) | Felipe J. Hevia, Samana Vergara-Lope
En zonas rurales y urbanas marginales del sureste de México se están desarrollando innovaciones educativas por parte de una alianza de organizaciones civiles y académicas denominada Medición Independiente de Aprendizajes—MIA. Su objetivo es mejorar los aprendizajes básicos y reducir las brechas de desigualdad educativa a través de la participación comunitaria. Los resultados obtenidos sugieren efectos positivos en Lectura y Matemáticas, y alta motivación de voluntarios, tutores y de los propios niños y niñas. Este modelo permite que la participación comunitaria genere cambios significativos en las desigualdades educativas. La simpleza y sistematicidad de sus procesos permiten su reproducción en diversas regiones de América Latina y el Caribe.
- La promoción de cooperativas como política de inclusión por el trabajo en Argentina. Desafíos en el escenario socio-económico y político actual (7 Mar 2019) | Malena Victoria Hopp
Desde 2003 se implementaron en Argentina programas de generación de cooperativas como estrategia de inclusión por el trabajo. Este ensayo analiza las potencialidades de estos programas y explora qué sucede cuando se les elimina, como ocurrió luego del cambio de gobierno en 2015. La nueva orientación de política pública debilitó el apoyo al trabajo cooperativo y favoreció la concentración de poder, derivada de la unificación de la elite política y económica. El reemplazo de cooperativas por transferencias de ingresos rompe con los espacios colectivos de trabajo y contribuye a profundizar desigualdades, mediante la individualización y asistencialización de las intervenciones sobre el desempleo y la pobreza.
- Human Rights and New Technologies: Setting the Agenda for Human Rights-Centred Innovation (15 Feb 2019) | Molly K. Land
For technology to have a transformative effect on human relations, we must be far more mindful of who builds it, for what purposes, and what kinds of power and privilege are embedded within it. This think piece looks at a case study in South Africa where technology and harms to rights went hand in hand.
- Acting Against Their Own Interests: Why Elites Should Be More Progressive Than They Typically Are (15 Feb 2019) | Matias López
Could social policies to redistribute wealth and shore up democracy be in the interests of powerful and wealthy elites? According to interdisciplinary research, the answer is yes, as inequality entails several negative consequences that affect elite security. Yet as inequality increases, we are not seeing many changes in elites’ largely negative attitudes to such policies. This think piece argues that the way elites perceive inequality, not their actual material interest, is getting in the way of progress.
- Vers une production juste et égalitaire des connaissances sur les inégalités sociales (16 Jan 2019) | Baptiste Godrie
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.
- Including Working Class People in the Transition to Sustainability (20 Dec 2018) | Karen Bell
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.
- 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.
- 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? (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 (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 (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 (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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Hidden Pitfalls of the Just Transition Narrative: A Response (4 Jul 2018) | Anabella Rosemberg
In his recent think piece published in the Just Transition(s) Online Forum, Tadzio Müller questions the "pitfalls" of the Just Transition narrative and argues that it risks wasting precious time in the fight against climate change. As someone who has worked with the labour movement on this concept and its narrative and strategies for more than a decade, I would like to offer some alternative reflections.
- 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.
- “As Time Goes By…”: The Hidden Pitfalls of the Just Transition Narrative (14 Jun 2018) | Tadzio Müller
Rapid climate action is urgently needed to put the world on track for limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Leading scientists suggest that we need to bend the emissions curve significantly by 2020 if globally agreed temperature goals are to remain attainable. So is the Just Transition debate just a waste of time? This piece takes a critical look at pitfalls in the ongoing discussions.
- The Energy Transition in India: Creating Decent and Inclusive Green Jobs for All? (7 Jun 2018) | Joachim Roth
Around the globe, the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is accelerating. The economics behind this trend are simple to understand: between 2010 and 2017 solar, wind and renewable energy prices have fallen precipitously. In fact, they have fallen so fast that many of these technologies are now on a par with, if not more competitive than, fossil fuels. Although the benefits of cheaper and cleaner energy are undeniable, it is important to consider the many social and political challenges that need to be addressed if green transitions are to be effective and equitable. This think piece looks at the case of India to discuss how green jobs can become more decent and how to manage change in states that have depended on fossil fuels for their growth.
- The Urgency of a Just Transition in New Zealand (24 May 2018) | Sam Huggard
New Zealand is about to embark on a transition to a low-carbon economy. It’s one of the most important transitions we will make, and it has to be done well. Our lives literally depend on it.
- Just Transition(s) and Transformative Change (3 May 2018) | Dunja Krause, Joachim Roth
Tackling the imminent impacts of climate change will take a profound transformation that is able not only to accelerate decarbonization but also to overcome entrenched inequalities that leave people who least contributed to climate change at the greatest risk from its impacts. Linking the concepts of Just Transition and transformative change could present a progressive way forward.
- Lessons Learnt and Guiding Principles for a Just Energy Transition in the Global South (3 May 2018) | Thomas Hirsch
A Just Transition is needed across the globe — but most discussions so far focus on the Global North. We want to break this silo and propose a set of guiding principles for a Just Transition with a particular focus on the Global South. These principles could serve as a shared value base for building new Just Transition alliances, covering a broad range of stakeholders, including civil society.
- Contesting the Colour of a Just Transition in South Africa (3 May 2018) | Jacklyn Cock
Reliant on heavy industry and coal-fuelled electricity, South Africa is one of the most carbon intense economies in the world. The Government has made commitments to reduce carbon emissions but is simultaneously promoting the expansion of coal. As resistance to coal is growing, a transformative approach to Just Transition has the potential to overcome differences that currently constrain unified action.
- (Re)claiming Just Transition (16 Apr 2018) | Dimitris Stevis
We have recently entered a period of deep contestation over the ownership and meaning of Just Transition. It is, therefore, important to think about it systematically so that we can, at the very least, differentiate initiatives that co-opt and dilute its promise from initiatives that contribute to a global politics of social and ecological emancipation.
- Who Deserves a Just Transition? (16 Apr 2018) | Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
If a productive, equitable outcome for all workers is the goal of a Just Transition, then we must look beyond the immediate impacts on fossil fuel workers and consider who else may be vulnerable. Failing to put equity considerations first can result in Just Transition policies that ignore the people most in need of support.
- Introducing the Just Transition(s) Online Forum (16 Apr 2018) | Edouard Morena
The Just Transition(s) Online Forum is an initiative of the Just Transition Research Collaborative that collects stories on the Just Transition to low-carbon development. Bringing together a range of experts working on different aspects of this transition, it showcases different case studies, narratives and approaches to the Just Transition and their implications for equity and social justice.
- Just Transitions as a Process with Communities, not for Communities (16 Apr 2018) | Rebecca Shelton
Societal transitions towards a new energy regime are underway in order to shift society back towards a more sustainable state of functioning. However, this pathway is not without trade-offs and equity challenges, related not only to the future distribution and production of energy from renewable energy sources, but also for communities that have supported the prior energy regime.
- A Just Transition Must Include Climate Change Adaptation (16 Apr 2018) | Romain Felli
Some effects of climate change — such as extreme weather, including droughts or flooding — are unavoidable, even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Adapting to these effects, rather than suffering them, is a necessity. Trade unions should be more aware of climate change adaptation, and should include it when they bargain with employers or the state.
- A Feminist Interrogation of Autonomy on the Internet (6 Apr 2018) | Jac sm Kee
In today’s increasingly digital, networked society, there is a pressing need for a feminist interrogation of the melding of new technology with personal, social, cultural, economic and political life, and the power structures that are reproduced and redefined in the process. In particular, this Think Piece points a critical lens at questions of autonomy on the internet and in an age of big data, asking how these technologies can empower women and queer persons to fully exercise and enjoy their rights, both on- and offline.
- Technology and Freedom of Expression: Opportunities and Threats through the Journalist’s Lens (26 Mar 2018) | Mariateresa Garrido Villareal
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the role that journalists play in ensuring fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression and access to information. SDG 16 in particular calls for the effective monitoring of crimes against journalists as an indicator to measure progress towards promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. Despite this, threats against journalists and media personnel are on the rise, and an accurate and comprehensive measurement system is still missing. Technology can help us to address this gap, and this Think Piece proposes a way forward.
- How IT Threatens Democracy (22 Mar 2018) | Kofi Annan
Not long ago, the internet and social media were heralded as creating new spaces for democracy and freedom of expression. Today, we are seeing increasing levels of state censorship and surveillance on the internet, and rather than serving as a new public forum, social media “echo chambers” exacerbate people’s natural biases and diminish opportunities for healthy debate. This Think Piece discusses how IT threatens democracy, and considers the road ahead to address these threats.
- Environmental Justice in the United States – What’s Missing? (21 Mar 2018) | Dunja Krause, Doreen Akiyo Yomoah
Long-standing configurations of power and privilege result in the poorest and most vulnerable people facing the greatest risks from climate change. Ethnic and racial minorities are overrepresented among these populations, and are disproportionately impacted by pollution and extreme weather events, both globally and within individual countries. But does environmental injustice affect poor communities because they are non-white, or does it affect non-white communities because they are poor? Focusing on examples from the United States, this Think Piece explores this interconnection and how it relates to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Accounting for the Most Vulnerable: Ensuring Big Data Works for Sustainable and Inclusive Development (15 Mar 2018) | Sabrina Rau and Sheldon Leader
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 and Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 3: Not Counting Those Left Behind? (13 Mar 2018) | Carmel Williams
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.
- Data Frameworks for a Right to Development (8 Mar 2018) | Anita Gurumurthy and Nandini Chami
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.
- Embracing Human Diversity: Policies and Enabling Factors for Accessible Technologies (6 Mar 2018) | Alejandro Moledo
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?
- Time for a Fourth Generation of Human Rights? (1 Mar 2018) | Changrok Soh, Daniel Connolly and Seunghyun Nam
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.
- Tech for Transformative Change? Looking beyond Disruption (27 Feb 2018) | Kelly Stetter
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.
- 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 (26 Jan 2018) | Eduardo Lopez Rosse
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.
- 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 (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 (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 (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? (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 (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? (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 (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.
- Organizing for Urban Resilience … and, Possibly, for Transformation: TDCs in Bharatpur, Nepal (21 Aug 2017) | Hanna A. Ruszczyk
This think piece explores the role of Tole Development Committees in Bharatpur, Nepal, and argues that they make important contributions to urban resilience. In the context of Nepal they are sources of innovative local-level partnerships and ways of approaching governance of eco-social issues. As such, they are taking steps towards greater social inclusion and, possibly, transformation.
- Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change: Taking Development Debates to a New Level (16 Aug 2017) | Dunja Krause
The concept of resilience, and “resilience thinking”, goes beyond understanding resilience as ability to withstand shocks. It has the potential to inspire much more than the palliative interventions to which it seems to be relegated by its latest use in global policy documents, from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to the New Urban Agenda. This think piece introduces the concepts of resilience and transformative change, highlights useful links between them, and outlines some of the policy implications of resilience thinking for transformative change.
- “Education for All”: A Hollow Pledge for International Migrant Children and Youth in the Global South? (15 Aug 2017) | Aida Lizbeth Becerra Garza
This think piece argues that the commitment and right to quality education for all will ring hollow without serious measures to overcome the access and inclusion barriers that face millions of school-age migrant children and youth. These access and inclusion challenges are particularly pressing in countries of the Global South, which are also striving to expand and improve their education systems.
- Building Momentum: Reflections on the 2017 High Level Political Forum (24 Jul 2017) | Paul Ladd
Just returned from the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York, the annual UN platform to review SDG implementation, UNRISD Director Paul Ladd reflects on talk and action, and the commitment needed from rich as well as from poor countries to keep the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Agricultural Transformation to Reduce Poverty and Hunger: An Innovative Approach (19 Jul 2017) | Massimiliano Terzini and Marco Knowles
Combining agricultural and social protection interventions to support small family farmers is an innovative approach to combating poverty and hunger that is gaining credibility in sub-Saharan Africa and making its way into international development discourse. This blog post explores evidence of how social protection is contributing to improving both social and economic outcomes for poor farmers.
- The Right Tool for the Job? Labour Activation Policies and Poverty Reduction in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (5 Jul 2017) | Esuna Dugarova
Despite progress made by countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in reducing poverty and unemployment during the 2000s thanks to economic growth and investments in social programmes, a recent economic downturn has reversed this trend. Innovations in policy and institutional arrangements have since been introduced in an attempt to keep poverty and unemployment down. This blog post looks at the nature of these recent innovations and examines their transformative potential for improving people’s livelihoods.
- The Uberization of Retirement: What does the Gig Economy Tell Us About Failing Pension Systems? (30 Jun 2017) | Saskia Sickinger
The gig economy and its innovative approach to employment is attracting increased attention in policy debates. Often assumed to be the purview of younger, tech-savvy generations, these new forms of work are however increasingly being adopted by seniors. This piece explores why more and more older people are moving into the gig economy and what this tells us about the state of traditional pension systems in a changing world.
- Development Financing On The Ropes? How the Current Pace of Financing is Putting the SDGs at Risk (21 Jun 2017) | Bodo Ellmers
The United Nations’ Financing for Development Forum held at the end of May in New York was notable for the first major admission in a formal outcome document that at the current pace, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be reached. The Forum—which deals with all aspects of finance and the financial architecture that regulates finance—intended to work towards reforms that would make finance work for development. This blog post looks at what progress was made, and where political blockages are still holding things up.
- Implicaciones socioambientales de la creación del espacio turístico en Guanacaste, Costa Rica (15 Jun 2017) | Ernest Cañada
Históricamente Costa Rica ha sido reconocida en el mundo, y con razón, por sus políticas ambientales, y en especial por su preocupación por un desarrollo turístico sostenible. Sin embargo, el fuerte desarrollo turístico-residencial que se produjo en el país desde principios de los años 2000, y la forma en la que se ha seguido creciendo tras la crisis financiera del 2008, ponen de manifiesto problemas y prácticas insostenibles que no se pueden ignorar.
- Reflexiones sobre la transformación social-ecológica en América Latina (1 Jun 2017) | Álvaro Cálix
Latinoamérica ha sido un espacio de experimentación de varios modelos de desarrollo. En su mayoría estos modelos han enfatizado en el crecimiento y la estabilidad de la economía, lo que ha llevado a desequilibrios ambientales y a exacerbaciones de diferentes tipos de desigualdad en el continente. Este blog propone tres orientaciones macro que, de ser tenidas en cuenta por gobiernos y hacedores de política, podrían construir un enfoque alternativo y transformador de desarrollo.
- "Disaster Citizenship" and Opportunities for Transformation: An Urgent Plea for Eco-Social Policies (18 May 2017) | Ayesha Siddiqi
Avalanches and earthquakes are not simply ‘natural' events but are fundamentally the result of local dynamics of power and privilege that leave people vulnerable in the face of dangerous climatic and geological hazards. Contemporary disaster risk reduction policies therefore need to reimagine the very political system within which such disasters occur, instead of focusing on leaner, meaner technical interventions. This blog posts considers how an eco-social approach to disaster resilience can help deliver transformative outcomes in the long term.
- Facing the Future: Institutions and Work in the 21st Century (8 May 2017) | Kelly Stetter
The rapid advance of digital technologies has left an undeniable mark on modern labour markets and is almost certain to continue to reshape the world of work in the future. How we address the challenges posed by this digital transformation depends on how we come to understand its impacts, and how well we are able to adapt our social policies and institutions to the new reality of work in the 21st century.
- From the Concrete Wall to the Glass Ceiling to the Labyrinth: Gendering Leadership for Transformative Change (28 Mar 2017) | Luisa Lupo
Figures suggest that the gender gap in education has been reversed in almost all developed countries as well as many developing countries, and it could be globally reduced to parity within the next 10 years on current trends. Yet, women lag behind men when it comes to economic opportunities and political representation, particularly in leadership positions. This blog explores the transformative potential of policies with a gender-based approach to leadership.
- International Women’s Day 2017: How Bold is Bold? (8 Mar 2017) | Paul Ladd
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time to recognize the tremendous progress made in the last century on women’s rights. But in all fields, and in all parts of the world, women and girls still face daily discrimination, stereotypes, verbal abuse and often violence. UNRISD Director Paul Ladd reflects on how to boldly go forward in today's context and political climate.
- The Good, the Bad and the Innovative: Understanding the Darker Side of Innovation for Development (2 Mar 2017) | Roman Twerenbold
New ideas and policies are needed to tackle global challenges, and innovation will be key to implementing the 2030 Agenda. But innovation implies disruption -- and actual or even potential upheaval in the status quo can generate resistance. Innovators need to understand the potential and perceived negative impacts of innovation, and work to overcome the sources of resistance to change.
- Africa’s Energy Transformation: Rewriting the Global Rules (1 Dec 2016) | Caroline Kende-Robb
Africa is undergoing a remarkable energy transformation. But African governments and their international partners have to accelerate that transformation if we are to achieve our collective ambitions. Access to clean modern energy, especially in Africa, where 620 million people have no electricity, is critical to the success of global efforts to tackle poverty and achieve the SDGs.
- Transformation for Better or for Worse? The Evidence from South East Europe (24 Nov 2016) | Marija Stambolieva
The UNRISD Flagship report 2016 sees transformational change as a set of policies and structures that “expand rights, increase equality and reduce power asymmetries, and support sustainable and equitable structural change of the economy”. For scholars of post-socialist transformation, however, the notion of “transformation” is typically associated with structural changes that generated social inequalities and boosted power asymmetries in societies which were previously relatively equal but perceived as inefficient. This blog post discusses the social policy pitfalls of transitions after political and economic crises.
- The Ethic of Care. Why Care Policies Need to Recognize the Interdependence of Us All (17 Nov 2016) | Ruth Evans
Care is finally receiving more of the attention it deserves in international development policy. But rather than using the language of 'burden' and 'dependency', care needs to be re-framed to recognize the vulnerability and interdependence of us all. This blog explores a a more holistic understanding of the complexity of caring relations in line with an ethic of care and human rights perspective that recognizes and re-values care.
- Emprendimientos económicos solidarios y empoderamiento: el papel de las redes locales en el territorio (10 Nov 2016) | Leandro Morais
En los últimos años la Economía Social y Solidaria (ESS) ha adquirido cada vez mayor visibilidad económica, social y política. Sin embargo, además de estos avances, en la vida cotidiana de los emprendimientos económicos solidarios hay muchas fragilidades enmarcadas por factores internos y externos. Muchos de estos factores podrían ser abordados y enfrentados a partir de la formación de redes de emprendimientos en el territorio.
- The Just Transition: Making Sure a Low-Carbon Economy Leaves No One Behind (2 Nov 2016) | Edouard Morena
Climate change is without doubt the most urgent and critical issue of our times. Given the scale of the problem and its consequences—which are already being felt, especially by the world’s most vulnerable populations—the climate challenge requires us to adopt a holistic approach and to rethink our growth and development models. This blog post discusses the need for not just a green but also a just transition for workers and their communities.
- Blind Spots in Agenda 2030: What Happened to Improving Global Social Governance? (27 Oct 2016) | Bob Deacon
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would seem to have ushered in a new era of global governance, but will the status quo be sufficient to fulfil the full potential of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? This blog expands on the important issue of what improvements in global social governance will be needed to achieve everything that is set out in the SDGs, and some things which aren’t there but should be.
- Transformation and the Tax Collector. How to Make Tax Reform Work for Sustainable Development (20 Oct 2016) | Katja Hujo
Mobilizing sufficient financial resources to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is one of the key challenges countries and the international community face in the run-up to 2030. But the challenge is not only to increase the quantity of revenues. The quality of financing policies also needs improvement. This blog discusses how mobilizing domestic resources can impact positively on production and employment, redistribution, social inclusion and gender equality, as well as sustainable use of natural resources.
- Sustaining Government Support for Social and Solidarity Economy (20 Oct 2016) | Peter Utting
Alternations of political parties in power and the rise and fall of political leaders raises the intriguing question of what happens when a government that has fostered an enabling environment for social and solidarity economy (SSE) is replaced by another headed by a party or leaders with less supportive inclinations. The institutionalization or sustainability of a pro–SSE policy environment is one of the major challenges confronting the development and consolidation of this form of economy.
- Marking International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 Oct 2016) | Paul Ladd
The launch today of UNRISD’s new Flagship report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, coincides with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In this post Paul Ladd asks whether, in moving to the expansive 2030 Agenda that has added climate change, environmental degradation, inequalities, decent work, urbanization and better governance to the development ‘to-do’ list, we have lost the focus on poverty.
- Prosperity, People or Planet? Eco-Social Priorities for Sustainable Development (13 Oct 2016) | Pascal van Griethuysen
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development constitutes a major shift in the way development is addressed in international governance, reconnecting it with the imperative to shift towards sustainable development. This blog argues that this means re-thinking our priorities and changing the hierarchy which puts economic choices ahead of sustainable and just social and ecological outcomes.
- When Can Public Policy Work for SSE? (5 Oct 2016) | Peter Utting
An increasing number of governments are adopting policies and programmes that aim to support different types of SSE organizations and enterprises. This potentially bodes well for implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But whether or not such initiatives are effective is an open question. The state-SSE relationship is fraught with tensions and contradictions, which under certain conditions may be mitigated. This blog post explores how.
- Whose Emissions, Whose Responsibility? Eco-social Policies for Climate Justice (29 Sep 2016) | Dunja Krause
Just 90 companies are responsible for 63% of global industrial CO2 and methane emissions between 1751 and 2010, according to a pioneering 2014 study on so-called “climate majors” conducted by climate accountability researcher Richard Heede.The ensuing debate has revealed much about the perceived emissions responsibilities of actors beyond the nation state, but also a crucial blind spot.
- Social Policy is a Must for Integrated Sustainable Development (20 Sep 2016) | Ilcheong Yi
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is by now well-known as a set of 17 Goals and 169 Targets, but it is noticeably silent on how to achieve them. This blog post identifies social policy as a crucial building block in the development community's efforts to create an integrated strategy for sustainable development.
- Up and Down the Political Agenda: Pathways to Transformative Care Policies (2 Aug 2016) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
What do preschool childcare, safe water and paternity leave have in common? All of them can contribute to achieving Target 5.4 in the SDGs on unpaid care. Find out where UNRISD research has discovered transformative care policies and effective strategies for getting these policies put into place.
- Inequality and the SDGs: Not Only a Developing Country’s Burden (24 Mar 2016) | Kelly Stetter
On March 30 in New York, ECOSOC will host a Special Meeting on Inequality, bringing together high-level representatives from Member States, the UN system, academia and civil society to discuss unequal distribution of wealth, its implications for the Sustainable Development Agenda and what can be done about it. However, despite SDG 10’s clear objective of reducing inequality within and among countries everywhere, too much of the focus on inequality centres on developing countries, ignoring serious economic, social and cultural divides in many of the world’s advanced nations, which contribute to rising global inequality levels.
- Are the Sustainable Development Goals Good News for Women? (7 Mar 2016) | Valeria Esquivel, Caroline Sweetman
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in September 2015, marked a historic moment for development—and for feminism, according a range of prominent women's rights activists and advocates involved in the creation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. What needs to be done to ensure that SDGs deliver on their promise for people living in poverty and for women in particular? Valeria Esquivel and Caroline Sweetman introduce some of the analysis in the latest issue of the Gender & Development journal.
- Making Women’s Rights a Reality in Africa (2 Feb 2016) | Paola Cagna
Over the last 10 days, men and women leaders came together at the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa to discuss, among other topics, how African countries can realize human rights, especially women’s rights. Fortunately, there is no lack of ideas, and evidence supporting those ideas, on how to make women’s rights a reality in Africa and elsewhere. This blog suggests four ideas just for a start.
- WTO: Missing in Action? (22 Jan 2016) | Sophia Murphy
UNRISD is committed to ensuring that social development concerns and objectives remain prominent in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This requires balancing social, environmental and economic goals so that the effects of change in one domain do not undermine progress in another. Many contend that the existing multilateral architecture is not yet sufficiently coherent for governments to realize their sustainable development objectives. The following commentary considers the outcomes of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi in December 2015. It offers a critical look at those outcomes given governments’ parallel commitments to the realization of a complex and interdependent set of Sustainable Development Goals, and to limiting the causes while addressing the consequences of climate change.
- Decisions for Davos (19 Jan 2016) | Paul Ladd
From today, over 2,500 people will descend on Davos for the World Economic Forum. Most will be leaders from business, joined also by representatives from governments, international organizations and civil society. In this blog, read three simple suggestions for how business leaders can commit to the SDGs and not only help to make the world better for people now, but also more resilient to respond to future shocks—whether these are driven by technology or not.
- Why the SDGs need Institutional Political Economy for Inclusive, Resilient Cities (7 Jan 2016) | Franklin Obeng-Odoom
Research and policy aiming to meet SDG11 and make "cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" will have to centre on planet, people, and places rather than property and profit for the few and poverty and privation for the many, if they are to reflect the spirit of the SDGs and flesh out the relatively sparse research on uneven urban and regional development. It is this gap that this think piece seeks to fill by offering a suitable framework for understanding cities.
- The Paris Agreement (Part II): The First Step on the Long Road Ahead (18 Dec 2015) | Dunja Krause
Last weekend, the world witnessed a historic success in international diplomacy. Years of international negotiations on a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol culminated in the adoption of a universal climate agreement at COP21 in Paris. Tireless efforts of a diverse range of stakeholders, including member states, the UNFCCC Secretariat, civil society and scientists seem to have finally exorcized the ghost of Copenhagen. This is the second of two think pieces on COP 21 by Dunja Krause.
- Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Taking Stock of Progress on Gender Equality since the Beijing Platform for Action (26 Nov 2015) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action marked an important moment for gender equality. However, in the decades since then the achievements are under threat or may even be rolled back. The concluding piece in the UNRISD Think Piece Series “Let’s Talk about Women’s Rights: 20 Years after the Beijing Platform for Action” brings together some of the main strands of argument covered by 16 feminist thinkers reflecting on the advancements and challenges in gender equality since 1995. Although there have been some successes—the creation and improvement of legal frameworks for the defence of women’s rights, and progress in efforts to combat violence against women—there are still impediments: rigid gender stereotypes in society and institutions, a lack of funding for activism, and conservative forces coupled with a lack of political will to work for further progress. The need to realize women’s rights is now more urgent than ever.
- The Paris Agreement (Part I): Landmark or COP-out? (26 Nov 2015) | Dunja Krause
As 2015 draws to an end, the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP21 in short, marks the concluding milestone in a series of potentially game-changing international agreements aimed at transforming our world towards sustainability. This think piece considers whether the Paris document will be a landmark agreement limiting global warming, or if it will remain simply one small step in an extremely technical and painfully slow negotiation process.
- Making the SDGs Transformational: UNRISD and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (17 Nov 2015) | Paul Ladd
I started as the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in mid-October. I’ve spent most of my first four weeks in meetings—with government representatives in Geneva, with UN colleagues, and with the UNRISD team. I’ve been grateful for the warmth with which I’ve been welcomed, and the professionalism and commitment of every single member of staff. In all of these discussions the main questions at the back of my mind have been: What does it mean to work on ‘social development’ at this particular point in history; and what is the best contribution that UNRISD can make?
- Delivering Social Protection Systems for All: Why Taxes Matter (5 Oct 2015) | Francesca Bastagli
Social protection and taxation feature prominently as key policy instruments available to governments in the pursuit of development goals in both the Financing for Development (FFD) Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This renewed interest in social protection and tax presents a precious opportunity to promote the closer consideration of the links between the two and the ways in which they operate jointly to shape development outcomes.
- The Invisible Player: Social and Solidarity Finance for Financing for Development (29 Sep 2015) | Marie-Adélaïde Matheï
The debates at the 2015 International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa focused on macro gaps in development funding, and on the private sector as a provider of solutions. But this approach overlooked two fundamental players: social and solidarity economy (SSE) and social and solidarity finance (SSF). This think piece suggests that involving users in the management of financial resources and targeting funds towards sustainable activities leads the way to more sustainable finance conducive to socially sustainable development.
- Destination: Socially Sustainable Development. Will Addis Lead the Way? (25 Sep 2015) | Katja Hujo
In this concluding think piece of the Road to Addis and Beyond Series, UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo brings together some of the main strands of argument covered by contributors and situates them in relation to UNRISD research, highlighting the importance of the politics of tax reform over and above the technicalities of reform blueprints. The piece concludes by outlining promising routes to more and better finance at the national level as well as blind spots to be aware of, and provides a concise, compelling view of what direction the road beyond Addis should take if we are to arrive at the destination set out in the sustainable development agenda for people, planet and prosperity.
- Why the Addis Debt Chapter Falls Short (15 Sep 2015) | Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
This think piece discusses the shortcomings of the debt chapter of the outcome document negotiated at the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015. While recognizing that a commitment to uphold human rights was made, the author argues that human rights should be at the core of development financing, guiding both its means and goals, so that funds are spent without unfairly sacrificing anybody´s rights, particularly those of the most vulnerable groups. The author suggests that it is only by adopting a human-rights oriented framework to development financing, including among others, efforts aimed at combating illicit financial flows and those aimed at regaining debt sustainability for countries required to undertake economic adjustment programmes, that the sustainable development goals can be achieved by 2030.
- Revenue Mobilization for Gender Equity (11 Sep 2015) | Caren Grown and Sudarshan Gooptu
One factor contributing to slow progress in closing gender gaps is insufficient resources to implement promising policy initiatives. Governments mobilize resources for gender equality from multiple sources, including taxes, overseas development assistance (ODA) and through public-private partnerships. This think piece reviews progress in mobilizing revenue for gender equality from these various sources and provides some overarching suggestions for mobilizing more resources and making existing ones more gender equitable.
- Shifting Responsibilities without Changing the Balance of Power: What Chance of Equality with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda? (11 Sep 2015) | Nicole Bidegain Ponte, Marina Durano and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez
The global development financing framework has shifted in emphasis since the 2002 Monterrey Consensus in three ways. First, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third Conference on Financing for Development moves away from a more balanced sharing of responsibilities between developed and developing countries in the international financial architecture. Second, the document reflects a clear endorsement of the private sector as a privileged development actor. Third, the AAAA takes an instrumentalist view of women’s human rights. As a result, the Conference failed to remove global obstacles to development and to provide the structural conditions and means to move toward sustainable and equitable development patterns and the full realization of human rights, particularly women’s rights. However, the AAAA offers possibilities for continued engagement through the establishment of an FfD follow-up mechanism as a space to redefine the balance of power and negotiate proposals to overcome the regressive trends and reshape the agenda.
- Beyond Addis: How Can We Finance the SDGs? (8 Sep 2015) | Matthew Martin
This contribution examines what the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which took place in Addis Ababa in July 2015, means for financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what we need to do next to ensure they are fully financed. It emphasizes the need to double tax revenues, double aid, provide US$500 billion a year of innovative finance, and establish strong debt crisis prevention and resolution mechanisms. It then discusses how each of these could be achieved. Finally it quantifies the public spending needs for the SDGs, emphasizing the need for country leadership, anti-inequality focus, and transparency and accountability, for strong monitoring of post-2015 means of implementation in terms of inputs (spending, aid, tax), and for all sides to redouble their efforts to mobilize the money.
- Fair Compensation and other Prerequisites to Mining for Development (31 Aug 2015) | Cielo Magno
This piece challenges conventional approaches to a country’s economic development by suggesting a departure from the mainstream “mining for development” approach. It suggests that mining ventures should follow a set of preconditions that take into account other significant factors such as fair taxing schemes that benefit the state, clear transparency and accountability mechanisms, and an expanded monitoring scheme that covers environmental and social impacts of extractive activities.
- Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference: A Missed Opportunity to Discuss the Role of International Public Finance Post-2015 (24 Aug 2015) | Gail Hurley
The Addis Ababa Financing for Development conference has concluded with an agreement that has both its supporters and its critics. In the run-up to Addis, discussions around international tax cooperation and how to leverage more private finance for development took centre stage. Less in evidence, however, was a frank discussion around how we need to use international public finance in the future; the international community still tends to think of this finance as ‘aid’ when in reality it will have a far larger and more complex role in supporting the realization of the new sustainable development agenda.
- Financing Development: Tangible Tools to give Meaning to Fine Words (19 Aug 2015) | Eddie Rich
How can we move from fine words spoken at global conferences to actual results? For resource-rich countries, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process can provide a tangible set of policy actions that countries can take to help maximise the value of their extractive resources. These actions can contribute to strengthening government tax collection systems, making countries more attractive investment prospects, and generating informed public debate. Experiences in EITI countries show that these are the kinds of good practices that forthcoming global conferences should catalyse to help countries use their resources to finance development.
- An Orphaned Tax Agenda? Sacrificing Good Governance and Tax Justice in the Addis Ababa Outcome (18 Aug 2015) | Manuel Montes
At the Financing for Development Conference in Addis in July 2015, developed countries blocked a proposal to establish an intergovernmental body within the United Nations on international cooperation in tax matters. There is a fundamental difference between North (where international companies are mostly headquartered) and South (whose interest lies in obtaining a fair share of the tax revenues arising from the operations of international companies in its territory). This divide can be better bridged in work by an intergovernmental body in the UN. The Addis Ababa outcome however sacrifices good governance and tax justice.
- Investing in the SDGs: Whose Business? (18 Aug 2015) | Aldo Caliari
The role of foreign investment in financing development has been a matter of considerable debate in the negotiations leading up to all Financing for Development (FFD) conferences. But deliberations towards the one which took place in Addis Ababa in July 2015 have seen a definite tendency to propose a greater reliance on foreign investment in financing development. It will be important to watch how the Addis Ababa conference frames the regulatory role of the state, and the practices of using aid as an incentive to attract private sector funding, and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and institutional investors’ role in closing the infrastructure finance gap. With the transnational corporate sector more involved than ever in defining policies around sustainable development, winning the struggle for the narrative around the contribution of private capital flows to development is a crucial prize at stake in the Financing for Development negotiations in Addis Ababa and beyond.
- Promoting Tax Bargains in Uganda and Beyond: The Importance of Civil Society and Parliamentarians (20 Jul 2015) | Jalia Kangave
While developing countries have acknowledged the importance of domestic resource mobilization in development, in practice, not enough attention is being paid to the importance of tax bargains. Attempting to increase tax-to-GDP ratios without promoting negotiations between the taxing authorities and those being taxed is bound to undermine sustainable tax collection and promote poor governance. Successful domestic resource mobilization requires that (1) tax bargains are made more open; (2) civil society organizations (CSOs) and parliamentarians are given more political space in the bargaining processes; (3) systems are put in place to ensure the accountability of CSOs and parliamentarians; (4) governments introduce or reintroduce personal taxes at the local government level (such as the graduated tax – a direct tax that mostly affected poor and vulnerable households – which Uganda abolished in 2005) and (5) indirect taxes are made more visible.
- Revenue Bargains Key to Financing Africa’s Development (16 Jul 2015) | Yusuf Bangura
Africa has enjoyed a growth momentum since 2000 after the wasted years of the 1980s and much of the 1990s. However, eradicating poverty will require huge resources, which existing funding strategies will be unable to generate. Global commodity prices have fallen sharply; capacity to mobilize domestic revenues is waning; and aid has been insufficient in plugging funding gaps. Revenue bargains in which states extract revenues from citizens in exchange for investments that impact positively on well-being may be key to financing Africa’s development. They can substantially increase revenues, nurture effective state-citizen relations, force companies to pay correct taxes, push fragmented systems of service provision in the direction of universalism, improve policy space and make aid more effective.
- International Corporate Tax Reform is Critical to Financing Sustainable Development (6 Jul 2015) | Erika Dayle Siu
The Third International Conference on Financing for Development presents an historic opportunity to make the commitments necessary to eradicate extreme poverty and reset the development trajectory on a sustainable path. While financing for the post-2015 development agenda must come from many sources, increasing tax revenue will be critical. Although capacity building efforts in developing country tax administrations have been partially successful in the past decade, much more can be done to reform the outdated international tax rules. This think piece argues tax reform is essential to mobilizing the resources required to achieve the SDGs, and surveys current reform efforts.
- The CEDAW Committee 20 Years after Beijing: Progress in the Defence of Women’s Rights and Pending Challenges (3 Jul 2015) | Gladys Acosta Vargas
CEDAW inspired the Beijing Platform for Action. The combination of CEDAW as a binding instrument and the political agreement made in Beijing together created better conditions for confronting gender-based discrimination. CEDAW considers justice a key element for the protection of human rights. It is now essential to press for compliance with the standards for access to justice. A key objective for coming decades is to build a vision for improving women’s access to justice in all spheres of social life. The UN can be a determining factor at the national, regional and international levels, but only if all of its parts are engaged in common dialogue with each other, with State Parties, and together with social movements and civil society. The CEDAW Committee has played a leading role in educating the international community about the grave consequences of all forms of gender-based discrimination.
- Fair Pensions in an Ageing World (3 Jul 2015) | Manfred Nitsch
Longevity without misery has always been mankind`s dream. Modern technology and political will can make that dream come true. Fair pensions for everybody are possible and affordable, when compulsory contributions from wages and salaries are topped-up or complemented with tax financing. No formal earmarking is recommended, but an explicit political consensus on linking pension and tax reforms can help for acceptance on both fronts. Pension systems follow a special financial and administrative logic. They are inherently different from the financial sector, because they rely on compulsory contributions and they cover most, if not the whole of a country`s population; they are different from non-financial business, because it is national legislation which governs their structure and their benefits rather than the fate of the businesses or their pension funds, as is the case with most company pensions; finally, they are markedly different from finance ministries which take tax money without any specific counter-claim. Pension insurance also differs from social assistance schemes, which are means-tested and care for the needy. Distinct from finance ministries and the financial sector, their governance structure often includes national employers, pensioners’ associations and trade unions. Increased labour migration flows make the international mutual recognition and portability of pension rights an urgent issue for global UN conventions, ILO standard setting, and bi- or multilateral treaties.
- A Global Fund for Social Protection Floors: Eight Good Reasons Why It can Easily be Done (2 Jul 2015) | Michael Cichon
We know that social protection is the most direct tool we have to combat poverty and inequality and that implementation can begin when countries are at a relatively early stage of development. However, there are today a few countries which need the solidarity of others to close the social protection gap. This think piece puts forward 8 good reasons why a global fund for social protection is needed and can easily be initiated.
- The New Cold War on Women’s Rights? (22 Jun 2015) | Anne Marie Goetz
The United Nations is a crucial arena in which to set universal standards on women’s rights. But in recent meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women an increasingly coordinated misogynist backlash has been building unconventional alliances that transcend familiar geopolitical divisions and draw on the resources of religious organizations. States that have in the past been seen as defenders of women’s rights are losing ground in negotiations. There is a growing reluctance to expend political capital in defense of what has been constructed and maligned as a western social preoccupation. Transnational feminist networks have been deprived of opportunities to revive their networks and effectiveness in the absence of the expected fifth world conference on women this year. Feminist movements in emerging economies now have a crucial role to play in demonstrating that feminism is not limited to the West, and in influencing their national foreign policy establishments to defend women’s rights in multilateral agreements.
- Personal Reflections on My Time at UNRISD (16 Jun 2015) | Sarah Cook
Sarah Cook looks back at her time as Director of UNRISD and reflects on almost six remarkable and challenging years. "Knowledge generation is not only about producing evidence of good practices, but may also challenge, critique, provide alternatives and shift paradigms."
- Let’s Walk Our Talk: Making Concrete Commitments on Financing the Sustainable Development Agenda (16 Jun 2015) | Inge Kaul, Donald Blondin
Judging by the current draft outcome document, the Third Financing for Development (FfD) Conference is likely to achieve just one thing: a long list of declarations of intent, statements on what one might wish to consider or what should ideally be done—but few concrete commitments on who will deliver what means of implementation (MOI) and by when. If the FfD Conference is to produce more than just a non-committal piece of paper, it must meet a twofold challenge. It must (1) close the ‘specificity gap’ by moving from declarations of intent to concrete, actionable MOI commitments; and (2) close the ‘ambition gap’ by identifying the MOI issues that are of strategic relevance to the successful implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda.
- Bridging the Gap: Sovereign Wealth Funds and Financing for Development (16 Jun 2015) | Sven Behrendt
Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), government-owned investment vehicles, have become substantial players in the global financial architecture. As such, they are considered a potential source of financing for sustainable development. For the time being, however, sustainable development is not a theme that is represented prominently, if at all, in SWFs’ investment policies. That can only change if the sustainable development agenda’s cause is framed in the policy context in which SWFs operate. Three possible options come to mind: The asset owners of SWFs, that is governments, benefit from including sustainable development as an investment theme in SWFs’ investment mandates. Sustainable development could be positioned as an instrument to reduce risks to investments in less-developed jurisdictions. Sustainable development-informed investments could be tailored to meet SWFs’ financial performance objectives.
- Eliminating Sex Discrimination at Work: Recent Court Decisions since Beijing+20 (26 May 2015) | Jane Hodges
A fresh way of assessing outcomes of Section F. of the Beijing Platform for Action on Women and the economy is to track how national judicial systems are enforcing the new generation of labour laws, not only labour courts and employment tribunals but also the highest domestic judicial authorities in the form of Supreme or Constitutional Courts. This think piece asks: How have courts reacted to the profound changes of the past years concerning sex discrimination at work? Are complaints being lodged relating to one particular area of employment discrimination law? Have courts received challenges to austerity programmes—a marked characteristic of state responses to the financial and economic crisis of the late 2000s—and have their decisions strengthened or weakened worker rights to gender equality? Are international labour standards (ILS) informing judges as they assess the facts and evidence within domestic legal frameworks? And if so, which ILS influence the final outcome? What can be done to improve matters in the future?
- 20 Years of Shamefully Scarce Funding for Feminists and Women’s Rights Movements (13 May 2015) | Lydia Alpízar Durán
For decades, the women’s rights movement and women’s rights organizations have been severely underfunded. AWID research in 2010 revealed that the median budget for 740 women’s organizations all over the globe was a miserly US$20,000. In the same year, as a point of reference, the income for Save the Children International and World Vision International was US$1.442 billion and US$2.611 billion respectively. This is in spite of recent research which proves what feminists and activists have known for a long time—that women’s movements have been the key drivers defending women’s human rights and gender justice worldwide. As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference this year, creates the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and holds the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, it is critical to remember that real systemic impact for women’s rights needs significant resources.
- Twenty Years after Beijing: Time to Re-evaluate Policy Engagements with the State? (7 May 2015) | Kalyani Menon-Sen
Two decades after Beijing, the Indian balance sheet on feminist efforts at policy influencing is blotched with red. Gains on the social policy front have more often than not been neutralized by economic policies. Past advances are being rolled back as the government moves to insulate policy-making from public scrutiny. Is it time for feminists to walk away from the policy table and join the struggles and movements that are challenging neoliberalism on the streets?
- Collective empowerment? Producer cooperatives versus women’s groups in Kenyan ethical trade (29 Apr 2015) | Kiah Smith
Part of the rationale behind fair and ethical trade is to improve the economic empowerment of smallholder farmers in the South, but also contribute to environmental sustainability, more equitable trading and decision-making relationships, and often, gender equality. However, the extent to which women’s participation in particular schemes contributes to their empowerment is highly variable. This think piece considers in particular the extent to which women’s empowerment is enhanced or reduced through their participation in ethical and fair trade decision-making structures, such as producer cooperatives, as well as other collective strategies, such as women’s groups.
- Low Oil Prices and New Departures in Saudi Arabian Social Policy: A Promising Sign for Development? (28 Apr 2015) | Benedict Craven
As a major oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has been facing an economic downturn since petroleum prices began to drop in 2014. Yet social programmes have managed to remain largely unaffected, benefiting from a combination of political necessity and improved fiscal policy. If this paradigm is maintained, it could bode well for development in the kingdom.
- Gender Praxis in Emergencies: 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Anu Pillay
This think piece offers a brief scan of the humanitarian response environment since the Beijing conference of 1995, within which gender practitioners have been striving to integrate gender concerns. It succinctly reviews the background against which gender mainstreaming entered the humanitarian sector, bringing with it the promise to integrate and mainstream gender concerns into the response to emergencies created by armed conflict or natural disasters. However, looking back on the past 20 years, it shows how gender mainstreaming has emerged as a strategy which is sometimes practiced in a way that is counter-productive to its goal of transforming gender inequality. It takes a look at the way that gender transformative issues of voice, choice, safety and accountability seem to be stuck in the humanitarian-development divide and how resilience is being viewed as the ‘new kid on the block’ which will bridge that divide. The author asks whether gender praxis, as the embodiment of a commitment to human well-being, could be employed to interrogate the relationship between the vision of gender equality and the strategy for its achievement, and whether gender could be flagged as the unifying factor that already straddles the humanitarian-development divide?
- Ending Violence Against Women: Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Marai Larasi
The Beijing Platform for Action called on it signatories to take action in twelve critical areas of concern, including violence against women (VAW). In the 20 years since, we have seen shifts in how the issue is understood, described and addressed. As in other aspects of work around equality for women and girls, we have made progress and we have also experienced setbacks; and in many ways, the feminist thinking that was so critical to the Beijing process has been both mainstreamed and marginalized. While the landscape has changed in various ways, violence against women, and against girls, has remained both pervasive and persistent. This paper offers a brief reflection on where we are today with respect to the commitments made in 1995, acknowledging that while there have been advances, we have yet to come close to achieving the vision that was so clearly articulated in Beijing.
- How Feminist Activism Can Make States More Accountable for Women’s Rights (31 Mar 2015) | Andrea Cornwall, Jenny Edwards
Despite the gains made on women’s rights since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, we still have a long way to go in terms of enjoying a gender-equal world. We also need to be vigilant against sliding back on progress already made. This article recognizes the crucial role women’s organizing plays in holding states to account on obligations made under international agreements. Drawing on examples from Brazil and Egypt from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme, the article demonstrates the contribution of women’s organizing to: mobilizing around injustice, harnessing the power of ratified agreements to bring about change in legislation, working on the design of progressive laws, and then ensuring the laws are effectively implemented. In order to be truly successful, however, women’s organizing needs to be matched by responsive, effective government. It is only when citizen voice works in unison with the state that commitments made on women’s rights can be comprehensively achieved.
- Achievements and Challenges in Gender Equality in International Human Rights Law: The Last Twenty Years (24 Mar 2015) | Fareda Banda
20 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing in 1995, what has changed for women in the human rights field? There have been many changes in law and policy post-Beijing. Human rights treaty bodies including the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), have reinforced the message that states have an obligation to both pass laws and ensure compliance. Furthermore, they have noted that states have duties to challenge negative attitudes towards women which are based on gender stereotyping. International and regional courts have taken a more gender-sensitive approach in addressing gender stereotypes especially with respect to violence against women. Given the controversy surrounding the conceptualization of the term gender at the 1995 conference, the paper concludes by arguing for a more comprehensive reading of the term that embraces gender identity and sexual orientation.
- 20 Years of Mobilization: The Role of Young Feminists (16 Mar 2015) | Ruby Johnson
Young women and girls continue to experience rights violations in their daily lives such as sexual- and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, discrimination and limited access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Approaching Beijing+20, we arrive at an important juncture, a moment to reflect on achievements to date and challenges ahead. Operating in volatile and resource-constrained environments, young feminists are organizing collectively, facing backlash and barriers within their communities, societies and their own movements. The mobilization, the courage and the experience of this generation have an important role to play in redefining a just development and human rights agenda ahead. Coming from diverse movements and contexts, and using art, technology and sport as key tactics in their work, their contributions can make development more responsive, grounded and sustainable. Let us collectively re-imagine how we work together across generations and movements, and leverage both our critical mass and the technology available to hold all actors accountable.
- Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: A View from Switzerland (9 Mar 2015) | Flurina Derungs, Ursula Keller
Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest countries and most modern economies, in Switzerland gender equality remains an elusive challenge. Paid maternity leave, legal abortion and an increase in women’s educational attainment are some of the milestones achieved since 1995. But while legal gender equality may be nearly achieved, much remains to be done to achieve gender equality in practice. Rigid gender stereotypes, wage discrimination, women’s heavy care burden, segregation in the workplace, violence against women, under-representation of women in political and economic decision making, and structural obstacles to reconciling family duties with employment still stand in the way of gender equality.
- Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: An African Perspective (2 Mar 2015) | Faiza Jama Mohamed
Twenty years have passed since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), a comprehensive roadmap to advance women's rights and achieve gender equality. This piece will reflect upon achievements made but also persisting challenges to the successful implementation of the BPfA within the African context, ahead of the review process in March 2015. Discussed in detail are the issues of sexual violence, women's political participation, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), education and maternal health. Additionally, this piece discusses the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and successful regional strategies pursued by the Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition that have helped to push for particular achievements pertaining to women's rights, especially at the African Union level.
- Why Does the Security Council Have Few Teeth? A Reflection on Women and Armed Conflict 20 years after Beijing 1995 (2 Mar 2015) | Donna Pankhurst
The Beijing Declaration was key to establishing a series of momentous UN Security Council Resolutions on women in wartime, including the declaration of rape as a war crime. Much money and effort has gone into implementing elements of the Resolutions but women still tend to remain marginalised, if not completely excluded from peace talks and levels of violence, particularly sexual violence, still remain very high in some contemporary wars. I suggest that this is not surprising because attention has not been focused in the right place. Until we understand why some (not all) men choose to commit such violent acts against women, during and after wars, we are unlikely to curb or prevent this violence. Until there is a serious commitment to working alongside local women in genuine partnership during peace-keeping and peace-building endeavours, the UN Security Council Resolutions are likely to remain fundamentally flawed.
- Gender Norms: Are they the Enemy of Women’s Rights? (2 Mar 2015) | Raewyn Connell, Rebecca Pearse
Gender norms do not float freely; nor are they static. Gender norms are part of the weave of social life, embedded in institutions as well as individual lives. Change in gender norms can come from many sources. Norms of gender inequality have proved difficult to shift. But norms of gender equality also exist; and social research shows that new possibilities for change open up all the time.
- Women, War and Peace in Africa: A Reflection on the Past 20 Years (2 Mar 2015) | Meredeth Turshen
This contribution takes the analysis of wartime violence against women out of an individualized context and puts it into the realm of war economies, which are highly criminalized and globalized. Yes, wartime rape was long a neglected topic deserving of our attention. But the protracted wars on the African continent have created a “durable disorder”, wrenching women, children and men from their everyday productive activities, rites and celebrations and pitching them into states of violent turmoil, confused movement, precarious existence and deep grief unrelieved by the normal symbols of mourning. These wars, which include lengthy and intermittent civil strife, ethnic and communal violence, disruptive political discord, internal disturbances, states of emergency and suppression of mass uprisings, occur under global neoliberal regimes in an environment of the so-called war on terror. Their impact on women’s security deserves an expanded feminist analysis that reaches beyond interpersonal violence to encompass the political economy of the “new wars”.
- The ‘Feminization of Poverty’: A Reflection 20 Years After Beijing (2 Mar 2015) | Sylvia Chant
This think piece interrogates the conceptual and empirical currency of a ‘feminization of poverty’ which effectively assumed the status of ‘global orthodoxy’ at the Fourth Women’s World Conference in Beijing in 1995, when it was proclaimed that 70% of the world’s poor were women, and that this figure was rising. Although evidence to substantiate these assertions remains wanting, the ‘feminization of poverty’ meme has been remarkably enduring. Aside from a lack of robust data which points to increased poverty among women relative to men in the past twenty years, I contend that there are problems with the implicit focus on income poverty to the exclusion of other privations, and with the more explicit aligning of the ‘feminization of poverty’ with the ‘feminization’ of household headship. This article offers thoughts on how to enrich the ‘feminization of poverty’ construct with attention to evidence for a ‘feminization of responsibility and/or obligation’. It also supports the wider range of gender targets and indicators anticipated for the post-2015 agenda as a basis for addressing the ‘feminization of poverty’, broadly defined.
- All that glitters...why growth and development aren't the same thing (3 Dec 2014) | Esuna Dugarova
UNRISD researcher Esuna Dugarova published the following article on the importance of social policy in the post-2015 development agenda on the Guardian's Global Development Professional Network pages, which we reproduce here in full.
- The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (25 Nov 2014) | Yvonne Theeman
In the wake of the International Labour Organization’s adoption of Recommendation 202 in June 2012, the “Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors” was created. But that was not the start of the unique network of today more than 80 NGOs and trade unions of which 16 form the Coalition’s Core Team from all parts of the world committed to join forces for one single goal: to achieve social protection for everyone. This think piece reviews the forming of the Coalitions, its membership and mission.
- 'Crops' or 'Carats'? Interaction between gold mining and cocoa production and the livelihood dilemma in Amansie Central District of Ghana (30 Oct 2014) | Stephen Yeboah
Gold mining and cocoa production co-exist and interact as vital livelihood strategies in Ghana. While gold mining and agriculture complement each other in terms of income and labour flows, they also compete significantly for land and water resources. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork in the Amansie Central District of Ghana, this think piece argues that despite its substantial income-generating potentials, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is not a complete substitute of agriculture because predominantly young farmers (those below 50 years) choose to mine. ASM complements the income of these farmers. Cocoa production remains an important economic activity for a majority of the farmers, as the one that they have long lived with. Farming is also more sustainable than ASM. I argue again that though ASM generates income for some farmers, the costs of its activities in terms of collective loss of vast agricultural lands and water pollution diminish these benefits.
- Influencing Policy for Gender Justice: The Role of International Non-Governmental Organizations (28 Oct 2014) | Ines Smyth
A supportive, progressive and policy environment is crucial to promote women’s rights. International non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have a variety of resources to help create such an environment, such as finances, skills, technology and personnel, reach with policy makers and the public, and recognition. This think piece explores the role that INGOs can play on national and international policy levels via the example of Oxfam’s work on gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW).
- African Mining, Gender and Local Employment (10 Oct 2014) | Anja Tolonen
Large scale mining operations have been accused of being economically isolated enclaves, with few positive benefits to nearby communities. In addition, it has been argued that extractive industries hinder women’s labour market participation by increasing reservation wages (the lowest wage rate at which a worker is willing to accept a job) and decreasing demand for female labour, thus reinforcing gender inequality. This think piece builds upon original research performing the first cross-national study using micro-data testing these important hypotheses. We treat mine openings and mine closings in sub-Saharan Africa as natural experiments to explore local labour market changes. We partly refute and partly confirm the above arguments. Industrial mines generate local structural shifts. Subsistence farming becomes less important for both men and women: men shift to skilled manual labour, and women shift to service sector jobs or leave the labour market. The effects are not persistent and mining risks creating local ‘boom-bust’ economies.
- What Does Privacy Have To Do With Social Protection? (8 Oct 2014) | Robert Maganga Mwanyumba
The right to privacy and the right to social protection intertwine in more ways than one. This commentary considers how these to rights relate to issues such as the use of technology, the consequences of targeting in terms of data collection, and the impact of poverty on attitudes to privacy.
- Judicial Protection of the Right to Social Security (25 Sep 2014) | Alison Graham
The right to social security is enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as other international treaties, and has been upheld by numerous judicial bodies at the national, regional and international levels, both explicitly or implicitly through other rights including civil and political ones, and/or other constitutional and legal guarantees. This brief commentary outlines some of the key decisions that have strengthened the understanding of the right to social security and protection at national levels that may be of particular interest to development practitioners.
- Using Human Rights in the Courts to Broaden Social Protection—The South African Example (19 Sep 2014) | Beth Goldblatt
This article discusses the case of South Africa where the courts have been a significant site of contestation over the nature and extent of the social assistance system. The combination of the right to social security and the right to equality has been of central importance in a number of key cases concerning social security brought to the South African courts.
- A Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection: The Case of Tunisia (18 Sep 2014) | Mehdi Ben Braham, Seynabou Dia
Tunisia today is at an important stage in its thinking about a new development model that combines optimal allocation of resources and social equity, welfare being an essential factor in the success of the democratic transition and at the core of the 2011 popular uprising. However, structural reform cannot be achieved in the absence of a clear framework and of precise objectives which need to result from national consensus. The human rights-based approach to social protection can offer this framework—which has long been lacking in Tunisia—and is also of growing importance at the international level because it promotes fairness and consensus whilst placing this paradigm in the continuity of the post-2015 Development Goals.
- Sustainable Development Goals and the Case for a Developmental Welfare State (17 Sep 2014) | Gabriele Köhler
This think piece argues that while the newly proposed Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 development agenda have their good points, they do not go far enough.They are not conceptualized as rights-based and, like the MDGs, they are state-blind. These issues mut be addressed in order for the next development agenda to stand a chance of becoming progressive.
- Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective (15 Sep 2014) | Lucie Lamarche
The twentieth century witnessed the development of national social security and social protection mechanisms aimed at providing economic, social and public answers to address social risks. In the logic of the majority of these mechanisms, however, unless women were formally employed or were widows, they were not rights holders in any meaningful sense independent of male relatives and/or their families. This think piece argues that ILO standards on social protection capture this discriminatory dynamic and that the Organization's heritage constitutes a significant obstacle to the en-gendering of the right to social security.
- Achieving development at the cost of the right to privacy? The promise and peril of new technologies in social protection programmes. (12 Sep 2014) | Carly Nyst
In recent years, donors, development agencies and poverty-reduction initiatives have increasingly turned towards social protection as an effective tool for addressing extreme poverty and accelerating development in the world’s poorest countries. Nevertheless, a number of significant practical, structural and institutional challenges exist when delivering social protection initiatives in developing countries which often impede the effectiveness of such programmes. This think piece explores these challenges and suggests one possible route toward greater protection of the right to privacy in social protection programmes.
- The Case Against the Commodification of Social Protection (10 Sep 2014) | Manuel Couret Branco
In May 2006, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed its concern about the fact that a significant number of countries that had been ensuring a certain level of social protection through public intervention were transferring part of the responsibility to the private sector (CESCR 2006). More than bringing private actors into the process of supplying goods and services that are needed to secure the human right to social security, it is their commodification that seems particularly menacing. This Commentary explores the tensions between private and public, economic and political needs in relation to human rights.
- Do social protection programmes that impose conditionalities on women fail to confront patriarchy as a root cause of inequality? (8 Sep 2014) | Sophie Plagerson
The journey towards gender equality is both personal and political, and cuts across relationships and institutions. Interactions with institutions responsible for social protection cannot but be intricate and multi-layered. Yet, addressing whether social protection programmes that impose conditionalities on women fail to confront patriarchy and hamper women’s right to equality is urgent and imperative. It is argued in this paper that social protection programmes with conditionalities have confronted gender inequalities in some dimensions but not in others.
- The role of civil society in keeping vigil over the human rights implications of states’ social protection policies, programmes and activities (25 Aug 2014) | Letlhokwa George Mpedi
One of the fundamental roles that civil society organizations play is to ensure that states respect and promote the fundamental right to social protection and provide for vulnerable and marginalized members of society. To do this, civil society organizations must firstly actively monitor the social protection provisioning of the relevant state actors. Secondly, they have the important function of holding state actors accountable through activities such as exerting pressure on political decision makers and court action if their efforts do not comply with expected standards. This is, however, easier said than done. This think piece reveiews some of the difficulties that can be encountered, and suggests four key strategies for civil society organizations to pursue.
- Paving a national avenue on top of a complex network of trails: Contentions around mineral extraction in Ecuador (23 Jul 2014) | Duygu Avci
Since his election in 2007, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has embarked on a post-neoliberal development strategy based on mineral extraction. The main justification of the government for promoting mineral extraction is that it will serve the ‘national interest’ and provide the resources to finance social policy. Although mineral wealth, if properly managed, can contribute to social development, pursuing this strategy at all costs might indeed prove counter-productive for the long-term development of the country. In some particular places, extractive activities might threaten diverse social experiments with alternative models of development, and harm processes of institutional innovation and social learning. What can be learned from such social experiments can potentially be important for facing future development challenges in a world characterized by complexity and uncertainty. A more integral development strategy should take such complexity and uncertainty seriously and allow diverse social experiments to multiply and flourish.
- Extractive industries, power struggles and the battle of ideas (23 Jul 2014) | Karolien van Teijlingen
Over the past decade, there has been rapid growth and expansion of the extractive industries in the Amazon, accompanied by a rise in social mobilization and conflicts. This think piece scrutinizes the discourses that have been used, and are still being used, to legitimize powerful actors’ interventions in the extractive industries and local social development in this region. Various examples from South America confirm that rather antiquated top-down discourses of resource abundance and progress still guide the interventions of states and companies, despite recent discursive innovations of the concepts of sustainable and harmonious development. In some cases however, counter-discourses gain ground and enable marginalized communities to take control over their own social development. This think piece concludes by inviting actors involved in extraction-related conflicts, in particular young scholars, to critically consider the role of discourses and discursive power.
- Activists and Extractive Industries: An Alliance Against Social Development? (23 Jul 2014) | Martin Tengler
This paper argues that activists and corporations in extractive industries depend on each other for power. This might seem to be a positive outcome for social development. However, activists do not always have a positive impact on social development. In fact, relying too much on activist interventions creates a risk of government and public complacency, which shifts discursive power toward extractive industry corporations. This paper argues that if extractive industries are to have a positive impact on social development, the state needs to break the activist-corporate dependence cycle.
- Corporate Social Responsibility and Oil in the Niger Delta: Solution or Part of the Problem? (23 Jul 2014) | Michael Marchant
Much recent development thinking has considered the ability of the private sector to play a developmental role in areas lacking a state presence. This think piece casts doubt onto this perspective by assessing the obstacles that the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) has faced in enacting CSR policies in the Niger Delta. It suggests that the complex nature of conflict in the Niger Delta, along with Shell’s organizational structure and culture have been two primary obstacles. However, it also argues that Shell’s reluctance to acknowledge its own role in the conflict within the Delta has undermined its CSR. Ultimately, it is suggested that this speaks to a fundamental problem with the belief in CSR as a solution to the current absence of state institutions in many areas; namely that it ignores the corporation’s own contribution to the social, political and economic problems facing the communities that they operate in.
- Are conditional cash transfers having an impact on achieving access to education? Some answers from Argentina (27 May 2014) | Gastón Pierri
Several Latin America countries, including Argentina, have established conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes for families in need to further development but also to meet their human rights obligations. The expansion of these programmes invites scrutiny with regard to their effectiveness. Using the Argentine case, this think piece briefly assesses whether CCTs are having a positive impact on the human right to education.
- Conditionality and Human Rights (19 May 2014) | Guy Standing
Across the world, states have made binding commitments under international human rights law to do what they can to ensure all their population attains its basic material needs. And yet, many governments have been introducing so-called conditional cash transfer schemes (CCTs), imposing forms of behavioural conditionality. This means they offer to overcome people’s poverty if, and only if, they meet certain conditions, acting in ways that policy makers regard as desirable. Implicit in that judgment are several presumptions. This think piece explores those presumptions and argues that imposing conditionality on social protection contravenes basic human rights.
- The Compatibility between ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the ICESCR (5 May 2014) | Francine Mestrum
Are ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) compatible? At the discursive level, one can conclude that ICESCR is more complete than R.202, but the language used does not permit any conclusion in terms of incompatibility. Both texts leave room for flexible interpretation. Hence problems may occur at the implementation level. This piece explores issues which may arise as a result.
- Incorporating the Informal Sector in Social Protection Programmes for Universal Realization of the Rights to Social Security (5 May 2014) | Barbara Caracciolo
In the majority of cases, informality is not a choice but rather a necessity for those unable to access formal jobs or any kind of social protection. Yet, current social protection systems have mainly been designed for workers in the formal economy who are less vulnerable than those in the informal economy. This think piece presents international instruments which can help to improve the situation, especially if the participation of informal workers themselves can be meaningfully implemented.
- Biometrics Use for Social Protection Programmes in India Risk Violating Human Rights of the Poor (2 May 2014) | Usha Ramanathan
Gathering biometric data is beeing marketed as a means to more efficiently and surely deliver services to the poor. However this, and the threat of exclusion from a range of services if a person is not biometrically enrolled, has placed the weight of such projects on the shoulders of the poor. This think piece explores the technical limitations of biometric data gathering for social protection purposes and the impact on human rights and the privacy of the poor.
- How to Upscale your Social Economy into a Trillion Dollar Global Market. The Convergence Paradox of Islamic Finance (1 May 2014) | Aaron Z. Pitluck
The contemporary Islamic banking and finance industry provides a radical critique of finance as currently practiced. In spite of this moral stance, Islamic finance has expanded in a few short decades into a trillion dollar global market. Perhaps surprisingly, many Islamic finance products have converged in both quality and price with their conventional counterparts so that they have become outwardly identical. This convergence paradox has led critics to accuse banks of cynically marketing conventional financial products as Islamic.This research paints a subtler story. I have identified four social mechanisms that have contributed not only to Islamic finance’s economic upscaling, but have also contributed to its rapid convergence with the conventional sector. For proponents of social and solidarity economies, Islamic finance is an instructive cautionary tale of how to use the engine of capitalist innovation to upscale rapidly.
- Conditionalities, Cash and Gender Relations (1 May 2014) | Maxine Molyneux
Is the empowerment of women through conditional cash transfers illusory? It is important to distinguish between the positive effects of conditional cash transfers and ‘empowerment’ as well as between different degrees of empowerment. But to effectively and sustainably tackle women's poverty and vulnerability we must support women’s capabilities and income-generating capacities, and understand the gender dynamics within households. Only then can we speak of cash transfers leading to meaningful empowerment for women.
- ILO Recommendation 202 is Not a Legal Island: Explicit Links between R. 202, the ICESCR and the UDHR (30 Apr 2014) | Michael Cichon
More than 18 months after the global community unanimously accepted ILO Recommendation No. 202 in June 2012 it remains a most misunderstood document. It is often seen as a minimalist document clashing with demands for adequate levels of protection and hence implicitly not providing adequate standards of living for all. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
- Social Economy, Culture and Identity across the Border: Lessons from the Basque Case (30 Apr 2014) | Xabier Itçaina
This think piece addresses the role of the Third Sector and Social Economy in the emergence of cross-border network governance in the Basque border region between France and Spain. Cross-border relations have historically been initiated by movements within civil society, anticipating policy actors in this matter. A policy change occurred in the 1990s, with the gradual Europeanization of a new policy framework which enables and encourages cross-border cooperation. The current engagement of Social Economy actors in this kind of cooperation is marked by this double heritage, with contrasting forms of implementation which require a sector-based analysis.
- Improving Representation in the Design and Implementation of Social Protection Programmes through Women’s Organizations (25 Apr 2014) | Markus Kaltenborn
Due to the high relevance of women's participation for the success of social protection programmes, the author of this piece argues that it is necessary to give at least the most important women’s organizations of a country a statutory right to take part in the respective processes of legislation and implementation. The commentary then considers the best way to go about this.
- Securing a Dignified Old Age for All (24 Apr 2014) | Charles Knox-Vydmanov
Access to adequate social protection in old age remains a luxury limited to a minority of older people globally. This huge gap is symptomatic of the wider failure of social protection systems as a whole to guarantee the right to social security, which constitutes a fundamental barrier to tackling pervasive poverty and growing inequality across the globe. Encouragingly, recent years have seen some positive developments, such as the introduction and extension of non-contributory (or “social”) pensions. As the landscape begins to change, a human rights analysis can help to unpack the remaining barriers and consider how these can be overcome.
- A Rejoinder to ‘Pro-Poor and Pro-Development Transparency’ (15 Apr 2014) | Charles Lwanga-Ntale
Pro-poor transparency laws and policies must have ending poverty as an underlying objective. This can become possible if social protection and access to information are fully recognized as rights that poor people can invoke to exit poverty. Yet uptake of social protection policy in developing countries has been slow, largely because it has not been understood as a human right. The post-2015 development agenda needs to correct this failing to achieve future goals.
- Protecting the Right of Access to Social Security Benefits (15 Apr 2014) | Stephen Kidd
The easiest means of ensuring the right to social security is through universal coverage (and adequate transfer values). If countries are unable to provide universal coverage because of limited resources, there is implicitly a trade-off: Reducing coverage means increasing administrative costs. In addition, when priority is given to cost-saving in both coverage and administration, a commitment to human rights is jeopardized. This commentary explores ways for social security schemes to nevertheless respect international human rights obligations.
- Pro-Poor and Pro-Development Transparency Laws and Policies (15 Apr 2014) | Issa Luna Pla
Access to information laws are not being effectively utilized by the poor—the most technologically marginalized population—to exercise their rights to social protection. Pro-poor access to information legislation is needed and must achieve two goals: (1) macroaccountability and transparency in public spending; and (2) provide information to the poor in a physically, intellectually and socially adequate way. If well implemented, policies for proactive transparency of information can contribute to reducing both poverty and information poverty.
- The Role that Civil Society can Play in Ensuring Accountability in Social Protection Programmes (14 Apr 2014) | Felipe J. Hevia
The experience of the last 20 years suggests there are four obstacles to ensuring accountability in social protection programmes. The first obstacle has to do with social protection’s contested status: is it a right or only a service or a favour? Others concern the the opacity and discretionality of actors implementing social protection programmes and indifference from citizens to holding service providers accountable. The author suggests that civil society and collective action can contribute to breaking the deadlock.
- Transformative Approaches to Care Responsibilities: Overcoming Obstacles to the Meaningful Participation of Women (10 Apr 2014) | Valeria Esquivel
One way to approach care in a transformative way is moving beyond seeing care responsibilities as an impediment to women’s participation, and start seeing them as a missing component of social protection, and as an opportunity for political participation. At the same time, families’ and women’s demands for care need be articulated in political terms, a challenge in highly unequal contexts.
- Realizing Rights in Practice: A ‘Minimum’ Level of Social Security in Relation to an ‘Adequate’ Standard of Living (8 Apr 2014) | Bob Deacon
ILO Recommendation 202 asks countries to lay down Social Protection Floors providing some basic social security guarantees and promulgating principles like universalism, non-discrimination, dignity, accessible complaints procedure . Its human rights underpinnings are clear, but the Recommendation nevertheless has certain limitations which are further discussed in this contribution.
- Do Targeting Techniques Tend to be Incompatible with the Human Rights Standards of Transparency and Access to Information? (3 Apr 2014) | Nicholas Freeland
Common methods for identifying the poor also problematic in terms of human rights standards of transparency and access to information. This think piece looks from this perspective at the two main methods usually used to target the poor: community targeting and proxy means testing. These veer to opposing extremes on the transparency/access to information scale, yet both are incompatible with human rights standards.
- Finding Synergies between Political Support, Legal Frameworks and Funding for Sustainable Social Protection Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean (3 Apr 2014) | Simone Cecchini
Implementing social protection policies and programmes (SPPPs) in the absence of clear and specific legal and institutional frameworks entails a number of risks, not only in terms of their continuity, but also of scope, legitimacy and the protection of human rights standards. However, a proper legal and institutional framework is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure the success of SPPPs. This think piece reviews other factors and discusses progress made in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- A Human Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection and the Gender Perspective (31 Mar 2014) | Daniel Seymour
Social protection systems which hope to be successful need to take gender equality into account. This think piece considers three related aspects. First, a human rights perspective on social protection needs to contextualize social protection mechanisms as part of a broader effort to change the way societies function. Second, a gender perspective on social protection is about the gendered dynamics of a society, not only about the role of women. Lastly, a gender perspective on social protection needs to be informed by the real circumstances of human beings, who are defined by more than merely their gender and sex.
- Incorporating a Rights-based Perspective into the Administrative Activities of Government Programmes (28 Mar 2014) | James Midgley
As the role of social protection in social development is increasingly emphasized, there is a need to ensure that social protection programmes are not only efficiently managed but express core values such as rights. There are multiple challenges to incorporating a rights-based perspective into the administrative activities of government bureaucracies responsible for social protection programmes. This think piece groups these challenges into three major categories and identifies possible solutions.
- Adopting Comprehensive, Coherent and Coordinated Policies in Social Protection: A View from the Americas (27 Mar 2014) | Alexandra Barrantes
In the context of the principles of social protection, through the Social Charter of the Americas, the countries of the region acknowledge they have “a responsibility to develop and implement comprehensive social protection policies and programs, based on the principles of universality, solidarity, equality, nondiscrimination, and equity that give priority to persons living in conditions of poverty and vulnerability, taking into account their national circumstances.” Countries in the Americas have also recognized the central role of the state in the fight against poverty, inequity, inequality and social exclusion.
Even though coordination of social protection policies has improved throughout the region, it continues to be a challenge, mainly due to the complexity of the issues at stake and the multiplicity of approaches and sectors involved.
- Good Practices for Effective Participation in Social Protection Design and Implementation (27 Mar 2014) | Robert Chambers
The tendency for programmes intended for those who are poor and marginalized to be distorted and captured by local elites is widely recognised. For programmes of social protection, participation is an obvious prescription to overcome this elite capture but is far from a magic wand. Who participates? Participation can itself be captured to become an instrument for exclusion of those who are meant to benefit, How effective participatory processes can be in overcoming these tendencies, and what processes can be recommended, will always depend on local context. There is, though, experience of a repertoire or menu of approaches that can be drawn upon, adapted and evolved to fit.
- Conditional Cash Transfers and the Human Right to Social Security (27 Mar 2014) | Ian Orton
The increasing use of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) has perhaps been one of the most significant additions to the social development agenda of late. CCTs have delivered some impressive results in terms of reducing poverty and inequality, and are credited with numerous other positive human development outcomes. However, opinions on the status of CCT conditionalities in terms of human rights remain mixed. Some argue that CCTs are contradictory in nature (imposing obligations on rights) and therefore obstructive to the human rights agenda, while others stress the importance of obligations complementing those rights. The paradox is that CCTs may be positive along one dimension (reducing poverty) but not others (compromising human rights).
- Happy Country, Happy Government: How Useful are International Happiness Rankings? (26 Mar 2014) | Nadine van Dijk, Lizzie Spencer, Viviana Ramirez
Studying the progress of nations from a well-being perspective is becoming more and more popular. A well-being perspective offers potential advantages, including insights into what matters to people directly, and a comprehensive and relatively non-judgmental view on development. However, the contribution of a well-being lens remains limited by issues of well-being data availability, a focus on happiness, and hierarchical presentations through international happiness rankings. The authors argue for a more critical perspective on data collection and presentation.
- Social Economy Policies in Argentina: Potential and Limits for the Development of Associative and Cooperative Work (7 Mar 2014) | Malena Victoria Hopp
This think piece analyses the potential and limits of Social Economy policies implemented in Argentina since 2003. The hypothesis that guides this work suggests that the main limits seen in the development of the Social Economy sector are due to the secondary role occupied by Social Economy in the government's social-economic strategy. This relates to the particular institutional framework of the programmes promoting associative and cooperative work. They are mainly implemented by the Social Development Ministry, a state agency which historically provided social assistance.
- Message from the Director, Sarah Cook: New Year’s Greetings from Geneva, and Welcome to the First UNRISD E-Bulletin of 2014 (28 Jan 2014) | Sarah Cook
UNRISD enters 2014 with a renewed sense of purpose and energy that comes from having celebrated its ...
- Public Support for Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) in Spain. Some Lessons for More Productive Support. (31 Dec 2013) | Blanca Miedes Ugarte
Manuela A. Fernández Borrero
Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) aim to integrate people at risk of permanent exclusion from the labour market into work and society through a productive activity. In Spain, despite the fact that national law establishes a common regulatory framework, recognition and support of WISEs is the responsibility of each Autonomous Regional Government. As a consequence, today there are twelve systems of public support for WISEs in the country. This striking diversity allows us to compare the outcomes of the different models and to study their efficiency. The analysis of the most recent data (2011) shows that there is a clear correlation between the amount of aid received by WISEs and the quantity of integration jobs they generate. However, the return on public investment varies greatly from one region to another, even when the regions are socio-economically similar. This points to the importance of specific institutional factors in each territory as well as the type of public aid.
- Do Informal Initiatives in the South Share a Capitalist Logic or Are They the Seeds of a Solidarity Economy? The Case of Santiago de Chile (9 Dec 2013) | Thomas Bauwens, Andreia Lemaître
The problem of informality represents one of the major challenges in the fight against poverty. To address this issue, the traditional response has often been to apply Western entrepreneurial rationality to informal actors and consider small informal productive units as pre-capitalist firms whose growth potential can be realized, it is supposed, by providing them with adequate tools such as credit or training. But do informal initiatives really share the capitalist spirit of entrepreneurship or do they develop other rationales, such as the ones which spread in a “solidarity economy”?
- RIPESS Calls on UN to Promote Social and Solidarity Economy (22 Oct 2013) | Peter Utting
The 5th RIPESS International Meeting on Social Solidarity Economy (15-18 October 2013 in Manila) was an occasion to assess progress in building SSE practices and networks around the world. It was also an opportunity to engage policy makers in discussions around the importance of inclusive growth, solidarity, cooperation and community development as an alternative to neoliberal approaches and economic models centred on self-interest, profit maximization and consumerism. Participants welcomed the recent initiative of 14 UN agencies, including UNRISD, to establish an Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy.
- Economía Social Solidaria: Un Camino hacia un Modelo de Desarrollo Alternativo? (2 Oct 2013) | Peter Utting
En los últimos años se ha generado una mayor conciencia sobre las contradicciones sociales y medioambientales que acompañan los procesos de desarrollo en contextos de la liberalización y la globalización económica. En respuesta a los problemas globales de empleo precario, constante pobreza, creciente desigualdad y el cambio climático, la comunidad internacional está poniendo cada vez mayor atención al concepto de desarrollo sostenible.
- What Do Cooperatives Have To Do with the Post- 2015 Development Framework and Proposed Sustainable Development Goals? (27 Sep 2013) | Emery Igiraneza
Cooperative enterprises are instrumental in providing opportunities for productive employment as well as offering services such as health care, education, credit, improved infrastructure and sustainable energy. They are guided by values of social dialogue and democracy, and are often rooted in local communities, making them a sustainable option for achieving development. However, recognition within UN processes crafting the post-2015 framework of the current and potential role of cooperatives in achieving sustainable development, reducing poverty and creating employment is patchy. To remedy this situation, the ILO, in collaboration with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), UNRISD and other partners has launched an initiative to assess and promote the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.
- Community Development Banks: Enabling Access to Finance for Poor Communities (17 Sep 2013) | Camille Meyer, Leonardo Leal
Community Development Banks (CDBs) are a growing and dynamic manifestation of the solidarity economy in Brazil. This unique system of solidarity finance is currently in place in more than 100 Brazilian municipalities. Created by local associations to (re)organize local economies, they develop financial tools (microcredit, social currency, correspondent banking) governed and organized by the users themselves. In this article, we outline a general overview of these initiatives. First, we explain some characteristics of CDBs. Second, we present the experience of two CDBs, Banco Palmas and Banco Bem, which have excelled in promoting access to the means of production, consumption, education and training for large sections of the population of the neighbourhoods in which they work. Finally, we study the relations between these CDBs and public banks.
- Kenyan Businesswomen Transforming Slum Economies through Complementary Currencies (24 Jul 2013) | Morgan Richards, William Ruddick
Are complementary currencies the next step in building the Social and Solidarity Economy and could Kenyan women be demonstrating a new development model for a failing global monetary system? This think-piece examines the case of the Bangladesh community, an informal settlement in Kenya, using a complementary currency system which enables female business owners to build resilience, avoid economic downturns and juggle family care and business profits. After promising initial outcomes, the Central Bank of Kenya initiated charges for forgery in May 2013.
- Solidarity at Work: The Case of Mondragon (18 Jul 2013) | Larraitz Altuna-Gabilondo
This think piece aims to reflect on the shared moral feelings and motivations on which to base and orientate cooperative action. In this paper, when considering the question about the reproduction of cooperative culture it is important to address the field of values. One of these values is the principle of solidarity. We highlight the fact that values are not merely normative, rational principles but have an experienced and embodied dimension. We briefly analyze the experience of the long-standing Mondragon Cooperative Movement as a relevant case study to illustrate how the value of solidarity plays out.
- David and Goliath—Cooperatives and the Global Crisis (17 Jul 2013) | Claudia Sanchez Bajo
We have been through a global crisis for the last six years with dramatic consequences. In the face of the crisis, cooperatives have shown not only potential but have actually demonstrated a higher degree of resilience in terms of jobs and activity. This UNRISD think piece gives details on how cooperative enterprises show resilience during the crisis and how they implement management practices based on solidarity, efficiency and innovation, based on four case studies and grounded research.
- In These Times of Crises Can Cooperatives Come to the Rescue? (8 Jul 2013) | Simel Esim
Currently the world is simultaneously experiencing a number of crises that interact with each other to reveal structural imbalances. Historically, cooperatives have been known to emerge in such times of crisis, whether it be natural disasters, conflicts or financial and economic turmoil. For example, unmet social care needs in rapidly ageing societies brought forth the recent growth in social care cooperatives. Set up by migrant domestic workers providing home-based child-care and elderly-care services, these cooperatives provide employment intermediation, finance, housing, and education and health care services to their members.
- Social Enterprises for buen vivir in Chiapas: An Alternative to Development (28 Jun 2013) | Michela Giovannini
Indigenous peoples in Mexico, as in many other countries, experience hard living conditions and socioeconomic marginalization. In this think piece, Michela Giovannini argues that this is because mainstream development programmes have failed to address their needs, and neoliberal policies have sacked their territories and natural resources without making a significant positive impact on their well-being. She suggests that a Latin American indigenous “alternative to development”—buen vivir—may offer a way out of this situation. Based on her qualitative research in the Mexican State of Chiapas, Giovannini argues that social enterprises created by local Mayan communities can be a way to pursue buen vivir—well-being grounded in harmony between human communities and the natural environment—and offer an example of how indigenous communities themselves devise and implement strategies to fulfill their economic, social, environmental and political needs. The analysis presented in this think piece leads to important policy recommendations.
- The Puzzled Regulator: The Missing Link in Our Understanding of Social Enterprises (19 Jun 2013) | Alejandro Agafonow
The lack of a well-defined business model is a major obstacle for a successful regulation of social enterprises. Current regulation efforts, while valuable, have largely ignored early research in sectors where the first social enterprises emerged. Such a business model is becoming more of a necessity than a normative proposal because in an era of austerity-stricken public finances, social enterprises must find a way to outperform for-profits competing in markets with blurred sectoral boundaries. This piece looks into a more precise definition of the social enterprise business model, which has surprising implications for the potential transformation of the third sector and its impact on market economies. The piece also challenges the misperception of social enterprises as either donative non-profits with commercial arms or for-profit ventures.
- Engaging with the Social Economy in Aboriginal Australia: The Experience of Eastern Kuku Yalanji Social Entrepreneurs (18 Jun 2013) | Helen Murphy, Marilyn Wallace
Examining alternative models for economic development is crucial for Australian Aboriginal communities seeking a diversity of development outcomes. The experience of Aboriginal social entrepreneurs in Cape York shows that there is a need for policy makers to better understand local conditions and economies, as well as the wider institutional framework to better enable Aboriginal social economy participation.
- Legal Frameworks on Social and Solidarity Economy: What is the Role of Civil Society Organizations in Policy Making? (29 May 2013) | Rafael Peels
To respond to the fragmented landscape of legal frameworks on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) a variety of countries have been taking initiatives to create overarching legal frameworks that apply to the whole sector. One field within the sector that is characterized by much confusion and that receives little attention is the political participation of non-state actors in recent legal developments concerning SSE. In other words: how do various legal frameworks take into account the policy participation of SSE organizations? In this think piece, I take a closer look at five recent legal initiatives in Spain (2011), Ecuador (2011), Greece (2011), Mexico (2012) and Portugal (2013) and can show that approaches differ in these countries.
- What is Social and Solidarity Economy and Why Does It Matter? (1 May 2013) | Peter Utting
UNRISD Deputy Director Peter Utting introduces the theme of his organization’s big conference in May...
- Want to really help expand Social and Solidarity Economy? Then start rethinking money! (30 Apr 2013) | Christian Arnsperger
The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), while not exclusively non-profit-oriented, is a deliberately low-profit endeavour. By this I mean that SSE businesses generate profits within strict constraints pertaining to criteria linked to social and solidarity-related values. As a result, their net financial surpluses are often lower than they would be in a similar business that did not embrace such constraints. Low-profit enterprises include both (i) non-profit businesses deliberately choosing to reinvest gross surpluses into the business and drive net profits down to zero; and (ii) what one might term pure SSE businesses producing a good or service whose very anchoring in social and solidarity-related values implies that it will not be produced by any for-profit firm.
- Social and Solidarity Economy: A Pathway to Socially Sustainable Development? (29 Apr 2013) | Peter Utting
As the international community attempts to tackle a complex set of twenty-first century development challenges, attention has focused on the possibilities of more integrated models of development. This think piece argues that both the concept of sustainable development (centred on economic growth, and social and environmental protection) and the classic model of what can be termed “embedded liberalism” (centred on the welfare state and the decent work enterprise), are found wanting from the perspective of integrative development. In today’s world five key dimensions need to be addressed simultaneously: economic development, social protection, environmental protection, gender equality and sociopolitical empowerment. The field of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) seems to have considerable potential in this regard. Can that potential be realized?
- Microinsurance as a Liberal Market Approach to Social Protection? A Second Look (26 Apr 2013) | Tabea Goldboom
This viewpoint looks at the characteristics of microinsurance from a social protection perspective. Insurance products, which are specifically designed for the low-income population of developing countries, have lately seen a large boom. This viewpoint questions the common perception that microinsurance is a liberal market mechanism that substitutes for state action. The conclusions are relevant for policy makers concerned with social protection in developing countries.
- Are Mental Models Shaping SSE Reality? Conceptualizing, Measuring and Evaluating SSE Performance (10 Apr 2013) | Benjamin R. Quiñones
Using the results of action research conducted by the author, this think piece explains the potential and limits of a tool for conceptualizing, measuring, and evaluating SSE performance, based on a common understanding of SSE indicators. Upon determination of strategic dimensions of a shared vision of SSE, an evaluation tool was developed by constructing indicators for each dimension and providing a performance scorecard. The Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) pilot tested the evaluation tool on a limited scale of 15 case studies: nine from Indonesia, five from the Philippines and one from Cambodia.
The action research illustrated the usefulness of supply chain analysis in SSE performance evaluation and its advantages over the individual enterprise method of analysis. But the evaluation tool could still be improved. ASEC welcomes the collaboration of other organizations and networks in extending the action research to other countries.
- “It is the powerful farmers who really enjoy the group”: Inequality and Change in Uganda’s Coffee Cooperatives (10 Apr 2013) | Karin Wedig
Despite the recovery of agricultural cooperatives in sub-Saharan-Africa since the 2000s, knowledge about their social and economic effects in liberalized agricultural markets remains inadequate. Evidence from Uganda’s coffee sector indicates that today’s cooperatives create net benefits for small producers by contributing to an improved capacity of disadvantaged groups to defend their interests. However, high risks and inadequate financial services in weakly regulated agricultural markets create barriers to economic organization for small producers, and some become too poor to organize. Furthermore, intraorganizational inequalities limit access to cooperative benefits for some members. New evidence from Uganda (Wedig, forthcoming) indicates close linkages between existing inequalities and the lack of a larger institutional framework which would allow disadvantaged members to defend their interests vis-à-vis stronger economic actors at the local level. Thus, community-based organizations seem to be particularly vulnerable to alliances between better-off producers and primary-level cooperative managers, which contribute to the reproduction of elite bargains.
- Let’s “Do-It-Ourselves”: Building a Participatory Economy in South Asia (9 Apr 2013) | Bryn Gay, Chatrini Weeratunge
The think piece examines principles of the participatory economy (“parecon”, including fair trade and collective rights) to envision a social-justice-based framework that addresses the shortcomings of the current capitalist trading system, which largely excludes small-scale producers. Expansion of parecon relies on worker solidarity and shared, socially responsible values along the supply chain. Women producers play integral roles in sustaining agriculture, ensuring food security for their families and communities, and strengthening solidarity for a participatory economy. Initiatives from Sri Lanka and India offer evidence of the creation of parecon producer networks, yet further efforts could enhance women’s inclusion.
- Connecting the Right Dots: Economic Integration and Solidarity/Social Economy Supply Chains (9 Apr 2013) | Maliha Safri
Mainstream economic and business management theorists have often used large for-profit firms as their default units of analysis, and measures such as return on investment as proxies for performance. Once the determinants of performance are identified, they are distilled into models that are disseminated across the economy through universities, consultancy firms and policy experts. These models tend to become standardized across for-profit firms, not-for-profit organizations, NGOs and government agencies.
- Worker Solidarity Confronting the Crises of Capitalism: Bottom-up Solidarity Economy and Political Ecology in South America (9 Apr 2013) | Cristián Alarcón, Cristobal Navarro
In times of combined social-ecological crises of capitalism there is an urgent need to link solidarity economy to the understanding of ecological processes. For example, if solidarity economy practices remain linked to oil consumption and ecologically unequal exchange, the fundamental contemporary problems of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption continue to be reproduced. Insights from political ecology are a way to fill a gap in terms of awareness about social-ecological relations in the understanding of and theorizing about solidarity economy. Concrete examples from South America reveal the importance and potential of linking solidarity economy to political ecology.
- Can Female Entrepreneurship Programmes Support Social and Solidarity Economy? Insights from China and India (26 Mar 2013) | Tonia Warnecke
Increases in overall female entrepreneurship do not guarantee improvements in women’s socioeconomic status; much depends on whether the entrepreneurship is based on opportunity or necessity. In countries like China and India, women tend to be necessity entrepreneurs in the informal sector, with lower income and little potential for career advancement. While these countries have devoted significant resources toward programmes aiming to increase female entrepreneurship, not all of these programmes support opportunity entrepreneurship. An even larger question is whether these programmes support or challenge Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). In addition to solidarity microfinance schemes around the world, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) programmes in India show that entrepreneurship programmes can support individual development while also fostering community solidarity and democratization of the economy.
- An Impossible Marriage: Solidarity Economy and Monetary Economy (26 Mar 2013) | Anitra Nelson
Can a forest or a human life be reduced to a price? Can one hold, or balance, contradictory values? If not, then those who advocate a Social and Solidarity Economy must address the generally intractable conflicts between social and environmental values on the one hand, and monetary ones on the other. Markets create prices, or monetary values, on an entirely different logic to either shared social values, for example related to basic needs, or ecologically determined environmental values. So, doesn’t the Social and Solidarity Economy need to avoid the trappings of monetary calculation and capitalist markets?
- La Economía Solidaria como política y estrategia de desarrollo. Políticas públicas, movimiento social y desafíos en Brasil (11 Mar 2013) | Ana Mercedes Sarria Icaza
Este artículo aborda los desafíos actuales de la economía solidaria en Brasil, partiendo de la constatación de que, a pesar de los avances significativos en los últimos diez años, ésta no ha logrado entrar como una pauta prioritaria en la agenda del desarrollo nacional. Explorando los dos elementos fundamentales que la sustentan –la organización de una red de actores sociales que funciona con una dinámica de movimiento social, y el apoyo y fomento de los poderes públicos- se identifican una serie de cuestiones sobre su potencial y su proceso de construcción, mostrando las diferentes visiones y sus implicaciones en los procesos de promoción y construcción de las experiencias.
- Solidarity Economy Initiatives from the Ground Up: What can we Learn from the Women Home-based Workers of Southeast Asia? (11 Mar 2013) | Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo
What can the most invisible and marginalized of women workers contribute to the discourse on solidarity economy based on their concrete experiences over time?
This question acquires significance in the light of the combined financial, economic, and environmental crises coupled with the increasing incidence of disasters in Southeast Asia. These have led to massive job losses in many parts of the subregion. In response to these events, home-based workers’ organizations and networks have risen to the challenge by developing solidarity economy initiatives, with varying results, potential and limitations based on specific national and local contexts.
- Making Space for Economic Democracy: The Danish Wind Power Revolution (8 Mar 2013) | Andrew Cumbers
This think piece illustrates through the example of the Danish renewables sector the role that innovative forms of collective and democratic ownership can play in tackling climate change. Although Denmark has been held up as a model for other countries to follow in forging a progressive and far-sighted approach to tackling climate change, there is relatively little recognition that this has been founded upon state intervention and localized forms of public ownership. The paper emphasizes the way that supportive regulation and legislation by national government institutions come together with grassroots initiatives to foster more localized and participatory forms of public ownership and decision making.
- Lessons of Good Social Policy (7 Mar 2013) | Ilcheong Yi
Social policy is now widely acknowledged as a central instrument of structural transformation to remove the root causes of poverty and inequality. There are good examples of social policy being effective in reducing inequality and poverty, successfully playing more than a residual role, addressing areas beyond a safety net, and engaging with broad public policy issues of distribution, protection, production and reproduction. Two recent UN global social protection initiatives, the Social Protection Floor and Universal Health Coverage should take account of these lessons about good social policy for reducing inequality and poverty.
- The Politics of the Cooperative Sector in Developing Countries: Insights from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia (26 Feb 2013) | Andrés Spognardi
Although cooperatives are widely recognized as key drivers of economic and social development, the type and scope of the policies aimed at promoting the formation, expansion and consolidation of this form of social business vary considerably across the developing world. Even in countries with a long tradition of cooperative entrepreneurship, government policies toward the cooperative sector differ considerably. The question that naturally arises is: What accounts for such divergences?
- Economic Ideals: Gandhian and Neoliberal Logics in India (26 Feb 2013) | Babita Bhatt, Israr Qureshi, Samer Abdelnour
Social and solidarity economies differ greatly in terms of their underlying logics – the values, beliefs, rules and material practices by which people and communities reproduce their social realities (Thornton and Ocasio, 1999). The significance of social economy logics should not be underestimated: while economic activities may appear similar in form, differences in the underlying logics can lead to stark differences in enterprise models and socioeconomic outcomes. In the case of India, we find a diversity of enterprise logics: some are underpinned by longstanding political and sociocultural hierarchies while others follow Western-centric norms and values. In this think piece we consider two broad types of enterprise model: Gandhian (sarvodaya) and Western (neoliberal). These models have influenced the nature of much economic activity occurring in India today. As such, they provide a revealing starting point for investigating variations in social and solidarity economic activity and outcomes.
- Moving Beyond the Public-Private Divide: Locating Social Entrepreneurship in the Social Economy (26 Feb 2013) | Lisa Hanley
This think piece will reflect on the public-private divide and the role of social enterprises in the delivery of public services, with particular attention to their role in the social economy. It will suggest that one of the greatest potentials of social enterprises may be the possibility of co-constructing social policy through partnerships and alliances across the public-private divide.
- Social Solidarity Economy: Toward Convergence across Continental Divides (26 Feb 2013) | Emily Kawano
This think piece aims to clarify the concept of SSE by identifying points of convergence among practitioners and scholars in different regions. It also seeks to promote mutual understanding within the SSE community by illustrating how variations in meaning derive from different political, historic and cultural contexts.
- 50 Years of Research for Social Change—UNRISD 1963-2013 (28 Jan 2013) | Sarah Cook
A new year marks a time for reflection. When the year is also a 50th anniversary it calls for longer pause – and for celebration. In August 1963 UNRISD was established through the inspiration of the first Nobel laureate in economics, Jan Tinbergen, and Gunnar Myrdal (1974 Nobel laureate). The vision of these leading economic thinkers of the day was that "development" – at the time largely defined by economic growth through planned capital accumulation, infrastructure investment and industrial modernization – was failing to take adequate account of social issues, and a concern that this failure could compromise the development project itself.
- Green Economy and Sustainable Development: Which Way for the Informal Economy? (23 Jul 2012) | Fredrick Otieno Dawa, Mary Njeri Kinyanjui
This think piece argues that the informal economy should be included in discussions on green economy. The informal economy represents three-fourths of non-agricultural employment in sub-Saharan Africa, making it an important component in the social, economic and political arenas in Africa. The authors draw on a case study on the informal sector in Kenya, known as the Kamukunji Jua Kali cluster, to make their case. The cluster is an initiative by subaltern groups that supports rural agriculture, creates jobs, recycles industrial waste and has an association that runs its own affairs. It is an example of how the informal economy in Kenya is linking social and environmental concerns. The likelihood that this sector will persist requires rethinking the informal economy in terms of community economies that secure livelihoods, cultural identity and employment while moving toward green economies more generally.
- The Social Side of Biofuels in Brazil, India and Indonesia (20 Jul 2012) | Mairon Bastos Lima
The move away from fossil fuels towards cleaner fuels such as biofuels has been seen by some countries as an opportunity to both increase energy self-reliance and create an additional market for agriculture. However, the social implications remain understudied. This think piece, based on extensive field work in Brazil, India and Indonesia, looks at what this process means for social equity, especially for vulnerable groups, and whether biofuels could be an effective way to tackle rural poverty.
- Green Economy: The New Enemy? (11 Jul 2012) | Peter Utting
This viewpoint reflects on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), known as Rio+20, held in June. It looks at, among other things, the reactions to the idea of green economy, one of the conference’s main themes; the role of corporations; and the positioning of equity and justice in the sustainable development agenda.
- Power Check: Protecting the Digital Commons (26 Jun 2012) | Kelly O'Neill
This think piece reflects on the evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool to monitor, report and critique corporate and state behaviour. It also examines the problematic connections between ICT companies and countries seeking to control their citizens, and the implications for a robust public sphere both online and offline. The International Telecommunications Union estimates that now one-third of the world’s 7 billion people are online and that 17 per cent are mobile web users. The Internet is of increasing importance in the lives of youth, with 45 per cent of global users under 25. How Internet governance develops nationally and internationally will impact profoundly the online freedom of assembly and speech of people everywhere.
- Sustainable Agricultural Innovation Systems (SAIS) for Food Security and Environmental Protection (17 Jun 2012) | Christina Bodouroglou, Diana Alarcón
The twin perils of global food insecurity and environmental degradation necessitate expanding resources and fostering innovation in agriculture to accelerate food production in a sustainable manner, while also supporting poverty reduction. Achieving this will require increased recognition of the centrality of small-scale farming, short-term humanitarian action, and longer term policies for sustainable agricultural innovation systems (SAIS).
- Equipping Democracy to Deliver Sustainable Development (16 Jun 2012) | Halina Ward
Environmental and social challenges like climate change are accelerating faster than the ability of current forms of democracy to cope. This think piece raises four challenges faced by democracy in dealing with climate change. First, there is a need for long-term thinking to ensure that actions are taken now to forestall the risk of possibly extreme climate change. Second, politicians tend to prioritize economic growth over societal goals where progress is difficult to measure. Third is the challenge of retaining and nurturing an active commitment to vibrant democracy while allowing expertise—and science—space to offer insights and inform policy. And finally, climate change demands a globally coordinated response. If democracy is to survive and thrive, it will likely have to outperform any currently or potentially competing political system in relation to such challenges.
- Gender in the Green Economy (15 Jun 2012) | Candice Stevens
In the absence of appropriate social policies, the green economy may exacerbate existing gender inequities to the detriment of overall sustainability. As workers, women are being excluded from the green economy due to gender-segregated employment patterns and discrimination. As consumers, women are more likely than men to buy eco-friendly products but they have limited purchasing power. As citizens, women are crucial to good governance in the green economy but have little influence because very few women hold management positions in both public and private sectors. The author suggests policies that would assure a fuller role for women, including putting female empowerment at the centre of development assistance programmes that aim to promote the green economy in developing countries; mandating business to adopt family-friendly practices to increase women’s participation in green jobs; giving women special skills training to work in the green economy; and enacting quotas to get more women onto corporate boards and in top-level management positions in industry and government to increase their influence over the shape of the green economy.
- Transforming Extractive Industries in the Philippines: Locating Spaces for People’s Participation in Mining Policies (31 May 2012) | Marie Joyce Godio
Many in the Philippines consider mining an important industry that generates employment, taxes and foreign exchange earnings. But such economic potential is not translating into the well-being of local communities. More often than not, resource extraction is associated with social conflict and environmental degradation. The 1995 Philippine Mining Code requires environmental monitoring and includes provisions for public consultation. According to the author, however, these processes are often mired in corruption; a lack of transparency and consultation means that the communities most affected are deprived of their right to determine how best to use their resources and the freedom to define their own development.
- Driving Green Jobs through Rural Renewable Energy Systems (8 May 2012) | Carola Kantz, J.R. Siegel, Kathrin Bimesdörfer
Green growth is being touted as a way to reconcile economic growth and sustainable development. However, as this think piece demonstrates, there is a gap in the assessment of data and knowledge with regard to employment and labour conditions. Using a rural off-grid electrification initiative in Bangladesh as an example, the authors aim to build awareness about employment and job conditions, and suggest indicators of social dimensions.
- The Social Dimension of Carbon Trading: Contrasting Economic Perspectives (24 Apr 2012) | Pascal van Griethuysen
This think piece combines insights from ecological economics, critical institutional economics and property economics with neoclassical environmental economics to offer an alternative theoretical interpretation of carbon markets. From this heterodox perspective, carbon trading is seen as an institutional innovation created for meeting both the interests and constraints of the industrial capitalist mode of development.
- Gender Equality as Key in Defining Human Well-Being and Enhancing Sustainable Development (30 Mar 2012) | Gerd Johnsson-Latham
The predominant discourse on sustainable development focuses mainly on ecology and economics, not taking into account social dimensions of well-being and gender-based inequalities. This think piece emphasizes the importance of incorporating gender dimensions into the discourse on sustainable development to improve human well-being.
- The Challenge of Political Empowerment (24 Mar 2012) | Peter Utting
In the struggle over ideas in the development arena, terms that are associated with more radical perspectives are often picked up by mainstream actors and organisations. And this has been the case with ‘empowerment’. But such mainstreaming can cause original meanings to be modified or become obscure. From the perspective of strategies that aim to improve the well-being of small-scale farmers, there are various risks inherent in the way the term ‘empowerment’ has been taken up by international and bilateral development agencies.
- Security Sector Reform Needs Inclusive Politics and Jobs for the Poor (19 Mar 2012) | Yusuf Bangura
Security sector reform has gained prominence in recent years as the international community seeks solutions to seemingly intractable conflicts. However, in order to achieve sustainable peace, security sector reform needs to be grounded in inclusive government and growth strategies that deliver jobs to the poor.
- The False Dichotomy Between Economy and Society: Implications for a Global Green Economy (6 Mar 2012) | Leisa Perch
One of the assumptions about green economy is that it will lead to poverty reduction and equity. Since several mainstream arguments for going green are largely economic, the structural changes and incentives envisaged are also largely economic in nature. However, green economy must do more than provide more employment opportunities. To "go green with equity" will require social sustainability principles such as (i) preferential access for the poor and vulnerable to new jobs, green microfinance and green infrastructure; (ii) adaptable social protection mechanisms which mitigate the impact of environmental and disaster risk and also provide income support for green consumption by the poor; and (iii) a rights-based approach which tackles fundamental structural inequalities such as land rights and tenure for women in Africa and Asia.
- The EU Commission Proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax: Problems and Prospects (23 Feb 2012) | Heikki Patomäki
In the midst of the ongoing Eurocrisis, the European Commission is arguing that a fairly comprehensive FTT is both feasible and desirable. This represents a welcome departure from neoliberal orthodoxy, and some recognition of the need for measures to address market failures and systemic risks in the financial sector. But it is also a disappointment for the global justice movement and alter-globalizers: far from providing resources for development and poverty eradication, the Commission is looking for an alternative to national contributions for financing the EU budget. As such, the campaign for a global currency transaction tax is as necessary as ever.
- Green Growth, Social Agency and the Regulation of Agricultural Production in India and Brazil (10 Feb 2012) | Diego Vazquez-Brust, Evelyn Nava-Fischer
Green growth is being promoted as a new paradigm that encompasses economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. However, some developing countries have been questioning its relevance for their development. This paper shows how this paradigm is challenging, and being challenged by, traditional social norms and practices in agricultural production in India and Brazil, and how the commitment and agency of supply chain actors—both of which are key for resource efficiency and social inclusion—are affected.
- Green Economy and Beyond – Case Studies in Guangzhou, China (31 Jan 2012) | Chen Jinjin
China's rapid economic growth has led to a gap between urban and rural development, environmental pollution and the marginalization of traditional farming. Two cases in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, southern China—a government programme and a non-governmental initiative—show how the local government and the public are trying to connect the green economy agenda with other sustainable development objectives, including poverty reduction, food security and social protection.
- The Politics of Unruly Ruptures (5 Dec 2011) | Mariz Tadros
Protests across the globe – whether in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Greece, the United Kingdom or the United States – are rupturing the status quo and delegitimizing the mainstream narratives of the state of the world today. Citizens are no longer voicing opposition only against domestic actors, but rather against the very structural dynamics that influence power hierarchies on the ground: what Mariz Tadros calls unruly politics. What does this mean for the future of social and political movements throughout the world?
- Civil Society Engagement in the Green Economy Debate (25 Nov 2011) | Edouard Morena
More than just including the voices of civil society actors and coalitions, the “green economy” debate must take into account the diversity of understandings, interactions and values that characterize the struggle for a unified civil society response.
- Biofuels and Food Security: Green Economy in Sub-Saharan Africa (22 Nov 2011) | Chike Jideani, Chinney Kennedy-Echetebu, Chizoba Chinweze, Gwen Abiola-Oloke
The inclusion of biofuels as part of the green economy agenda jeopardizes the immediate and long-term food security of many regions in the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, rising food prices, land grabs, and precarious and informal labour conditions are key social threats linked to the emphasis on biofuel production. UNEP defines a green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. Yet the inclusion of biofuels as part of this green economy agenda ignores ecological realities as well as the social dimensions of food insecurity.
- Emerging Governance in the Transition to a Green Economy: A Case Study of Public Sector Food Procurement in Brazil (8 Nov 2011) | Kei Otsuki
Changes in public sector food procurement in Brazil have improved not just the quality of school meals; they have led to a reduced ecological footprint and a more engaged civil society. In this article, Kei Otsuki explores the processes of decentralization and localization that have taken place in Brazil since 1997 through the lens of food procurement. The case demonstrates how an active civil society can lead the charge for better, more sustainable and locally supportive practices.
- Sierra Leone @ 50: Confronting Old Problems and Preparing for New Challenges (4 Nov 2011) | Yusuf Bangura
This viewpoint is based on the paper, which was delivered as a keynote in a policy dialogue on Sierra Leone’s 50 years of independence, organized by the UN Institute for Development and Economic Planning and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. It elaborates on the key lesson on the incompatibility of authoritarian rule and development by addressing three key issues that have prevented the country from attaining its full potential.
- The Great Lie: Monoculture Trees as Forests (20 Oct 2011) | Raquel Nuñez Mutter, Winnie Overbeek
2011 marks the “International Year of the Forest” and it calls for a shift in our understandings of forestry management. Top-down, market-oriented, approaches which have seen monoculture plantations flourish and the lives of forest peoples uprooted, often under the guise of initiatives such as REDD, are not sustainable. We need to recognize that “sustainable development” is not simply compatible with biodiverse plantations or the lives and traditions of forest peoples; it is deeply dependent on them.
- World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development - An Opportunity Both Welcome and Missed (7 Oct 2011) | Shahra Razavi
That the World Bank has devoted its 2012 flagship publication to the topic of gender equality is a welcome opportunity for widening the intellectual space. However, it is also a missed opportunity. By failing to engage seriously with the gender biases of macroeconomic policy agendas that define contemporary globalization, and by reducing social policy to a narrow focus on conditional cash transfers, the report is unable to provide a credible and even-handed analysis of the challenges that confront gender equality in the 21st century and appropriate policy responses for creating more equal societies.
- “We Have to Correct the Errors of our Ancestors”: Policy Implications of Environmentalism and Gender in Intag, Ecuador (7 Sep 2011) | Linda D'Amico
A community in Ecuador has found ways to improve its livelihood and well-being through ecologically responsible actions. Responding to local manifestations of global crises, community members have developed creative solutions that balance economic, social and environmental concerns.
- Bringing Back the Social? UNRISD Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Development (7 Sep 2011) | Kiah Smith, Peter Utting
The social dimensions of green economy – and sustainable development, for that matter – are not well understood or integrated in current debates around green economy. UNRISD research is helping to address this gap by positioning social dimensions at the centre of green economy and sustainable development. This is the focus of our upcoming conference, “Green Economy and Sustainable Development: Bringing Back the Social Dimension”, to be held in Geneva on 10-11 October 2011.
- A Fair Green Economy: Framing Green Economy and the Post-MDG Agenda in Terms of Equity (7 Sep 2011) | Alison Doig, Erica Carroll
In the next few years the global community must address the dual crises of global poverty and global environmental degradation. As the international community develops a successor to the MDGs and at the same time aims at a global green economy, it is essential to recognize the role of inequality in perpetuating high levels of global poverty and undermining attempts at environmental sustainability.
- Money Matters: Social Policies Need Sustainable Financing (6 Jun 2011) | Katja Hujo
Will the UN’s efforts to advocate for increasing investments in a Social Protection Floor, accelerate progress toward the MDGs and fight crisis-led unemployment through a Global Jobs Pact produce responses on the ground?
- The Future of Social Policy (20 May 2011) | Ilcheong YI
How do we challenge theories that claim an inherent antagonism between economic growth and egalitarian social policy? How do we establish desirable social policies and welfare states in developing countries?
- Will Democracy spell the end for Tunisian women? (18 May 2011) | Kristine Goulding
Falling tyrants and rising freedoms have been a recurrent theme of the Arab Spring. Invariably, in every discussion of democratization in the Middle East, the question of women crops up. The key conundrum: will democracy be good for women’s rights?
- Rebuilding Cote d’Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra Leone (5 May 2011) | Yusuf Bangura
To tackle Cote d’Ivoire’s intractable problems after the demise of Gbagbo’s regime, security sector reform, reconciliation, resettlement and development must work in tandem.
- The Arab Spring, Democracy and Well-Being (1 Apr 2011) | Yusuf Bangura
The popular revolts in the Arab world underscore the importance of grounding governments in foundations of democracy, well-being and equity. An article by UNRISD Research Coordinator, Yusuf Bangura.
- Gender Inequality: At home and in the market! (16 Mar 2011) | Shahra Razavi
UNRISD Research Coordinator Shahra Razavi’s International Women’s Day Lecture, at the International Development Research Center (IDRC) on 8 March 2011
- UN Special, International Women's Day Issue: UNRISD Weighs in on Gender (16 Mar 2011) | Shahra Razavi
UNRISD Researcher Shahra Razavi comments on the role of the newly formed UN Women and on gender parity within UNRISD on the occasion of International Women's Day for the March 2011 No. 704 issue of the UN Special Magazine
- The Financial Transaction Tax: A means to aid reform and universal social protection? (1 Feb 2011) | Ilcheong YI, Olive Cocoman
The history of aid shows an inverse relationship between aid on the one hand and the policy space and the level of economic growth of recipient governments on the other. That is, when aid levels rise, there are more policy conditions imposed on recipient governments by donors, which reduces "policy space" or the autonomy of governments to design policies and respond to the policy priorities of citizens.
- Jobs and equity key to Africa's poverty fight: Progress on MDGs requires more than social safety nets (19 Jan 2011) | Yusuf Bangura
Africa has the highest poverty rate in the world. Even though some countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty by 2015, most are likely to fall well short. Income inequality in Africa remains higher than in most other regions, while gender, ethnic and regional inequalities persist.
- CEO Blind Spots: Revisiting the UNGC-Accenture Study (17 Dec 2010) | Peter Utting
The Global Compact-Accenture study, “A New Era of Sustainability”, published on the occasion of the Global Compact Leaders Summit in June 2010, is said to be the largest inquiry of its kind ever undertaken. Some 766 CEOs responded to a survey that sought to gauge the extent of corporate commitment to the principles of sustainability and future prospects…
The study confirms the view that the main achievement of both the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement, in general, and the Global Compact, in particular, has been their instrumental role in generating global awareness amongst the business community that sustainability matters for people, the planet and profits. It concludes that the key challenge now is not so much that of raising awareness but “execution”. But is this really the case?
- UNRISD Deputy Director's presentation entitled 'Reflections on the International Forum on the Social Science-Policy Nexus' given to the Intergovernmental Council of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme,16-18 July 2007, UNESCO, Paris. (18 Jul 2007) | Peter Utting
Peter Utting's speech to the International Forum on the Social-Science Policy Nexus (IFSP).
- Civil Society Hearing “Whose Partnership for Whose Development?: Corporate Accountability in the UN System beyond the Global Compact” (4 Jul 2007) | Peter Utting
This hearing is concerned with how the United Nations system might promote corporate accountability ...
- Corporate Impact (30 Sep 2005) | Peter Utting
This brief article discusses the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and UN-business partnerships on development, and suggests that improved regulation and broader participation are necessary if these approaches are to make a real impact.
- L’impact des Entreprises (30 Sep 2005) | Peter Utting
Ce bref article traite de l'impact de la responsabilité sociale des entreprises et des partenariats Nations Unies-entreprises pour le développement, et met en avant le fait qu'une meilleure réglementation et une plus grande participation sont nécessaires si l'on veut que ces approches aient un véritable impact.
- El impacto de las empresas (30 Sep 2005) | Peter Utting
Este artículo examina de manera concisa, el impacto de la responsabilidad social de las empresas (RSE) y de las asociaciones entre la ONU y las empresas en el desarrollo, y sugiere que una mejora en la regulación y una participación más extensa son necesarias para que estos enfoques hagan un impacto real.
- The Perils of Pro-Malay Policies (1 Sep 2005) | Terence Gomez
Should Malaysia once again turn to affirmative action to promote social justice and the development of a Malay business class?
- Maladjusted African Economies and Globalisation (1 Jul 2005) | Thandika Mkandawire
In this paper, Thandika Mkandawire argues that it is the deflationary policies under the structural adjustment policies that have placed African economies on a “low growth path” which has discouraged investments, trade expansion and diversification, by undermining the investment-growth-trade nexus.
- Comments on the UNRISD Report: Gender Equality, Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (17 May 2005) | Rolph Van Der Hoeven
This is a very noteworthy publication as it combines, without being dogmatic, rigorous economic, social and political analysis, leading to clear and understandable policy advice.
- The Itinerary of an Idea (1 Oct 2004) | Thandika Mkandawire
Originally, the term "good governance" was meant to stand for more than official accountability geared towards market efficiency. The African scholars who first used it were demanding more equitable state-society relations. Democracy and social inclusion were considered core elements.
- Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Public Sector Governance (1 Apr 2004) | Yusuf Bangura
These are fragments from the research report prepared for the March 25 - 27 conference in Riga on ethnic inequality and public sector governance organized by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, UNDP Latvia and the Latvian Ministry of Integration.
- Can Developing Countries Retain Genuine Independence in Today’s World? (8 Mar 2004) | Désirée Abrahams
It has been argued that developing countries do not have genuine independence and therefore, cannot retain genuine independence in today’s world. It is hard not to be pessimistic when considering the obstacles that prevent developing countries from entering the system. At present the politico-economic rules are rigged and stacked against them...
- Promoting Development through Corporate Social Responsibility - Does it Work? (1 Sep 2003) | Peter Utting
Over many decades a heated debate has existed regarding the role and impact of transnational corporations (TNCs) and foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries.
- Essential Matter: Racism, Citizenship and Social Justice (17 Mar 2003) | Yusuf Bangura
Two important public policy issues have influenced debates on racism and xenophobia. The first is the complex way racial cleavages have shaped the evolution of citizenship, especially in countries with deep ethnoracial divisions. Much of the history of efforts to construct a responsive and accountable public sphere can be considered as struggles to demolish racial barriers and incorporate previously excluded groups into the system of rights and obligations that define citizenship.
- The Last Word: Reflections on Racism and Public Policy (17 Mar 2003) | Rodolfo Stavenhagen
At the turn of the twentieth century, W.E.B. du Bois--the pre-eminent intellectual of the African-American people--foretold that it would be the century of the "colour line". During the decades that followed, the world witnessed the rise and fall of Nazism and the Holocaust, the civil rights movement in the United States, the end of colonialism and apartheid, the emergence of indigenous peoples as political actors on the international scene, the renewal of racism in Europe, and the horrendous spectacle of ethnic cleansings and genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda.
- Corporate Responsibility and Labour Issues in China: Reflections on a Beijing Conference (3 Feb 2003) | Peter Utting
An unusual event took place in Beijing in November 2002. At the conference on "Labour Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility under Globalization", held at Renmin University, representatives of global corporations and anti-sweatshop activists came together to discuss issues related to corporate social responsibility (CSR), notably working conditions and labour relations.
- The Global Compact: Why All the Fuss? (1 Jan 2003) | Peter Utting
The two largest global development gatherings of 2002--the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa--focused considerable attention on the issue of public-private partnerships, in particular United Nations business partnerships.
- The Global Compact and Civil Society: Averting a Collision Course (1 Nov 2002) | Peter Utting
One of the risks associated with the warming of relations between the UN and TNCs is that of heightened tensions between the UN and certain civil society actors...
- The Terrible Toll of Post-Colonial Rebel Movements in Africa (29 Jul 2002) | Thandika Mkandawire
Many post-independence rebel movements in Africa have unleashed extremely brutal forms of violence, ...
- The Herald - Zimbabwe News Online: "Government of national unity should be rejected" (8 Apr 2002) | Yusuf Bangura
The suggestion by some Commonwealth leaders that President Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai should form a Government of national unity to heal the divisions in Zimbabwe is mistaken and should be rejected by both parties
- Results of the Special Session on Social Development (14 Mar 2002) | John Langmore
The results of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on social development (Gen...
- Essential Matter: Social Policy in a Development Context (1 Oct 2001) | Shahra Razavi
In recent years there has been increasing recognition of the enabling role that social policy can play in the development process. The burgeoning interest in social policy flows from a number of different currents. First, the spread of democratization through much of Africa, Asia and Latin America has reinforced pressure from citizens to put social issues back on national policy agendas, and has brought renewed demands for economic policies that are socially equitable and inclusive.
- The Last Word: Social Policy and Economic Development: Lessons from East Asia (1 Oct 2001) | Ha-Joon Chang
With the continued economic crises in the developing countries during the last couple of decades, even the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have come to pay attention to social policy. The Bank and the Fund, which traditionally decried the scourge of "premature" social policy in developing countries, have now come to acknowledge the need for a "social safety net".
- Le retour du développement (7 Sep 2001) | Thandika Mkandawire
Pendant 20 ans, le développement en tant que politique volontaire était donné pour mort : seule la libéralisation, le marché, le laisser-faire, était source de développement. Mais cette voie-là non plus n’a rien donné, et une économie politique du développement reprend du service, mûrie par les échecs passés et la critique néolibérale.
- Multilateral North South Reports: Racism, Xenophobia and Public Policy (1 Sep 2001) | Yusuf Bangura
UNRISD Conference on Racism and Public Policy in Durban, South Africa, 3-5 September 2001
- UN-Business Partnership: Whose Agenda Counts? (1 Jun 2001) | Peter Utting
Relations between the United Nations and the private sector are undergoing a significant transformation, which is reflected in the increasing number of so-called "partnerships" involving UN agencies and large corporations. This paper questions the validity of the partnership approach from the perspective of fulfilling the UN's goal of promoting development and human rights for all.
- The Last Word: Reply to Jacques Baudot (1 Sep 1999) | Shahra Razavi
In the last issue of UNRISD News (Number 20), Jacques Baudot contributed a reflective and inspiring ...
- Essential Matter: The Copenhagen Commitments and Geneva 2000 (1 Sep 1999) | Julien Disney
The World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) in Copenhagen in 1995 focused on three core problems—...
- Essential Matter: Follow-Up to the Social Summit and the Spirit of the Time (1 Jun 1999) | Jacques Baudot
The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action contains lofty goals—from the eradication of pove...
- The Last Word: Debt Relief: Taking Stock of Lessons Learned and Furthering Social Development (1 Jun 1999) | Eveline Herfkens
A quarter of a century after the eruption of the debt crisis in Latin America, debt is, unfortunatel...
- Essential Matter: Post-Copenhagen: Personal Reflections (1 Jun 1999) | Juan Somavía
I would like to take this opportunity to look ahead to Copenhagen Plus Five and to give eight exampl...
- The Last Word: Hard Choices: Considering Moral Aspects of Humanitarian Intervention (1 Sep 1998) | Jonathan Moore
The whole phenomenon of humanitarian intervention has changed radically and grown exponentially in r...
- Essential Matter: Biodiversity Protection and Action Research in Costa Rica (1 Sep 1998) | Peter Utting
The greening of Costa Rica:Costa Rica has gained worldwide recognition as a country that is actively...
- Essential Matter: Informational Capitalism and Social Exclusion (1 Sep 1998) | Manual Castells
Excerpts from an opening address at the UNRISD conference on Information Technologies and Social Dev...
- Essential Matter: Corporate Environmental Management Means Business as Usual (1 Sep 1998) | Richard Welford
Damage to the environment of the planet over the last few decades has reached the point of causing u...
- Essential Matter: Land Reform and Gender in Post-Apartheid South Africa (1 Jun 1998) | Cherryl Walker
Post-apartheid South Africa has embarked on a market-driven programme of land reform that can be des...
- The Digital Advance: More than half the world's people have never made a phone call. Will ICTs assure us change? (1 Jun 1998) | Cees J. Hamelink
Digital Information-Communication Technologies (ICTs) promise the world a “new civilization”, an “in...
- The Last Word: Protecting Social Achievements during Economic Crisis in Cuba (1 Jun 1998) | Solon Barraclough
The collapse of the USSR had a devastating effect on the Cuban economy. Since nearly 90 per cent of ...
- Protecting Social Achievements during Economic Crisis in Cuba (1 Jun 1998) | Solon Barraclough
The collapse of the USSR had a devastating effect on the Cuban economy. Since nearly 90 per cent of the island's international trade in the 1980s took place within the Soviet-led Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the impact on Cuba of the events of 1989-1993 was similar to that experienced within the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The gross domestic product of Cuba fell by over one third and its import capacity declined by four fifths.
- Essential Matter: Work Intensity, Gender and Well-being (1 Jun 1998) | Cecile Jackson, Richard Palmer-Jones
Employment is central to current understandings of poverty and well-being, as well as to prescriptio...
- Essential Matter: Corporate Environmentalism: From Rhetoric to Results (1 Sep 1997) | Margaret Flaherty, Ann Rappaport
Author(s): Margaret Flaherty and Ann Rappaport Globalization is here to stay and, as a result, the s...
- Essential Matter: Non-Governmental Organizations Are Changing: A Perspective from Latin America (1 Jun 1997) | Corina Villacorta
In Latin America, most non-governmental organizations were founded in the latter 1970s and early 198...
- The Last Word: Maintaining the Momentum (1 Jun 1997) | Juan Somavía
The World Summit for Social Development marked a modern watershed in thinking on the security of peo...
- Essential Matter: Megacities and Local Development (1 Jun 1997) | Jaime Joseph
Latin American Megacities: Growing Poverty and Violence The great cities of Latin America were once ...
- Essential Matter: The Paradox of Competition (1 Jun 1997) | Louis Emmerij
Author: Louis Emmerij Nobody would deny that a degree of competition is positive. Healthy competitio...
- Essential Matter: Globalization Excerpts from a Keynote Address at the UNRISD Conference on Globalization and Citizenship (1 Dec 1996) | Anthony Giddens
There are few terms that we use so frequently but which are ...
- Essential Matter: Policy Dialogue on Women's Industrial Employment in Morocco (1 Dec 1996) | Rabéa Naciri
In Morocco, as in many other parts of the world, export industries, and the textile industry in part...