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Policy Innovations for Transformative Change

Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals are a global commitment to “transforming our world” and eradicating poverty in all its forms everywhere. The challenge now is to put this vision into action. Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report, helps unpack the complexities of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in a unique way: by focusing on the innovations and pathways to policy change, and analysing which policies and practices will lead to social, economic and ecological justice. Drawing on numerous policy innovations from the South, the report goes beyond buzzwords and brings to the development community a definition of transformation which can be used as a benchmark for policy making toward the 2030 Agenda, intended to “leave no one behind”. Bringing together five years of UNRISD research across six areas—social policy, care policy, social and solidarity economy, eco-social policy, domestic resource mobilization, and politics and governance—the report explores what transformative change really means for societies and individuals.

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Understanding transformation for sustainable development

This chapter lays out the objectives, background and conceptual framing of the report. It first introduces the discursive and policy changes or innovations that characterize the contemporary “social turn”, a shift in ideas and policies that has reasserted social dimensions in development agendas since the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, but often failed to support more transformative social change that addresses root causes of poverty, inequality and unsustainable practices. Section 2 presents the conceptual framework used in the report and identifies types of innovations that are potential drivers of change processes, and potential pitfalls in these processes. Section 3 sets the scene for the analysis in the subsequent chapters by shedding light on the contextual factors that will shape policy space for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the coming years. The last section presents the policy areas discussed in the report: those with cross-cutting impacts and multiplier effects for the achievement of all SDGs.

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