Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: UNRISD Conference

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?


7 November

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.

8 November

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

9 November

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.

Leave a Comment

Social Protection and Human Rights