Innovation and Implementing the SDGs; Innovaciones políticas para el cambio transformador - Flagship Report Overview in Spanish: Issue 33 March 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.


How can we best serve your interests? Let us know which of these topics, selected from the chapters in the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, interests you most.

Take part in our Twitter poll and let us know what you think.


“Vision without execution is hallucination” is often attributed to American innovator and entrepreneur Thomas Edison. Not just a prolific inventor, he also devoted his attention and considerable energy to getting his inventions into commercial production. In the case of the electric light bulb, he even founded the Edison Illuminating Company to deliver electricity right into people’s houses so they could use his product.

It may have been a sign of his times that Edison was able to be such a polymath, but his holistic approach to this crucial development of the modern industrialized world is key to his success in making change happen.

With the Sustainable Development Goals we are at such a moment. The vision is set down on paper in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and innovations and ideas fairs abound. The big question is how to get the electricity into people’s houses (literally, in some parts of the world) so we can turn the vision into reality.

UNRISD has been delving into ways to make the SDGs happen. We connected with practitioners at the sharp end of social development when we celebrated World Social Work Day last week, in a successful collaborative effort with two international social work organizations and the Geneva School of Social Work. Social workers are the ones who ground policy responses in social reality and can help assess the impact of those policies as they work to create more cohesive societies, leaving no one behind. As Rory Truell, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers put it, social workers are the workforce implementing Agenda 2030, so the more coordination between social work and development, the better.

Our newest research project also looks at SDG implementation, with the spotlight on the social economy in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Social and solidarity economy (SSE), with its integrated approach combining social, economic and at times environmental objectives, has the capacity to address some of the structural underpinnings of vulnerability, exclusion and unsustainable development. It could be a good means of implementation for the SDGs. Ilcheong Yi and his team will be finding out more about how this is playing out in Seoul to build the evidence base and inform policy making in other locations.

Finally, we are proud to present the Spanish translation of the Overview of our 2016 Flagship Report Innovaciones políticas para el cambio transformador. Now we will be able to take our findings on policies and practices which can lead to social, economic and ecological justice to the national and local level in the Spanish-speaking world, and extend our efforts to make sure the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development delivers on its transformative promise.


Engaging with the International Development Community in New York

UNRISD was at UN Headquarters again this February. Centring on the presentation of its biennial Activity Report to the Commission for Social Development, UNRISD made sure that its connections with UN member states and its visibility in the intergovernmental UN body to which it reports remained high, as in previous years.

New Research: Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs. Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul

As part of its drive to assure funding levels, UNRISD has gained support for a new research project on the social economy (SE) in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and how it is contributing to implementing and, ultimately, achieving, the city’s “localized” SDGs. This is the first case study of a series of research projects on SSE and the SDGs which UNRISD is planning to undertake.
This project is made possible by funding from the Global Social Economy Forum.

UNRISD Flagship Report on the Road: Lisbon and Barcelona

UNRISD speakers have been taking the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, launched last October, on the road around southern Europe in the last month or so with presentations in Lisbon and Barcelona. These events are a vital part of connecting our research findings with policy makers, thinkers, activists and practitioners, and influencing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The next leg of the Flagship Roadshow will be in Berlin in May, when it will be presented to members of the German Parliament and their policy staff in the Bundestag itself.

Meetings of Minds: Project Workshops Move Research Forward

Two ongoing projects have recently featured workshops, one bringing researchers together for their first face-to-face meeting, and the other sharing mid-term findings.
The project Valueworks: Effects of Financialization along the Copper Value Chain, held its inception workshop in Basel, Switzerland on 8-10 March 2017. Senior Research Coordinator Katja Hujo presented a background paper on financialization and social development as she joined a diverse group of project members to discuss different entry points into the copper value chain in the research sites covered in the project: China, Switzerland and Zambia.
Research Analyst Ibrahim Saïd represented UNRISD at the mid-term workshop of the project Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India, which took place in São Paulo, Brazil on 6-10 February 2017. Ibrahim presented on SSE and public policies, and researchers from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazi and India shared their findings so far, discussed the comparative framework for the different case studies, and agreed on the next steps in the project.

Shaping the Future: UNRISD Welcomes Maastricht University Public Policy Students

On 1 March 2017 a group of Public Policy students from United Nations University MERIT / Maastricht University, the Netherlands, met with UNRISD as part of a study trip to Geneva. Senior Research Coordinator Katja Hujo welcomed the students and provided an overview of UNRISD and its research contribution to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, including a summary of the key messages from the Institute's 2016 flagship report: Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. 


Save the Date: 9 May - Energy Transition and the 2030 Agenda Panel Discussion

UNRISD is pleased to partner with the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Energy Programme and the Geneva Environment Network to co-organize a panel discussion on different dimensions of the energy transition -- from the social drivers and impacts to the implications for employment and decent work, and a lot in between. Full details coming soon.

Save the Date: 22 May - Inclusive Development Workshop with ESID and UNRISD

On 22 May, UNRISD in conjuction with ESID will be holding a research symposium in Geneva to discuss recent work by both Institutes on inclusive development. With a focus on social policy and on gender issues, UNRISD will present its 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, and ESID will highlight results from its ongoing work on effective states and the politics of development. A public panel discussion is also planned for the evening. An update on the events will be coming to your inbox soon.

World Social Work Day 2017: Social Work and Sustainable Development

World Social Work Day (WSWD) has been celebrated around the globe since 1983. This year, the Geneva School of Social Work and its international partners teamed up with UNRISD to mark the Day at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) under the banner "Social Work and Sustainable Development".

Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health: Realizing Health and Human Rights

At this official Side Event of the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council, panellists discussed how people’s sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHRs) around the world could be better protected and promoted. They presented perspectives on challenges and good practices in ensuring full access to SRHRs, environmental dimensions of family planning, the linkages between a human rights-based social protection framework and access to these rights, and current global trends, and what these mean for implementation of the SDGs (and their achievement by 2030).
Visit the event page and click on "Media Files" in the green box top right to hear the podcasts of the speakers.

The Poverty of Politics? Pursuing Sustainable Development for All in Challenging Times

At an UNRISD Side Event at the 55th Commission for Social Developmen in New York, panellists explored some of the current obstacles to integrated policies for poverty eradication, ranging from the exclusionary and isolationist politics which seem to be taking root in many countries, to growing inequalities, and the continued threats to our natural environment. With a looming potential retreat from cooperation, participants discussed strategies that could shift the political dynamics into a different gear to ensure poverty eradication and sustainable development for all.


Innovaciones políticas para el cambio transformador

Thanks to the support of the United Nations Association of Spain, we are proud to announce the arrival of the Overview of the Flagship Report in Spanish. If you would like to partner with UNRISD in organizing a launch event for the Report in a Spanish-speaking location, please get in touch with Report Coordinator Katja Hujo.

Global Trends: Challenges and Opportunities in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

Esuna Dugarova, Nergis Gülasan This joint UNDP-UNRISD report reviews recent trends in six areas that are fundamentally important to achieving the 2030 Agenda. These six “mega-trends” relate to (i) poverty and inequalities, (ii) demography, (iii) environmental degradation and climate change, (iv) shocks and crises, (v) development cooperation and financing for development, and (vi) technological innovation. The report explores whether these trends are having positive or negative effects on development and discusses policy implications for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

El Rol de las cooperativas y la acción colectiva en el desarrollo y la reconciliación en Nicaragua

Peter Utting, Amalia Chamorro, Christopher Bacon Las áreas rurales son de gran importancia para entender el desarrollo y la reconciliación, puesto que es a menudo allí donde las guerras civiles se concentran. Además son sitios clave para el empleo productivo y la reactivación económica. Al mismo tiempo, las organizaciones e instituciones rurales a nivel local, sean comunitarias, religiosas, cooperativas, gubernamentales u organismos no-gubernamentales (ONG), pueden jugar roles importantes en la reconstrucción económica y social luego del conflicto. 

Universalizing Elementary Education in India: Achievements and Challenges

John Harriss Despite the promise in the Constitution of India (1950) to establish universal elementary education within a decade, for many years this goal received neither the attention of politicians nor the resources for its achievement. This began to change in the early 1990s with several innovative programmes—notably the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, introduced in 2001—and then the Right to Education Act in 2009. This paper analyses the implementation of the Act, looking at areas of success but also where more work needs to be done.

State-Society and Donor Relations: The Political Economy of Domestic Resource Mobilization in Nicaragua

Gloria Carrión Fonseca This paper proposes that current shifts in aid governance and access to new regional funds and revenue opportunities have compensated for a fall in aid from other donors and provided key resource availability for the Nicaraguan state, impacting positively on policy space and some development indicators. However, structural issues such as the level of social spending, poverty eradication and the empowerment of subaltern groups remain key challenges to be effectively addressed.

Bolivia: Movilización de recursos domésticos, desarrollo social y cambio institucional

Wilson Jiménez Pozo Luego de dos décadas de descentralización y seis años de autonomías, las brechas sociales entre municipios de Bolivia siguen siendo profundas y se explican, en parte, por la debilidad de la gestión pública, la falta de incentivos para obtener recursos propios y la desarticulación de la gestión local en la provisión de servicios públicos. A pesar del aumento de excedentes de recursos naturales desde mediados de los años 2000, que propiciaron un incremento de las transferencias intergubernamentales, los gobiernos municipales aún no se consolidaron y todavía se observan deficiencias en el modelo fiscal-financiero para atender necesidades del desarrollo local.

Publications by former UNRISD staff

Valeria Esquivel
Avances, retrocesos y desafíos pendientes: A 20 años de la Plataforma de Acción de Beijing in 38-39 (Autumn 2016) of Studia Politicae

Sudheesh Ramapurath Chemmencheri
Social Protection as a Human Right in South Asia in 10 (2) 2016, of Indian Journal of Human Development


International Women’s Day 2017: How Bold is Bold?

Paul Ladd Published as part of the Director's Blog Series "Through the Social Lens", this blog looks at what achieving the goals of campaigns like International Women's Day really means in practice.

The Good, the Bad and the Innovative: Understanding the Darker Side of Innovation for Development

Roman Twerenbold New ideas and policies are needed to tackle global challenges, and innovation will be key to implementing the 2030 Agenda. But innovation implies disruption—and actual or even potential upheaval in the status quo can generate resistance. Innovators need to understand the potential and perceived negative impacts of innovation, and work to overcome the sources of resistance to change.

From the Concrete Wall to the Glass Ceiling to the Labyrinth: Gendering Leadership for Transformative Change

Luisa Lupo Figures suggest that the gender gap in education has been reversed in almost all developed countries as well as many developing countries, and it could be globally reduced to parity within the next 10 years on current trends. Yet, women lag behind men when it comes to economic opportunities and political representation, particularly in leadership positions. This blog explores the transformative potential of policies with a gender-based approach to leadership.

New Edition of The Transformation Conversation: Blog Series on the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report and Agenda 2030

We are excited to announce that a second edition of the blog series accompanying the Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change will be launched in May 2017. The series will lead up to the High-Level Political Forum in New York in July (the UN body that is overseeing SDG implementation) at which UNRISD hopes again to share its research findings with key policy makers. Watch this space for innovative thinking and engaging video contributions!


UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report: Look Inside

Katja Hujo In this video contribution to the blog series The Transformation Conversation, UNRISD Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Institute's 2016 Flagship Report Katja Hujo presents the objectives of the report as well as "what's in it" for policy-makers, international actors, academics and civil society groups, the main users of UNRISD research. 

Innovation and Sustainable Development: A CASS-UNRISD Seminar

In this UNRISD Seminar, panellists discussed some of the key policy, institutional and technological innovations that can be harnessed to realize the 2030 Agenda. Guest speakers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) shared their first-hand expertise and insights on social policy innovations and achievements, and challenges in sustainable development in China. Watch the video of the whole seminar, or select the speakers that interest you most.


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