1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

Transformative Change for Children and the SDGs

  • Project from: 2017 to 2017

The UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, defines transformative change as that which attacks the root causes of poverty, inequality and unsustainable practices through policies and reforms that sustainably alter economic, social, ecological and political structures in the direction of an “eco-social turn”. What does transformative change and sustainable development mean for children and adolescents in different contexts? How can policy innovations and institutional reforms drive transformative change for them? And how can children and adolescents themselves meaningfully participate in these processes?

The Research Issue in Context

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an opportunity to address the key development challenges of our time, improving the well-being and rights of all people while protecting the natural environment. Children are important agents and beneficiaries in this process: many children are not only among the most vulnerable groups affected by poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change, they are also the generation that will reach adulthood in the course of the realization of the 2030 Agenda. This development agenda, concerned with transforming our world and shaping a better future, is an agenda for children and future generations. But this promise the international community has made in committing to the 2030 Agenda needs to be filled with substance and be carefully monitored. It raises questions about intergenerational justice and sustainable development from a life course perspective, and how to realize the principle of “leaving no one behind”.


In working together on this topic, UNRISD and UNICEF are uniting their research and expertise around the 2030 Agenda and its impact for children and future generations. The joint work seeks to make contributions towards a narrative on SDGs and transformative change related to children, drawing on UNRISD’s work on SDG-related issues, and the concept of transformative change as developed and explored in the UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report, and UNICEF’s research and operational activities for children.

Together the institutions are collaborating to critically analyse the social content and impacts of the SDGs and the role of social institutions, relations and actors in shaping transformative policies and pathways for children and adolescents. The analysis aims to contribute to the broader conversation around UNICEF's strategic plan.

Method, Outputs and Activities

This is a one-year desk study that will result in one (or more) joint UNRISD/Innocenti publication(s). Outputs and findings will be shared across the institutions and with the wider public via a roundtable event at the conclusion of the project.


The project is funded by the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti.


Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by Katja Hujo and Maggie Carter

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Policy Innovations for Transformative Change: UNRISD Flagship Report 2016
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