Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization; UNRISD Seminar Series: Issue 15 June 2013
UNRISD is an autonomous institution within the UN system that carries out multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


Are tax systems providing governments with sufficient revenues to implement policies? Are rents from natural resources and mining a corrective for fiscal austerity? What are the linkages between domestic resource mobilization and donor relations in aid-dependent countries? And how do revenue policies impact on state-building and democratization?

Meeting in Geneva on 2-3 May 2013, country researchers and international experts discussed these questions at a methodology workshop for the project, Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Social Development. Researchers from Bolivia, Guatemala, Uganda and Zimbabwe reported that domestic resource mobilization and its linkages with social development feature high on policy agendas in all four countries. Hear them discuss the project’s relevance for their countries.



Call for Expressions of Interest: Mobilizing Revenues from Extractive Industries for Children’s Rights and Well-Being

UNRISD invites expressions of interest from researchers to prepare papers for a new policy-relevant research project, Mobilizing Revenues from Extractive Industries: Protecting and Promoting Children’s Rights and Well-Being in Resource-Rich Countries, focusing on Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.

For more details on the call and how to apply, go to www.unrisd.org/eiandchildren.

Photo: Joao dos Santos/ World Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



Securing the Home Market: A New Approach to Korean Development
Alice Amsden This paper, one of Alice Amsden’s posthumous works, explains the role of industrial policy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in particular in promoting nationally owned enterprises, securing the home market, generating jobs and enhancing technologies and skills through the examination of various cases, including the Republic of Korea, Brazil, India, China and Taiwan Province of China.

Ethnic Diversity, Development and Social Policy in Small States: The Case of Mauritius
Yeti Nisha Madhoo and Shyam Nath This study critically examines social policy performance in Mauritius in terms of the quality of institutions, overall resources of the government, social welfare orientation of government budgets and ethnic balance in social policy formulation. It analyses the historical roots of colonization and political developments to assess their impacts on social policies.

An Instrument for Social Protection and Climate Change Adaptation? The Politics of Implementing Agricultural Microinsurance in Bolivia
Tabea Goldboom This paper explores the politics that are part of the creation and implementation of two agricultural microinsurance schemes in Tarija, a department in the south of Bolivia. It looks at the unfolding negotiations and contestations among public and private actors that participate in the creation and implementation process. These actors have diverging interests, norms and resources, and their interractions are marked by asymmetric power relations. (See the related Viewpoint below.)


Health in All Policies: Seizing Opportunities, Implementing Policies
Kimmo Leppo, Eeva Ollila, Sebastian Peña, Matthas Wismar and Sarah Cook (eds.) This new volume for the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion is published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL), the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, and UNRISD. Drawing on experiences from all regions and from countries at different levels of economic development, the volume demonstrates that incorporating Health in All Policies is feasible in different contexts, and provides fresh insight into how to implement policies for health across sectors.

Book Chapter

Rescuing Social Protection from the Poverty Trap: New Programmes and Historical Lessons
UNRISD Director Sarah Cook has contributed this chapter to Social Protection in Developing Countries: Reforming Systems. While the future of social policy in the South does not lie in the past of Northern welfare states, the past nonetheless offers insights into current practices—why they may work in some circumstances but not others, and their potential and limits as a component of development policy. Cook reflects on recent innovations from a historical perspective, with attention to the forms of new programmes and, more significantly, to how well these programmes fulfil the core functions of social policy—not only protecting the poor against extreme adversity, but also contributing to broader development objectives.


UNRISD Seminar on China's Economy

As part of the UNRISD Seminar Series, Professor Li Yang will speak about China's economy on 3 July in Geneva. With a background in public finance, Professor Li is Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and, among other appointments, member of the Chinese Financial Market Development Committee. Author of numerous publications on economics and China, he was a visiting economist at Columbia University, United States. He has also been a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China. Details of the seminar to follow soon.


Green Urbanization in Asia: Paradox or Win-Win Scenario?

Asia is urbanizing at a pace faster than any other region, resulting in unprecedented growth in the number of urban residents and of densely populated megacities. Consequently, the region will be confronted with major environmental challenges. But with urbanization comes declining fertility, increased educational attainment and, more importantly, innovations in green technology. These urbanization-related forces can help in combining environmental improvement and economic growth to produce positive outcomes. In this seminar, Guanghua Wan, Asian Development Bank, explored the environment-urbanization nexus in Asia and offered a cautiously optimistic environmental perspective for the region as it urbanizes. The discussant was Claudia Assmann, UNEP.

This seminar was co-organized with UNCTAD and the UNOG Library.

Listen to the podcast.

The Human Rights Approach to Social Protection

The current political momentum around social protection provides a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the development agenda. At the same time, there remains a pressing need to further examine the human rights implications and outcomes of social protection systems. In this seminar, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, explored the human rights framework for social protection. She addressed how human rights obligations should be taken into account in the design, implementation and monitoring of social protection systems around the world.

Listen to the podcast.

Food as a Commodity, Human Right or Common Good? Implications for Hunger Eradication

The way we approach hunger eradication depends on how we see food, which has multidimensional meanings for human societies. José Luis Vivero Pol, an anti-hunger and social rights activist, discussed why current market-driven production and allocation of food cannot guarantee food justice. In order to address the structural flaws of the global food system, we should consider food as a commons—in political terms—or an impure public good—in economic terms. He suggested a gradual shift towards tri-centric governance systems, where market rules, governmental regulations and collective action arrangements pave the way for a fairer and more sustainable food system. The discussant was Tom Lavers, UNRISD Visiting Fellow.

Listen to the podcast.

Food Security and Social Protection: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Stephen Devereux
How to ensure that everybody has enough to eat in order to survive is one of the oldest development dilemmas. Food security was a dominant topic in the development discourse in the 1980s and 1990s, but it fell out of favour in the 2000s when social protection rose rapidly to prominence. Superficially, the two agendas seem to complement each other: food insecurity describes an inability to secure subsistence needs, and the mandate of social protection is to ensure that subsistence needs are met by public means whenever private means are inadequate. But how well is this mandate being fulfilled? Stephen Devereux, Institute of Development Studies, presented the evidence on whether social and productive safety net programmes and policies are successfully reducing food and nutrition insecurity across the globe.

Listen to the podcast.
Watch the video.

Uncovering the Politics of "Evidence"

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 the presentation by Rosalind Eyben, Institute of Development Studies, aimed 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.

Listen to the podcast.
Watch the video.

Wages, Inequality and Development: Time to Turn the Wheel?

The current Great Recession is a painful reminder of the "price of inequality", casting doubt on the conventional wisdom that growth should be in the driver’s seat and distribution in the back seat. A corollary of this deep-rooted belief is the view that wage moderation can boost economic growth and hence reduce poverty. Sangheon Lee, ILO, challenged this view by examining recent changes in wages (or more broadly, labour income) and their social and economic impacts, with a focus on two types of distribution: personal and functional distribution. He argued that in both cases inequality has been growing and that, more importantly, these increases in inequality have had negative impacts on economic growth and stability.

Listen to the podcast.
Watch the video.

Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization—Project Methodology Workshop

At a methodology workshop for the UNRISD project, Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Social Development, team leaders from the four countries selected for in-depth multidisciplinary research—Bolivia, Guatemala, Uganda and Zimbabwe—presented their research proposals and discussed issues related to research design and methodology, as well as communication and outreach activities with external experts and UNRISD staff. (See lead article above.)

Photo: Jerrold Bennett (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Read more about the project.


Microinsurance as a Liberal Market Approach to Social Protection? A Second Look

Tabea Goldboom
This viewpoint looks at the characteristics of microinsurance from a social protection perspective. Insurance products specifically designed for the low-income population of developing countries have lately seen a large boom. Tabea Goldboom questions the common perception that microinsurance is a liberal market mechanism that substitutes for state action. The conclusions are relevant for policy makers concerned with social protection in developing countries. (See also paper on microinsurance above.)

Legal Frameworks on Social and Solidarity Economy: What is the Role of Civil Society Organizations in Policy Making?

Rafael Peels
To respond to the fragmented landscape of legal frameworks on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), a variety of countries have been taking initiatives to create overarching legal frameworks that apply to the whole sector. One aspect that receives little attention is how various legal frameworks take into account the policy participation of SSE organizations. This think piece takes a closer look at five recent legal initiatives in Spain, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico and Portugal to see how they affect the autonomy of SSE; the degree of transfer of competency from governmental bodies to the SSE sector; the composition of consultative bodies; and the representation of, and recognition by, the SSE field of these participatory mechanisms.


Latest Videos

Voices for Social and Solidarity Economy: Towards an Alternative?

Food Security and Social Protection: Two Sides of the Same Coin?, Stephen Devereux, Research Fellow, IDS
Uncovering the Politics of "Evidence", Rosalind Eyben, Fellow, IDS

Integrate Labour Market and Social Protection Policies to Fight Inequality, Sangheon Lee, ILO
Labor Exchange and Forced Migration, Raúl Delgado Wise, UNESCO Chair in Migration, Development and Human Rights and President of the International Network on Migration and Development
The Migrant Workers Convention, Jakob Schneider, Secretary of the Committee on Migrant Workers, UNHCR
Regional Migration, Bob Deacon, Emeritus Professor of International Social Policy, UNU-CRIS, and UNESCO-UNU Chair

Latest Podcasts

The podcasts of the UNRISD conference on Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy are now online.

Green Urbanization in Asia: Paradox or Win-Win Scenario?, Guanghua Wan, Principal Economist, Asian Development Bank
The Human Rights Approach to Social Protection, Magdalena Sepúlveda, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and UNRISD Visiting Fellow
Food as a Commodity, Human Right or Common Good? Implications for Hunger Eradication, José Luis Vivero Pol, anti-hunger and social rights activist
Food Security and Social Protection: Two Sides of the Same Coin?, Stephen Devereux, Research Fellow, IDS
Uncovering the Politics of "Evidence", Rosalind Eyben, Fellow, IDS
Integrate Labour Market and Social Protection Policies to Fight Inequality, Sangheon Lee, ILO

Policy Forum on Rights-Based Gender Equitable Regional Governance of Migration

Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization
Anne Mette Kjaer, Aarhus University and member of the research team for Uganda, talks about why domestic resource mobilization is relevant and the challenges facing Uganda.
José Ricardo Barrientos Quezada, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales and member of the research team for Guatemala, talks about the challenges the country faces in terms of raising revenues.
Richard Saunders, Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability and member of the research team for Zimbabwe, talks about the crisis in the country and how that is affecting domestic revenues.
Maria Verónica Paz Arauco, UNDP Bolivia and member of the research team for Bolivia, talks about why domestic resource mobilization is relevant for the country and the challenges faced by Bolivia. (In Spanish.)


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