Environment and Sustainability

The growing Environment and Sustainability list is at the heart of our remit to publish quality scholarship that addresses global social challenges.

This list covers a broad spectrum of issues and focuses on the social justice dimensions of environmental sustainability, including in: climate change, environmental politics, developing sustainable economies, transport and sustainability and environmentalist thought and ideology.

The new open access Global Social Challenges Journal incorporates these themes to facilitate critical thinking across disciplines and fields.

Environment and Sustainability

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Over the past few decades, there has been considerable dynamism in terms of discourse and practice in the social policy field. In the Introduction, we introduced six themes around which the discussions of the chapters in this volume have introduced new theoretical and analytical frameworks and the development of new social policies and programmes in non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. These were: a rights-based approach to social welfare; integration of social policy into other public policies; the newly assumed role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in delivering social services in transition economies; the emergence of supranational-level social policy; informal workers shaping the system of social policy programmes; and national ownership of social policy in the context of development cooperation.

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This chapter addresses post-Arab Spring youth employment policies in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia, with a focus on the guidance provided to these nations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Article IV Consultation documents. The study reveals an underrepresentation of youth employment policy in recent literature and identifies external constraints on policy autonomy, particularly the influence of international financial institutions, such as the IMF. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the youth unemployment issue, with significant job losses across these countries. The authors find minimal evidence that IMF policies post-Arab Spring adjusted to address the demands for improved youth employment opportunities. Instead, the continued emphasis is on a supposed “skills mismatch” despite increasing education levels and a lack of evidence to support this claim. Central to the unemployment crisis is the absence of decent job opportunities, exacerbated by regional conflicts, political instability and the pandemic. The chapter highlights the Tunisian Center for Social Entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to addressing youth unemployment, emphasizing a shift away from market-led solutions. The study concludes that focusing international investments on creating employment opportunities could break the cycle of unemployment and subsequent social unrest prevalent in the region.

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Challenges and Innovations in Emerging Economies

Drawing on international case studies from emerging economies and developing countries including South Africa, India, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Indonesia, China and Russia, this book examines the rise, nature and effectiveness of recent developments in social policy in the Global South.

By analysing these new emerging trends, the book aims to understand how they can contribute to meaningful change and whether they could offer alternative solutions to the social, economic and environmental policy challenges facing low-income countries within a contemporary global context.

It pays particular attention to reforms and innovations relating to the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the move away from a welfare state, towards a ‘welfare multitude’, in which new actors, such as civil society organisations, play an increasingly important role in social policy.

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The importance of social policy in the developmental trajectory of low- and middle-income countries has been increasingly recognized alongside a heightened focus on universal social protection in global dialogues. International entities, such as the International Labour Organization and the United Nations, have prioritized this in their goals; yet, views on how best to implement these objectives often differ between donor and aid recipient countries. Focusing on Indonesia, an emerging economy, this chapter evaluates the role of external actors in the nation’s social policy development. Despite the challenges posed by donor interests often overshadowing those of recipients, Indonesia showcases notable strides in its social policy, particularly in health. This chapter emphasizes the Paris Principles on Aid Effectiveness, particularly the “country ownership” concept, arguing for greater control by recipient nations over their developmental policies. The findings, based on Indonesia’s experience, show varied adherence to this principle among international donors, offering a nuanced understanding of social policy development in emerging Southeast Asian economies.

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This chapter explores the intricacies of social policy amid contemporary globalizing dynamics. Centring on transborder exchanges, the chapter illuminates how these exchanges shape welfare systems worldwide, encompassing the flow of capital, goods, services, cultural exchanges and political actions, and examines the innovative reforms addressing health and welfare issues with particular focus on the global South. It poses critical questions about whether social policies can be isolated from their international contexts, and challenges the traditional, country-centric methodologies of social policy analysis. Emphasizing the necessity of a more encompassing transnational analytical approach, the chapter calls for a symbiotic relationship between traditional and transnational methodologies in social policy research. It underscores the variable influence that transnational actors, institutions and processes wield across different contexts. A core argument posits that a truly comprehensive understanding of social policy dynamics requires embracing the cross-border activities and their impacts on welfare structures within and between nations. This transnational analytics is presented as instrumental in understanding contemporary social policy dynamics. Additionally, the chapter stresses the need for comparative methods, urging an investigation into how different transnational forces shape social provision and policy across various contexts.

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This chapter draws on comparative research across eight countries of the global North and South to offer an initial framework of contemporary trends in informal workers’ movements. Findings suggest that present-day informal workers are mobilizing populations that were often excluded from twentieth-century labour movements. Such populations include workers operating within non-standard employment relationships (such as contract-based construction workers and garment workers, as well as self-employed domestic workers, transport workers and refuse collectors), within non-standard workspaces (including the street, private homes and unregistered worksheds), and socially vulnerable groups (such as women, ethnic and racial minorities and immigrants). The chapter argues that by mobilizing these groups along class and social identity lines, informal workers are fighting to expand the definitions of “workers” and “employers” to include a larger and more diverse range of people, relationships and occupations.

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Expansion of social protection reach among workers in the large informal economy represents a persisting and thorny challenge in the development context. In Mainland Tanzania, several domestically led policy reforms have been introduced to increasingly expand social protection for informal workers. This chapter examines the case of Tanzania by exploring the policy developments that have sought to facilitate access to social protection within the informal economy over the past 10–15 years, notably through the expansion of social insurance provision. The chapter highlights the pioneering legislative reforms and innovative approaches to social insurance adopted in the country, while drawing attention to the emergence of “competitive” informal social security arrangements that attract informal workers at the expense of formal social insurance uptake. As such, the chapter underscores the need for policy makers to double efforts in awareness-raising and policy design accounting for the needs and contribution capacities of informal workers.

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Social policies lack a uniform global history and theories of social policy cannot be applied without context to health policies. This chapter analyses the nuanced relationship between health policy and industrial development, emphasizing in particular the technological capabilities of a nation’s health industry. This influence of technological capabilities, especially medical technology, on health care systems is pivotal, determining the ambitions of health policy, the quality and scope of treatments, cost structures and even insurance priorities. A generic social policy theory devoid of its technological context cannot be extended to all industries. By examining health policy through the lens of a country’s industry and technology, one can comprehend its distinct institutional history and character. This chapter, therefore, calls for a new industry-focused framework for analysing social policy, drawing from examples such as the COVID-19 pandemic and laying out theoretical concerns as well as practicalities of the co-evolution of different institutional domains. It emphasizes the importance of micro-level industry dynamics, including understanding technological progress, the specific institutional and spatial arrangements through which programmes are designed and benefits disbursed, with firms playing changing roles in this process. As such, this dynamic evolution of social policy requires more country- and industry-specific debate and much less generic labour theorizing. The chapter lays out some of the benefits of an institutional and evolutionary perspective to appreciate the complexity and trajectory of social policy development in its context.

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Attaining the ambitious, transformative visions and goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires a radical departure from business as usual in designing and implementing strategies, policies and action plans. An innovative approach is needed more than ever in the social policy sector since new and significant challenges and risks have, albeit at different speeds, started to raise questions on the validity of existing policy tools.

Climate change poses some of the greatest economic, social, and sometimes political challenges of the twenty-first century. Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will accelerate climate change and threaten the lives and well-being of present and future generations and the planet itself. Climate change causes significant negative consequences in terms of production, particularly in the sectors of agriculture, coastal resources, energy, forestry, water and tourism, which are major industries of many developing countries. Inequality has increased in almost all countries since the 1980s, which marks the end of a postwar egalitarian regime. The level of inequality in terms of income accounted for by the nation’s top 10 per cent earners is particularly high (more than 50 per cent of national income) in many developing countries in Central and Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and India. The latest estimates hint at the COVID-19 crisis further reinforcing these trends, not only in terms of financial inequalities, but even regarding gender, formal and informal workers, and marginalized racial and ethnic groups, among others. Extreme poverty remains entrenched in many parts of the world.

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China, with its rapidly ageing population, faces escalated demands for aged care. By November 2020, seniors aged 60 and over represented 18.7 per cent of the population, a number projected to rise considerably by 2030. Concurrently, shifts in economic and social dynamics influence older individuals’ lifestyles, leading to varied demands. Traditional living arrangements are changing, with fewer older people residing with their children, thus elevating the need for external care. To cater to this, the Chinese state initiated reforms, emphasizing community-based care provision and transitioning from direct state-provided services to collaborations with social organizations and private entities. This chapter delves into the changing dynamics of China’s aged care system, exploring the introduction of diverse care providers, expanding care scopes, and evolving perceptions among stakeholders. The research, conducted in pilot cities, suggests a gradual shift toward a hybrid care model, although challenges persist in nationwide implementation and stakeholder trust. The findings offer insights into the complexities of adapting aged care systems amid demographic and social changes.

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