1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - Civil society

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • “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.
  • 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.