International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus (IFSP) - Five Themes
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- Buenos Aires: 25 workshops on “Global Issues and Dynamics”
Globalization is a fact in today’s world. However, the dynamics of globalization differ widely: it benefits some but marginalizes and leaves behind many others. How then can social scientists, NGOs, and policy makers affect the process of globalization so that it can accrue to the benefit of everyone, instead of dividing and discriminating?
Under this broad theme, and taking account of the interface between policy and research, the 25 workshops addressed the nature and impact of globalization (including trade and finance, information technology, international migration, labor and employment, and poverty), and paths towards improved global governance (international norms and rules, and the role of international organizations, the state, regional bodies, and civil societies and NGOs).
- Buenos Aires: 35 workshops on “Social Policies”
Contemporary states intervene ever more closely in the fabric of their societies to promote public health, to target social benefits, to address entrenched poverty, to adapt institutions and policies to the implications of ageing populations or new modes of education and knowledge. Such intervention requires detailed knowledge of social situations and the ability to predict their responses, as well as bridges between the inevitably different agendas, languages, timeframes and evaluation frameworks, and interests, of social scientists and policy actors. The objective of the Forum has been to understand how these differences can be bridged so that social policy can be better informed by social science.
The 35 workshops emphasized analysis of successes and failures in the use of social science knowledge for policy in such areas as poverty eradication, social integration, health, social insurance, housing, employment and education. Better understanding of what works and what fails is the basis of more accurate scientific analysis of the social world and enhanced capacities for action to address its most urgent ills in order to contribute to achieve the Copenhagen commitments and the Millennium Development goals.
- Córdoba: 15 workshops on “Population and Migration”
International migration and changing population patterns have become major issues in social transformations and political debates throughout the world. In a context of economic globalization, flows of people have diversified and now concern nearly all countries, whether as sending, transit or receiving regions. The challenge for the international community is to elaborate concrete and efficient answers to the questions raised by international migration, which includes above all migrants’ vulnerability and violations of their human rights but also ways in which movement of people may benefit both origin and destination countries, and migrants themselves.
The 15 workshops addressed the core issues raised by contemporary migration flows: forced migration and asylum, globalisation and migrants’ transnational lives and identities, the cultural and environmental impact of migration, the legal framework of migration and migrants’ rights, intergovernmental and regional cooperation in the elaboration of migration policies, and scenarios for the future of migration. Several workshops addressed current demographic tendencies, including changing family structures, and the ageing populations of many countries. The presence of policy-makers, researchers and NGO members has enabled the development of new forms of cooperation between policy and social sciences, with the ambition of bringing better responses to today’s challenges.
- Montevideo: 7 workshops on “Regional Integration”
In recent years, regional integration schemes of various kinds have been proliferating in every region of the world. Effective regional integration models can empower people and national governments to better cope with, and benefit from, global economic forces. These agreements can foster powerful links among commerce, economic reform, development, investment, security and democratization. However, at the same time, because of the prevailing focus on economic issues, the social aspects of regional integration tend to be ignored or lose out in terms of priority. Moreover, regional integration raises interesting and important questions for the sovereignty of national governments.
With this in mind, the 7 workshops provided an opportunity for in-depth consideration of issues such as the reasons for the resurgence of regional integration, different models of regional integration, concrete cases of successes and failures, how to strike a better balance between the economic and social dimensions of regional integration, and the relationship between the state and regional integration schemes, all the while explicitly taking into account the research-policy nexus.
- Rosario: 14 workshops on “Urban Policies and Decentralization”
Urban policies and territorial development are testing grounds for the connection between science, techniques and policies. As cities expand worldwide, urban policies are becoming an essential element in the territorial regulation of societies. Yet, paradoxically, urban growth over the last 25 years, particularly in the developing world, has gone hand in hand with forsaken territorial planning, increasing basic deprivation and worsening living conditions.
The 14 workshops, dealing with the theme, focused on territories currently undergoing major change. Topics should relate to the main challenges of change (planning instruments, territorial integration, socio-economic insertion, local democracy and citizenship, municipal action) and to the main responses to them (cooperation, development of legal in-struments, quality of public spaces, enhanced analytical capacities, expertise and innovative engagement of professionals…).