1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - Private sector

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