Transitions and Transformations in Policy Dialogues and in Research Findings: Issue 34 May 2017
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.


Help shape our Seminar Series! For which UNRISD seminar topic would you clear space in your diary?

Take part in our Twitter poll and let us know what you think.
Poll closes on Tuesday 30 May!


The canton of Geneva in Switzerland, where UNRISD is located, announced on 1 January 2017 that the region is now powered exclusively by local, renewable energy. And it reduced its prices at the same time.

While this may have been a small step for a region already using 95% renewable energy, it was also not done by chance. “It was a question of political will”, said the director of the local power company when pressed as to why this change now. And it is a question of a long-term commitment to renewable energy sources: Geneva stopped using nuclear power 30 years ago.

Political will and long-term commitment are key to many of the processes of transformative change analysed in UNRISD research and events over the last two months, whether policies impacting children, as in our newest research project, or our latest book on advancing universal health care.

And UNRISD of course continues to bring its analysis to the attention of policy makers and policy influencers at the national level, for example at a Policy Dialogue in South Africa on social policy research from 12 countries, and at the international level at this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at UN Headquarters in New York in July.

We hope you enjoy looking over our work from the past two months. And don’t forget to take part in our Twitter poll—what topic would you like to see discussed in our next seminar?


New Research: Transformative Change for Children and the SDGs

With this new project, UNRISD and UNICEF are uniting their research and expertise to critically explore what the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda means for children: What does transformative change, as defined in the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report, and sustainable development mean for children and adolescents in different contexts? How can policy innovations and institutional reforms drive transformative change for them? And how can children and adolescents themselves meaningfully participate in these processes?

Five Days, Three Pillars, One Training Course: UNRISD Strengthens Capacity of Environment Ministries to Implement Agenda 2030

In a concrete step to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development, UNRISD senior researcher Ilcheong Yi shared UNRISD research on transformative change and social policy with government officials from environment ministries from 28 countries at an Executive Training Course for Policymakers on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) organized by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development in the Republic of Korea. 

UNRISD Research Informing UN and National Policy Making in the Middle East and North Africa Region

UNRISD has this year been an engaged partner with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in the preparation and delivery of the annual Arab Forum for Sustainable Development, using research findings to contribute to coherent and coordinated implementation, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab region.

Second Edition of The Transformation Conversation

We are pleased to announce the launch of the second edition of The Transformation Conversation, our series of blogs on the UNRISD Flagship Report 2016 and Agenda 2030, just as the development community gears up for this year's High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development at UN Headquarters in July. There's a new post on "disaster citizenship" and social protection, and the first of our "3m2" videos, in which we challenged our authors to present 3 messages in 3 minutes from their chapters of the Flagship Report. Have 3 minutes? Have a listen...

Back on Track

UNRISD has taken steps to resolve its financial crisis of last year and is now back on track. We recently signed a new 2-year funding agreement with Sweden and a new 3-year funding agreement with Switzerland. And we are pitching an exciting new set of projects. At our Board Meeting on 28 April 2017 Board members were pleased with progress and discussed steps to further improve financial oversight and bring the Institute's statutes up to date.

Remodeling Global Cooperation—With Students from The Graduate Institute

UNRISD and the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies are launching an exciting new venture together to crowd-source from their students radical yet realistic new models of global cooperation to handle today’s global challenges. Working closely with researchers from both organizations, students will develop their ideas to craft a joint UNRISD—Graduate Institute entry to the "New Shape" contest being run by the Global Challenges Foundation. Some of the ideas generated may well make their way into the communications channels of UNRISD and the Graduate Institute, so keep an eye out for the follow-up.

Opening Minds and Futures: UNRISD Unlocks Potential at Careers Fairs

UNRISD has again participated in the spring round of careers fairs in the local area, making sure it reaches out to the development students, experts, policy makers and activists of today and tomorrow.


UNRISD at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

UNRISD plans a strong presence at this year's High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN's central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in the form of participation in side events on Innovations in Social Policy to Eradicate Poverty and Promote Prosperity and on Capacity Building around Innovations for Transformative Change. More details coming soon.

Special Session at ILO conference: Linking Social Protection and Human Rights

UNRISD will be hosting a Special Session at the ILO conference "The Future of Work", organised by the Regulating for Decent Work Network, in early July. The Session aims to raise awareness among researchers, policy makers and international organizations on the need and practical ways to ground social protection and labour policies in human rights, and to deepen knowledge on the linkages between social protection and human rights through empirical evidence drawn from concrete examples.
The Session is an activity of the joint UN web-based platform Social Protection and Human Rights.

Energy Transition and the 2030 Agenda: Shaking Up the Energy Mix

Sustainable energy production and consumption is everybody’s business. And it’s in everybody’s interest to get it right: access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, with a substantial increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Speakers at this joint UNRISD-IISD-GEN panel discussion, held ahead of the Swiss popular vote on 21 May on the country's proposed Energy Strategy 2050, explored the implications of the energy transition from a range of perspectives—from the technological and environmental, to the social, economic and political.
If you missed the event, you can hear the presentations as podcasts in the green "Media Files" box, top right of the event page.

New Directions in Social Policy: Global Research Workshop

This three-day workshop, part of the three-year research project New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South, unites representatives from all research teams working on country studies, individual authors of country papers and international experts on topics such as global social policy, the informal work sector, decentralization and the role of civil society, to discuss interim research findings.

Policy Dialogue: Social Protection for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

Co-hosted by the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg, this Policy Dialogue brings together a panel of researchers from the UNRISD project New Directions in Social Policy with South African development actors from national government, civil society and the research community to discuss how UNRISD findings on innovations in social policy can help with the implementation of the SDGs.

Berlin Parliamentary Presentation of "Policy Innovations for Transformative Change" UNRISD Flagship Report 2016

The UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report was presented to German parliamentarians, civil servants, media, civil society representatives and researchers in the Bundestag, the German parliament building. Watch the recording of the presentation on Facebook live!


Towards Universal Health Care in Emerging Economies: Opportunities and Challenges

Ilcheong Yi (ed.) Universalism in health care is once again prominent in national and international debates on social policy. This book provides analysis of the opportunities and challenges in three emerging economies which are well on the way to achieving universal health care (Thailand, Brazil and China), and surveys the obstacles facing India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela as they attempt to reform their health care systems to make them more universal.
This book is available in hardcover or as an eBook, or alternatively can be purchased by chapter.

Save the Date! Webinar on the research findings and policy lessons from this book at the end of July, in conjunction with and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth. More details to follow.

The Rise of Homegrown Ideas and Grassroots Voices: New Directions in Social Policy in Rwanda

Chika Ezeanya This paper examines the place of homegrown, indigenous knowledge and grassroots-based ideas in the processes of developing social policies in Rwanda. Specifically, the paper explores what political, social and economic institutions influence the strengthening of grassroots and/or local knowledge, processes and structures in social policy action in Rwanda.

The Development of Indonesian Social Policy in the Context of Overseas Development Aid

Brooke Wilmsen, Alexandra Kaasch, Mulyadi Sumarto Little is known about the role that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) plays in the reform of social protection. To address this gap, this paper explores the specific example of Australia’s ODA in shaping the social protection programs of Indonesia. The authors argue that, in its engagement with the Government of Indonesia, Australia acted as a “constructive partner” rather than a “demanding donor”, which contributed to the recipient government retaining ownership over its activities. 

The Political Economy of Tax Reforms and the Implications for Social Development in Nicaragua

Roberto Molina Many tax reforms have been implemented in Nicaragua since the 1970s to increase revenue collection, but higher revenue levels have not necessarily translated into higher social spending. This paper explores the power relations that determine the economic and social effects of the different tax reforms and how they have perpetuated an unequal system of wealth and income distribution in Nicaragua.

Rights-Based Social Protection: From Rhetoric to Reality? New Directions in Social Policy in India

India stands out among countries with comparable levels of economic development for its rights-based social policies. But rights on paper do not always translate into rights in reality. This Project Brief introduces the India case study in the New Directions in Social Policy project, which investigates the genesis of India’s rights-based social policy legislation, its ramifications in the areas of primary education, public health care and income security, and the factors that have contributed to the success or difficulties of implementation.

Publications by former UNRISD staff

Valeria Esquivel and Andrea Kaufmann
Innovations in Care: New Concepts, New Actors, New Policies Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and UNRISD, March 2017.


Facing the Future: Institutions and Work in the 21st Century

The rapid advance of digital technologies has left an undeniable mark on modern labour markets and is almost certain to continue to reshape the world of work in the future. How we address the challenges posed by this digital transformation depends on how we come to understand its impacts, and how well we are able to adapt our social policies and institutions to the new reality of work in the 21st century.

"Disaster Citizenship" and Opportunities for Transformation: An Urgent Plea for Eco-Social Policies

The first post in the second edition of The Transformation Conversation, a series of blogs on the UNRISD Flagship Report 2016 and Agenda 2030.
Avalanches and earthquakes are not simply "natural" events but are fundamentally the result of local dynamics of power and privilege that leave people vulnerable to climatic hazards. Contemporary disaster risk reduction policies therefore need to reimagine the political system instead of focusing on leaner, meaner technical interventions. This blog post considers how an eco-social approach to disaster resilience can help deliver transformative outcomes in the long term.


Universal Acess to Sexual and Reproductive Health: Video Playlist

All of the interventions from our Side Event at the Human Rights Council in March 2017 on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health in one playlist!

Podcasts of the Energy Seminar Speakers

In case you missed our seminar on Energy Transition and the 2030 Agenda: Shaking Up the Energy Mix, you can now access podcasts of the speakers making their cases (dated 18 May).

3 minutes, 3 messages (3m2): Climate Change and Sustainable Development

A video blog of the 3 main messages from the Climate Change chapter of the 2016 Flagship Report explained in 3 minutes by author Dunja Krause. This is the most recent entry in the second edition of The Transformation Conversation, our series of blogs on the UNRISD Flagship Report 2016 and Agenda 2030.


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