1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Human Well-Being and Capabilities


Human Well-Being and Capabilities
Scientific research can make a critical contribution to addressing global challenges and achieving the SDGs. As part of an effort to improve processes of research uptake in policy making, this report synthesizes research submitted by Geneva-based institutions and their global networks to the project From Science to Practice: Research and Knowledge to Achieve the SDGs on the theme of human well-being and capabilities.

The report presents qualitative and quantitative evidence contributions, including a variety of case studies, in the context of current policy-relevant knowledge on SDG progress. The findings underline individual, relational and collective dimensions of well-being, as well as the linkages between different social, health and environmental interventions. In spite of severe setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the scientific knowledge base provides many examples of immediate and longer-term responses which can expand and create sustainable freedoms, in the direction of greater human well-being for all. Policy recommendations highlighted in this report include the equitable and inclusive expansion of access to health, education and social protection; improvements in governance to ensure security against intra-state conflict, build state capacity, broaden inclusion and progressively realize human rights; wider and better access to technology and information; environmental action; and partnerships which expand the inclusiveness of decision making.

About the author
Sophie Plagerson is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg. She is currently based in the Netherlands and working as an independent consultant.

This report was prepared for the project From Science to Practice: Research and Knowledge to Achieve the SDGs, an initiative by a consortium of Geneva-based institutions to carve out a new channel for relevant, timely, interdisciplinary research to play a central role in policy making for sustainable development. The project is coordinated by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the Geneva Science Policy Interface (GSPI), the Think Tank Hub, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland and the SDG Lab, and funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 28 May 2021
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISBN: 978 92 9085 123 3
    From: UNRISD