When Ideas Meet Power... Issue 40 May 2018
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.


As a research institute, UNRISD deals in ideas, sharp thinking and academic excellence. But ideas by themselves are delicate things that need the right environment to thrive and the right people to advocate for them. That’s why UNRISD works with partners and champions who can help bring research-based analysis and innovative ideas into the reaches of power.

Through its Board members, often eminent already during their tenure and many on their way to greater influence, and the convening power of its events, UNRISD ideas can be nurtured and brought into the light. We congratulate our former Board member Jomo Kwame Sundaram on his recent appointment to the Malaysian Council of Elders, and salute this opportunity for heterodox research findings and progressive ideas to support the country’s development at a critical time of transition.

Equally, at our forthcoming events, whether it be the HLPF at UN Headquarters in New York, our Human Rights Council side event in Geneva, or the Symposium advising the government of the Republic of Korea, UNRISD ideas will rub shoulders with policy makers looking for both inspiration and solid evidence. Such activities and relationships all play their part in the long-term process that makes up UNRISD’s value added in the development landscape.

The next eBulletin will be along in early August. In the mean time we hope you enjoy browsing through our recent activities. Do let us know what you find most inspiring among this latest sampling of our work.


Spectacular Response to our Call for Papers!

We clearly struck a chord with our recent Call for Papers, Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization. So many of you responded with original and powerful research on widening societal gaps, the growing power of elites, and how to drive political and policy changes for more equitable societies.
Thank you to all those who contributed, and those who helped to spread the word. We are now working our way through your submissions and planning to let you know the next steps in June.

New Research: SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs

While there is a growing body of research and knowledge on the social and solidarity economy (SSE), there has been little attempt so far to systematically analyse the linkages between SSE practices and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the ambitious goal that the UN Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy has set itself, by creating the Knowledge Hub. As the implementing agency for this Task Force activity, UNRISD will be publishing working papers and resource papers, the first of which are already online (see below).
It will also be launching the core activity of the first phase of the Hub in the form of a Call for Papers on two main issue areas:
- SSE as a means of implementation for the SDGs;
- Measuring SSE, its scale and impact.
The launch is planned for June - so watch this space for more details very soon. Our special thanks go to the Government of Luxembourg for their support that is allowing us to get this activity of the ground.

UNRISD "Bubbling up" at the Graduate Institute's 2018 Gender Conference

As part of its contribution to the project Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices. Views from Latin America and India, funded by SNIS, UNRISD participated in Geneva's Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies' 2018 Gender Conference Bubbling up…Solidarities, Feminisms and Social Reproduction. The conference was an opportunity for country researchers from the case studies in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and three states in India to come together and share with each other and with colleagues in Geneva "a more feminist understanding of work and of care" across continents and contexts, as economist, feminist activist and leader of SEWA Nalini Nayak put it in this video by the Graduate Institute.

Building the Network in Japan

Senior Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi delivered the keynote presentation at the International Conference on Multicultural Democracy, organized by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science's Cutting-Edge Humanities and Social Sciences Research Programme, and held in Fukuoka, Japan on 11-12 May 2018. He also served as a member of the conference's Scientific Committee. His presentation, titled "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Multiculturalism in Local Settings", emphasized the need to establish and strengthen institutions and mechanisms that guarantee the right to participate in cultural life as a prerequisite for development and living a life in dignity and freedom.

UNRISD Board and Partners Meet Again

UNRISD convened its annual Board meeting in April, holding it back to back with a meeting of key stakeholders. Both meetings were an opportunity to seek feedback and advice from supporters on the Institute's progress at the mid-way point through the Institutional Strategy, and on ongoing efforts to move forward in terms of financing and governance. Over two days of useful discussions and productive exchanges, the Director and the Institute's staff received constructive inputs and strategic recommendations that will guide UNRISD's work over the next 12 months.

From Ideas to Influence: UNRISD Former Board Member on Malaysian National Council of Elders

Former UNRISD Board member Jomo Kwame Sundaram has been appointed to the Council of Elders created in Malaysia in mid-May to advise the new government of the country, which has a new ruling party for the first time in the six decades since Malaysia gained its independence from Britain in 1957. The Council of Elders will advise the new Pakatan Harapan government on economic and financial matters during the transition of power, for a period of around 100 days. It will conduct research and provide the results to the Cabinet.


Sharing How the Seoul Social Economy is Localizing the SDGs at the HLPF

The High-Level Political Forum, which takes place in July every year, has become the place for UN members states and agencies to showcase their contributions to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNRISD's presence there this year is planned around the launch of the research findings from the project Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul, funded by the Global Social Economy Forum. The project provides insights into how the SDGs are being translated from the global to the local level and what role the social economy can play in realizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda. Watch this video for a brief introduction.

Safeguarding Trans* People's Rights: Side Event at the Human Rights Council

To coincide with Trans* Advocacy Week at the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, UNRISD is hosting a side event at the HRC in Geneva which aims to contextualize trans* rights within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While human rights are designed to be universal, some groups are systematically left behind. How can the SDGs meet this challenge? To find out more, come to the side event at 13.30 on 19 June in Room XXIII in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, or follow us on Twitter @UNRISD to see how the discussions unfold.
UNRISD is also developing research ideas on this topic; see the Beyond Binary project in our Ideas Incubator for more details, or contact Doreen Yomoah if you would like to join us in bringing this work forward.

Just Transition Research Collaborative Workshop

How is the concept of the Just Transition (a socially sustainable move away from fossil fuels and towards low-carbon development) being used in policy making and civil society debates? And how can the approach best be used to foster the transition to equitable low-carbon development? These are some of the question discussed at the workshop held by the Just Transition Research Collaborative in Bonn in early May, as the group works towards its goal of producing a policy report later this year.

Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development: 4th International Human Rights Symposium

How to protect and enhance human rights more effectively in the face of rapid economic and social change resulting from scientific and technological development is the subject of the annual International Human Rights Symposium, taking place on 5 June in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The event is initiated by the country's Ministry of Justice, and is this year being co-hosted by UNRISD and the Korea University Human Rights Center. Each year the Symposium invites domestic and international experts to discuss problems caused by changes in the social environment and their impact on international human rights norms, in order to assist the government of the Republic of Korea and others to address the problems identified.


Chinese translation of Flagship Report Overview Policy Innovations for Transformative Change

UNRISD is delighted to announce that a Chinese version of the Overview of our 2016 Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change , is now available! Our grateful thanks for the translation go to the Chinese edition of the International Social Science Journal, Social Sciences in China Press (SSCP), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The Chinese version was originally published in: The Chinese Edition of International Social Science Journal, Vol.35, No.1 (Spring 2018), pp.127-154.

Feminist Mobilization, Claims Making and Policy Change: 4 articles published in Development and Change

Nitya Rao, Paola Cagna, Anne Marie Goetz, Rob Jenkins, Naila Kabeer These articles published in Development and Change seek to understand how policy change to strengthen women’s rights occurs. They come from the UNRISD research project When and Why Do States Respond to Women’s Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change in Asia, carried out between 2013 and 2015 with funding from the Ford Foundation and support from UNRISD’s institutional budget provided by the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Finland. A wide range of project outputs, including the country research reports, policy briefs and videos, are available on open access.

Indonesian Social Policy Development in a Context of Global Social Governance

Alexandra Kaasch, Mulyadi Sumarto, Brooke Wilmsen This paper presents the agency of several global social policy actors and the ideas that drive their input into national social policy processes in Indonesia. This paper provides a broad picture of actors and their influence in Indonesian social policy development, during its recent period of increasing formalization and expansion. In order to better understand the global context within which such changes have occurred, the paper addresses the following key questions: Which external policy actors have engaged in social policy issues in Indonesia? What were their perspectives, ideas, preferences or requests? And, how has their role changed as the country has developed?

Experiences with Welfare, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Prisoners: Lessons Learned?

Charlotte Gisler, Ineke Pruin, Ueli Hostettler Globally, at least 11 million people are held in prisons and other penal institutions, a number which has increased by more than 10 percent over the past decade. Prisoners often come from marginalized or vulnerable groups in society, including children and, increasingly, the elderly. Without adequate public policies that can provide social services and support to inmates and their families, correctional services risk perpetuating cycles of criminal behaviour and exacerbating poverty and inequality. Designing and implementing comprehensive policies based on internationally agreed norms and standards is essential in today’s era of sustainable development that pledges to leave no one behind—offering a chance for inmates and the released to be full members of society.

Social, Economic and Environmental Policy Complementarity in the South African Mining Sector

Sophie Plagerson, Lauren Stuart This paper assesses the policy complementarity of pre- and post-apartheid policy mandates; and the intersections between policy actors from the state, the mining industry, labour and civil society. It finds that intersectoral policy connections are necessary, but not sufficient, for the achievement of optimal redistributive outcomes. While South Africa benefits from a robust intersectoral post-apartheid legislative and policy framework, and progress has been made in several areas, significant challenges remain as evidenced by the slow pace of legislative reform, institutionalized political corruption, low levels of trust between stakeholders, differing perspectives on the meaning of “transformation” and who is responsible for its attainment, and internal divisions in the labour sector.

Mapping of Intergovernmental Documentation on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)

Many governments and parliaments around the world are enacting laws, implementing policies, programmes and development plans, and creating new institutions to support SSE. While an expanding body of research is examining the nature of this SSE policy turn at the national and sub-national levels, and UNRISD itself has been at the forefront of efforts to generate greater awareness and understanding of SSE within the UN system, little is known about its scope at the regional level. This paper maps uptake of the term “social and solidarity economy” by regional intergovernmental organizations, and selected global organizations as well. While primarily descriptive, the report also offers several analytical insights regarding the substance of the discursive shifts occurring at the level of intergovernmental organizations.
This publication is part of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE)'s SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs, implemented by UNRISD.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through Social and Solidarity Economy: Incremental versus Transformative Change

Peter Utting In a context where an increasing number of governments are promoting policies that aim to support organizations and enterprises that make up the social and solidarity economy (SSE), this paper assesses the effectiveness of such support. It does so from the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by considering whether the uptake of the SSE agenda by governments can scale up and enable SSE in ways conducive to realizing the transformational vision of the SDGs. 
This publication is part of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE)'s SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs, implemented by UNRISD.


Just Transition(s) to a Low-Carbon World

Online Forum
The Just Transition Research Collaborative, of which UNRISD is a leading member, has launched an Online Forum Just Transition(s) to a Low-Carbon World as part of its work to provide a space for exchange and discussion that brings together a range of experts from academia and civil society to collectively map and analyse the different understandings and narratives of “Just Transition” underpinning the concept’s growing popularity and uptake. Titles so far include:

ICYMI: From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development

UNRISD Think Piece Series
We like this think piece series so much, we thought we'd give you another chance to look over it: new technologies are changing our lives, so what does that mean for how we conceptualize and practice human rights?
Contributions look at how to make sure we are not leaving anyone behind in this increasingly digital and automated world from a number of different perspectives, covering topics like disability. the right to development, big data and health and accountability, and whether IT is a threat to democracy, as well as considerations on the need for a fourth generation of human rights. Try the introductory piece before you have a look around, and let us know if you'd like to be part of the next edition of the series by getting in touch with Kelly Stetter.

The Need for Transparency: Designing Rights-Based and Accountable Social Protection Systems

Rasmus Jensen Schjødt In this expert commentary featured on the Social Protection and Human Rights Platform, Rasmus Jensen Schjødt argues that social accountability should not be considered as an ad-hoc or stand-alone initiative in social protection programmes, but rather as part and parcel of the whole exercise. For social protection programmes to enable officials to be held accountable and citizens to be empowered, programme design needs to take into consideration how targeting criteria, benefit levels calculations, rationing of access, use of conditions and other design choices affect, and are affected by, power relations between citizens and officials.

Human Rights in an Age of Austerity: Casualty or Compass?

Nicholas Lusiani Ten years since the height of the financial crisis, media reports are optimistic that the global economy has recovered. In this piece, however, Nicholas Lusiani from the Center for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights argues that readers should "not believe the GDP". While the numbers may paint an optimistic picture of renewed economic prosperity, social and human rights protections have fallen victim to austerity measures. In order to prevent another “lost decade”, governments and other stakeholders will need to see human rights values not as merely collateral damage of economic policy, but as non-negotiable norms which should be used to guide the design and implementation of such policy.


Social Work and Youth--Towards Inclusive Sustainable Development

For World Social Work Day 2018, which UNRISD celebrated this year in conjunction with a number of local and international partners, we asked what values, approaches and tools of social work enable young people to thrive and contribute to building resilient and sustainable communities. Presentations from the event can be found in this playlist.


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