Messages from the Other Side: Communicating Across Silos. Issue 36 September 2017
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.


You may remember a story a couple of years ago about how a third of reports that the World Bank makes available as pdf files on its website are never downloaded. This unfortunate state of affairs is probably pretty widespread; one has to applaud the Bank for its openness in publishing this information at all (in a pdf on its website).

But this is a generic problem in the policy and academic spheres: for all the thinking and evidence-gathering going on, how much of it becomes well-known outside increasingly specialized micro-communities talking essentially to themselves?

UNRISD is doing its best to buck this trend. Yes, our latest major offering to the development community, the 2016 Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, is available as a pdf on our website. But we are also multiplying the potential entry points for different audiences and using different media, to bring a broader readership to the report itself and enable wider dissemination of knowledge. Take a look at the 2-page Research and Policy Brief summarizing the main findings and recommendations, and, for each chapter, the “3 minutes, 3 messages” video that we've produced. Find the whole series here.

We’re also trying to bridge across communities, walking the talk of our recommendation in the Flagship Report for integrated policies and thinking that are not stuck in the usual silos of academic disciplines or separate ministries. Take for example our latest blog series, Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change, which aims to facilitate connections between those working on resilience and specialists in social development disciplines. Or the fledgling projects in our new Ideas Incubator, which cut across domains—take a look.

In the rest of the eBulletin you’ll find a full round-up of news, events and publications to keep you up to date with what’s happening at UNRISD. We’ll be back with the next update at the end of November.


Introducing the UNRISD Ideas Incubator

We've created a space where we take special care of ideas for new research projects. These ideas are still being developed: they are “pre-projects”, not yet fully fledged or funded. Take a look to see if any of them match your research or funding interests, and let us know if you'd like to join us in accelerating research on these issues!

Come Meet Us at the Open Day at the United Nations in Geneva!

The UN in Geneva is throwing open its doors on 7 October for the last time before extensive renovations take place. UNRISD will be present with its own stand as well as supplying expertise for the SDG info-cubes scattered around the Palais des Nations. If you're in Geneva, come and see us! More info about the Open Day here.

Partnering UN Research with Training

UNRISD is collaborating with the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development to ensure that UNRISD research results transfer into the daily work of the UN development community and beyond.
  • At the UN Summer Academy, hosted by the UNSSC in Bonn, Senior Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi gave a plenary speech and facilitated an interactive "AppLab" on how social and solidarity economy can foster implementation of the SDGs at the local level.
  • We are creating a suite of UNSSC micro-learning opportunities based on our 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. Watch this space for the release date.
Through this collaboration, UNRISD is supporting the policy and operational work of the UN and its partners by providing them with knowledge and training they can use to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Remodelling Global Cooperation: The Contest Submission

Over the summer, UNRISD and selected students from the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies were not idle. We put our collective brains and creativity together and have crafted a joint UNRISD-Graduate Institute entry to the "New Shape" contest being run by the Global Challenges Foundation with a radical yet realistic new model of global cooperation to handle today’s global challenges. Now we wait with baited breath for the announcement of the winners in April 2018!

Building Partnerships for Sustainability

As part of UNRISD's concerted efforts to secure its own sustainability, we are working on building stronger relations with different stakeholder groups. To enhance regular communications with the permanent missions of UN member states in Geneva, and with research and policy teams in all UN agencies, we are preparing e-newsletters tailored to the needs and interests of these two groups to be sent out twice a year.

Open, Perceptive and Public-Spirited: A Tribute to Abdul Raufu Mustapha (1954-2017)

UNRISD mourns the death of Abdul Raufu Mustapha, Associate Professor of African Politics at the Oxford Department of International Development and a Fellow of St. Antony's College. This tribute was contributed by Yusuf Bangura, former UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator.


New Research and Policy Briefs

Transformative Policies for Sustainable Development: What Does It Take?
In just two pages this Research and Policy Brief brings you the key messages from the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report. It identifies four key characteristics of innovations that have driven transformative change in policy making and governance by addressing the root causes of inequitable and unsustainable outcomes. Powered by this knowledge, policy makers and those who seek to influence them can make a real contribution to the transformation called for in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Localizing the SDGs through Social and Solidarity Economy

Realizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda will ultimately require changing the structures that generate inequality and poverty to ensure that no one is left behind. “Transformative localization” of the SDGs—that is, meeting diverse needs and transforming economic, social, and political structures at the local level in an inclusive, democratic and sustainable way—is crucial. What role can social and solidarity economy play in processes of localizing the SDGs? This Research and Policy Brief identifies some key factors for transformative localization, links them to SSE, and highlights related opportunities and challenges.

Event Brief

Leading a Transformation? New Trends in Social Policy from and for the Global South.
This Event Brief summarizes the discussions at a Global Research Workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa in May which brought together, face-to-face or virtually, representatives of the research teams on the UNRISD project New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South. What overall trends are we seeing in social policy innovations in the Global South, and can they produce the transformation needed to achieve the SDGs?

Project Brief

Shaping Social Development from Overseas? New Directions in Social Policy in Indonesia
The history of international development cooperation has often been tarnished by the unintended negative consequences of aid agencies’ policies. But Indonesia's social policy reform, in which many donors have been involved, represents a departure from this trend. What makes the Indonesian case different? Read this Project Brief from our multi-country study New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South to find out.

Publication by UNRISD Senior Research Associate

Jane Hodges and Ludo McFerran
An International Labour Organization instrument on violence against women and men at work: The Australian influence in Journal of Industrial Relations, 24 August 2017.


Overcoming Refugee and Migrant Precarity: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy?

At this Official Side Event of the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council, panelists explored the role of social and solidarity economy in promoting the human rights of migrant and refugee populations, including how to foster their social inclusion and ensure that they have sustainable livelihoods. The event also served to introduce Protecting Vulnerable Urban Groups in Contentious Times: The Role of SSE, a new UNRISD project in collaboration with the University of Geneva and other partners (funded by Swiss Network for International Studies), and to network with stakeholders who wish to be kept abreast of this research.

The Transformation We Want: Working Toward a Global Policy Environment for Resilient Futures

UNRISD hosted a session at the Resilience 2017 Conference on 22 August, at which a group of invited speakers discussed environmentally sustainable and socially equitable solutions as they unpacked the notions of transformation and resilience and analysed the politics at play. The session has also generated a think piece series, which will grow over the next weeks and months.

Stockholm Presentation of Policy Innovations for Transformative Change

UNRISD was delighted to have the opportunity to present its Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in Stockholm on 24 August. The seminar was well attended by research staff from Sida and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. To capitalize on the success of this event, similar presentations of UNRISD research findings may well be held in the future.

Save the Date - 23 October 2017 - Joint Launch of Spotlight Report: Reclaiming Policies for the Public

On 23 October, UNRISD will be hosting the Geneva launch of Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017 report, produced by a global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions, and supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Carrying the subtitle "Reclaiming policies for the public. Privatization, partnerships, corporate capture and their impact on sustainability and inequality - assessments and alternatives", the civil society "shadow" report provides a wide-ranging independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. (Alternative “shadow” reporting is a tool used by civil society to hold governments accountable for their commitments.) More details on the event coming to your inbox soon.


Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change: Taking Development Debates to a New Level

Dunja Krause In this opening think piece of the Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change series, Dunja Krause sets the scene for UNRISD’s engagement with the policy and scholarly debates on resilience, highlighting the link to UNRISD’s definition of transformative change put forward in its 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. The piece introduces the key concepts of resilience and transformation used throughout the series, highlights useful links between them, and concludes by outlining some policy implications of resilience thinking for transformative change.

Organizing for Urban Resilience … and, Possibly, for Transformation: TDCs in Bharatpur, Nepal

Hanna A. Ruszczyk This think piece explores the role of Tole Development Committees and argues that they make important contributions to urban resilience in Bharatpur, Nepal. In this context, they are sources of innovative local-level partnerships and ways of approaching governance of eco-social issues. As such, they are taking steps towards greater social inclusion and, possibly, transformation. This think piece is part of UNRISD's Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change series.

Policy Making in a Globalized World: Is Economic Growth the Appropriate Driver? An Example from Mesoamerica

Andrea F. Schuman This think piece traces transnational influences in national-level economic policies and their impacts on one municipality in Mesoamerica. Policy influences that emphasize economic growth, and propose “modernization” and market-based solutions led by the private sector, are found to undermine resilience at both household and community levels, and pose threats to the sustainable livelihoods generated by the activities and practices historically engaged in by the population. The policy implications are relevant across the region in question, and far beyond. This think piece is part of UNRISD's Linking Resilience Thinking and Transformative Change series.

SDG 17: Transformative Partnerships?

Anne Ellersiek Partnerships are a central means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to Targets 16 and 17 of SDG17. This emphasis on partnerships points to the need to effectively harness additional resources, while at the same time highlighting the aim of "leaving no one behind". But are they always both effective and inclusive, and hence transformative? This blog, published as part of the UNRISD Flagship Blog Series The Transformation Conversation, argues that stronger alignment of different approaches is needed for partnerships to bring about the progressive change that the 2030 Agenda requires.

“Education for All”: A Hollow Pledge for International Migrant Children and Youth in the Global South?

Aida Lizbeth Becerra Garza Governments have recently affirmed the right and commitment to quality and inclusive Education for All in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. This think piece argues that it is now urgent to focus on the educational access and inclusion of millions of child and youth migrants in developing countries, concurrently with the efforts already under way in these countries to expand and improve education systems.

Dignity and Social Inclusion: Civil Society’s Role in Social Protection for Homeless People

Katy Sherratt Civil society organizations play an important role in providing opportunities for the most vulnerable members of society, such as the homeless, to realize their right to a decent standard of living. This think piece outlines the atypical model used by the US organization Back on My Feet, which uses running as a way to restore dignity and promote social inclusion among those experiencing homelessness and then layers on education, employment and housing support to build long-term social and economic security. 


3 minutes, 3 messages

Don't have time to read our Flagship Report, but really want to know what's in there? Have a colleague you want to share the main points of the Report with? Then this series is for you. In each video, find out in just 3 minutes what the 3 key messages are from each chapter of the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. Don't miss the bonus video on partnerships!

Why Do We Need the SDGs? Paul Ladd at the SDG Studio

UNRISD Director Paul Ladd paid a visit to the SDG Studio to record a message about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries. He joins an impressive line-up, including UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria.

Watch the webinar recording of Lessons for the Universalization of Health Care in Emerging Economies

In a well-attended webinar organized by UNRISD in conjunction with, experts explored the opportunities and challenges facing developing countries as they seek to expand and universalize their health care systems. Watch the recording and access the slides here.
The book with the full research findings on which the webinar was based is also available: Towards Universal Health Care in Emerging Economies: Opportunities and Challenges
Alternatively, view the Research and Policy Brief summarizing the findings.


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