UNRISD Report 2022 Highlights

UNRISD's Report is now available, showing how inequalities and crises reinforce and compound each other.

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous research institute within the United Nations system that undertakes interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. Flagship reports are a collective endeavour reflecting generous contributions from many people, both inside and outside of UNRISD.

GRIP affiliate Katja Hujo, together with Maggie Carter, undertook thecoordination, research and writing of the report.  We here present an overview of the results and key points indicated in the 2022 report.

Crises of Inequality: Shifting Power for a New Eco-Social Contract


In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was set. The agenda included a commitment to reduce inequalities within and between countries. With only eight years remaining to make the ambition reality, the 2022 UNRISD report invites us to see where we are standing today.

In the last two years, the world has experienced a global health crisis that doubled the wealth of the ten richest men in the world, while simultaneously sending more than 120 million people into extreme poverty.  The context for achieving the vision of Agenda 2030 has thus never been more daunting.

Crisis by design

The report points out that while we are aware that the global world faces challenges, we should also pay attention to the factors surrounding – and sometimes creating – them.

“When taking a deeper look at the system which has ushered in an age of crisis, we understand that the inequality, environmental degradation and lack of resilience it has produced is not an unfortunate byproduct, but rather built in by design“.

A new development model for social, economic and environmental justice

The social contract is an actual or hypothetical agreement between the ruled or between the ruled and their rulers, defining the rights and duties of each. The global social contract thus includes the global bargain between economic imperatives of growth & productivity and social imperatives of redistribution & social protection.

Notably, the 2022 UNRISD report states that the social contract that has dominated the twentieth century has broken down and cannot sustain the transformative vision of the 2030 Agenda.

The report presents seven principles for building a new eco-social contract that consists of three key pillars:

These principles are accompanied by eleven policy platforms aimed at reducing inequalities, and which are further elaborated in the report.

Key messages from the report

  1. Inequalities and crises are not inevitable, but to a large extent the result of policy choices.
  2. The shift toward market fundamentalism has increased inequalities, instability and systemic economic and financial crises, leaving all but the wealthiest highly vulnerable to shocks.
  3. The environmental and climate crisis, closely related to global inequalities and unsustainable economic systems, is reaching dangerous tipping points.
  4. There is a crisis of care, and it is hindering social development and progress toward gender equality.
  5. Social inequalities between groups along lines such as gender, race, ethnicity or caste, age, disability, citizenship and other characteristics are based on and reproduce hierarchies by applying discriminatory rules and practices.
  6. A new eco-social contract should be created through deliberative processes at local, national, regional and global levels, in different sectors and with different sets of stakeholders.
  7. We need a new development model for social and climate justice.

Read the full report here.

All images and text citations: UNRISD’s Report (2022).