From 7-9 October, UNRISD is hosting Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization.
About the Conference
Inequalities are one of today’s greatest challenges, obstructing poverty reduction and sustainable development. Such disparities are catalysed by elite capture of economic and political power, a reinforcing process that compounds inequality, which—in its various dimensions—undermines social, environmental and economic sustainability, and fuels poverty, insecurity, crime and xenophobia.
As the power of elites grows and societal gaps widen, institutions representing the public good and universal values are increasingly disempowered or co-opted, and visions of social justice and equity side-lined. As a result, society is fracturing in ways that are becoming more and more tangible, with the growing divide between the privileged and the rest dramatically rearranging both macro structures and local lifeworlds.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to overcome such disparities, “leaving no one behind”. But how can this ambitious vision be achieved in the current climate, in which those in power act to protect the status quo from which they benefit? How can we build progressive alliances to drive the political and policy changes needed for an equitable, inclusive 21st century eco-social compact?
The conference kicks off on Wednesday, 7 November with a high-level panel discussion at the University of Geneva in the evening. Engines of Inequality? Elites, Power and Politics brings together thought leaders, influencers and advocates for change to discuss the growing influence of elite power and the deepening of global inequalities, and what can be done to counteract these trends.
The event is free and English to French translation.
The first full day of the conference opens with a plenary session, Inequality and Institutions:
Political Barriers to Transformative Change, followed by parallel sessions:
2a. Networks of Power in a Fractured World: The Role and Influence of Elites
2b. The Role of Institutions in Perpetuating or Curbing Inequalities
3a. Elite Ideology and Perceptions of Inequality: Implications for Redistribution and Social Cohesion
3b. Shifting Class Structures and Identities in the Age of Neoliberalism
The final day of the conference opens with a keynote address by Vandana Shiva, Oneness vs. The 1%, followed by parallel sessions:
4a. Cities for Whom? Causes and Consequences of Urban Socio-Spatial Inequalities
4b.Between Climate Justice and Social Exclusion: Towards an Eco-Social Approach
5a. Towards Transformative Public Policy: Undermining Elite Power through Local Collaboration and Social Mobilization
5b. Actors, Alliances and Strategies for a New Social Compact
The conference closes with The Politics of Transformative Change: UN and Civil Society Roundtable.
The complete programme is available on the UNRISD website. Select sessions will be live-streamed on UNRISD’s Facebook page.
Attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration is open until the end of the conference.
On 18 September, UNRISD and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Geneva will host the launch of the Civil Society Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development‘s 2018 report. The report, Exploring New Policy Pathways: How to overcome obstacles and contradictions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, assesses progress towards the sustainable development agenda. The report’s overarching assessment is that “The world is off-track in terms of achieving sustainable development and fundamental policy changes are necessary to unleash the transformative potential of the SDGs”. When it comes to social protection in particular, the Group argues that “a huge gap… exists between the commitment to implement social protection systems and the current reality”.
The Civil Society Reflection Group was created in 2011 to offer independent analysis of international development policy. Since 2016, the Group has offered an annual assessment of the implementation of the SDGs, including social protection.
Download the 2016 and 2017 reports and visit the official event page to learn more and register.
2019, will mark the ILO’s 100th year of operation. As part of the ILO Centenary Initiatives, the Organization’s Social Protection Department (SOCPRO) has initiated a campaign: “100 years of social protection at the ILO: the road to universal social protection”. One of SOCPRO’s activities for the campaign was the collection of testimonies from social protection beneficiaries and people who are excluded, employers and employers’ associations, trade unions, governments, ILO staff and practitioners from social protection institutions.
In the run up to the organization’s 100th anniversary, the ILO is implementing seven Centenary Initiatives: the Future of Work, the End to Poverty, Women at Work, the Green Initiative, the Standards Initiative, the Enterprises Initiative and the Governance Initiative.
These initiatives are aimed at ensuring that the ILO will be able to successfully continue to work towards its mandate in the future — namely to ensure decent work for all in the future.
Photo credit: “Bardolina canvases” by Eddy Klaus (via Unsplash).
On 28 August, the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) released Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools: Global baseline report 2018. The JMP, comprised of UNICEF and WHO, has reported country, regional and global estimates of progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) since 1990, and in 2015 developed a five-year strategy to enhance monitoring and realization of access to WASH globally.
To go along with the new report, the JMP has developed new service a new monitoring mechanism to enable schools to track progress in regards to providing access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and compare with other countries.
There are clear links between human rights-based social protection, water and sanitation, education and gender equality. The 2030 Agenda explicitly calls for universal access to WASH, social protection, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and safe, inclusive and effecting learning environments.
To that end, this new report is the first comprehensive global assessment of WASH in schools and establishes a baseline for the sustainable development agenda. The JMP has also provided an online data visualization tool on the UNICEF website to allow stakeholders to easily compare progress towards achieving WASH in schools.
The global effort to achieve sanitation and water for all by 2030 is extending beyond the household to include institutional settings, such as schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces. This has been reinforced by global education for all strategies highlighting how water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools improves access to education and learning outcomes, particularly for girls, by providing a safe, inclusive and equitable learning environment for all.
FAO, Social Protection and Human Rights’ partner of the month, works to achieve food security for all and to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
Social protection is an important element of FAO’s work. The organization’s three main goals are a) the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; b) the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and c) the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
The 159th FAO Council took place last month in Rome. The Council exercises functions dealing with the world food and agriculture situation and related matters, as well as current and prospective activities of the Organization, such as its Programme of Work and Budget. On 4 June, the FAO hosted FAO’s Role in Social Protection: Innovation to Achieve Zero Hunger, Reduce Poverty and Build Resilient Communities, an official side event. The event brought together representatives from FAO’s partners in social protection to discuss important achievements made thus far – and the way forward – to continue to increase rural prosperity, food security and resilience through the scale-up of social protection systems. Click to see video and photos from the side event. The report from the Council session is available here.
FAO also has a series of policy papers on human rights-based social protection to address the worldwide gap in social protection coverage as it relates to food security and nutrition — 70 percent of the world’s population still lacks access. Watch Benjamin Davis, Interim Strategic Programme Leader of the FAO Strategic Programme on Rural Poverty Reduction and Natalia Winder Rossi, Social Protection Team Leader of the FAO Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division explain how enhancing social protection systems in rural areas can contribute to reducing poverty and ending hunger. Visit the FAO Policy Portal to learn more and access all of the policy papers.
Find other FAO resources related to a HRBA to social protection including infographics, policy papers, guidance notes and synthesis reports on the platform.
Photo credit: FAO (© via Flickr).
The 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will take place from 9-18 July 2018 at the UN in New York. This year’s theme is Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.
UNRISD is hosting an official side event. The event, Localizing the SDGs through Social and Solidarity Economy for Sustainable and Resilient Societies, will bring together experts to share knowledge and experience on how SSE is contributing to realizing the 2030 Agenda’s vision of transformation, and achieving the goals and targets at the local level, in particular in cities.
The panellists include UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi, who will present findings from UNRISD’s soon-to-be-concluded research project which explored the role of SSE in providing access to social protection, Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul. Experts from academia, civil society and governments will also be on the panel.
In addition, the HLPF will review progress on six of the SDGs:
- Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
The HLPF, which meets every year for eight days, was established following the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), The Future We Want.
Listen to the podcast for UNRISD’s 2017 event, Refugee and Migrant Precarity: What Role for SSE?
Photo by Ian Valerio on Unsplash
On Tuesday, 19 June, UNRISD is hosting Where Do We Go from Here? Safeguarding Trans* People’s Rights. This meeting, an official side event of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, will convene experts from international organizations, civil society and government to discuss the following questions:
- What good practices can be identified and lessons learned from efforts being made by national and local governments to ensure human rights for trans* people?
- Which parts of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be, or are being, mobilized to ensure that people of all gender identities are able to enjoy the full range of human rights? Are there gaps in the Agenda that need to be closed by progressive policy making?
- What role can civil society play in ensuring that trans women, trans men, gender fluid and non-binary people are not left behind by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
- How can social development research contribute to achieving trans* rights in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
- What are some of the successes and challenges in ensuring universal access to social protection, given diverse needs within populations?
This event is sponsored by the Human Rights and Integration Department at the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, Republic of Malta.
On 7 June, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the European Union (EU) is hosting Gender, Care Economy and Social Protection Systems – Structural transformations for reaching the SDGs. The event is being held as part of the work being done by the EU Social Protection Systems Programme (SPS). The EU-SPS is a four-year programme which supports low- and middle-income governments and institutional partners in developing inclusive, sustainable and human rights-based social protection systems. Partner countries include Cambodia, Mozambique and Zambia.
This event is in preparation for the 2019 Commission of the Status of Women (CSW63), led by UN Women. The theme for the CSW63 is Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Gender transformative sustainable development can only be realized if the gender gap in unpaid care work addressed. This will mean going beyond the idea that social protection is limited to cash transfers and implementing the “triple-R famework”: recognizing, reducing and redistributing care work performed in the home and community. This event is an opportunity to bring experts from the fields of gender and the care economy, and human rights-based social protection to exchange ideas and good practices. Shahra Razavi from UN Women, Flora Myamba from Policy Research for Development (Tanzania) and Hisayo Katsui from the University of Helsinki will discuss how social protection systems can transform our world into one that values the abilities and contributions of all.
Learn more about social protection and unpaid care on our Key Issues page.
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash
On 28 and 29 May, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union held a Meeting of the High Level Panel on Migration (HLPM) at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) headquarters in Geneva. The Panel is made up of 16 experts from governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, and is chaired by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Panel’s mandate is to provide African states and other relevant stakeholders with overall guidance and support on policy dialogues on international migration in Africa, taking into account the region’s specificities. To this end, HLPM met in January 2018 and will meet again in October. Members will also participate in the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Morocco in December.
The HLPM contributes to building sound migration policy in Africa by:
- Supporting collaboration and cooperation among member States, regional economic communities, and international development partners to promote migrants’ rights and facilitate their movement, and reduce vulnerability of migrants, especially women;
- Supporting the production of migration-related knowledge for the conception of evidence-based migration policies and interventions;
- Supporting the engagement of the policy implication of the state of knowledge in determining the nature and patterns of inter, intra, and international migration streams in Africa;
- Assessing skilled migration both for countries of origin and of destination and the long-term implications of remittance flows for development; and
- Sensitizing policy makers to integrate migration into national plans and strategies.
Migrants face specific obstacles in being able enjoy their human right to social protection. They may have limited or no access to social protection in their country of residence due to status or nationality, while also being unable to claim their entitlements to social security benefits in their country of origin due to their absence.
According to some estimates, today 245 million people live outside their country of origin. The majority of migration by Africans takes place within Africa itself. As a result, policy related to social security will need to be comprehensive, coherent and coordinated, to ensure that people are able to enjoy their rights regardless of where they are.
Photo by Mark Kucharski on Unsplash
The 107th Session on the International Labour Conference is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from 28 May – 8 June.
The Conference is an annual gathering of ILO member States, who are represented by government, employer and worker delegates. The Conference (also often called an international parliament of labour) has several main tasks and objectives, including drafting and adopting international labour Conventions and Recommendations; supervising the implementation of international labour standards at the national level by going over member States’ reports; assessing Global Reports on the four fundamental rights including freedom of association and elimination of forced work; and openly discussing topical issues related to labour around the world.
Visit the Conference page for more information, including:
- The Conference agenda
- News and multimedia
- Reports submitted to the 107th Session of the International Labour Conference
- Live interviews and more.
Photo by chuttersnap via Unsplash
The Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences is holding a short course on social protection during the summer and fall of 2018. The course consists of two weeks of distance learning from 16-27 July and one face-to-face week in Sankt Augustin from 5-12 September.
Participants are able to choose between seven course topics taught by international experts:
- Climate Change
- Old Age
- Return to work
- Implementation of Cash Transfer Programmes
Course instructors will be from Maastricht University, the University of Witwatersrand, HelpAge, IDS and more.
To learn more and to register, visit the course page.
The 37th Session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is taking place from 7 – 11 May in Havana, Cuba.
The event, which takes place biennially, is the most important intergovernmental conference for steering the work of ECLAC. It serves as a forum to discuss critical economic and social development issues in the region, and is also an occasion for member States to review the Commission work.
At the 2018 session, ECLAC will present its 2016-2017 progress report and member States will contribute to defining the mandates that will guide the Commission’s work in the future.
ECLAC will also present The Inefficiency of Inequality, its new report which highlights the need for governments and other stakeholders to stop and reverse inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report draws out specific themes, including what it calls a “culture of privilege” and a need to shift towards a culture of human rights.
Learn more by visiting the 37th Session’s website where you can find background documents including the agenda, reports for previous ECLAC Sessions and news.
Photo by ECLAC
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) just launched an updated Social Protection Toolbox and e-learning guides Why We Need Social Protection and How to Build Inclusive Social Protection Systems.
The new Social Protection Toolbox is packed full of content to support policy makers and other stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific to build inclusive social protection schemes, with:
- Over 100 good practices from around the world which demonstrate how to build inclusive legal frameworks, schemes for those in poverty and persons with disabilities, and universal schemes.
- E-learning guides developed in collaboration with Development Pathways, and which show how investing in inclusive social protection can accelerate progress towards the SDGs, why universal schemes are better at reaching the poor than targeted schemes, and which policy options to consider when designing inclusive schemes. Download Why We Need Social Protection and How to Build Inclusive Social Protection Systems.
- An interactive assessment tool that will help practitioners identify coverage gaps and learn how to close them based on steps other countries are taking to fill similar gaps.
- An short animation that illustrates social protection is and why it is important for Asia and the Pacific.
- A quiz that tests your knowledge and reveals thought-provoking facts about social protection in Asia and the Pacific.
- ESCAP’s latest publications, covering a variety of topics related to social protection, poverty and inequality.
Despite significant extension of social protection coverage in Asia and the Pacific, some 60 percent of all women, men and children in the region are excluded from adequate social protection. Increasing coverage across the region would yield strong positive results in reducing stunting, malnutrition and child and maternal mortality, increase life expectancy, bolster economic growth and most importantly, reduce poverty.
Photo credit: Andrew Neel via Unsplash.
On 5 and 6 March, ECLAC hosted an international course on social protection in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in collaboration with USAID, the Haitian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Care.
The course’s main objective was to build capacity among government officials and provide them with knowledge on a human rights-based approach to social protection, provide them with the tools to create a more equal society, and extend social protection coverage throughout the entire life cycle in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In recent years, social protection has been increasingly recognized as being crucial to guaranteeing a basic minimum standard of living for all, and building more equitable and inclusive societies. Social protection is fundamental to contributing to the full realization of the economic and social rights, and to accelerate progress towards internationally agreed development goals, including the SDGs.
The presentations are available for download on the course website (link in French).
Photo credit: Tim Trad via Unsplash.
UNAIDS will host its 2018 International Conference on Fast-Tracking Social Protection to End AIDS on 25 and 26 April.
This event, hosted by UNAIDS’ Inter-Agency Task Team, brings together researchers, policy makers, civil society organizations and practitioners to discuss how a human rights-based approach to social protection is essential to ending AIDS. This year’s event aims to:
- Strengthen the links with social protection including Universal Health Care and other movements for ending poverty and inequality towards ending HIV including undertaking HIV and social protection assessments.
- Intensify actions on social protection in line with the UNAIDS strategy, the 2016 Political Declaration and Fast-Track Commitments.
- Re-invigorate programming of HIV, food security and nutrition.
The event will take place at the UNAIDS Office in Geneva in the Kofi Annan Conference Room.
Click here to register by 6 April 2018.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), recently released a new report, Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries. According to the most recent data collected by ESCWA, the disability prevalence rate in the Arab region is around 2.9 percent. This number is expected to steadily rise due to the ageing of the regional population and the fact that older persons are more likely to experience disability, as well as several recent and ongoing armed conflicts in the region. As with other regions, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Arab countries are disproportionately poor and vulnerable. It is therefore critical that they have access to adequate social protection, which as ESCWA’s report shows is too frequently not the case.
The employment rate among persons – and especially women – with disabilities in the Arab region is very low, typically resulting in their exclusion from contributory social and health insurance (which is contingent on formal employment). In addition, the data indicate that even when PWDs work, they are more likely than others to do so informally.
Non-contributory forms of social protection – including social assistance and non-contributory health insurance –are increasingly distributed in Arab countries through poverty targeting, often by proxy means testing. While this has the potential to ensure that resources are more effectively channelled to the poor and vulnerable, the specific costs faced by PWDs, for example, special means of transport, are frequently overlooked by the targeting formulas. Thus, their real poverty level risks are underestimated, resulting in their exclusion from non-contributory social protection programmes. The extent to which this has been taken into account appears to vary between countries.
Furthermore, within both contributory and non-contributory social protection schemes in the region, benefits specifically related to disability are commonly contingent upon inability to work. This could reinforce the notion that having a disability is incompatible with participating in the labour market, so PWDs may have to choose between receiving the support they need and employment. At the same time, even when social protection is available to PWDs, it is often inadequate. Cash benefits are usually too low to compensate for disability-related costs. Additionally, the quality of health care is generally low in the region, and the particular forms of care needed by persons with disabilities are not provided.
The report stresses that social protection for PWDs must be an integrated part of sustainable development, which is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Targets are all interdependent, meaning that advancing PWDs’ enjoyment of the right to social protection is contingent on achieving other Goals. For example, in practice, they may be able to reach health care facilities only if public infrastructure and transport are made accessible. The report also highlights the ways in which harnessing the abilities and ensuring the participation of PWDs can benefit all, and is crucial to the realization of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
Down the report on ESCWA’s website.
An Arabic version will be made available shortly.
Photo by Emre Gencer via Unsplash.
On 14 February, 2018, UN Women launched their 2018 Flagship Report, Turning Promises into Action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in 2015 signalled a renewed commitment by governments to ensure universal human rights for all, including the rights to social protection and gender equality. While there has been some progress towards reaching the SDGs, as this new report points out, this progress has been largely uneven. UN Women Director notes in the forward that the report “uncovers yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart. For example, in Nigeria, women and girls from the poorest households are nearly five times as likely to be married before the age of 18 as those from the richest households”. Similarly, black and Native American women in the United States are twice as likely to live in poverty as white women.
This report calls for adding gender-specific and gender-transformative targets to each of the SDGs, and improving statistics and analysis to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind as we transform our world.
Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash.
The ILO is hosting a week-long course on extending human rights-based social protection for migrants, refugees and their families.
From the course page:
Although the 150 million migrant workers, out of the 244 million international migrants worldwide, contribute fully to the economies of their host and home countries, migrant workers are among the most excluded from even basic coverage by social protection instruments and schemes, in particular undocumented migrant workers. They risk losing entitlements to social security benefits in their country of origin due to their absence and, at the same time, may encounter restrictive conditions under the social security system of the host country.
This course will focus on the different unilateral and bilateral measures which exist to extend social protection to migrant workers as well as refugees and their families, both in their countries of destination and origin.
The course will take place at the ILO’s International Training Centre (ITC) in Turin, Italy, from 19-23 March. Learn more and sign up on the ILO-ITC’s course page.
The deadline to enrol is 19 February.
Photo credit: Camila Damásio via Unsplash.
The Review, which was “first published in 1948… is the principal international quarterly publication in the field of social security. Articles by leading social security experts present international comparisons and in-depth discussions of topical questions and studies of social security systems in different countries”.
This special edition is temporarily open access and features the following articles:
- Introduction: Reflecting on the human right to social security by Katja Hujo, Christina Behrendt and Roddy McKinnon
- Ensuring inclusion and combatting discrimination in social protection programmes: The role of human rights standards by Magdalena Sepúlveda
- Social protection and persons with disabilities by Catalina Devandas
- Approaches to social protection for informal workers: Aligning productivist and human rights-based approaches by Laura Alfers, Francie Lund and Rachel Moussié
- The rights-based approach to care policies: Latin American experience by Valeria Esquivel
- The politics of rights-based, transformative social policy in South and Southeast Asia by Gabriele Koehler
Access the special issue now while it’s available!
Photo credit: Nathan Anderson (via Unsplash).
The University of Bergen in Norway is hosting an SDG Conference on 8 and 9 February.
The event’s aim is to “engage Norway’s research and higher education communities, politicians, government officials, NGOs, and the business sector in a collective effort to take responsibility for the implementation of the SDGs”. Participants will discuss the role of universities in performing research that can lead to implementation of the SDGs, as well as how higher education can help contribute to sustainable development overall.
Panels will include representatives from governments, international organizations and academia. Experts will discuss:
- The social, economic and ecological dimensions of development and their relevance for the SDGs
- Universities and the role of knowledge in shaping and implementing the SDGs
- Transformation from within: creating SDG-reformed universities
- The way forward for the SDGs: How can universities make a difference?
- Knowledge and politics: the science-policy interface
Katja Hujo, UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator, will present on the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development, the importance of evidence-based research in developing sustainable social policies and present UNRISD’s 2016 Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg will be delivering the event’s keynote address.
Follow conference developments on Twitter using #SDGbergen.
Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash.