Insights on Inequalities: Focus on SDG10. Issue 44 January 2019
UNRISD is an autonomous institution within the UN system that carries out interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


Reducing inequalities is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the current plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership for the UN, member states and development partners. It’s also a red thread that has long run through UNRISD’s work. Through the activities presented in this eBulletin and many others, UNRISD convenes and generates the evidence-based knowledge, analysis and insight that are the cornerstones of the Institute’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries”.

We are pursuing a range of follow-up activities to our November conference, Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization, including a think piece series which now has several insightful contributions, and we are very excited about the prospect of a series of conversations with eminent public intellectuals who challenge misconceptions and propose new thinking about inequalities. We also need your help with our work on developing a research proposal on the relationship between universities and inequalities in the global South, so please read our Call for Expressions of Interest, and get your submission in by 10 March 2019.

Our newest research undertaking, our participation in the South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub, also takes reducing inequalities as one of its main foci, as does our now two-pronged work on social and solidarity economy (SSE), looking at both SSE as a means of implementing the SDGs, but also asking important questions about how to measure the impact of SSE and other economic entities to know if they really are leaving no one behind.

These are just a few highlights from this edition of the eBulletin, but there’s plenty more to discover. We hope you enjoy looking around and we’ll be back with another update in about two months’ time.


Connecting with Governments and Civil Society

On 11-21 February, UNRISD will be using its channels within the UN to connect with government representatives and civil society organizations from UN member states at the Commission for Social Development, held at UN Headquarters every year in New York. UNRISD Director Paul Ladd will attend the main sessions and speak at a UNESCO/UN-DESA side event on the importance of evidence-informed policy making, and the use of knowledge from the social sciences, in the area of social protection and its role in reducing inequalities.

New Research: South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub

UNRISD is delighted to be involved in a major new research initiative: the South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub. Funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the Hub will map, record and draw attention to South-South migration, which is estimated to account for nearly half of all international migration, and encourage a greater range of policy responses. The work will rebalance academic and political debates, currently driven largely by the perspectives and priorities of countries in the global North. Watch out for the next edition of the eBulletin to find out more about UNRISD's role in the Hub. In the meantime, here's a tweet thread by the Director of the new Hub, Heaven Crawley, outlining the project.

Call for Expressions of Interest on Inequalities and Universities in the Global South

Are you familiar with research around the topic of universities and inequalities, particularly in the global South? Do you know of analyses that show that tertiary education is fulfilling its potential to reduce inequalities, or is there more evidence that higher education institutions contribute to increasing inequalities? If so, we'd like to hear from you: we are launching a Call for Expressions of Interest in producing background papers which will help us to scope out a funding proposal for a full-scale project on the issue during 2019. Deadline: 10 March 2019.

From the Human Rights Council to the High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs: Channeling UNRISD Research

UNRISD teamed up with the Human Rights Council (HRC) to make sure that research findings on synergies between human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development feed into this year’s High-Level Political Forum, which reviews progress on the SDGs. Find out more.

Using Census Data to Simulate Society and Test Public Policy: Discussing an Innovative New Tool

UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi is the discussant at a lunch-time seminar at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies at which Peter Davis, Emeritus Professor from the University of Auckland, presented SociaLab, a new open-source tool for policy development.

Marco de referencia para aunar derechos humanos y protección social, disponible ahora en español

Uno de los componentes centrales de la plataforma, lanzada por UNRISD en 2013, es el marco de referencia que detalla qué obligaciones crean las leyes y normas vigentes de derechos humanos, y de qué manera son relevantes en el diseño, la implementación y la evaluación de programas de protección social. Gracias al apoyo de la CEPAL, uno de los socios de la plataforma, esta importante herramienta que aúna derechos humanos y protección social, se encuentra ahora disponible en español. Gracias colegas de CEPAL por esta valiosa contribución, la cual ayudará a muchos profesionales en América Latina y otros contextos hispanohablantes a trabajar en la implementación de programas de protección social desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos.

Reflections of an Engaged Economist: An Interview withThandika Mkandawire

Thandika Mkandawire, director of UNRISD from 1998 to 2009, recently sat down for an in-depth interview by Kate Meagher from LSE, published in Development and Change. Readers will be rewarded with new insights into Thandika's life and work, from Malawian dissident journalist to Swedish national and respected scholar whose "myth-busting approach to African development combines penetrating critique with an irrepressible but historically informed optimism about Africa’s potential".


Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy? Asia Edition

Following on from the Call for Papers Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy? which UNRISD organized for the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) in 2018, a series of regional conferences are being held to bring the insights and knowledge surfaced by the Call to diverse publics working on SSE and on implementing the SDGs. The Asian edition, taking place in the Republic of Korea on 24 February, will discuss ways in which SSE impacts stakeholders' ability to implement and localize the crosscutting nature of the SDGs in the Asian context.

Sustainable Development Impact Indicators: Project Workshop

Following the announcement of the launch of our new project Sustainable Development Impact Indicators for For-Profit Enterprise and Social and Solidarity Economy the full team is coming together for the first time to thrash out the strategic approach to be taken to substantive issues and plan the milestones for the life of the project.
The team is planning the project's first major meeting, bringing together external speakers and high-level keynotes from different communities working on impact assessment for sustainable development, which will take place in June this year. Watch this space for more details!

Save the Date(s)! UNRISD at the Commission on the Status of Woman and World Social Work Day

UNRISD will be co-hosting two side events at this year's Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, taking place in New York on 11-22 March. The schedule of side events will be available here in due course. Also in March, UNRISD will again be cooperating with a consortium of social work organizations to celebrate World Social Work Day in Geneva
  • Social Work, Gender and Sexuality: Towards Empowerment, Equality and Inclusion: 20 March 2019 at the Centre international de conférences Genève
More details coming soon!

Insights on Inequalities: An UNRISD-FES Series

UNRISD has a new venture in the pipeline: a series of thought-provoking discussions with thought leaders and advocates working on issues around inequalities, elites and social mobilization. The series builds on the top-level panel discussion Engines of Inequality? Elites, Power and Politics held as the opening of our November conference Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization. We're delighted to continue our cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on this issue. Watch this space for more information.


Working papers

La movilización de recursos para el desarrollo social en Bolivia (1985-2014): Financiamiento, gas y protesta
Maria Verónica Paz Arauco La movilización de recursos domésticos para el desarrollo social en Bolivia inició una nueva era a partir del año 2006. Por primera vez en la historia de las finanzas públicas, el país dejó de depender de recursos externos para financiar su contrato social, modificando la relación de dependencia económica y política entre las políticas de desarrollo y la cooperación internacional, e iniciando un nuevo ciclo en las relaciones entre el Estado y los donantes. Este estudio de caso sugiere que una particularidad del proceso de movilización de recursos en Bolivia en el periodo 2006-2014 radica en su origen reivindicativo, y en la fuerza de la protesta y la movilización social como mecanismos definitorios en las decisiones sobre el origen y el destino de los recursos.
Este documento forma parte de una serie de publicaciones derivada del proyecto de investigación Políticas de la Movilización de Recursos Domésticos para el Desarrollo Social.

The Politics of Resource Bargaining, Social Relations and Institutional Development in Zimbabwe Since Independence

Richard Saunders This study explores key questions around the nature and dynamics of resource bargaining over revenue mobilization and allocation; the changes in relationships among key actors; and the forms and outcomes of institutional development surrounding resource bargaining processes. Three case studies of divergent resource mobilization innovations in Zimbabwe underscore the complexity of challenges faced by governments whose actions are shaped by uneven state capacity and policy autonomy; a weak formal sector in which established business actors wield significant power and influence; and growing contestation over legitimacy and participation by political and social actors. At the same time, the study finds, evidence from Zimbabwe points to the benefits of more transparent, inclusive and capacitated forms of revenue mobilization involving a wider array of social actors.

Economic Growth, Youth Unemployment, and Political and Social Instability: A Study of Policies and Outcomes in Post-Arab Spring Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Tunisia

Heath Prince, Amna Khan, Yara Halasa This study examines the youth employment policies that have been implemented in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia following the Arab Spring, questioning whether, after the conclusion of this series of massive social protests, new policies and institutions have emerged to address the deep-seated and intensifying crisis of youth unemployment.

Research reports from New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South

Outsourcing of Social Service Provision to NGOs in the Russian Federation
Linda J. Cook and Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova This paper analyses a recent major social policy reform in the Russian Federation which outsources some social service provision from state organizations to Socially-Oriented Non-Governmental Organizations (SONGOs). On paper, the new policy brings Russian practices closer to international norms of deinstitutionalization, social inclusion, and mainstreaming. This research asks three main questions: how broadly has state-SONGO contracting been implemented through Russia’s regions? How successful have SONGOs been in improving responsiveness, effectiveness, diversification, and communication between clients and providers? And is the reform transforming the dominant, bureaucratic and paternalistic system of state social service provision in Russia?

New Directions in Social Policy: Decentralization and Social Innovations in Africa

Dele Olowu This paper presents desk research-based evidence on the relationship between social policy and the interactions between central and local institutions in three countries in Africa (Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria). Many African countries, often with donor support, have a decentralization programme. After discussing three theories of decentralization, the paper examines the broad thesis that sub-national institutional capacity and institutional diversity could, under some conditions, enhance the effectiveness and impact of new social policy.

New Directions in Social Policy in the MENA Region: Country Cluster Study of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

Rana Jawad, Nora Aboushady, Hicham Mansour, Adam Coutts, Nidhal Ben Cheikh This research analysed four key policy areas - employment and the labour market, income substitution or cash transfer programmes, education, health - with a particular focus on the nature of social policies and programmes, links between social, economic and environmental policies, the politics and political economy of policy choice, and the implementation and institutionalization of social policies. The report shows that countries in the MENA region have a combination of residual and corporatist governance models in relation to social policy, in both cases falling short of universal coverage or adequate benefit levels.

Publication by UNRISD Staff

UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Katja Hujo authored a brief commentary in the highly regarded Q&A section of the Latin America Advisor, published by the Inter-American Dialogue, responding to the question Will a U.S. Border Wall & Immigration Reform Happen?, along with several other authoritative experts. See page 4 of the 20 December 2018 edition.


Including Working Class People in the Transition to Sustainability

Karen Bell According to the IPCC, we need to take urgent and effective action on climate change to prevent irreversible damage to our planet and its ability to sustain us. What is it that stops a critical mass of people from coming together to advocate for environmental and social justice, as well as to make personal choices that will benefit the environment? Karen Bell explores the notion of environmental classism, or how divisions between different social classes undermine a sense of common purpose, and how to ensure that working-class people can be better included in the transition to sustainability.

This is an entry in the think piece series Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization, launched to coincide with a major UNRISD Call for Paper Conference by the same name.

Vers une production juste et égalitaire des connaissances sur les inégalités sociales

Baptiste Godrie Le fonctionnement du monde académique et la production des connaissances scientifiques peuvent expliquer la persistance, voire l’aggravation des inégalités sociales. Pour comprendre ce constat, il faut au préalable rappeler que les inégalités sociales ont des répercussions dans le domaine de la connaissance. Lutter contre les inégalités sociales passe donc irrémédiablement par une réduction des inégalités dans la production des connaissances scientifiques et par l’instauration d’une véritable écologie des savoirs, c’est-à-dire de rapports justes entre les savoirs. Les recherches qui associent les groupes qui subissent les inégalités à la production des connaissances jouent, de ce point de vue, un rôle significatif.

This is an entry in the think piece series Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization, launched to coincide with a major UNRISD Call for Paper Conference by the same name.


Valueworks: Effects of Financialization along the Copper Value Chain

Financialization has profoundly changed the global commodities trade. What are the effects on local lives and what are the policy recommendations to be drawn for national and international regulatory actors? UNRISD brought together representatives of the different stakeholder groups who need to respond to these questions, including a representative of a commodities trading company, a Geneva parliamentarian and an activist working for the rights of mining communities, in a sometimes controversial exchange of views. Set against their differing interests were the research results of the international research consortium which carried out the joint research project Valueworks: Effects of Financialization along the Copper Value Chain. Find out how the debate played out in these two videos:
Banner photo: Giacomo Merculiano (public domain)


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