UNRISD Report Addresses Policy Innovations for Sustainable Development
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) has launched its 2016 flagship report titled, ‘Policy Innovations for Transformative Change: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.

The publication draws on policy innovations from the South, analyzes which policies and practices can lead to social, economic and ecological justice, and explores what transformative change means for societies and individuals.

It suggests six guidelines for action towards transformative change.

17 October 2016: The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) has launched a flagship report titled, ‘Policy Innovations for Transformative Change: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The report draws on policy innovations from the South, analyzes which policies and practices can lead to social, economic and ecological justice, and explores what transformative change means for societies and individuals.

The report was launched on 17 October 2016, in Geneva, Switzerland, on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The report is based on UNRISD research conducted from 2010 to 2015 on ‘Social Development in an Uncertain World,’ which was carried out in collaboration with UNRISD networks and partners, and reflects their “views, methodologies and recommendations.” It addresses, among other topics, care policies, sustainable development in the era of climate change, “driving the eco-social turn,” and mobilizing domestic resources for sustainable development.

According to the report, breaking the “vicious circle” that produces poverty, inequality and environmental destruction requires transformative change that directly attacks the root causes of these problems instead of the symptoms.

David Nabarro, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda, speaking at the launch event via video, said the report explores how to turn the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into a series of concrete actions, assesses which policies and approaches will contribute to the best achievement of the SDGs, and analyses ways to foster policy coherence, democratic and participatory processes. He stressed the important role of research in offering solutions to global challenges. The event was moderated by Paul Ladd, UNRISD Director.

The report reveals that breaking the “vicious circle” that produces poverty, inequality and environmental destruction requires transformative change that directly attacks the root causes of these problems instead of the symptoms. It indicates that innovations that have driven transformative change toward sustainable development are those that: are grounded in universal and rights-based policy approaches; reverse normative hierarchies within integrated policy frameworks; re-embed economic policies and activities in social and environmental norms; and foster truly participatory decision-making approaches. It also shows that more attention is being paid to the “intersections of public policy” in a number of ways, including in terms of addressing the multiple functions of social policy related to protection, redistribution, production and reproduction, bridging sectoral divides, and rethinking and repositioning the relationships between social and economic policy, and social and environmental policy.

On the way forward, the report suggests six guidelines for action towards transformative change. They include: re-embedding markets in social and ecological norms by making policies and building institutions that make the economy work for society and respect planetary boundaries; reversing the existing normative hierarchy to position social and environmental priorities above economic ones, and designing integrated social, environmental and economic policies to maximize synergies and coherence; promoting and enabling meaningful political participation and empowerment through inclusive and transparent political processes, access to information and assets, and governance reforms at the national and international levels; designing policies and institutional frameworks according to universal principles, human rights and social justice; using an eco-social lens to design measures that reduce resource use, halt environmental destruction and combat climate change; and investing in research on innovative ways to design, implement and evaluate transformative policies for sustainable development.

The report also outlines ways through which stakeholders, such as the private sector, civil society organizations, social movements and international organizations can influence, monitor, evaluate and complement actions taken by policy makers at the national, regional and global levels. These include: incorporating an eco-social rationale in decisions and actions; holding to account employers, multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments; advocating for equal distribution of voice and resources within partnerships; guarding against the skewed distribution of risks, costs and benefits in ways that favor private interests; actively seeking new and innovative partnership opportunities; and ensuring that vulnerable groups and agents of transformative change can effectively influence decision-making processes.

UNRISD is an autonomous research institute within the UN system. It undertakes interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. It is supported with voluntary contributions from national governments, multilateral donors, foundations and other sources.[Policy Innovations for Transformative Change: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [Report Launch] [IISD RS Story on International Day]

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