UN-Bonn was the site chosen for UNRISD, the UN’s only research institute dedicated to social development, to launch its latest initiative: a global network to debate and co-construct a new eco-social contract. Together with partners in Bonn and around the world, this network will find ways to join the dots between climate and social justice, and build forward better from the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Isabell Kempf, Head of UNRISD Bonn Office and Senior Research Coordinator
The for a New Eco-Social Contract was launched in Bonn on 10 November 2021 by the UN Research Institute for Social Development , together with the Green Economy Coalition ( ). The network will explore the promise of a new eco-social contract as a way of responding to pressing social and ecological challenges. It will be a space for dialogue, debate, co-construction and action around the meaning of a new eco-social contract; good practices for its design; and mechanisms for its application. The network was announced during the Bonn Symposium, organized every year by the Foundation for Development and Peace, and was celebrated at a reception hosted by the City of Bonn.
The new global network brings together research, practice, advocacy and policy decision-making communities, in social movements, civil society and the public and private sectors, who are interested in co-constructing a new eco-social contract that is inclusive, climate-proof, and adapted to the complex challenges of the 21st century.
Why a new eco-social contract?
Many different but connected voices, from Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion to the UN Secretary General, the International Trade Union Congress and the World Economic Forum, are each in their own way championing a new social contract. Yet it is not only the social contract, but also our relationship with nature, which is broken. A new ecological and social contract between people, nature and governments is urgently needed now, to fight inequalities and spur the transformation of economies and societies to halt climate change and environmental destruction. A new eco-social contract must be one that ensures human rights for all—importantly, this means bringing in those not fully benefitting from previous social contracts, such as women, indigenous peoples, informal workers and migrants. It must also be based on new forms of solidarity.
What the network will do
The network will create spaces for dialogue and debate where partners can co-construct and foster understanding around the idea of a new eco-social contract. It will serve to build solidarity between movements working with different perspectives and in different ways for social, climate and environmental justice. A range of activities are foreseen. One is a blog series, to be launched soon, designed to spur new thinking and ideas. Others aim to nurture social and policy action, by informing the processes and institutions that can drive a new eco-social contract—from climate and ecological literacy and citizenship education, to citizens’ assemblies and other deliberative democracy approaches.
The Global Research and Action Network for a New Eco-Social Contract, which is coordinated by the recently opened UNRISD Bonn office, is currently seeking new partners. If you would like more information about the network and different types of membership, please contact .
The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development ( ) works to position social equity, inclusion and justice at the centre of development thinking, policy and practice. Its 2021-2025 Institutional Strategy, Overcoming Inequalities: Towards a New Eco-Social Contract, emphasizes the need for a fair and green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and other crises. It focuses on the need to address inequalities and forge a new eco-social contract in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda and leave no one behind.