Towards peace, decent work, and greater equality

Research evidence for transforming economies, states, and societies

As we cross the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNU-WIDER culminates a 5-year research programme on Transforming economies, states, and societies. The synthesis of the most salient research contributions made is organized in this report by three universal aspirations, shared by humans everywhere. These critical outcomes—peace, greater equality, and decent work—can be achieved in our lifetimes and are instrumental to accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Progress on the SDGs is now stalled following the emergence of a global threat no one predicted, COVID-19 and the crisis it precipitated. That, combined with the several endemic crises related to violent conflict, poverty, climate change, and political injustice—and the aftershocks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which threaten food security worldwide—have reversed much of what has been achieved. Our findings provide clear opportunities for action, which can be a springboard for Southern governments and the international community hoping to recover and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

Encapsulating the key messages from 30 distinct research projects and distilling evidence from several hundred of UNU-WIDER’s recent studies, this report offers readers the latest insights on a broad range of important topics including: building peace in conflict-affected situations, increasing aid effectiveness and the resilience of democracy, strengthening the social contract, advancing social protection policy, increasing fiscal space, addressing inequalities, and tackling the challenges of informality and the impediments to decent work for all. Several of these findings relate to country-level studies covering Global South countries in every major world region and narrow major gaps in our knowledge on critical issues in these contexts.