Elite Power, Street Power. Issue 42 October 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.


How much influence do you think you have on politics? Beyond exercising your right to vote, how many other channels are open to you, and what are they?

Now imagine you are a multi-millionaire. Does that change your options? Would you fund the campaign of somebody running for office? Regularly network with political leaders? Perhaps create a think tank which supports your particular policy preferences?

At what point do these kinds of activities become undue influence, if not outright corruption? And when do they become so self-reinforcing that political change becomes very difficult to bring about through periodic exercise of the vote? Most importantly, do we accept this as the natural state of societal affairs? Or do we seek to innovate, to find new ways to challenge the capture of ever greater power and resources—political, economic, cultural—by economic elites?

Join us on 8-9 November 2018 to discuss these questions, and many more, at the UNRISD conference Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization. Register now to secure your place!

We have a particularly event-rich season to offer you: apart from the Conference—and its opening roundtable on 7 November with thought leaders, influencers and advocates for change—we have two events on blockchain and development, one on climate change adapation, and two on extractive industries and financialization, all before the end of the year.

We hope you'll be following all the events that are of interest to you, with us in Geneva or via Facebook Live and social media, and we look forward to engaging with you on these topics during the events and afterwards.


Register Now for UNRISD Conference: Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization

Registration is now open for our international conference Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization, taking place in Geneva on 8-9 November 2018. We have a thought-provoking set of panels for you, posing questions that often get neglected in mainstream discussions: How do elites perceive inequality, and their responsibilities toward a greater public good? What, if anything, might motivate elites to engage in progressive alliances to reduce inequalities? What popular mechanisms of political engagement have been most - and least- effective at curbing elite influence and pushing forward policies that address inequality at the structural level?
Look forward to panels on climate justice and social exclusion, cities and socio-spatial inequalities, shifting class structures, and how institutions in can perpetuate or curb inequalities. See the full programme for more details.
Registration is free of charge, and can be done here!
PS Don't forget the conference opening - see below

Engines of Inequality? Elites, Power and Politics

Don't miss the opening of the Conference, which we are co-hosting with the University of Geneva at 18.30 on 7 November 2018. An exciting line-up of speakers includes Saskia Sassen, Naila Kabeer, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, with expert moderation from Imogen Foulkes of the BBC. Come and hear an inspirational discussion of the growing influence of elite power and the deepening of global inequalities, and what can be done to counteract these trends.
This event is open to the public as well as conference participants. No registration required.

New Research Project: Sustainable Development Impact Indicators

UNRISD is excited to announce its latest large-scale project: Sustainable Development Impact Indicators for For-Profit Enterprise and Social and Solidarity Economy. This multi-year project will assess current impact measurement tools for the social economy and for-profit enterprises, and based on that assessment develop a manageable set of key indicators to measure enterprise performance associated with “transformative change” and its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Watch this space for more details!

UNTFSSE Call for Papers on Social and Solidarity Economy: Selection Made!

We'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Call for Papers that we are coordinating for the UN Task Force on SSE Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy? We received over 300 abstracts which the team has just finished assessing; the quality overall is quite impressive so they have had a difficult task. Now that we've been in touch with all the participants, we look forward to receiving the finished products!

Are You the Next Visiting Fellow at UNRISD?

Over the last several months, UNRISD has welcomed several Visiting Fellows who have enriched us with their knowledge and expertise on topics as diverse as intergenerational educational mobility, and a comparison of green economy in the Republic of Korea with Buen Vivir in Bolivia. In return they have been able to spend time with UNRISD staff to learn more about how UNRISD's work intersects with theirs, and in some cases publish papers with us.
If you are interested in being an UNRISD Visiting Fellow, you can find out more here.


Upcoming Events

Blockchain for Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Fact or Fantasy?
This UNRISD Seminar, taking place on 24 October in Geneva, will give development practitioners and researchers a better understanding of the potential of blockchain technology to contribute to the implementation and achievement of sustainable development. Speakers come from the blockchain community of thinkers, innovators and practitioners who are exploring the consequences of blockchain for social good and human development. Register now if you'd like to attend!

Monetary Innovation and Complementary Currencies Researcher Symposium

This Researcher Symposium, co-hosted by RAMICS, IFLAS, B4SD.net and SCC and taking place on 25 October 2018, looks at the broader implications for a sustainable society of a host of different monetary innovations including monetary decentralization via digital or physical currencies, and currencies using blockchain or cryptography for security. Post-doctoral, doctoral, and masters researchers will discuss legal, sociological, developmental, political, anthropological, management and economics perspectives. The Symposium aims to encourage further research in this field.

Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization

UNRISD has now released the full programme for the Conference, taking place on 8-9 November 2018 in Geneva. Highlights include leading thinkers François Bourguignon and Vandana Shiva as keynote speakers, and a UN-Civil Society roundtable. UNRISD has again been able to mobilize untapped research: from the Global South, from young scholars, from women researchers, and from practitioners. Their voices and unique perspectives on development problems are a likely source of innovative knowledge and solutions and promise to inspire the debates on sustainable development in challenging times. Register now to attend and we look forward to seeing you in Geneva next month!

Conference Opening: Engines of Inequality? Elites, Politics and Power

Today, the richest 1% of the population holds half of the world’s wealth. How did we arrive at this alarming state of affairs? What kinds of fractures has this extreme concentration of wealth wrought, be they economic, political, cultural, social, spatial, or environmental? And what space is there for progressive change in a context where those in power act to preserve the systems from which they benefit?
Come and hear leading thinkers Saskia Sassen, Naila Kabeer, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram discuss these crucial questions, under the expert moderation of BBC reporter Imogen Foulkes at UniMail, Geneva on 7 November.
This event is open to the public as well as conference participants. No registration required.

Expert Group Meeting on Transformative Adaptation

Jakarta, Indonesia, and Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, are the case study cities which will be discussed at this Expert Group Meeting taking place in Geneva on 21-22 November which launches a new UNRISD research strand on transformative adapation, understood as change that can overcome inequalities and root causes of vulnerability. In conjunction with the workshop, UNRISD will be hosting a public seminar. More details to come soon, and our thanks to the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the permanent mission to the UN in Geneva for their support of this initiative.

Life Along the Copper Value Chain: The Swiss Commodity Trading Hub and its Impact in the Global South

To present the results of the Valueworks project, UNRISD is organizing two events on behalf of the international research consortium in which it is a partner: a Round Table Discussion on Monday, 10 December 2018, 18.00–20.00 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and a Research Symposium on Tuesday, 11 December 2018, 09.00–17.00 at the Palais des Nations, both in Geneva. Registration will be opening soon for those who wish to find out more about this fascinating research on how changes in the global commodities trade have affected local lives along the copper value chain, from the mining pits and the surrounding communities in Zambia, through towns and harbours on African transport corridors, through Swiss trading firms and banks to the sites of industrial production and recycling in China.

Past Events

Social Economy and the 2030 Agenda: Localizing Goals, Co-Creating Policies
UNRISD hosted a session at the Global Social Economy Forum, held in Bilbao, Spain, on 1-3 October 2018, at which it launched the full research results of the project Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul. Choose how to access the findings:

New Technologies and Human Rights: Official Side Event of the 39th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

At this event, UNRISD convened a panel of experts and practitioners who engaged participants in the UN Human Rights Council in a conversation about the new and often disruptive technologies that combine elements of the digital, material and biological and are ushering in sweeping changes to the ways we organize our societies and our lives. Speakers considered how to ensure that human rights considerations are included in the design and implementation of the emerging technologies that shape our daily lives and interactions; and how to leverage emerging technologies to achieve human rights objectives. Some limitations of the current international human rights framework were also pointed out, whether in terms of accountability, transparency, and regulation of technologies themselves as well as their impacts on human rights.

Ciné-ONU Film Screening: "The Cleaners"

To complement our Human Rights Council Side Event on new technologies and human rights, UNRISD collaborated with Ciné-ONU to screen the thought-provoking documentary film "The Cleaners" which asks some profound questions: where is the point of balance for social media to be neither an unlegislated space nor a forum rife with censorship? And what makes an image art or propaganda? The film was followed by a lively and thoughtful panel discussion.


Social and Solidarity Economy for the Sustainable Development Goals: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul—Full Report

This research examined the social economy (SE) in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and how it is contributing to implementing and, ultimately, achieving the city’s “localized” SDGs. Characterized by a rapid development of proactive SE policies, dramatic growth of SE organizations and enterprises, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the city’s experience offers a valuable opportunity to further enrich understanding of social and solidarity economy as a means of implementation of the SDGs. This was the first case study of a series of research projects on SSE and the SDGs which UNRISD is planning to undertake. Let us know if your city could be the next one in the series!


The Social Economy and an Integrated Approach to the Localized SDGs in Seoul: Interrogating the Evidence
One of the leitmotifs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is its integrated approach: an insistence on the indivisibility of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), necessary to bring a long-missing element of coherence to development policies and actions across multiple dimensions. The social economy (SE) shines in this respect, because of its inherently integrated approach: one of its distinguishing features is the combination of economic, social and often environmental concerns. Given the rapid growth of SE in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s strong commitment to both SE and the SDGs, this Brief reviews unique empirical evidence gathered in Seoul which reveals how well SE is working to realize its potential to implement the SDGs in the balanced and integrated way they were intended.

Measuring the Scale and Impact of Social and Solidarity Economy

Given the diversity of the growing social and solidarity economy (SSE), developing tools to assess its size and the different types of impact it might have is a daunting task. Based on a systematic review of the literature, this Brief considers the relative advantages and limitations of different existing methodologies to measure the scale and impact of SSE at the macro, meso and micro levels.

Just Transition(s) to Low-Carbon Development—A Workshop of the Just Transition Research Collaborative

Effectively tackling climate change and setting the world on a socially just, low-carbon and sustainable development path is one of the greatest challenges the world is now facing. Just Transition—the idea that justice and equity must form an integral part of the transition toward a low-carbon world—has been gaining traction internationally as we collectively strive to address the important questions raised by this concept. But is Just Transition simply another buzzword, or should we take it seriously to advance international climate and sustainable development debates?

Journal Articles from UNRISD Project New Directions in Social Policy

S. Plagerson, L. Patel, T. Hochfeld, M.S. Ulriksen, M.S. 2018. "Social policy in South Africa: Navigating the route to social development". World Development Vol. 113, p.1-9.
Free access to this article is available here until 26 October 2018.

S. Plagerson, T. Hochfeld and L. Stuart. 2018. "Social Security and Gender Justice in South Africa: Policy Gaps and Opportunities." Journal of Social Policy, 1-18. doi:10.1017/S004727941800048X


Women-Led Social and Solidarity Practices in Action

Watch these fascinating insights into the lives of women engaging in social and solidarity practices in Latin America and India, as recorded by the researchers on the SNIS-funded project Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India in which UNRISD participated. What a great way to share the research results! You can watch the video in English, French or Spanish.

New Technologies and Human Rights: Side Event at the United Nations Human Rights Council

In case you couldn't make it to our side event at the Human Rights Council in September, here's your chance to re-live it via Facebook live. Hear our panel of experts discuss questions like how we can ensure that human rights considerations are included in the design and implementation of the emerging technologies that shape our daily lives and interactions.
Note that you don't need a Facebook account to view this video

Changing Course for Sustainable Development: Bold Alternatives to Business as Usual

We also have for you, courtesy of Facebook live, the opportunity to hear the discussion of the 2018 Spotlight Report produced by a coalition of civil society organizations, covering topics from gender inquality, the impacts of extreme wealth concentration, the need to protect the rights of waste workers, to peace inequality. Your chance to catch up on this important contribution to how, and whether, the SDGs are being achieved.
Note that you don't need a Facebook account to view this video


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