Harnessing the Winds of (Progressive Social) Change. Issue 48 October 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.


30 years ago, change was in the air. As the Cold War came to an end, international leaders signed radical change into the international human rights architecture with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20 November 1989. This document, now the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, recognizes children’s agency as human beings and individuals with their own rights, not objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made.

This recognition continues to drive the children’s human rights agenda, and is central to this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, celebrated on 17 October. Events on the theme of “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty” serve to emphasize the need for children’s participation to be a process where children actually join in decision making, and not just a one-off consultation on their views. Too often consultation is merely a token presence in the room.

And to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, real participation of children and youth will be needed. This is underlined in UNRISD’s ground-breaking report Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which highlights the role of children as important agents and beneficiaries: they are not only among the most vulnerable groups affected by poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change, they are also the generation that will reach adulthood during the realization of the 2030 Agenda. The report assesses the transformative potential of a range of policies–particularly with regard to their impact on children and youth–as well as how young people are meaningfully integrated and represented in decision-making processes.

UNRISD’s focus on policies to implement the 2030 Agenda and its transformative promise feature further in this eBulletin, and we are looking for new staff to contribute to that. We’d appreciate your help in sharing our vacancies for a new position as programme lead and head of office in Bonn, Germany, and an intern on social and solidarity economy in Geneva, Switzerland. As ever we appreciate your attention and your support!


We’re Expanding! Hiring For Our New Work Programme in Bonn, Germany

Thanks to support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), UNRISD is embarking on a new work programme that aims to strengthen research-uptake linkages with the UN ecosystem in Bonn, Germany, through an integrated approach to knowledge and skills development. To lead this programme we are looking for someone who combines social development research excellence with an eye for identifying strategic opportunities and synergies across organizations and work programmes, and a talent for networking and building collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
If this sounds like you, please read the full job description here and apply.
Deadline: Sunday, 20 October 2019

Open-Ended Call for Papers: SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs

Would you like greater visibility for your research on social and solidarity economy (SSE) as a means of implementation of the SDGs? If so, take a look at the ongoing call for papers at the SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs, an initiative which UNRISD coordinates on behalf of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (TFSSE). The Knowledge Hub is accepting abstracts for papers or think pieces to supplement the already rich collection of research outputs which explain or analyse the contribution of SSE to achieving the SDGs. Find out how to submit your work here.

Intern Vacancy: Social and Solidarity Economy

We're looking to hire a new intern to provide research assistance for our projects on the social and solidarity economy (SSE). The work will also include a range of research-related tasks, including preparing manuscripts for publication, and other day-to-day work related to project management, fundraising, external relations and meetings. If you are completing or have recently completed a university degree and you have good knowledge of SSE, sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, then apply here by 3 November 2019.
Please help us find the right person and share this vacancy announcement widely!

UNRISD Director Paul Ladd Gives Keynote Speech on United Nations International Day of Older Persons

10 October is UN International Day of Older Persons, which is marked by events around the world. UNRISD Director Paul Ladd was invited to give a keynote presentation at the event The Journey to Age Equality, organized by the NGO Committee on Ageing in New York and held in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters in New York City. You can watch the presentation, which was followed by a 300-strong audience, on UN Web TV here, where Paul's speech runs from minute 24 to minute 44 on the recording.

UNRISD Board Member Appointed to Presidential Economic Advisory Council in South Africa

UNRISD would like to congratulate Board Member Professor Imraan Valodia, who is an economist and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, on his appointment to the newly created Presidential Economic Advisory Counci in South Africa. The Council, which brings together prominent economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour, community, think tanks and other constituencies, is intended to support the country's efforts to implement economic policies that spur inclusive growth and build a capable state. Professor Valodia will be able to draw on UNRISD research as he contributes to building the Council's knowledge base of policy and implementation lessons, best practices and field-tested success stories.

UNRISD Senior Research Associates Boosting the Uptake of UNRISD Research In Influential Positions

Three UNRISD Senior Research Associates have recently seen boosts to their careers—and to their ability to bring the Institute's research to bear in their advocacy work and in their organizations.
Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona has been appointed Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a non-governmental organization which works to catalyse change for economic, social and cultural rights locally and on the international stage.
Gabriele Köhler is now a member of the Board of Advisors to the Initiative for Equality, a global network of individual activists and partner organizations working to build more equal and participatory societies around the world.
Patricia Schulz was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Geneva in recognition of her work promoting gender equality, for example as Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality (1994-2010) and as a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (2011-2018).
Our congratulations to you all!

Informality – Addressing the Achilles Heel of Social Protection in Latin America: UNU-WIDER Annual Lecture in Geneva

Don't miss your chance to hear Santiago Levy, main architect of Progresa/Oportunidades—Mexico's incentive-based health, nutrition and education programme for the poor—speak at UNU-WIDER's prestigious Annual Lecture, taking place this year at the The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Find out more here, and register here to secure your place!

Basic Research Grants Available from the International Foundation for Science

The International Foundation for Science (IFS), which provides early career support to promising young researchers from low and lower middle-income countries, is looking for applicants for its Basic Research Grants. So if you are researching the social dimensions of the following subjects and are a citizen of IFS' list of eligible developing countries, check out their call for applications. Find more detail on the research areas here.
  • Biological Resources in Terrestrial Systems: research areas can include innovative approaches to forest management that lead to sustainability and curb deforestation; physical, social and economic obstacles in the transformation from fossil to alternative fuels; biodiversity loss due to changes in land use or population pressure; animal production, crop science, climate variability and change.
  • Water and Aquatic Resources: research areas can include social and other determinants of water use; roles and responsibilities of water institutions; how economic institutions can protect public policies and cultural values related to water resources; more sustainable management of aquatic resources; and providing livelihoods for communities through sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Food Security, Dietary Diversity and Healthy Livelihoods: research areas can include economic, social and environmental aspects of agricultural and/or livestock production; extension services; sustainable agricultural practices; markets and trading systems; agricultural cooperatives; the role of public and private investment in sustainable agriculture; who controls food value chains; vulnerability and resilience of agricultural systems and adaptation to climate variability.


Save The Date! Book Launch of The Politics of Social Inclusion: Bridging Knowledge and Policies Towards Social Change

UNRISD is pleased to co-host the book launch on 15 November 2019, together with the UNOG Library, of for The Politics of Social Inclusion: Bridging Knowledge and Policies Towards Social Change, which was co-edited by UNRISD Senior Research Fellow Gabriele Köhler. The book provides critical reflections juxtaposing the rhetoric of social inclusion in UN and academic discourse with actual processes of social exclusion and popular mobilizations for social inclusion. In this way, the volume sheds light on the politics of social inclusion and offers policy proposals towards overcoming exclusions. Empirical evidence is drawn from ethnographic field research in Bogota, Kingston, Port-au-Prince, Kampala, Beijing, Chongqing, Mumbai, Delhi, and villages in Northern India. Watch this space for more details coming soon!

When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance In An Age Of Productive Incoherence

UNRISD will be co-hosting a public lecture by Ilene Grabel, Distinguished University Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver (USA). If you're in Geneva on 19 November, come to The Graduate Institute at 18.30 to hear Prof. Grabel's ideas from her latest book which challenges the dominant view that the global financial crisis had little effect on global financial governance and developmental finance, and explores the significant, though gradual and uneven, innovations in global financial governance and developmental finance induced by the crisis. Click here to register to attend.
The event is organized by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in partnership with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and UNRISD.

Exploring the Feasibility of International Financing for Social Protection Systems

As part of the the ILO's Global Social Protection Week, UNRISD is co-hosting a technical session on 28 November 2019 bringing together leading thinkers from governments, research institutions, civil society and the private sector in order to discuss the feasibility of international financing for social protection floors. Come and hear a moderated discussion on why it makes sense to complement domestic resources with a global solidarity mechanism, and the conceptual basis for a social contract beyond country borders, and which international sources of finance for social protection seem, in the current context, to be the most feasible. You can register here.

Opportunities and Challenges of Statistics on Social and Solidarity Economy: Expert Workshop

While there is growing demand for reliable statistics on the social and solidarity economy, there is a lack of systematic data collection and no globally agreed standards to ensure data quality and comparability. This workshop, taking place on 4 November in Brussels, will take stock of knowledge on the production of statistics on SSE, identify the limitations and benefits of various methodologies and indicators for SSE, and suggest ways to move forward. It is a closed workshop organized by the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) in collaboration with UNRISD, ICA, CIRIEC and SE Europe as part of the project Opportunities and Challenges of Statistics on Social and Solidarity Economy which UNRISD is coordinating.

Income Inequality Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Explaining Divergence, Determinants and Consequences

This seminar, which took place on 30 September, brought distinguished development economist Giovanni Andrea Cornia to UNRISD to share insights on radically differing income inequality levels and trends in sub-Saharan Africa since the beginning of the 21st century. 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? The video and podcast of the event will be available soon if you weren't able to be with us.

Building Resilience for All: Poverty Reduction, Equity and Inclusion in Climate Change Adaptation

This one-day Expert Group Meeting, held on 13 September and hosted by UNRISD in Geneva, brought together over 20 participants from research organizations, United Nations agencies, governments and civil society to discuss the implementation of climate-related programmes under international policy frameworks (Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction), and how to ensure no one is left behind. The key messages emerging from the discussions were distributed to delegates attending the United Nations Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York.


Event Briefs

Inequality and the 1%: Is a Transformative Fiscal Policy Possible?
Maggie Carter This Event Brief summarizes the discussions at UNRISD's main event at the UN High-Level Political Forum this year, held in New York in July. Our panel of experts considered ways in which fiscal policy can be used as an equality-enhancing instrument and how to get such fiscal policies implemented in a political landscape increasingly antithetical to progressive social change. Read the brief to find out which arguments were made by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Oxfam Mexico), Dora Benedek (IMF), Matthew Martin (Development Finance International), Jo-Marie Griesgraber (New Rules for Global Finance), Shahra Razavi (UN Women), Kate Donald (Center for Economic and Social Rights ), Fernando Filgueira, and Katja Hujo (UNRISD) as well as representatives of the governments of Uruguay and Norway.

Measuring and Reporting Sustainability Performance: Are Corporations And SSE Organizations Meeting The SDG Challenge?

This Event Brief draws together some of the main points discussed at the UNRISD International Conference Measuring and Reporting Sustainability Performance: Are Corporations And SSE Organizations Meeting The SDG Challenge?, held on 3-4 June this year. Find out how key themes like complexity and contextualization are agitating the sector currently; which the challenges and blind spots were identified; and in which direction UNRISD is taking its project Sustainable Development Performance Indicators following the conference.

UNTFSSE Conference Summary—Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy?

On 25-26 June 2019, the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) convened a conference in Geneva bringing together over 40 speakers who presented a rich body of evidence on favourable institutional and policy ecosystems for scaling up SSE and the role of SSE in achieving the SDGs. Find out more in this publication which summarizes the key topics that were addressed and debated during the conference.
UNRISD is one of the founding members of the Task Force and was a co-organizer of the conference.

Working Papers

Compared to What? A Three-Tiered Typology of Sustainable Development Performance Indicators From Incremental to Contextual to Transformational
Bill Baue While there are many sustainable development indicators, most of them do not actually tell us much about whether enterprise perfomance is in fact sustainable. Instead, they typically compare performance to incremental goalposts – less of this, more of that. To remedy this, Bill Baue suggests measuring actual impacts against normative impacts, or what is against what should be, to determine whether performance is within the limits of sustainable use of resources. Read this report to find out more.

Sustainable Development Impact Indicators for Social and Solidarity Economy: State of the Art

Gabriel Salathé-Beaulieu, Marie J. Bouchard, Marguerite Mendell The last decade has seen a growing interest in the measurement of the impact and performance of social and solidarity economy (SSE) organizations. This has been fuelled, among other things, by the rapid growth of the importance given to social enterprise, social entrepreneurship and impact investing in recent years. Based on a review of the existing literature, it presents a selection of assessment tools and indicators that have been applied to SSE and so-called blended value enterprises since the 1990s and reviews the methodologies, metrics and indicators implemented in SSE today.


Inequalities: Are Our Hands Tied? Answers from Four Rockstars of the Realm

Martyna B. Linartas Not only is economic inequality on the rise, but the research agenda on inequality has also moved decisively from the fringes to the centre of policy as well as academic interest, producing a vast amount of literature. In this think piece, Martyna B. Linartas reviews four of the most influential, but substantially different, recent works on the origins of economic inequality and the solutions they suggest to the problem. What is at the root of these competing narratives, and what implications do they have for policy making?

A Fair Race to Paris?

Sanna Markkanen Here's a further entry in the online forum run by the Just Transition Research Collaborative: A Fair Race to Paris? by Sanna Markkanen of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. In it, she looks to the story of Paris to highlight some of the complexities around climate change mitigation policies and how the push for more ambitious emission reduction targets sits alongside growing concerns over how to protect vulnerable populations and reduce rather than exacerbate social inequalities.


Transforming Adaptation to Climate Change in Coastal Cities

In case you missed our seminar on issues of land rights and informality that shape uneven vulnerability to climate change in coastal zones, held in Bonn in June in collaboration with the Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung and Bonn University's Center for Development Research (ZEF), you can catch up with the presentations now. Find the audio recording here (click on "media files" top right), or watch the videos: A full playlist of videos from this seminar and from our event Transformative Adaptation: Tackling the Root Causes of Vulnerability to Climate Change in South East Asian Coastal Cities is also available!


United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: ++41 (0)22 917 3020
E-mail info.unrisd@un.org

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