Working groups : Themes under review


The Panel has chosen 14 transversal themes to accommodate general and specific innovative contributions. Moreover, its work will flag the connections between themes to underline the interdependence of opportunities and solutions across the domains of the social progress agenda.

Find out more about the aims and themes of IPSP (2024-2027).

Overarching themes

Mapping the systemic conditions for transformation to better societies

Many actors have expressed the need to articulate their topic-specific, regional or global actions through a systemic approach to societal transformations and a mapping of the prevailing power structures as well as the processes and factors of change.The clear identification of the interdependent causal relations in the current situation is key to developing a design, a sequencing, and an implementation of actions that would transform the dynamics at play.

Measuring What We Value: Beyond GDP, profit and anthropocentrism

Governments pursue GDP growth and corporations maximize profit, with disastrous consequences for the quality of life, human flourishing and the natural environment. A new nexus is emerging around social well-being and cohesion, agency and stakeholder value, and ecological footprint and planetary health. It needs to be associated with new norms and indicators, policies, implementation strategies as well as more inclusive governance toward a democratic economy. Since the what in ‘what we value’ is subjective,it is essential to apply an intersectional lens in determining the ‘we’ in order to negotiate new social contracts, address inequalities,and work towards greater social cohesion.

Reforming the economic system: the way forward

Entrepreneurship and social purpose

An important driving force of entrepreneurship is purpose. Free enterprise cannot be justified as just being good for business; it can be justified only as being good for society. Finding ways to foster the development of social purpose in corporations is essential to transform the dynamics of economic organization and inclusive economic participation to spur sustained social change. This work will be attentive to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as potential engines of economic transformation.

Living wages

A mix of public policies and corporate human resource management practices thus determines how workers are paid, especially the least skilled workforce. How should responsibility be shared between public and private actors? The aim will be to examine how the strategies of public and private actors can be combined in order to guarantee the goal of providing living wages to all workers and how living or decent wages can be practically determined. This work will include the situation in countries with large informal sectors where workers including women and youth do not earn regular and livable wages.

Steering technological change - democratically (generative AI, quantum, biomedicine)

Societies need to ensure that technology develops as a means to support human activities (rather than replacing them, and seeking to increase profit) starting with increasing our capacities to address global priority challenges. The orientation of technological innovation has public good effects that require defining fair and inclusive mechanisms to represent different societal interests.

Governance, democracy and participation

Efficient barriers against backsliding on democratic institutions and norms

Defining an ideal democracy is one thing, erecting protections against backsliding is another. What types of democratic regimes and institutions are more vulnerable, and how do various countries fare in this respect? For what reasons? What are the bestways to prevent these evolutions and counter the current trend towards more authoritarian, nationalist regimes?

Information as a public good in the age of social media and artificial intelligence

The availability of reliable and digestible information is key to the quality of living,quality of public deliberation and the smooth functioning of democracy. This is a public good, but it is not treated as such in most countries, under the pressure of profit and power for the benefit of private entities and/or authoritarian governments. Likewise, internet is based on a “neutrality” principle but is in fact largely governed by profit. Developing a strategy with civil society and other relevant actors to protect and promote the informational public good and tackle the development of AI is urgent.

Promoting human security and global solidarity

Global solidarity and global citizenship

Global safety nets have the potential to foster the emergence of a global citizen, but require mechanisms that transcend or bypass nation states. Linking the creation of new global solidarity mechanisms with a global momentum around the ecological transition may be politically necessary to achieve a successful transition—and an important opportunity for social progress.

Peace and human security

How do we reduce conflict, violence and human rights violations without a new world governance? Should this involve innovative solutions at the global level or initiatives at more local levels? Should this revolve around background factors (e.g., reducing inequalities and environmental disruptions) or innovative institutions (peace-building and policing agents of a new type)? This work will focus on finding effective means of interventions under the guiding principles of survival (health, peace, tolerance),daily life (quality of living which encompasses information and planetary safeguards), as well as dignity, equity, and solidarity,regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, religion, geography, gender, generation, and dis/ability.

Unleashing the potential of social change

Inspirations, social progress and behavioral change

Individual and collective behavior change is a powerful driver of change in many areas of society (health, foodand nutrition, education, social inclusion, etc.). Relying on existing knowledge and studying successful examples, a better understanding of how various types of interventions can inspire behaviors promoting social progress would provide important insights for public policies as well as for interventions designed by civil society and private organizations.

Emancipatory Nation States

Domestic State interventions must be reformed to make greater room for emancipation, for collaboration with non-state actors (including civil society and the private sector), and for participatory governance to address the rising challenges ofidentity, belonging and nativism.

  • Exploration 1: The rise of an emancipatory State needs to accompany the development of State capacities in low-income to high income developing countries.
  • Exploration 2: Since policy making is no longer the sole domain of traditional state actors, a more robust model must be developed for understanding and mapping the relationships between state and non-state actors and the dynamics of collaboration or competition within the realm o fpolicy reform and implementation.
Cities and Social Progress

Large cities are a unique type of community with a sufficient economic base for impactful social, environmental,and technological innovations, and a human scale enabling greater and more inclusive participationBand beneficiaries, including under-represented constituents. What could be expected from greater coordination among them across the world? How will the urban-rural relation evolve? How can the benefitsbe accessed or allocated equitably, including among migrantand transient populations ?

Rethinking our relation to nature

Getting out of the extractive paradigm

The ecological transition requires reconceptualizing our attitude toward “nature” and recognizing that we are part of a community of life – and asimilar change in attitudes is needed in economic relations (toward labor in particular) and in geopolitics toward vulnerable countries). How can this vision of a “common good” and a “common fate” be promoted and implemented ?

Ecological rule of law

Environmental global and local public goods require innovative regulation mechanisms that are currently largely missing, or dependent on volatile national political jockeying. Moreover, existing regulations are the target of lobbying by corporations and often fail to be thoroughly implemented, and could be mobilized and extended for the defense of the environment.