Greetings from the Director; UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE; New Project Briefs: Issue 17 January 2014
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.


Greetings from Geneva: Welcome to the first UNRISD eBulletin of 2014

UNRISD enters 2014 with a renewed sense of purpose and energy that comes from having celebrated its 50th anniversary with many colleagues, friends and supporters around the world – in person, online or in spirit. A highlight was Timo Voipio (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland) leading his local choir in a special Finnish birthday song for UNRISD. We are grateful for all the sincere good wishes, positive feedback and constructive suggestions received from so many of you as we look to our future.

A number of activities throughout the year were designed to share the legacy of 50 years of research for social change. Visitors to our website will have noticed its new look and increased functionality, including a dramatically improved search engine to enable you to find items more easily in our vast database of publications. To guide you through this wealth of past and current research, a timeline has been created highlighting major strands of UNRISD work over half a century. We have also selected a number of our landmark publications since the 1960s, organized around the themes of social policy and inclusive development, gender and development, and sustainable development, and they are forthcoming in three e-volumes.

Read more.


UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy

UNRISD has commenced its position as the acting secretariat for the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (TFSSE). The TFSSE aims to raise awareness and improve the visibility of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) within the UN system and enhance momentum towards mainstreaming the issue of SSE in international and national policy frameworks. 

UNRISD Launches a Young Scholars Think Piece Series

UNRISD invites contributions from postgraduate students (Master’s degree and higher) to its Young Scholars Think Piece Series. The Series aims to provide promising young researchers with an opportunity to present their research on social development on a wider platform than is possible within a university setting, thereby contributing to the diversity of ideas within the development community. The Young Scholars Think Piece Series will take place in thematically organized, time-bound editions. This current first edition has a submission period from February to March 2014 and is based on the theme of Extractive Industries and Social Development.

For more details, click here.

New UNRISD JPO Position
UNRISD is pleased to announce that the Government of Germany has agreed to finance a Junior Professional Officer (JPO) position at the Institute, for Climate Change, Employment and Social Development. German nationals are eligible to apply for this position.

UNRISD Launches Timeline of Its Research and Activities

To commemorate our 50th anniversary,we launched the UNRISD Timeline: an interactive way of delving into five decades of cutting-edge social development research. Reflecting the breadth of UNRISD research, the Timeline is spread across six wide-ranging themes. Click on the icons to discover more about UNRISD's early work on social indicators, explore our ground-breaking research on the Green Revolution, or find out more about our recent work, for example on the Political and Social Economy of Care, South-South Migration, or the Social and Solidarity Economy.

UNRISD Reaches 20,000 Followers on Twitter

We unveiled our new website design in October 2013, and in November UNRISD reached 20,000 followers on Twitter and over 4,200 on Facebook. Our social networks are proving to be valuable strategic channels for flagging key highlights from our research and analysis, and directing people to comprehensive information and publications on our website.

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UNRISD Director visits Australia

UNRISD Director Sarah Cook embarked on a two-week visit to Canberra and Sydney, where she gave opening presentations at two international conferences and spoke at a number of panel discussions, public seminars and workshops. During her trip she had the opportunity to share and discuss UNRISD research with academics, development policy makers and practitioners from NGOs and the Australian government, and members of the public via an open public debate.

Some Migrants Ignored: Response to The Guardian Weekly on Migration Debate

Katja Hujo, UNRISD Research Coordinator, responded to an article in The Guardian Weekly on how migration affects the lives of those in poor countries. Her response highlights the fact that South-South migrants are being ignored in the current discourse and points to the need for more a co-ordinated policy response to these migrants who are often more vulnerable, and have little or no social protection. The letter was published in The Guardian Weekly on 25 October.

South-South Migration in Latin America: Commentary in the Latin America Advisor

In an issue of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor, UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo contributed to a featured Q&A on South-South migration in the Latin American region. In the commentary she proposes measures that Latin American countries receiving immigrants can take to benefit more from intra-regional immigration flows. The commentary was published on 27 September 2013.

Photo: UN Photo/Paul Banks



The Influence of Migration on the Burden of and Response to Infectious Disease Threats in China: A Theoretically Informed Review
Joseph D. Tucker, Chun Hao, Xia Zou, Guiye Lv, Megan McLaughlin, Xiaoming Li and Li Ling What are the effects of mass rural-to-urban migration on the spread of infectious disease in China? The authors explore this question by systematically reviewing eight databases to identify research studies focused on migrant infectious disease epidemiology and control policies. The migration process is found to have a profound impact on the distribution of airborne, blood-borne, sexually transmitted, and mosquito-borne infectious diseases in addition to influencing potential control strategies.

Reproductive Health and Access to Services among Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China
 Zhenzhen Zheng, Ciyong Lu and Liming Lu Reproductive health, including maternal health, is an important issue for China’s migrant population. With large rural-urban differences in the reproductive health service system and its use, individual incomes, as well as in health beliefs, knowledge and practices, and problems of under-provision and under-utilization of health services by migrants remain. This paper reviews the reproductive health situation, including reproductive health knowledge and status, health service use, and interventions among rural-to-urban migrants.

Chinese Migrant Workers and Occupational Injuries: A Case Study of the Manufacturing Industry in the Pearl River Delta
Bettina Gransow, Guanghuai Zheng, Apo Leong and Li Ling The authors analyse a database comprising more than 10,000 cases of injured migrant workers in hospitals in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and in-depth interviews to explore the following questions: how do migrant workers who became victims of occupational accidents describe the conditions, causes and impacts of their work-related injuries? What does this body of knowledge tell us about the gap between the legal situation of occupational health in China and the practical situation of occupational injuries as experienced by migrant workers in the PRD? And how can this knowledge contribute to identifying areas of concern for researchers, policy makers and practitioners?

Obstacles to Increasing Tax Revenues in Low-Income Countries
Mick Moore What are the obstacles to increasing tax revenues in low-income countries? The paper offers thought-provoking (if still tentative) answers to this question, and then proposes relevant reform measures. These include more effective taxation of transnational economic transactions (a growing proportion of the potential revenue base), fully exploiting the wide range of "advanced tax administration practices" available to them, and tackling the gross under-taxation of land and property. This is a thematic paper commissioned for the UNRISD project Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization, and has been published jointly with the International Centre for Tax and Development.

Project Briefs

UNRISD Project Briefs pose questions, flag ideas and contribute knowledge that can improve the quality of development debates, policy and practice. They provide a concise summary of an UNRISD research project, situating it within wider social development debates; outlining its focus, objectives and methodology; and highlighting interim findings.

New Directions in Social Policy - Project Brief
This project examines the emergence, nature and effectiveness of recent developments in social policy in emerging economies and developing countries. The purpose is to understand whether these are fundamentally new approaches to social policy or welfare systems which could offer alternative solutions to the critical development challenges facing low- and middle-income countries in the 21st century.

When and Why do States Respond to Women's Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change in Asia - Project Brief
Despite progress towards gender equality in some areas of policy, advances have been limited in others. With a better understanding of why some issues gain policy traction while others are neglected or obstructed, advocates for women’s rights will be better equipped to articulate their demands and strategize for gender-egalitarian change.

An Anti-Development Model? Overcoming Obstacles to Domestic Resource Mobilization in Zimbabwe - Project Brief
Katja Hujo and Harald Braumann Buoyed by the recent move to a multi-currency regime, renewed investor interest and stronger commodity markets, Zimbabwe's booming mining sector now features centrally in the country’s resource mobilization strategies. But administrative, enforcement, infrastructural, rent-seeking and political challenges pose severe constraints that must be overcome if the fiscal potential of the mining sector is to be realized.

Contestation and Social Change: The Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization in Bolivia - Project Brief
Katja Hujo and Harald Braumann Drawing on the revenues from its rich mineral resources, the Bolivian state has recently managed to increase public revenue and improve performance on several social indicators.This brief studies formal and informal bargaining among social movements, the state and external actors such as foreign mining companies and donors; analyses the linkages between social contestation and resource mobilization strategies; and examines the outcomes of the current resource bargains between different state levels against the backdrop of ongoing decentralization.

Mobilizing Domestic Revenues in Aid-Dependent Uganda - Project Brief
Katja Hujo and Ines Schjolberg Marques In aid-dependent Uganda, tapping into newly discovered oil reserves has the potential to transform the composition of public revenues and enhance the fiscal space for social development. The Ugandan government has recently legislated social policies aimed at reducing poverty. However, patronage and political pressures on the public budget mean that these policies are not receiving sufficient funding to adequately address poverty and social exclusion. Changing socioeconomic and political processes will also have consequences for Uganda’s relations with the donor community, and the country’s current dependence on aid is likely to decline.

External publications from UNRISD researchers

The Twin Challenges of Reducing Poverty and Creating Employment
UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo contributed to a new e-publication produced by UN-DESA's Division for Social Policy and Development, The Twin Challenges of Reducing Poverty and Creating Employment, with the chapter "Financing social and labour market policies in times of crisis and beyond". The chapter emphasizes the fact that issues of financing have to approached simultaneously with social expenditures and outcomes in order to design social and economic systems that are mutually reinforcing and sustainable.


Pension Reform in China: Five Pillars of Transformation? - UNRISD Seminar

24 February, 12:30-14:00, D19, Palais des Nations, Geneva China’s pension system is facing many challenges. As income disparity increases and the population ages, how can the system be reformed to enhance its equity, efficiency, and financial sustainability? In this seminar Professor Xuejin Zuo will propose a new five pillar pension system that would greatly enhance pensions across China. It would ensure adequate retirement incomes for the elderly, and contribute to increases in domestic consumption, stable growth, and the construction of a harmonious society.

Register for this event

SSE: Changing Economic Relations for Equality and Sustainable Development in the Post-2015 Agenda

4 February, 18:15, UN Headquarters, New York UNRISD is partnering with The Mont-Blanc Meetings - International Forum of Social and Solidarity Economy, and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) to hold a side event on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) during the 8th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Speakers will discuss how SSE can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals, social equity, and gender equality. The aims of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE and the International Leading Group on SSE will also be presented.


Piloting Basic Income in India: A Transformative Policy?
In three pilot basic income schemes conducted in India between 2010 and 2013, more than 6,000 men, women and children received universal, equal and completely unconditional monthly cash payments. In an UNRISD seminar, Guy Standing reported the main outcomes, looking at the effects on sanitation, nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity, women’s status, specific vulnerable groups, and social attitudes more broadly.

Listen to the podcast.
Watch the video.

Institutions, Governance and Policy Space: Redesigning the International Economic Architecture for Development
Is the current international economic architecture helping or hindering development? Is it enabling the transformation of national economies, creating productive jobs and better standards of living? Or is it standing in the way of equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic and social development? Manuel F. Montes,Senior Advisor on Finance and Development at the South Centre in Geneva, examined these issues at an UNRISD seminar.

Listen to the podcast.
Watch the video.

Global Social Policy Forum - New Directions for Social Policy: Towards Socially Sustainable Development
The Global Social Policy Forum was held in Novermeber 2013 to contribute the framing of inputs in the post-2015 development agenda, to shaping the next phase of UNRISD research on the topic, and to engaging relevant partners in global social policy networks and dialogues. The Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and National Institute for Health and Welfare, all of Finland, in partnership with the International Council for Social Welfare represented by the Finnish Society for Social Welfare and Health, and UNRISD, convened this event on the occasion of UNRISD’s 50th anniversary.


Do Informal Initiatives in the South Share a Capitalist Logic or Are They the Seeds of a Solidarity Economy? The Case of Santiago de Chile
 Thomas Bauwens and Andreia Lemaître The problem of informality represents one of the major challenges in the fight against poverty. To address this issue, the traditional response has often been to apply Western entrepreneurial rationality to informal actors and consider small informal productive units as pre-capitalist firms whose growth potential can be realized through the provison of adequate tools such as credit or training. But do informal initiatives really share the capitalist spirit of entrepreneurship or do they develop other rationales, such as the ones which spread in a "solidarity economy"? 

Public Support for Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) in Spain: Some Lessons for More Productive Support
Blanca Miedes Ugarte and Manuela A. Fernández Borrero Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) aim to integrate people at risk of permanent exclusion from the labour market into work and society through a productive activity. Analysis of the most recent data (2011) from Spain shows that there is a clear correlation between the amount of aid received by WISEs and the quantity of integration jobs they generate. However, the return on public investment varies greatly from one region to another, even when the regions are socioeconomically similar. This points to the importance of specific institutional factors in each territory as well as the type of public aid.

RIPESS Calls on UN to Promote Social and Solidarity Economy
Peter Utting The 5th RIPESS International Meeting on Social Solidarity Economy (15-18 October 2013 in Manila) was an occasion to assess progress in building SSE practices and networks around the world. It was also an opportunity to engage policy makers in discussions around the importance of inclusive growth, solidarity, cooperation and community development as an alternative to neoliberal approaches and economic models centred on self-interest, profit maximization and consumerism. Participants welcomed the recent initiative of 14 UN agencies, including UNRISD, to establish an Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy.

Banner photo: Maciek Lulko via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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