Blogs and Think Pieces
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.
Now more than ever, the world is at a crossroads. Not only are rapid and effective policy interventions, and massive investment, crucial to protect well-being—particularly of vulnerable groups and those at the margins of our societies. At the same time, the sheer amount of public investment to be made in a short amount of time to tackle the unfolding economic downturn presents us with an opportunity to finally put the world on a more sustainable and low-carbon path using new technologies that are now available. Time and again climate scientists, environmentalists and grassroots activists have pointed to the growing urgency of climate action, while policy makers and global elites have chosen profit over people and planet.
The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs respond to humanity’s challenge to live humanely, justly, sustainably and in peace on our interconnected globe. Pursuit of the Agenda is inevitably subject to forces that “shake and stir” it, as exemplified by the current COVID-19 pandemic. So our analytical frameworks need to be shaken and stirred too, to be more perceptive and responsive to emergent objective challenges, risks and threats, as well as subjective fears, and their impacts.
Covid-19 is revealing the weakest links and blind spots of health, social and economic systems within countries, and shining a spotlight on the differences between them. The news and analysis are touching upon diverse aspects, but in a nutshell, they talk about how systems are functioning/dysfunctioning, and how to re-produce them, or transform them, post-crisis. Regarding the latter question, there seem to be two broad camps: “Go back to normal with a quick fix” (normalization camp) and “We mustn’t go back to normal because normal was the problem” (transformation camp).
The COVID-19 crisis puts the fragility of the care economy into sharp relief. Women comprise 70% of health workers globally and even higher shares of care-related occupations such as nursing, midwifery and community health work, which all require close contact with patients. The risks these front-line workers take to save lives are compounded by poor working conditions, low pay and lack of voice in health systems where medical leadership is largely controlled by men.
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".
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.
Humanity is currently facing a threat against which scientific knowledge is our most powerful weapon. Researchers are racing to learn more about the invisible enemy that is Covid-19. However, at the same time, we face another threat, one that has been rearing its head in recent years, but is becoming all the more visible in this unprecedented moment: a growing skepticism of and even hostility towards science.
Mexico experienced a major mining boom as a result of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, which produced sharp increases in the prices of precious metals mined in Mexico such as gold and silver. Mining is a male-dominated profession, so what happened to female welfare during the boom? This think piece discusses the results of a study of data from mining communities in Mexico before and during the boom on two significant determinants of female empowerment, namely intra-household decision making and intimate partner violence.
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.