Deadline Extended to 15 December 2021!

Welcome to the South-South Global Thinkers e-discussion for UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) 2021- 2022 The e-discussion will be moderated by Ms. Carolina Rivera and Ms. Fernanda Pavez Esbry from UNDP Human Development Report Office (HDRO) and facilitated by Ms. Shams Banihani  ( and Ms. Naveeda Nazir ( from UNOSSC.  The e-discussion is open from 09 November to 15 December 2021. You can use the google translate function (from the main menu bar above) to switch languages. Contributions are also welcomed in Spanish and French.

We look forward to your contributions and active engagement!

Background: 2021/2022 Human Development Report (HDR)


The 2021/22 HDR will draw from and extend the discussions of the 2019 HDR (on inequalities) and of the 2020 HDR (on the structural risks of the Anthropocene), highlighting the ways in which inequalities and uncertainty interact with one another, fanning exclusion and polarization. Together, inequalities and uncertainty undermine for many a sense of control over one’s life, impeding their ability to do and be what they value and have reason to value – the expansion of which is central to human development. As we go deeper into the Anthropocene and as technology continues to race ahead, shocks (of which Covid-19 may be a harbinger of what might come) will persist and may even be heightened. The discussions around the climate/security nexus are another example.

The 2020 HDR argued for the importance of easing planetary pressures to mitigate these physical hazards, in a context of heightened uncertainty. This calls for transformational change, which also drives uncertainty: inherent in transformational change are multiple and overlayed dislocations, which give rise to a compounding set of transition uncertainties overlayed on physical uncertainties. Groups at higher risk to be left behind face particular challenges – first, as uncertainty diminishes individual choice for everyone and second, as social fault lines, themselves often exacerbated by shocks, reduce their agency further. But polarization is not driven only, or even primarily, by deprivation and marginalization, with support for extreme political views often associated not with being deprived,but by belonging to a group that has power or social standing that perceives being under threat.

The interaction of inequalities and uncertainty with new forms of technology will form a central part of the Report’s examination of the erosion of institutions to respond to both transformational change and people’s concerns about it. How people feel about the future, and how insecure they are about their prospects, has implications for economic, social, and political decisions.

Through a human development lens, the Report will examine the features of policies and institutions that can be responsive and nimble to advance transformational change while committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. The Report will look not only at the institutions and policies that help address immediate concerns but also the processes of institutional renewal geared towards empowering people to face uncertain times in ways that seize on the opportunities of change to expand human development.

Consultation for 2021/2022 HDR with Southern Think-tanks.

The consultations on the 2021/2022 HDR intend to start a conversation on the themes of the report, with the purpose of seeking input and advice on report content from thematic and regional experts. These consultations will inform the report's development process and ensure that it speaks to key human development issues for people and policymakers.

To complement the overall consultative process, the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) will be leveraging the South-South Global Thinkers Network, a global coalition of Think-tank Networks on South-South Cooperation. This will allow to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives from the Global South, making the process inclusive and participatory. Given the diverse levels of economic, cultural, and social influence of the Global South, the southern perspective will help inform policy debates and advocacy, giving a broad view of development challenges and their solutions that are representative and unequivocally reflect or match the reality in the Global South.

Recognizing the importance of South-South Cooperation, the consultation is expected to provide insights on how South-South Cooperation can play a role in addressing issues related to inequalities, and uncertainties which include technology, and prospects and implications of economic, social, and political decisions.

The South-South Cooperation Consultation will have a dual format, taking place online on the South-South Global Thinkers platform from 9 November to 15 December 2021 (extended), followed by online virtual consultation.

Guiding Questions for the e-Discussion.

This e-discussion is intended to encourage inputs and discussions which are able to contribute to the regional and thematic consultations that are being undertaken for the HDR 2021-2022. This e-discussion invites contributions and insights from Southern-based think tanks and academia on the issue of inequality and uncertainty that will feed into and shape the HDR. The e-discussion will focus on the following guiding questions:

  1. How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the global South? What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South?
  2. What are the spatial and socioeconomic implications of technology-driven transitions? and more specifically, in the context of the Global South?
  3. How can novel technologies be leveraged to support the development of sound metrics in the context of Anthropocene uncertainty?
  4. How can institutions (Governments? Civil societies? NGOs, Private sector, etc.?) protect rights and empower people, especially groups at higher risk to be left behind, such as women? How South-South cooperation and solidarity be supported as a coping mechanism for uncertainty and inequality?
  5. What good practices to motivating communities to act as a collective, for instance through social movements or community initiatives, exist in the global South? Are there good practices and/or lessons learned of technology-driven transitions that could be leveraged?

We look forward to your contributions on the above questions that will assist in informing the upcoming HDR. The discussion will be moderated by UNDP HDRO and facilitated by UNOSSC.

How to Access and Join the e-Discussion

If you are already a member of South-South Global Thinkers, log in here. New users can register/ sign up here. You can also switch languages using the language translation function in the main menu. We look for your written contributions in English, French and Spanish.

Follow-up Zoom consultation

A zoom virtual consultation will take place on Tuesday, 7 December 2021 from 8 am to 10 am (EDT) and will provide an in-person opportunity to present the current work undertaken for HDR 2021-2022 and to elicit further insight and inputs from the participants representing think tanks and academia from the Global South. More information will follow later.

[1] Scientists propose that we are now entering a new geologic epoch—the Anthropocene—in which humans are a dominant force shaping the future of the planet. (For more information see the Human Development Report 2020  


Comments (38)

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the global South-South Global thinkers electronic debate for UNDP´s 2021/22 Human Development Report.

As part of the research team at the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) we are currently doing research and consultations regarding the ways in which inequalities and uncertainty interact with one another, fanning exclusion and polarization.

While the 2020 HDR argued for the importance of easing planetary pressures to mitigate physical hazards, in a context of heightened uncertainty. The 2021/22 report will call for transformational change highlighting the challenges faced by groups at higher risk to be left behind – first, as uncertainty diminishes individual choice for everyone and second, as social fault lines, themselves often exacerbated by shocks, reduce their agency further. But polarization is not driven only, or even primarily, by deprivation and marginalization, with support for extreme political views often associated not with being deprived, but by belonging to a group that has power or social standing that perceives being under threat.

The interaction of inequalities and uncertainty with new forms of technology will form a central part of the Report’s examination of the erosion of institutions to respond to both transformational change and people’s concerns about it. How people feel about the future, and how insecure they are about their prospects, has implications for economic, social, and political decisions.

Through a human development lens, the Report will examine the features of policies and institutions that can be responsive and nimble to advance transformational change while committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. The Report will look not only at the institutions and policies that help address immediate concerns but also the processes of institutional renewal geared towards empowering people to face uncertain times in ways that seize on the opportunities of change to expand human development.

In this first week, we hope to get your feedback on how can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the global South? What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South?

We look forward to getting your valuable input based on your research and experience. We hope to enjoy a dynamic virtual discussion that offers new perspectives on uncertain times and unsettled lives, that allow us to evolve our way of understanding and conceptualizing the current challenges.

Fernanda and Carolina

Fernanda Pavez Esbry
Fernanda Pavez Esbry Moderator

Estimados colegas,

Bienvenidos al debate electrónico global Sur-Sur para el Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano 2021/22 del PNUD. 

Como parte del equipo de investigación de la Oficina del Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano (OIDH), actualmente estamos realizando investigaciones y consultas sobre las formas en que las desigualdades y la incertidumbre interactúan entre sí, avivando la exclusión y la polarización.

El Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano 2020 defiende la importancia de aliviar las presiones planetarias para mitigar los riesgos físicos, en un contexto de mayor incertidumbre. El informe de 2021/22 abogará por un cambio transformador que ponga de relieve los retos a los que se enfrentan los grupos con mayor riesgo a quedar excluidos: en primer lugar, puesto que la incertidumbre disminuye la capacidad de elección individual de todos y, en segundo lugar, porque las líneas de fractura social, a menudo exacerbadas por los choques, reducen aún más su capacidad de acción. No obstante, la polarización no está impulsada únicamente, ni siquiera principalmente, por la privación y la marginalización. El apoyo a las opiniones políticas extremas a menudo no está asociado a la privación, sino a la pertenencia a un grupo con poder o posición social que se percibe como amenazado. 

La interacción de las desigualdades y la incertidumbre con las nuevas formas de tecnología constituirá una parte central del examen del Informe sobre la erosión de las instituciones para responder tanto al cambio transformacional como a las preocupaciones de la gente al respecto. La forma en que la gente se siente sobre el futuro, y la inseguridad que tiene sobre sus perspectivas, tiene implicaciones para las decisiones económicas, sociales y políticas. 

A través de una lente de desarrollo humano, el Informe examinará las características de las políticas e instituciones que pueden ser receptivas y ágiles para avanzar en el cambio transformacional, al tiempo que se comprometen con la protección y la promoción de los derechos humanos. El Informe examinará no sólo las instituciones y las políticas que ayudan a abordar las preocupaciones inmediatas, sino también los procesos de renovación institucional orientados a capacitar a las personas para afrontar tiempos inciertos de manera que aprovechen las oportunidades de cambio para ampliar el desarrollo humano.

En esta primera semana esperamos recibir sus comentarios sobre cómo pueden producirse transformaciones justas e inclusivas para el Sur global. ¿Qué tipo de parámetros se necesitan para guiar las transformaciones justas e inclusivas en el Sur global? 

Esperamos recibir sus valiosos aportes basados en su investigación y experiencia. Esperamos disfrutar de un debate virtual dinámico que ofrezca nuevas perspectivas sobre tiempos inciertos y vidas inestables, que nos permitan evolucionar nuestra forma de entender y conceptualizar los retos actuales.

Fernanda y Carolina

Fernanda Pavez Esbry
Fernanda Pavez Esbry Moderator

Chers collègues,

Soyez les bienvenus à la discussion électronique mondiale Sud-Sud pour le Rapport sur le développement humain 2021/22 du PNUD. 

Au sein de l'équipe de recherche du Bureau du Rapport sur le développement humain (BRDH), nous menons actuellement des recherches et des consultations sur la manière dont les inégalités et l'incertitude interagissent entre elles, alimentant l'exclusion et la polarisation.

Le Rapport mondial sur le développement humain 2020 souligne l'importance d'alléger les pressions planétaires pour atténuer les risques physiques, dans un contexte d'incertitude accrue. Le rapport 2021/22 plaidera en faveur d'un changement transformateur qui mette en lumière les défis auxquels sont confrontés les groupes les plus exposés à l'exclusion : premièrement, parce que l'incertitude réduit les choix individuels de chacun, et deuxièmement, parce que les lignes de fracture sociales, souvent exacerbées par les chocs, réduisent encore leur capacité d'action. Toutefois, la polarisation n'est pas uniquement, ni même principalement, due aux privations et à la marginalisation. Le soutien à des opinions politiques extrêmes est souvent associé non pas à la privation, mais à l'appartenance à un groupe dont le pouvoir ou le statut est perçu comme menacé. 

L'interaction des inégalités et de l'incertitude avec les nouvelles formes de technologie constituera un élément central de la réflexion du rapport sur l'érosion des institutions en réponse à la fois au changement transformationnel et aux préoccupations des gens à ce sujet. La façon dont les gens envisagent l'avenir et leur degré d'incertitude quant à leurs perspectives ont des répercussions sur les décisions économiques, sociales et politiques. 

Dans l'optique du développement humain, le rapport examinera les caractéristiques des politiques et des institutions qui peuvent être réactives et agiles pour faire avancer le changement transformationnel, tout en s'engageant à protéger et à promouvoir les droits de l'homme. Le rapport examinera non seulement les institutions et les politiques qui permettent de répondre aux préoccupations immédiates, mais aussi les processus de renouvellement institutionnel visant à donner aux gens les moyens de faire face à des temps incertains de manière à saisir les opportunités de changement pour élargir le développement humain.

Au cours de cette première semaine, nous accueillerons avec plaisir vos commentaires sur la manière dont les transformations justes et inclusives peuvent se produire dans le Sud. Quels types de paramètres sont nécessaires pour encadrer les transformations justes et inclusives dans le Sud ? 

Nous sommes impatients de recevoir vos précieuses contributions fondées sur vos recherches et votre expérience. Nous nous attendons à un débat virtuel dynamique qui offrira de nouvelles perspectives sur des temps incertains et des vies instables, nous permettant de faire évoluer notre compréhension et notre conceptualisation des défis actuels.

Fernanda et Carolina

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Dear colleagues,

This week we invite you to reflect and share your comments and feedback on:

  • How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the Global South?
  • What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the Global South?

We are looking forward to reading your comments and interacting with you.

Carolina and Fernanda

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed
Dr. Vaqar Ahmed

Quick response to the first question i.e. how can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the Global South?

One of the major deficits that I see in the standard discourse on this subject is the disconnect between inclusive economic growth and rule of law. While economic and livelihoods support has remained available for the Global South and to some extent also rendered results (e.g. growth in startups, freelancers etc.), it is less clear why reforms in the rule of law and governance space could not deliver in the Global South. I don't see economic growth sustain for longer periods unless this gap is addressed.

Second, a big-push effort is required to integrate micro and small firms from the South into global value chains. This then has to be complimented by addressing local barriers to scale-up and graduate into becoming larger firms and preferably exporting windows.  

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed   Vaqar Ahmed, thanks for your comment. We definitely agree on the importance of connecting economic growth, and development in general with rule of law. As part of our work on the Human Development Report 2021-2022 we have been looking into institutional shortcomings that have important implications for growth and human development and can drive people to act and cooperate in the face of uncertainty. We look at some examples in the areas of access to justice, statehood, and rule of law to showcase how institutions have failed to fulfill their role in reducing uncertainty and setting viable rules of the game, often either falling behind or even driving uncertainty.  Regarding the consideration of the local context that creates barriers for micro and small firms is well noted.

Prof. Mustafizur Rahman
Prof. Mustafizur Rahman

I fully agree with what Dr. Vaqar has written.

I would support his contention that these disconnects, gaps and deficits will become binding constraints as countries of the global South move forward in the coming days. In the backdrop of the emerging geo-economic and political scenario, countries that fail to address the attendant revealed gaps – be it concerning rule of law, good governance or tackling corruption, will likely fall behind their competitors. Economic and political governance will need to be closely entwined because partner countries of global South and institutions that they deal with are increasingly factoring these in their decision making. But more than this, an inability to do so will undermine competitiveness of businesses and enterprises. This will also induce growing outmigration of talents and young people from the global South to the global North since young people are a group that particularly suffers from lack of good governance and functioning institutions. We need to seriously think about the expectations and aspirations of the young generation if we want to make them stay in the country and make growth in our countries sustainable with their contribution.   

It is one thing to make a good mason out of a bricklayer; it is another thing to prepare a industrial worker to work with 3-D technology, IOT and 4IR. We can’t be competitive if we don’t produce workers with these skills. However, this transition will create more demands on state and institutions, both by workers as also by innovators and entrepreneurs. Without raising their efficacy, we can’t move forward.

I also tend to agree with the second observation made by Dr. Vaqar.

I reckon integration with regional value chains remains the next big opportunity particularly for countries of South Asia. We need triangulation of trade, investment and multimodal connectivity to enable our firms to integrate with regional value chains. South Asian firms are lagging behind because these are not being able to translate their comparative advantages into competitive advantage by reaping the benefits of backward and forward linkage opportunities in the region. I think, particularly in agriculture, there are significant opportunities for development of commercial agriculture and agro-processing through value chains and production and marketing networks in the region. We should think of deepening cooperation by building comprehensive economic partnerships involving sectors where we can make best use of our comparative advantages in the region.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, thanks for pointing out the trend of growing outmigration of talents and particularly youth. We have also had a consultation with youth to understand their concerns in the face of uncertainty, and definitely, unemployment and job instability are some of the main concerns. But they have also highlighted the importance of exercising their agency through their involvement in civic spaces and decision-making processes (as they have done for the climate change movement and in response to the pandemic). Also as you mention, the digital divide in technology skills plays an important role not only for youth but for other groups, such as older age people and LGBTI+ people.

Prof. Mustafizur Rahman
Prof. Mustafizur Rahman

Carolina Rivera  

Yes, Carolina, I agree with your comments. True, today’s youth is also motivated by the role they would like to play in the civic space – environment; influencing decision-making; greater voice. However, your comment also inspires me to explore another line of argument. Since one strand of the discussion on youth was concerned with issues of migration of young people from our countries, I would like to pursue this issue further.

There are some who think that geography does not matter – in this globalised world you can be part of various global movements even when you migrate to developed countries (environment; human rights; fair trade; LGBT rights; gender rights; and many others), and also you can contribute to your home country through various means (financially; supporting various causes pursued by various groups in your country, etc.). However, in the process, we are losing many bright young people to migration who could have perhaps contributed more to our countries if they would have stayed on. I concede that we are not creating enough opportunities in our countries for our youth – both in our economic space and in our civil space. On the other hand, without their active engagement and support in our country itself how will we be able to create those spaces in our countries? I am in no way undermining the role of those who have migrated and are contributing in global space as also domestic space, from a distance. I am also aware that some do come back, at some stage, as investors, part-time teachers etc. But I tend to think, in no way underestimating the contribution of those who have migrated and are doing excellent works, we are indeed much weakened by their absence. Without active, in-country contribution of our best and the brightest who are leaving our countries in such large numbers, for the developed world, is it not becoming increasingly challenging for us to build the country and society that we want to leave for our next generation in our countries? We do have a responsibility to create conducive environment for our youth. Do our youth also have a responsibility to stay on, or return back (after studies abroad), to create the spaces that induce the youth to leave the country in the first place?

Amanda  Lucey
Amanda Lucey

I would agree with both the comments here. Beyond inclusive economic growth we also need to think about indicators like social cohesion and resilience. We should also be defining context-specific and localised indicators that come from communities themselves, rather than macro-level indicators alone. If we really want to leave no-one behind, we need to understand how societies see things.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Thanks for highlighting the importance of having indicators on social cohesion and resilience Amanda. Definitely, for the 2021-2022 HDR in the third part of the report that will focus on policies and mechanisms to cope with uncertainty, the role of communities is fundamental. We are researching and looking into forms of collective action and community-level cooperation around the world. Ranging from massive international and transnational social movements, such as the feminist movement or the movement around climate change, to small local community responses of solidarity and cooperation in the face of food insecurity and other unmet basic needs.

Additionally, an important framework for this section of the report is how we highlight the importance for policy makers to understand how societies see things but also how they make choices. We go beyond general models of rational choice, to consider the role of emotions and further on to how social context (social norms and role models) and cultural models influence choices. Changing our perspectives on how people see and experience things and make decisions will impact our benchmarks, economic models, and perspectives, and it may help us evolve, appreciate, and better understand our cultural repertoires.

André de Mello e Souza
André de Mello e Souza

I agree with all that has been said, and clearly economic growth, rule of law and social cohesion are all related.  I would like to pick up on the issue of social cohesion mentioned by Amanda and how it is closely related to both inequality and uncertainty.  Inequality, almost by definition, involves and leads to social desintegration and higher political instability.  It does so by means of many and  complex mechanisms, including rising criminality and organized crime, greater propensity for violence and less functional democratic institutions.  All of these tend to raise uncertainty and, in so doing, drive away investments and reduce economic growth, in what becomes a vicious cycle.  Hence, reducing inequality is key to promote functional democracies, reduce uncertainty, create political stability and economic growth. But this is not something easy to achieve, not least because oftentimes the State is the main actor perpetuating (and benefiting from) inequality by directing resources to the wealthy and failing to implement reforms that would hurt their privileges.  Cash transfer programs implemented in Mexico and Brazil have proven remarkably successful in both reducing inequality and promoting economic dynamism.  By giving the poor greater flexibility and autonomy in their spending, these programs help to overcome the poverty trap. They also create a multiplier effect through which poor locations increase their economic activities.  But these are only the most direct effects of these programs, as their positive externalities -- in health and education, for instance -- is harder to measure but no less important. Nonetheless, while indispensable for these reasons, welfare policies such as these are, by themselves, incapable of promoting structural transformations and attacking the root causes of poverty and inequality.  For such purposes of structural change, sound educational and health policies are necessary.  

Khalid  Umar
Khalid Umar

It is imperative to approach the inclusive transformation for the global South from two distinct but closely related themes. First, financial inclusion allows neglected individuals and communities to realize their dreams, nurture ideas and elevate them to become productive members of society. Nearly 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, and the bulk of them reside in the global South. Most astonishing is the percentage of women who do not possess any money account in the banking and non-banking sectors. To achieve the objectives of inclusive growth and poverty alleviation, it is essential to promote inclusive finance with a particular focus on women. Second, climate vulnerabilities continue to rise in the global South much faster and deeper than in the global north. Charting a sustainable course amidst the global attention on reducing carbon emission poses a tremendous challenge for the global South. While already caught in the quagmire of poverty and weak institutions, the emphasis on transformation to clean technologies further exacerbates the situation in the global South, where hundreds of millions still languish in extreme poverty.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Muito obrigada pela observação André. In the first part of the report, we briefly touch on the relationship between crime and Anthropocene risks such as warming temperatures. In the second part of the report, dedicated to unsettled lives, we have a chapter that dives into how mental health shapes human development and a section devoted to how violence and crime are unsettling in different areas of our life.  In the third part, it all comes together, as we analyze how the conjunction of the uncertain times the world is going through, amid the planetary imbalances of the Anthropocene, the global pandemic, and unsettled lives characterized by increasing inequalities and insecurities, are driving a general cry to adapt and transform eroded institutions based on cooperation and solidarity.

We recognize as you mention that often the state and institutions have failed to fulfill their role in reducing uncertainty and setting viable rules of the game, often either falling behind or even driving uncertainty. We argue these institutional shortcomings can force people to act and cooperate in the face of uncertainty, analyzing collective action and community level cooperation as one of the mechanisms to respond. On the spectrum of responses to uncertainty and inequalities, we are considering the idea of adaptative social protection systems. Just as you are mentioning, now more than ever we have seen the importance of responses that give greater flexibility and autonomy, strengthening the agency too.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Khalid Umar  Thanks Khalid for mentioning financial inclusion as one of the main threats in the face of uncertainty and unsettled lives. This is one of the main challenges for the Global South, and it is key for autonomy and independence, especially of groups at higher risk to be left behind as in the case of women, indigenous peoples, LGBTI+ youth, among others. We have considered this challenge in Chapter 4 of the 2019 HDR on Gender inequalities beyond averages: Between social norms and power imbalances as well in our publication Gender Inequality and the COVID-19 Crisis: A Human Development Perspective. On climate vulnerabilities, Anthropocene risks have been central for our research in recent years especially for the HDR 2020 and now the first part of the HDR 2021-2022 recognizes the close interconnectedness between social and ecological systems that are giving rise to uncertainties of a new order. Additionally, we look into these energy transitions you mention with clean technology, the uncertainties they bring, and the implications for finance and the economy.

Ana Patricia Muñoz
Ana Patricia Muñoz

Just and inclusive transformations must include polices that reduce the income and wealth gaps and geographic segregation. It is also very important for the global south to work on regional initiatives. Also, given the large losses in educational variables, specially in Latin America,  tracking the gaps in education will be very important. Finally, issues related to mental health and gender violence should be considered.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Muchas gracias por tu comentario Ana Patricia. The third part of the 2021-2022 HDR is focusing on characterizing this just and inclusive transformations. Inequality has been one of the central topics of our research since the 2019 HDR, and we agree it continues to be central for the Global South. We have tracked the losses in education with the COVID-19 pandemic in our publication COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery, and published updates later on the 2020 HDR, we recognize the importance of education in the face of uncertainty. Regarding mental health, the second part of the 2021-2022 HDR has a chapter devoted to how mental health shapes human development and how violence is unsettling in different areas of our life.  On gender-based violence, we have a Special Report on Human Security that will be launched at the beginning of next year ( ) which includes an analysis of violence against women and girls as one of the main threats to human security. Besides that, on the 2021-2022 HDR we are showcasing the example of the feminist movement and how it has achieved change, highlighting the latest fourth wave of feminism with movements such as Ni una menos in Latin America or I will go out in India reclaiming the rights of women to be safe from femicide, violence and harassment.

Wang Xiaolin
Wang Xiaolin

Dear all,

The  following discussion on digital technology and South-South Digitla Cooperation for your reference according to the five guiding questions.

1.The Global South should adhere to the idea of people-centred development. Building inclusive transformation through the "three pillars" of public policy, namely (a) the policy of pro-poor economic growth, with equal opportunities for employment, market participation, small and micro businesses, and equitable access to natural resources for everyone; (b) Inclusive social development policies that give everyone equal access to basic education, health care and social protection, and to eliminate social exclusion due to persanl identity; (c) Eco-friendly environmental policies to improve living conditions for everyone and every community.

2.Reaching across every industry platform, digital technology has the potential to unlock developmental capacities essential to the expansion of trade and regional integration. It has the potential to increase accessibility and inclusion of various vulnerable groups in society, including poor communities, women, and youth in the Global South.

South-South Digital Cooperation is not simply SSC involving digital technologies, but is a cross-border, cross-regional and cross-sector integration development model based on digital technology. This cross-border integration leverages data as the key production factor and platform business models as the key industrial organization model. The two-sided market has changed the traditional one-way delivery method of the value chain by promoting two-way interactions and even network interactions in the global value chain, thereby innovating new values. This latest approach to value creation, like SS&TrC, provides fresh impetus and new methods for sustainable development goals. Several case studies of platforms generated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have illustrated the prospects of digital technology and platforms under SS&TrC.

3.To accelerate the dissemination and inclusiveness of digital technologies and services in the global South, a series of actions to promote SSDC should be adopted at global, regional, sub-regional, national, and even city levels. At the global level, strategies, and actions to encourage SSDC should be adopted under the United Nations system to promote digital infrastructure, talent training and capacity building in the global South. The strengthening of capacity building of regional and sub-regional institutions and organizations, the promotion of cross-regional interoperability of digital infrastructures and public services, the improvement of standards for digital technology cooperation among developing countries, the facilitation of seamless connectivity and the strengthening of inter-regional SSDC are all actions that should be adopted at regional and sub-regional levels. At the national level, SSDC requires national planning, policy adoption, regulations and systems that are conducive to digital technology cooperation among developing nations and which promote cross-border and cross-sector integration of digital technology development to contribute to the shared development achievements of human society.


South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation in the ICT and digital economy fields, through various forms of support, such as funding, training and technological systems, needs to be institutionalized so that donor countries and multilateral organizations better facilitate South-South initiatives and thereby promote long-term sustainable development outcomes. 

Digital technology is transforming the global economy on a grand scale. It offers great opportunities for structural transformation and fostering of inclusive development. However, many of their counterparts in the global South lack the appropriate infrastructure and capacity to mainstream digital technologies and services in efforts toward contributing to global value chains and even within the success story Southern countries these factors may be lacking in other sectors of the economy. Therefore, attention must be paid to gender equality and inclusiveness in South-South Digital Cooperation.

5.Alibaba Case presents an example of a new model of improving the efficiency of South-South cooperation by linking multiple resources through a digital platform. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that created an unprecedented collective threat to human life, social cohesion and economies, a public welfare platform, the global MediXchange for Combating COVID-19, was launched based on Big Data and AI. The platform went online in a very short time, providing services across the world. More detail see FCSSC & UNOSSC (2021) , South-South and Triangular Cooperation in a Digital World: Fresh Impetus and New Approaches.


Khalid  Umar
Khalid Umar
  1. What are the spatial and socioeconomic implications of technology-driven transitions? and more specifically, in the context of the Global South?

ICT offers quick, cost-effective, and efficient solutions plaguing the global South for decades. The use of ICT is revolutionizing financial and e-commerce sectors in many developing countries across continents. Governments and firms are using technologies to reach out to unserved individuals and communities. But it appears that no one is concerned about the associated cost of over-reliance on technology in the developing and least developed countries. Most of the workforce is employed in the informal sector with the least intervention of technology, relying on manual work. The unrelenting pace of technology adoption in the global South is poised to render millions out of work. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to set the direction right – technological adoption should follow the improved skill set of the labor force to keep them relevant and employed in the fast-changing market structure.

Khalid  Umar
Khalid Umar
  1. How can novel technologies be leveraged to support the development of sound metrics in the context of Anthropocene uncertainty?

Financial technologies (FinTech) can be leveraged to deepen financial inclusion in developing countries. FinTech provides cheap and quick solutions to the financial inclusion of individuals where traditional banking and financial sectors do not or are unable to act due to their intrinsic nature. For instance, China’s WeChat and Alipay have revolutionized the financial sector by providing innovative solutions to democratize finance, circumventing the traditional banking sector and collateral requirements. Similarly, Kenya’s strides in promoting Mobile money accounts serve as a glaring example of a public-private partnership. The government provides an enabling environment through favorable legislation and policies, whereas the private sector provides the finances and absorbs risk to venture into uncharted waters.

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Omar Al-Ubaydli
  • How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the global South? What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South?

High quality homegrown research is an essential piece of the puzzle. While this would ideally be conducted by dedicated fulltime scholars, resource limitations mean that this option is not available at scale in many countries. However, a lot of high quality data can be gathered at minimal cost through online surveys distributed via social media, and via face-to-face interviews that can be conducted with the support of civil society organizations. If these kinds of data are gathered systematically at scale, they can provide policymakers and civil society with valuable inputs for evidenced-based policy prescriptions.

  • What good practices to motivating communities to act as a collective, for instance through social movements or community initiatives, exist in the global South? Are there good practices and/or lessons learned of technology-driven transitions that could be leveraged?

Islam has strong representation in the global South and has the capacity to be a strong source of positive collective behavior, such as charitable activity. More importantly, it has the power to be a promoter of democracy, because Islamic values are highly consistent with the foundations of democracy (respect for individual rights, the rejection of tyranny, taking decisions pluralistically, refusing corruption, and so on). However, opportunistic clerics and political leaders in the Islamic world have perverted Islam's message to advance an authoritarian agenda, by misrepresenting verses in the Quran. Therefore, to help modern Muslims to leverage their religion's capacity to improve societal outcomes, there needs to be a grassroots educational drive to help Muslims realize that their religion is fundamentally pro-democracy, and not pro-authoritarian.

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Thanks for your comments Omar. Regarding the first one we are doing some efforts to consider different sources of information, for example, one of our background paper for the Special Human Security Report coming out at the beginning of next year used data from Twitter to identify increases in gender-based violence for ASEAN countries. In the same line we are making efforts to have more intersectional data, for example on the recent publication of the MPI disaggregating the index by ethnicity and for an example on Brazil and how the pandemic has hit the labor market affecting specifically black women. Nevertheless, I agree with you that homegrown local data is an important part of the puzzle and it will be interesting to explore data collection with the support of civil society organizations. On your last response, I think it is an interesting reflection thinking of Islam and in general, the way religion sets a series of values and norms that influence the way we make choices. We are considering this in the last part of the report that focuses on the mechanisms to cope with uncertainty.

Michel Meixiang  Zhou
Michel Meixiang Zhou

The above comments and suggestions on technology-driven transition are inspiring. 

Global Southern countries shall collaborate more closely and widely to tackle the uncertainty and inequality in the era of new technology innovation and fast application. Great efforts and resources need to bridge and narrow down digital divide for the least developed areas and countries. Help shall be facilitated to enable the global South to increase access to new technology with the needs of the poor and vulnerable considered. Promote new technology -Computing, broadband and mobile telephony networks application in health care, livelihoods linked to agriculture processing, manufacturing and trading and e-commerce, and also in improvement of connectivity infrastructure. Special attention and efforts are required to provide for the vulnerable groups of people and areas. Closer and wider collaboration in technology application and adaptation is expected in human development such as health care, education, jobs and accessing infrastructure when applying new technologies. 


Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
  1. How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the global South? What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South?

Like many have said above, the issue is fundamentally one of governance, rule of law, and democracy in general.  Transformations by definition are disruptive and cannot be just and inclusive unless a level-playing field is created at the start.  The Global South tends to be the most unbalanced in terms of capacity of the different players to engage big transformations.  No process, in my opinion, will reset this imbalance if States and governments are not held accountable for creating good starting conditions for all.  Of course the basics are education, health, proper training, freedom of expression, technology access, financing access, and especially efficient and effective State bureaucracies.  This is where the issue of metrics becomes very relevant.  What are the metrics that show whether countries/communities/individuals are transformation ready or not?  This mandates that we look at the transformations that are coming upon us, identify the requirements for readiness to cope with them and derive the capacity requirements to do so.  Take the Covid-19 for example, it has brought fatalities on the world scene but at the same time many opportuties for the most able and ready to cope.  For example, countries where state bureaucracies are dysfunctional (and not bureaucratic) have seen most of their systems collapse (heath and education first) and have impeded the drive of communities to manage their own fate amidst the uncertainty of the Covid-19 transformation.  Despite a flurry of inventions to find solutions to problems engendered by the Covid-induced transformation by "lone actors", "opressive" state bureaucracies usually catch up with these outliers blocking the development of their entrepreneurial actions by depriving them from a proper legal framework, financing, or literally cutting them off the market so they do not "disturb the peace" of mediocrity, incompetency and corruption.  So if a genuine attempt is to be made to ensure succesful (just, inclusive and effective) transfrormations, then it is imperative to identify the faciliators and inhibitors of such a process. Inevitably, poor governance, lack of rule of law, incompetence would be found at fault. It is true that some groups will suffer more than others like some oppressed ethnic groups, migrants, or women in some countries and will bear the brunt of the failed transformations but all except the rentiers and the olygarchies from the dysfucntional state bureaucracies will see their situation degrade.  Let us be clear about the ennemy or to tone down the expression: The State and its corrupt and dysfuctional bureaucracy is the problem. If we are not willing to act at that level and make States accountable (beyond the easy, convenient and ideologically-loaded discourse of human rights) to transform themselves to enable the transformation of communities under their guise, then little can be acheived. 

Carlos Milani
Carlos Milani

Great comments and suggestions made by different colleagues, although many of the suggestions (on digital transformation, welfare policies, education, etc) largely depend on realistic access to funding in Southern countries whose realities are very heterogeneous. Some of them, such as the exceptional cases of China, India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, among others, have their own national capacities to cope with these challenges. Others will always need international funds (from the South, but also from Northern countries) to be able to implement policies related with education, health, not to mention scientific and technological innovation.

In addition, because the "interaction of inequalities and uncertainty with new forms of technology will form a central part of the Report’s examination of the erosion of institutions to respond to both transformational change and people’s concerns about it", I would like to quickly address two issues that many of my colleagues have already touched upon and that are also at the center of this e-discussion::

1) From the perspective of the Global South, what are the uncertainties that new technologies (such as social media and artificial intelligence) bring about? How can institutions protect rights and empower people?

2) How can novel technologies be leveraged to support the development of sound metrics in the context of Anthropocene uncertainty?

First, technologies such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) and platforms (Uber, Ifood, etc.)  mobilize the use of the algorithm intelligence in order to orient and facilitate the decision that people may take in their lives. People's taste, reading options, economic and electoral decisions, purchase of goods and services, inter alia, may be directly influenced by the content of narratives presented by social media. Platforms may make lives easier, but they may also have unsound effects on social and labor rights, consumers' protection, employment, etc. Studies in the Global North have demonstrated how such technologies have impacted the prospect of democratic institutions and the future of economic development in countries such as the USA, France, the UK, just to name a few (studies by Cass Sunstein and Wendy Brown in the USA, Rodolphe Gelin and Olivier Guilhem in France, Evgeny Morozov in several developed countries). Much less is known on the reality in the Global South in its diversity. The HDR 2022 could address these gaps from a Global South perspective, too.

Second, on the uncertainties related to the Anthropocene, I would encourage the HDR 2022 to focus on how novel technologies can be support climate change adaptation projects, particularly in small island states. These are certainly those countries that face the greatest challenges to maintain parts of their territory, their economies, their culture, their communities. In addition, the HDR could also focus on what larger Southern countries are doing in order to cope with and adapt to climate change: for instance, what are countries such as China, India or Brazil doing in order to prepare their coastal zones (which concentrate economic prosperity and are demographically relevant) to upcoming transformations?

These are only two examples, among many others, of issues that I believe are relevant for the HDR 2022 to address.



Fernanda Pavez Esbry
Fernanda Pavez Esbry Moderator

Thank you Carlos, for your input. Very relevant and appreciated points about uncertainties regarding technology and the Anthropocene in the context of the global South. Moreover, your point on the uneven capabilities of countries in the global South to face these challenges will be essential when thinking about strategies and policy approaches to deal with uncertainty.

Michel Meixiang  Zhou
Michel Meixiang Zhou

Very glad to learn from the above colleagues' insights related to technology application and its impacts. There are debates on job creation and destruction by new technology-digitalization and automation. Generally speaking, according to the past development during 1960-2010, there is research evidence showing that employment increased in the service and information sectors, meanwhile employment decreased in manufacturing and agriculture sectors, esp. in areas where low skilled and repetitive activities were automated and jobs destructed. Policies of government and enterprises are required to address such impacts in labour, education, industrial cluster development resulting from new technology application. Government supportive policies shall be aligned to meet the challenges of digitalization and new technology changes in those key areas, including human capital gaps, employment, social safety net, education and retraining needs. 

Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
  1. What are the spatial and socioeconomic implications of technology-driven transitions? and more specifically, in the context of the Global South?
  2. How can novel technologies be leveraged to support the development of sound metrics in the context of Anthropocene uncertainty?

The discussions over technology-driven transitions and leveraging technology in the Global South to engage successful transformations are very inspiring. Wang Xiaolin discusses the type and role of digital platforms to connect countries of the Global South for transformations within an SSC scheme.  The vision is very empowering and the potential is huge.  The Covid-19 or the Bitcoin revolutions for instance have proven that the potential for innovation and entrepreneurialism in the South is limitless; yet the lot of communities and people does not seem to change and seemsm even to deteriorate.  If you look at countries like China for instance, they have shown a trremendous capacity to lead digital transformations; whether they are just and inclusive, is a different matter.  China is an example of a "capacitated State" that can lead transformations centrally. This prowess is heightened through digital platforms that vehiculate transformative changes within comunities.  But the Chinese model is obviously not workable in most countries of the South because the State apparatus elsewhere is very weak and unable to manage large-scale transformations nor to create favorable environments for people and communities to reap benefits from such transformations.  Money that is poured into countries to help them build capacity is usually wasted because it is invested in the source of the problem, the State and its dependencies.  Money that is invested directly into the communities and non-state actors does not lead to sustainable enterprises because bureaucracies will ensure the demise of such enterprises through bad regulation, lack of access to funding, opressive taxation, corruption, excessive bureaucracy, etc.  We come back full circle to the "level-playing field" for succesful transformations. To give examples of cases that I know personally first hand.  A company which manufacturers light helicopters could not register its industrial patent in its home country and had to do it elsewhere; drones and robots built during the peak of the Covid-19 to help fight the disease spread disappared soon after; an app to create some sort of social solidarity system in support of rural women was sabotaged by a ministry of social affairs because it trespassed on its turf where it made sure it kept communities in dire conditions. In many countries, access to foreign courrency is not even there altogether eliminating communities from those countries from participating in any global endeavor.  The State and the big corporations are the only ones having that kind of access. So global value chains within an SSC framework are a great thing but they will not enable transformations unless State shackles are dismantled.  The HDR for 2021/2022 should be forceful in identifying those shackles and through proper measurements work towards their dismantlements.  

Racha Ramadan
Racha Ramadan

The social and economic drawbacks of the pandemic are uneven among individuals according to their age, sex, income group and geographical locations. Poor, women, youth and refugees are the main vulnerable groups to bear the negative consequences of the pandemic, with expected increase in the different dimensions of inequalities.

The loss of jobs and economic slowdown may result in an increase in income inequalities.  Women and informal employees are more likely to lose their jobs and experience income decline with no social insurance and poor working conditions.

Access to technology, used to be considered as an advanced capability (HDR, 2019), is now considered as basic one, given its importance in the new context with e-schooling and remote work.   The pandemic exacerbates the digital divide, expecting to reinforce inequalities in outcomes and inequalities in opportunities.

Eliminating digital divide is necessary condition to ensure equal access to education, information and economic opportunities and achieve inclusive economic growth in this new era. Limited access to and use of technologies are driven by economic, education and social factors. Governments of the South should work on these drivers to ensure equal access to technologies and reduce inequalities in education opportunities and economic opportunities. The South South Cooperation may be a catalyzer to ensure the socio-economic development of the South without leaving any country or any group lagging behind.   

Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Racha thanks so much for pointing out the importance of considering different groups that face higher risks to be left behind. In the 2019 HDR we point out the different inequalities experienced by some of these groups, highlighting women. In the 2020 HDR we retake the topic from a planetary imbalances approach explaining the recognitional, distributional and procedural inequities faced by women, indigenous peoples and black peoples linked directly to their agency and empowerment. We highlighted how Covid-19 pandemic has erased decades of progress in the female labour force participation rate, putting women at higher risk. The Special Report on Human Security that will be launched at the beginning of next year will have a chapter that dives into inequalities and different experiences of insecurity lived by women, LGBTI+ people, indigenous peoples and black peoples, migrants and displaced people, children, youth, and older age people. In this report, we have considered how overrepresentation in the informal market affects the autonomy of these groups and put them at higher risks of not having social protection and low-quality working conditions. The digital divide and gaps are something we have analyzed as well, especially affecting women, youth, and older age people, specially LGBTI+ older people. I think it is interesting how you raise this as being now a basic capability and not enhanced as the HDR 2019 framed it. We will be diving more in these topics on the HDR 2021-2022 and the role of technology as a catalyzer for education and socio economic development, and furthermore how it is a catalyzer for agency.

  1. Uncertain times –How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the Global South?

The 5 fingers are unequal and indifferent. Each one plays its role best to contribute to an efficient use of the hand. Difference is a reciprocal enrichment if it is positively perceived without any inequality or unfairness. Taking into account each individual's differentiated, fair and equitable contribution facilitates the achievement of common results. But, in the world context where man seems to be more detached from nature, from the environment without caring about their good state, the balance is broken. Instabilities become the rule. The environment is in situations of indeterminate imbalances and is permanently transformed. The human being faces a great uncertainty as for his future. This uncertainty is more differentiated according to the degree of wealth of each human being. Inequalities are sources of diversified contributions to development. The contributions of women, the poor and the destitute remain already in their numbers. These are not fairly and equitably included in the measures of improvement of well-being. The great challenge remains to achieve just and inclusive transformations, especially in the countries of the South.  These are individual, collective, common, international and especially environmental transformations. They are above all psychological, moral, educational, social and economic. Psychological and moral transformations would require an increase in confidence and a valorization of positive values. Education must reshape the curriculum to take into account uncertainty as well as equity. Awareness, training and expression programs will better contribute to balanced transformations from the individual to the environment. Societal behaviors would combine with uncertain transformations in a logic of unstable balance. The economy must not only privilege the digital but also and above all it will be a green economy making use of clean energies. Far from a natural economy, we need economic transformations in harmony with nature and integrating technical and technological progress. Life is in a state of uncertainty that must leave some layers of the population.

On the international level, the different agreements and conventions must be revisited to take into account the uncertainty. The relations of cooperation will put in better the protection of the environment. Multinationals will change their economic model of operation and especially of exploitation of energies. The direction of energy supplies is to be changed.


  1. Unsettled lives – threats and opportunities to human development in the Global South

Uncertainty being the norm, threats and opportunities are in an indescribable avalanche punctuating the life style. Human development follows an illogical logic that is difficult to establish. The sources of threats are human and environmental. Human actions harm the environment, the biotope and the human being. There are also consequences for the climate. Indeed, uncertainty reduces the time horizon and induces behaviors that are sometimes out of phase with expectations of justice and equity. The quest for individual well-being and the search for maximum profit take priority. How to include all segments of the population equitably? 

The development of technologies and techniques, scientific research and innovation and economic competitiveness must be at the service of human beings. In the South, human development is faced with rapid population growth, middle class consumption, climate change, the spread of diseases, poor technology, illiteracy of a majority of the population, low investment financing, precarious livelihoods and low participation in international trade. In addition, the digital divide and poverty are prevalent among the population. These factors hinder inclusion and equity, which are difficult to take into account in the various development policies. However, there are many opportunities. The youth of the population constitutes a force for change and a market for consumption and production. Moreover, in the South, the weakness of South-South trade is an opportunity to revitalize intra-country exchanges. The exploitation of clean energies makes it possible to design economic models in line with the transformations. The cultural diversities attached to the cosmic remains an opening for a human development. The behaviors of living in society is an advantage favoring inclusion and equity. Nevertheless, all these opportunities to be exploited are conditioned by the availability of financial resources. State are increasingly challenged by the Covid-19 and especially by growing insecurity. Also, political and economic governance as well as administrative governance remains perfectible in the South.


  1. Human Development Metrics- what kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the Global South

Achieving just and inclusive transformations in the global South requires action.

  • Policy options rooted in culture favor individual and collective commitments ;
  • The promotion of intra-country trade to boost national production ;
  • The promotion of national organic products to promote health ;
  • The promotion of local cultures integrated with cosmics ;
  • Digital development with an emphasis on accessibility for the young population ;
  • The implementation of inclusive and equitable projects and programs focused on vulnerable groups ;
  • The judicious exploitation of demographic growth in order to take advantage of the demographic dividend ;
  • The protection of the environment by developing the use of solar or clean energy ;
  • The development of programs and projects to fight against climate change ;
  • The promotion of the rule of law and equitable justice ;
  • The promotion of the good use of public resources by fighting against corruption and misuse ;
  • The development of inclusive and equitable social policies.
Carolina Rivera
Carolina Rivera Moderator

Thanks for your thorough comments Sayouba. On your first point, we agree it is fundamental to consider each individual's contribution in an equitable way. In this report, we want to explore solidarity and cooperation as a coping mechanism for uncertainty. One of the main objectives will be to understand what motivates people to act, looking also at the role of culture and emotion in this process, and to then envision how transformation and adaptation strategies can consider new perspectives and repertoires that enhance cooperation and increase resilience.  This means empowering voices and perspectives that have for now only found a place in extra-institutional efforts for change, through inclusion and the amplification of a sense of pluralism in institutions, policy perspectives and solutions, and discussions. One of the main challenges is how to reach a consensus and how to consider these voices in an inclusive and equitable way. I think your suggestion of reshaping the curriculum, for education to include the terminology on what uncertainty, resilience, and equity means, is great. Thanks as well for the suggestions on metrics we will share this with our statistics team.

Adedeji Adeniran
Adedeji Adeniran

I will like to briefly address three of the questions pose above. 

1.      How can just and inclusive transformations be brought about for the global South? What kind of metrics are needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South?

Justice and inclusive transformations in the global south can be achieved through the implementation of policies, aimed at ending the root cause of inequality and environmental concerns. The global south has been disproportionately economic order that follows Matthew effect of cumulative advantage of capital in which developed countries have the edge. A change to the system that support the disadvantaged regions in trade, human development, productive capacity growth and structural transformation. The simple metric that will capture this is the share of growth and trade to the developing countries in the total world share. However, we also need metrics that are specific to support developing countries that are at the receiving end in their economic development and fight against climate change. This should be more than just development assistance but technological and knowledge transfer, support for democratic development and building of strong accountability system.

2.      What are the spatial and socioeconomic implications of technology-driven transitions? and more specifically, in the context of the Global South?

The technology driven transition has socioeconomic implications and are spreading amongst the global south regions which include: Latin America, Asia and some part of Africa. The potential from digitalization is huge for the global south in terms of structural transformation of the traditional sectors and capacity to grow in the global value chain. However, technology is also a key driver of structural inequalities especially the dominance of digital platforms that operate monopoly business practices. The implication for Africa and other developing countries could be further divergence in development trajectory. Hence, technological-driven transitions can also be supportive of global south aspiration through implementing a sound data governance ecosystem that support digital development in the global south but also constraints deleterious practices among leading platform firms that will entrench their dominance, leaving less for the newcomers.

3.      How can institutions (Governments? Civil societies? NGOs, Private sector etc.?) protect rights and empower people, especially groups at higher risk to be left behind, such as women? How South South cooperation and solidarity be supported as a coping mechanism for uncertainty and inequality?

Institutions can protect the rights and empower people and groups who are at risk to be left behind by the government setting up and implementing environmental policies, particularly that of preventing and controlling the negative externalities. To ensure that polluters pay for their emissions. Provide a social protection mechanism that takes care of the vulnerable groups in the society. Such mechanism may include solutions which are gender based that takes care of inequality issues that are gender based or otherwise.

The exchange of resources, technology and knowledge amongst global south economies is elemental in handling environmental uncertainties and inequality. Global south also needs a deliberative process, of course not a replication of the COP climate change summit, to set agenda for economic development and climate progress.



Dear colleagues, I am happy to see such insightful contributions! Allow me to offer a different perspective to the issues raised above.

While recognizing the relevance of "technology-driven solutions", I believe we should not lose sight that SSC is not rarely composed of low-cost and low-tech solutions, more readily available in the Global South and among the most vulnerable in it.

Latin America countries understand SSC mainly as technical cooperation, that is, the exchange of technical knowledge that comes from concrete experience. This bottom-up approach is at the centre of SSC most impactful initiatives, even if small-scale, and it relies on existing resources and infrastructure. The Human Milk Banks, for instance, are an example of such low-cost/low-tech initiatives that are impacting neo-natal health in many countries.

Moreover, SSC has a normative aspect that should not be underestimated, with its principles of solidarity and horizontality, which have the potential to foster different - why not say radical - conceptions of development, more inclusive, towards a healthier planet, contrasting to the "business as usual" approach that pursues economic development to the expenses of human happiness and emancipation.

Fernanda Pavez Esbry
Fernanda Pavez Esbry Moderator

Thank you, Luara. Indeed this bottom-up perspective is something the 2020 HDR tried to approach through Nature-based solutions and particularly through recongizing the valuable knowledge and practices that indigenous and local communities set forth in their stewardship towards nature. The 2021-2022 HDR will look to expand on this through notions of cooperation and exploring the role of culture in pushing transformations. Knowledge from the global South will undoubtedly play an important role in pushing new frameworks and concepts in human development.

Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
Dr. Sofiane Sahraoui
  1. How can institutions (Governments? Civil societies? NGOs, Private sector, etc.?) protect rights and empower people, especially groups at higher risk to be left behind, such as women? How South-South cooperation and solidarity be supported as a coping mechanism for uncertainty and inequality?
  2. What good practices to motivating communities to act as a collective, for instance through social movements or community initiatives, exist in the global South? Are there good practices and/or lessons learned of technology-driven transitions that could be leveraged?

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, governments or States are generally the source of the problem, namely uncertainty and inequality.  They are not the only source of course but they are the ones that have the capacity and responsibility to solve the problems and facilitate positive transformations for people more than any other actor.  To propose what they should do is irrelevant in my opinion.  The more relevant question is why they are not doing what they should be doing.  We have to move away from a normative discourse of State functions to one where we identify the problems with State actions in their development function, then put metrics to measure progress towards resolving problems of State action.  As for the actors like civil societies, NGOs, and the private sector, the true potential is there for positive outcomes.  However instead of giving good practices, I am going to mention very bad ones that impede the community transformation process.  In a country I know well, the law does not allow foundations to be established under the guise of eroding State control and authority.  As the State is not very effective, not to say failing, NGOs which were not allowed to develop beyond small organizations with limited resources were unable to cover the spectrum of community development and transformation.  During the Covid-19 crisis for example, it was hard to find organizations that could mount big actions in favor of communities to help them seize opportunities. International donors that poured some much money into the country never bothered to require that NGOs should be allowed to develop to reach a critical mass or demand that foundations be allowed to take over state action where it was failing.  The disourse and the projects are always normative with funding that produces hardly anything sustainable.  If they want to prop up things and improve the situation of the disadvantaged, international organizations should stop investing in countries where States maintain environments that are not favorable to community transfrormation or at the very least condition their investments and aid to a transformation of those States.  Easier said than done of course but to start by identifying the ills of the institutional environment would be great progress.  Another bad practice that comes to mind (in the same country) is the complexity of the legal and accountability process to obtain international funding for NGOs or the absence of flexibility for transborder collaborations limiting the scope and reach of NGOs for instance.  To talk about civil society and NGOs as if they are the same everywhere is misleading because in some crountries they are crippled and can do very little.  So my suggestion, and I apologize for this grim outlook, is to define a governance framework for civil society and NGOs, so that they are empowered themselves to empower communities.  

Hany  Besada
Hany Besada
  1. Bringing about just and inclusive transformations for the global South?

Transformations involve fundamental changes in structural, functional, relational, and cognitive dimensions of linked socio-technical-ecological systems (Feola, 2014). Transformations are not always just, and processes of addressing them may trigger imbalance in power, control, benefit, and impact. The idea (process) of transformations is intrinsically political – and at a global level. The interplay of power (relations) and transformations generate division (even of opinion – especially globally, but also locally) and thus become a site of extensive politicking. Powerful global interests, politics of policymaking and its implementation, and resistance are political elements of transformation. Resistance to (bad and good) change relates to broad societal impacts, especially economic survival. This is especially acute in societies, where governance institutions are still infant and fragile. Engendering inclusive and just transformations in the global south would fundamentally require an appreciation of its uniqueness and diversity and in relation to the rest of the world.

First, it is important to examine policy and governance in context. Apart from regional differences, governance systems (rooted in culture and historical experiences) differ – if even slightly – despite that many have some form of (electoral) democracies. The reality of each state is also unique and uniquely important. For instance, while the UN SDGs are globally sought, essential and applicable, the unique situation in each national and even local context is an important underlying factor in determining their attainment in context and globally.

Science-policy-practice interactions need to be enhanced and improved. Governments and governance need to become more scientific (as opposed to political) in processes. Scholars contend that it is generally imperative to increase scientific processes in policy and governance (Nilsson et al., 2017). This can take the form of designing and undertaking scientific research focused on context, as well as across contexts in both horizontal and vertical arrangements. Scientific policy interactions would generate theoretical and practical knowledge that would feed into and inform conceptualization, understanding, appreciation, analysis and applicability/application of the notions and realities of in/justice and inequality, especially in relation to access, allocation, utilization and broad re/distribution globally and domestically.

Diversity in governance patterns and processes is important. The role of informal (non-institutional, community-based) actors, non-governmental as well as private sector and civil society organizations are important in “marketplace” of governance ideas and processes. Plurality of ideas and knowledge on governance can have its challenges in some contexts but is overall beneficial for transformations. Plurality and diversity of voices and views especially from non-traditional sources in deliberative processes (Dryzek & Pickering, 2017), decentralization and two-way loops of engagement across scales (Dennis et al., 2016), and community engagement in process management (Van Putten et al., 2016) enrich transformations.

Encouraging – through training and capacity building – local activism. Activists provide essential agency through critical education to local communities on development issues. Their role is crucial in helping to build local resources for transformations.

  1. Kind of metrics needed to guide just and inclusive transformations in the global South? 

Good governance is a key underlying metric of just and inclusive transformations. Effective governance engenders equitable, free and inclusive participation. Global level discussion must encourage confident and diverse southern voices. It is important that global or international processes recognize the relevance of difference, but more important, create sufficient room for open, honest and diverse knowledge exchange processes. At the domestic level, governance architecture ought to reflect reality – especially with respect to variety of actors. Increasingly, a significant section of local populations limits participation to only voting, which undercuts governance space and resources/knowledge available to sustain healthy governance and transformations.

Design tools and mechanisms to foster socio-political, economic and environmental justice. The idea of justice (especially environmental) should be futuristic. What is just socially and environmentally ought to focus not only on the present conditions, but also, on the condition of the planet that present generations hand down to future generations. Despite the inherent uncertainties (or rather as a result of them) of governing the future, efforts need to be made in that direction – if not even directly. Scholars have examined the importance of “anticipatory governance” which involves utilizing existing governance measures and processes to govern future transformations (Gupta, 2011; Guston, 2010). In some societies (notably West Africa), this notion is indigenous to governance in general, but especially of landed resources. The notion that land belongs to the living, the dead and posterity gives the living a sense of responsibility to the two categories of ownership. This sense of responsibility in all processes (economic, social, political, cultural, and especially environmental) would be an essential metric of just and (generationally) inclusive transformations.

Laws, regulations, and independent institutions of governance would work in tandem to protect and guide transformations at all levels. Governance structures and processes ought to be representative of context, and engender inclusivity, transparency, and accountability (Donald & Way, 2016; Van Bommel et al., 2016). Transformations often trigger disagreement that in some cases can be detrimental to humanity. Institutions and structures that safeguard peace, security, and ward off or mediate conflicting scenarios would be essential metrics of transformation.

Active civil society is key in addressing contemporary development processes. The socio-political environment should allow for and encourage civil society input – especially through activism. Activist provide a learning opening for the larger society through awareness creation, education and training (for free) on systems, processes and phenomena that facilitate transformations.

Effective transformation ought to ultimately engender economic survival and in context. In the global south, the informal sector forms the main source of livelihood for many, and informal economic and political forces are key to development generally. Financial and other resources that target local (and mostly informal) economic processes in poor countries would be essential in maintaining transformations Bierman et al. (2012).

  1. Spatial and socioeconomic implications of technology-driven transitions in Global South?

Fundamentally, technology-driven transitions engender wider actor engagement, mutual multi-actor interactions and exchanges, as well as multi-level processes within the larger ecosystem of transformations and in the specific sector targets of transformations.

Technology-driven transitions highlight the importance and impact of cross-disciplinary and cross-professional engagements in transformations. For instance, policy makers and development planning (planners) engage technologists in policy and governance processes and thus, lead to the creation of new socio-technical, politico-technical, economic and cultural governance regimes and mechanisms.

Encouraging varieties and multi-level perspective, “a framework and theory that conceptualizes overall dynamic patterns in sociotechnical transitions” (in Hosseinifarhangi et al., 2019), on sustainability transitions or transformations. These patterns involve interaction of innovators and actors triggered by new sociotechnical practices engaging sociotechnical landscapes.

New technologies and technology-driven transitions generate opportunities for the emergence and development of new sociotechnical regimes and dismantling of obsolete or ineffective existing ones.

Tech-driven transitions often require simultaneous efforts in preparation of mutually re-enforcing and supportive as well as compatible spatial systems for enhancing interactive processes across different knowledge systems.

Eventual implementation and needed monitoring, evaluation, and refinement, as well as scaling processes depend on the development of appropriate tools to enhance efficiency and productive capacity of innovations for sustainability transitions.

Transformations engender more sustainable growth and development when properly thought through, designed, and executed. Hosseinifarhangi et al. (2019) find that the rising Shanghai population now has regular/daily access to healthy foods, including especially green and leafy vegetables due to a well-designed high-tech urban agriculture (HTUA) initiative.

Tech-driven transformations can also create avenues to develop more effective policy ideas and instruments to address development challenges within domestic southern context from the sharing of knowledge (Schroeder & González, 2019).

  1. Technologies to be leveraged for development of metrics in Anthropocene uncertainty? 

Technological inventions redefine patterns of production and consumption in a way that helps to lessen the destructive trend of the Anthropocene and at the same time maintain or even improve living standards, quality of life and sustain livelihoods better. Technology can be leveraged in the production of food to meet human needs, without significantly damaging the environment. Hamilton (2017) contends that the impact of human living activity is extensive (and mostly destructive) to the social-ecological systems.

Sustainable business would be an important metric for addressing uncertainties. Responsible consumption is also key to addressing uncertainties. Individuals become aware of the dangers associated with simple consumption that does not consider environmental impacts. An awareness of environmentally destruction production would feed into consumption choices and patterns, which in turn would inform individual choices in and patterns of consumption.

  1. Rights protection and empowerment through institutions?

Institutional reforms and institution building, as well as active involvement of non-governmental actors in governance help to protect the rights, as well as enhance empowered participation in governance. Democratic governance, being the free expression of popular interests in the composition of governance coalitions and the direction of governance, is increasingly threatened the world over. Exploitation of democratic space by populist and authoritarian sentiments has undermined the relevance of democracy’s empowering quality worldwide (Bomberg, 2017). It is important to re-examine, re-enforce and revitalize democracy from the grassroots level. In the global south, threat to people-centered governance undermines the power and agency of vulnerable communities and individuals. In addition to addressing governance challenges and facilitating reforms within domestic contexts, global and regional level governance processes need also to open up for better engagement with and representation local level interests.

Decentralization processes would help empower and protect rights of marginalized and vulnerable populations. Decentralization helps to offset the burden of centrality, engenders focused administration, reduces cumbersome and often corrupt tendencies, and as well creates space for wider subaltern engagement. This better and more efficiently facilitates effective inter-agency interaction, which is often problematic in domestic processes on global instruments.

Non-governmental governance systems play a major role in empowering communities and individuals. In global environmental governance (transformations – such as sustainability transitions), scholars have underscored the relevance of private governance especially in transnational processes through, among others, the use of certification and self-regulation to address unsustainable and exploitative productive tendencies (Van der Ven, 2015).


The agency of individuals is the main source of power for individuals. It is imperative to open engagement with citizens, citizen groups and organization. Citizen-centered governance also facilitates interaction between formal western-styled and indigenous systems of governance and knowledge.

  1. South-South cooperation and solidarity as coping mechanism for uncertainty and inequality? 

Develop knowledge – knowledge creation, distribution, and utilization to facilitate development processes, especially targeting the vulnerable. This includes developing a knowledge base of good practices for the benefit of all communities.

Develop infrastructure for policy-relevant research across levels and especially at the local level of governance, as well as encouraging collaborations across disciplines and professions.

Cross-level science-policy-practice interactions through workshops and training programs for technocrats and practitioners. Forums also facilitate knowledge exchange.

Financial support to address inequalities in development as well as mitigate the effects of shocks.

The use of actor networks (Hosseinifarhangi et al., 2019) or translation (Callon, 1984), being the creation of networks of actors with similar interests through cooperation, negotiation and sharing mutual benefits. This can involve a mix of human and non-human actors (such as technologies).

Use regional platforms to advance a common purpose, reflecting diversity and oneness of SSC in global transformations.

  1. Motivation and social movements?

Advocacy, education and awareness creation on sustainability through collaborative efforts between transnational and local civil society and community development groups.

Practical local initiatives on sustainable socio-economic transformations that gear toward livelihood and survival provide inspiration to community development groups.

Knowledge sharing helps create avenues for policy innovation for transformations, as well as provide resources for innovative practices in sustainable economic practices. This takes place in both formal (educational) institutions such as Future Africa and informal community education initiatives.

  1. Good practices and/or lessons learned of technology-driven transitions to be leveraged? 

Examples of good practices and lessons of technology-driven sustainable transitions exist that can be leveraged or scaled to benefit development in the larger GS. A notable sector of good lessons in transformation is agriculture (unsurprisingly given the regions dominant agrarian economy) and food production in particular; however, technological innovations are becoming a basis of most activities, even (or rather especially) in the GS’ large informal sector.

One example is the high-tech horticulture zone development in Shanghai (Hosseinifarhangi et al., 2019). The initiative helped to modernize and enhance food production in urban communities and hence address food shortage, improve nutrition and livelihood of urban populations. The initiative uses high-tech urban agriculture (HTUA), which involves modern technology and innovation – eg hydroponics, indoor horticulture, and vertical farming – in food production within urban areas. The technology is good for its efficient use of resources such as land and water, as well and shortening the food supply chain, thereby reducing environmental impacts.

Another example is participatory approaches in transformations in agriculture and local urban planning in Rafsanjan, Iraq (Farhangi et al., 2021). Technology serves a supporting tool for citizen participation in local urban planning as well as actor interactions for agricultural sector production. Interactions and mutual learning among the different categories of actors – i.e. private sector operatives, institutions of learning and farmers, and such public actors as Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO) and the 10-year greenhouses development plan – were refined using technological instruments, which strengthened participatory decision making in transformations.

Others address transformations in various other sectors and locations. Oates (2021) examines projects in two localities Ahmedabad and Jinja in India and Uganda respectively on technology-driven service delivery in response to and address challenges of urbanization, climate change and inequality. Focused on waste management (Ahmedabad) and solar energy (Jinja), the study finds the impact of niche innovations by non-state actors on access to services, reduction in ecological footprints, and empowerment of socially marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Despite the dangers of politicization, contestations, local practices, and contextual reality in some contexts (Guma & Monstadt, 2021), ICT-driven infrastructures and smart city initiatives are spreading across the Global South, and provide good lessons that help address pertinent challenges, lessen inequality through accessibility and information, among others.

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