1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Civil Society and Global Movements
  • Combating Poverty and Inequality
  • Financing for Development
  • Food Security
  • Gender
  • Global Crises
  • Green Economy and Sustainable Development
  • Knowledge and Ideas; Research in the UN System
  • Migration
  • Precarious Employment and Basic Income
  • Social and Solidarity Economy
  • Social Policy
  • Social Protection and Social Security
  • UNRISD Seminar Series
  • Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth (10 Dec 2019)
    Based on analysis from his recent book "Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth", Guy Standing introduces a new appraisal of the commons and how much of it has been privatized, from land and state housing, health and benefit systems, to justice systems, schools, newspapers and even the air we breathe. He proposes a charter for a new form of commoning, of remembering, guarding and sharing that which belongs to us all, to slash inequality and soothe our current political instability.
  • Income Inequality Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Explaining Divergence, Determinants and Consequences (28 Oct 2019)
    The remarkable economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa in the first 15 years of the 21st century did not always go hand in hand with greater equality. While income inequality during the 2000s decreased in 17 countries, it went up in 12 countries. What were the determinants and consequences of these divergent trends?
  • Global Inequalities and Unsustainability - A Conversation with Lucas Chancel (28 Oct 2019)
    Lucas Chancel, Co-Director of the World Inequality Lab and of WID.world at the Paris Scool of Economics (PSE), presents new empirical research findings on global economic and environmental inequalities. He highlights the close link between social and environmental (in)justice, and discusses policy options that can address the unsustainability of economic inequality
  • Energy transition and the 2030 Agenda: an Introduction (18 May 2017)
    SDG 7 holds the promise of access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, as well as a substantial increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. But what are these commitments likely to translate to, in practice? In this UNRISD seminar, we teamed up with local and global thinkers and actors to discuss the types of transformations required to produce energy sustainably, and what that means for the economies, societies and environments in which global energy systems function.
  • Green jobs, employment and a just transition (18 May 2017)
    Marek Harsdorff walks us through the implications and opportunities of the energy transition in the field of work. Marek, an economist in the Green Jobs Programme at the International Labour Organization (ILO), shares some guiding principles for a just transition to sustainable economies.
  • Actions de SIG dans la transition énergétique (18 May 2017)
    Matthias Rüetschi presents the work he and his team lead at Services Industriels de Genève (SIG) in engaging with the current Swiss energy transition strategy. Matthias offers an overview of local programmes that aim to optimize energy efficiency while reducing CO2 emissions in Geneva, a city that as of 2017 runs entirely on renewable energy. Nora Kronig Romero, Counsellor, and Head of the Office of Specialized Institutions, at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva, closes the seminar reflecting on the Swiss popular vote that will allow citizens to choose the source of the country’s energy.
  • Energy transition through an eco-social lens (18 May 2017)
    Dunja Krause (UNRISD) explains why energy transition is a social issue as much as a political, environmental and a technological one. Drawing from UNRISD’s most recent research, Dunja considers the energy transition through an eco-social lens, and sees social barriers and challenges as well as policy responses and exemplary innovations from Africa and Europe.
  • Introduction: Innovation and Sustainable Development—Paul Ladd, Zhang Yuyan (13 Feb 2017)
    What are the key policy, institutional and technological innovations that can be harnessed to realize the 2030 Agenda, especially in the context of developing economies such as China? In this podcast, hear Paul Ladd (UNRISD Director) and Zhang Yuyan (Director-General, Institute of World Economics and Politics, CASS) open the UNRISD Seminar "Innovation and Sustainable Development", organized in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • Policy Innovations for Transformative Change: Examples of Eco-social Policies (13 Feb 2017)
    In this podcast, hear the three key messages of the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report, "Policy Innovation for Transformative Change" presented by UNRISD Research Coordinator, Katja Hujo, complemented by examples of what eco-social policies are and what they should be, as well as what is needed to maximize their potential and thus enable sustainability presented by UNRISD Associate Expert, Dunja Krause. Their presentations were given at "Innovation and Sustainable Development", an UNRISD Seminar in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • Social Policy Innovation in China—Dian Yang (13 Feb 2017)
    In this podcast, Dian Yang gives us a historical outlook on China’s social policy scheme as well as a presentation of policy innovations designed to alleviate poverty in China. Dian Yang is Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology at CASS and his presentation was held at "Innovation and Sustainable Development", an UNRISD Seminar in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • Innovation and the SDGs: The Role of ICTs—Paul Conneally (13 Feb 2017)
    In this podcast, Paul Conneally talks about the central role of technology and innovation to achieve the SDGs. He presents case studies highlighting the intricate relation between information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and the realization of quality education (SDG4), gender equality (SDG5), industry and infrastructure sustainability (SDG9) in cities, and innovative partnerships (SDG17) that can bridge gaps in ICTs development concerns. Paul Conneally is Head of Corporate Communications at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and his presentation was part of "Innovation and Sustainable Development", an UNRISD Seminar in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • China’s Industrial Innovation for Sustainable Development—Huang Yanghua (13 Feb 2017)
    In this podcast, Yanghua Huang, walks us through China’s industrialization pattern, the country’s main achievements in poverty reduction and employment, the effects and challenges of an industrialization-driven model, and possible solutions towards sustainable production. Yanghua Huang is Research Fellow at the Institute of Industrial Development at CASS and is presentation was part of "Innovation and Sustainable Development", an UNRISD Seminar in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • Closing Remarks: Innovation and Sustainable Development—Zhang Xiaojing (14 Feb 2017)
    Closing remarks of "Innovation and Sustainable Development", an UNRISD Seminar in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  • How Change Happens—Duncan Green (8 Nov 2016)
    How can we understand the events, individuals and institutions that change the world? Can we use this to change things for the better? During this Geneva stop on his global book tour, Duncan Green introduced the arguments of his new book, "How Change Happens", which combines research with practical experience to explore the topic of social and political change. Drawing on many first-hand examples and insights from studying and working on international development, the book offers the latest thinking on what works to achieve progressive change.
  • Stephen Kidd on Graduation UNRISD Seminar (1 Jul 2016)
    In this podcast, Stephen Kidd (Development Pathways), presents a critical view of the graduation approach in the context of social protection schemes. In his view, research evidence mines both the effectiveness and the sustainability of the approach in being instrumental to help people escape poverty.
  • Lauren Whitehead on Graduation Approach UNRISD Seminar (1 Jul 2016)
    In this podcast, Lauren Whitehead explains how the graduation programmes led by BRAC increase productivity and household income while aiming to strengthen livelihoods of those who are often left behind by development policies and do not benefit from non-inclusive economic growth.
  • Partnerships, Power and the SDGs—Moira Faul (10 Mar 2016)
    Partnerships, and their accompanying networks, are now presented as an essential ingredient for fair SDG implementation, to mirror the participatory spirit in which the Goals were created. But what happens in practice? Network analysis reveals how development ‘partners’ may in fact informally depart from established rules and relationships, with the end result that networks may amplify the very disparities of power they were intended to reduce. In this podcast, Moira Faul argues that with a better understanding of how partnership works, network members could rewire relationships for more inclusion, and ultimately better policy and practice solutions.
  • Global Goals as National Goals: Lost in Translation? - An UNRISD Seminar with Charles Gore (16 Apr 2015)
    The MDGs were important as shared global goals. However, Charles Gore argues that the misunderstood translation of those global goals into national goals shifted responsibilities and national priorities. As a result, the poorest and least powerful countries in the world made the most national effort to achieve the goals. This outcome has been damaging for them. Is there a danger that the SDGs will be misunderstood in the same way?
  • Reinventing Social Contracts: Feminists, Rights and Power: An UNRISD Seminar (10 Mar 2015)
    In this UNRISD Seminar, Gita Sen and her co-panelists speak about the role of feminist movements in the remaking of social contracts. They help untangle some of the complex power relationships that need to be addressed if new social contracts are to fulfil the promise of human rights and gender justice. Other speakers include Roberto Bissio and Patricia Schulz, with Valeria Esquivel moderating.
  • A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens: An UNRISD Seminar with Guy Standing (24 Nov 2014)
    Guy Standing, Professor of Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, talks about the precariat: an emerging mass class characterized by inequality and insecurity, and about how their rights—political, civil, social, cultural and economic—have been denied.
  • Where Do Great Ideas Come From? An UNRISD Seminar with The Rockefeller Foundation (5 Sep 2014)
    Claudia Juech, Managing Director, and Rachel Bergenfield, Associate, share the organization’s current approach to sourcing and assessing new opportunities to address global development challenges, using the specific examples of urban food insecurity, waste and spoilage in agriculture, and competition for fresh water. 
  • A Model for Social Protection in Africa? Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) - An UNRISD Seminar with Tom Lavers (5 Sep 2014)
    In this UNRISD Seminar Tom Lavers discussed the implications of Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which is part of a governmental strategy to combat chronic food insecurity in the country. Active since 2006, today the plan affects the lives of 7.6 million people in rural areas.
  • New Directions in Social Policy: Towards a Post-2015 Agenda - An UNRISD Seminar (24 Apr 2014)
    A panel discussion on the changing nature and challenges of social policy regimes in developing countries. With Per Ronnås, Jimi Adesina, Michael Cichon, Rana Jawad, Andras Uthoff and Sarah Cook.
  • Migration and Health in China - An UNRISD/IOM Seminar (6 May 2015)
    People are on the move in their millions in China in search of better jobs and better lives, mostly migrating to cities from the countryside.This movement has huge implications for the health of the Chinese population, the patterns and transmission of disease, China’s health care system and related social welfare policies. The UNRISD/IOM Panel Discussion on Migration and Health in China brings together researchers from the UNRISD project of the same name to reflect on their findings and what they imply for public policy in China and other developing nations with high population mobility.
  • Good Jobs and Social Services: How Costa Rica Achieved the Elusive Double Incorporation - An UNRISD Seminar with Diego Sánchez-Ancochea (4 Mar 2014)
    Diego Sánchez-Ancochea discusses his recent book, co-authored with Juliana Martínez Franzoni, on Costa Rica's historical success and recent challenges in securing the elusive double incorporation. The research was carried out as part of the UNRISD project, Poverty Reduction and Policy Regimes.
  • Pension Reform in China: Five Pillars of Transformation? An UNRISD Seminar with Xuejin Zuo (28 Feb 2014)
    Professor Xuejin Zuo proposes a five-pillar pension system that would greatly enhance the equity, efficiency, and sustainability of pensions in China, ensuring adequate retirement incomes for the elderly, and contributing to increases in domestic consumption, stable growth, and the construction of a harmonious society.
  • Piloting Basic Income in India: A Transformative Policy? An UNRISD Seminar with Guy Standing (21 Jan 2014)
    In this UNRISD seminar, Guy Standing presents some of the main outcomes of pilots of a basic income scheme in India. In what may be a unique social experiment, three pilot basic income schemes were conducted between 2010 and 2013, in which over 6,000 men, women and children received universal, equal and completely unconditional monthly cash payments. In this seminar, Prof. Standing looks at the effects on sanitation, nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity, women's status, specific vulnerable groups, and social attitudes more broadly.
  • Institutions, Governance and Policy Space: Redesigning the International Economic Architecture for Development, Manuel Montes (23 Oct 2013)
    Is the current international economic architecture helping or hindering development? Is it enabling the transformation of national economies, creating productive jobs and better standards of living? Or is it standing in the way of equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic and social development? Because the economies of developing countries are highly integrated into the international economy, its design is crucial for the success or failure of their development paths. In this UNRISD Seminar, Manuel Montes of The South Centre shows how the current international economic system is in many ways preventing developing countries from achieving the transformation of their economies which is necessary to raise productivity and levels of living.
  • The Legend of China's Growth, an UNRISD Seminar with Li Yang (5 Jul 2013)
    China has experienced an unprecedented 3 decades of annual economic growth of around 10 per cent. What has fuelled this boom? And can it be sustained? Professor Li Yang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, discusses the Chinese growth miracle and considers its impact, positive and negative, on China and the world.
  • Green Urbanization in Asia: Paradox or Win-Win Scenario? An UNRISD Seminar with Guanghua Wan (4 Jun 2013)
    Environmental sustainability and rapid urbanization in Asia seem to stand in opposition to each other, but is this really the case? In this UNRISD seminar, Guanghua Wan explores the environment-urbanization nexus in Asia and offers a cautiously optimistic environmental perspective for the region as it urbanizes. He also advances suggestions for government interventions to ensure a green pathway to urbanization in Asia.
  • The Human Rights Approach to Social Protection, An UNRISD Seminar with Magdalena Sepúlveda (11 Jun 2014)
    In this UNRISD Seminar, Magdalena Sepúlveda discusses the human rights framework for social protection. The rapid manner in which social protection has gained predominance and political support in the context of the development and poverty reduction discourse over the past few years is almost without precedent. The current political momentum around social protection provides a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the development agenda. At the same time, despite some landmark developments such as ILO Recommendation No. 202 on Social Protection Floors, there remains a pressing need to further examine the human rights implications and outcomes of social protection systems.
  • Food as a Commodity, Human Right or Common Good? Implications for Hunger Eradication - An UNRISD Seminar with José Luis Vivero Pol (9 Apr 2013)
    The way we approach hunger eradication depends on how we see food, which has multidimensional meanings for human societies. The food sovereignty paradigm is making remarkable progress in the fight against hunger in Latin America, boosted by major achievements in legal frameworks concerning the right to food. However, neither approach seems to be favoured by major parts of the developmental mainstream, as is apparent in the ongoing debates on the post-2105 agenda. In this UNRISD Seminar, José Luis Vivero Pol discusses why current market-driven production and allocation of food cannot guarantee food justice.
  • Food Security and Social Protection: Two Sides of the Same Coin? An UNRISD Seminar with Stephen Devereux (22 Mar 2013)
    Stephen Devereux presents the evidence on whether social and productive safety net programmes and policies are successfully reducing food and nutrition insecurity across the globe.
  • Uncovering the Politics of "Evidence" - An UNRISD Seminar with Rosalind Eyben (13 Mar 2015)
    Hard evidence, rigorous data, tangible results, value for money – all are tantalizing terms promising clarity for the international development sector. Yet behind these terms lie definitional tussles, vested interests and contested world views that Rosalind Eyben’s presentation aims to uncover in order to make the results-and-evidence agenda a legitimate subject of debate. And, in doing so, encourage development practitioners to devise strategies to expand the politico-bureaucratic space for flexible and creative support of locally generated and transformative change.
  • Wages, Inequality and Development: Time to Turn the Wheel? An UNRISD Seminar with Sangheon Lee (20 Feb 2013)
    Sangheon Lee, ILO, talks about the global implications of income inequality growth during UNRISD Seminar Series event: Wages, Inequality and Development: Time to Turn the Wheel? Dr. Lee challenges conventional wisdom that holds that economic growth will reduce poverty and inequality. He does this by examining recent changes in labour income and their impact, both social and economic. He argues that economic growth cannot, by itself, reduce inequality, and calls for better integration of labour market and social protection policies. This is important because growing inequality is not just a social issue, it also harms the economy.
  • Towards a Gender-Just Transformatory Policy: Assets, Agency and the Structures of Governance - An UNRISD Seminar with Nitya Rao (14 Nov 2012)
    Policies that seek to give women assets, particularly land, have often failed to achieve their goals. Drawing on long-term research in South Asia, Nitya Rao explores the need to develop an alternate framework that goes beyond binaries, unpacks the continuums and multidimensionality of grassroots realities and women’s lives, and underlines the subjective dimensions of respectability, belongingness, recognition and risk-taking ability, as equally coveted resources.
  • Catching Up with the "Quiet Revolution"? Work-Family Policies in Latin America - An UNRISD Seminar with Juliana Martinez Franzoni and Merike Blofield (8 Oct 2012)
    This is the full recording of the seminar ‘Catching Up with the “Quiet Revolution”? Work-Family Policies in Latin America’ [1:07:17], presented by Juliana Martinez Franzoni (University of Costa Rica) and Merike Blofield (University of Miami). This talk examines policies that help reconcile work and families in Latin America. The speakers chart changes in policies adopted between 2000 and 2011 across several dimensions, including transfers, services and regulations for care occupations, specifically domestic workers.
  • Multiple Global Crises and Gender: Rethinking Alternative Paths for Development - An UNRISD Seminar (25 Jun 2012)
    This is the full recording of the UNRISD Seminar Series event of the same name. Speakers Devaki Jain, Naoko Otobe (of the International Labour Organisation) and Mariama Williams (of the South Center). With introductory and concluding remarks from from UNRISD Director Sarah Cook.
  • Multiple Global Crises and Gender: Rethinking Alternative Paths for Development - An UNRISD Seminar: Devaki Jain's presentation (25 Jun 2012)
    This is the presentation given by Devaki Jain, co-editor of “Harvesting Feminist Knowledge for Public Policy: Rebuilding Progress”, and founder and former director of the Institute of Social Studies in Delhi, India, at the UNRISD Seminar Series event. The full recording of the Seminar Series event can also be downloaded from this page.
  • Multiple Global Crises and Gender: Rethinking Alternative Paths for Development - An UNRISD Seminar: Naoko Otobe's presentation (25 Jun 2012)
    This is the presentation given by Naoko Otobe, from the International Labour Organisation, at the UNRISD Seminar Series event. The full recording of the Seminar Series event can also be downloaded from this page.
  • Multiple Global Crises and Gender: Rethinking Alternative Paths for Development - An UNRISD Seminar: Mariama Williams's presentation (25 Jun 2012)
    This is the presentation given by Mariama Williams from the South Center, at the UNRISD Seminar Series event. The full recording of the Seminar Series event can also be downloaded from this page.
  • The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class: An UNRISD Seminar with Guy Standing (26 Sep 2011)
    Guy Standing, Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath, speaks about his new book, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. He introduces what he calls the precariat – a growing number of people across the world living and working precariously, usually in a series of short-term jobs, without recourse to stable occupational identities or careers, stable social protection or protective regulations relevant to them.