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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

A New Eco-Social Contract: Vital to Deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


A New Eco-Social Contract: Vital to Deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The 20th century social contract—an implicit bargain between economic imperatives of growth and productivity, and social imperatives of redistribution and social protection—has broken down and cannot sustain the transformative vision of the 2030 Agenda. The breakdown of the social contract manifests itself in multiple global crises and the deep divisions in our societies. Inequalities in many dimensions have grown, particularly in the last 40 years, and people feel left out and left behind. The failure of our economic model to account for the natural boundaries of our planet has led to environmental destruction and human precarity because of climate change, extreme weather events and health pandemics such as Covid-19.

For the 21st century, UNRISD believes, the contract is in need of a fundamental overhaul. First, it must ensure human rights for all—importantly, this means bringing in those not fully benefitting from previous social contracts, such as women, informal workers and migrants. Second, it must ensure larger freedom for all in a fast-changing world, including security and protection as new challenges emerge. Third, it must spur the transformation of economies and societies to halt climate change and environmental destruction.

UNRISD Issue Briefs aim to improve the quality of dialogue around social development issues. They interrogate a particular topic, drawing on UNRISD research, and contribute to wider social development debates. As with other UNRISD briefs, they provide this information in a concise format that should be of use to policy makers, scholars, activists, journalists and others.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 23 Mar 2021
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 2518-6817
    From: UNRISD