1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - Governance, Governance

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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