The first IPSP Report in 2018 provided a comprehensive review of the state of societies in the world. It covered economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural issues and made an assessment of the positive trends and the mounting challenges/threats. The synthesis built with 350+ social scientists gave an overview of the multiple linkages between the components of the societal system. It offered a vision of progress, in the form of a broad picture of the type of institutions and reforms that, allowing for substantial variations around the world, might realize a “better” society, inspired by values of equality, freedom, emancipation, participation and inclusion.

The need to address the challenge of environmental protection, social cohesion, and governance institutions has greatly increased. The degradation of the environment and the accumulation of greenhouse gases continue almost unabated. Development gaps persist and even widen for the least advanced economies, while inequalities in incomes and in wealth remain high. The expansion of democratic institutions across the world has been reversed, under a wave of nationalism, populism, and corruption. The recent crises are deepening inequalities and reveal new vulnerabilities.

In order to prepare for these future challenges, there is a crucial need to develop new contents and new formats that support the actors who can lead the transition. How can social movements, civil society activism, business initiative, political action, governmental and intergovernmental policies, and intellectual initiative better contribute to steering our path towards social progress? What norms, processes, indicators of success can help actors assess states of affairs, communicate between and around them, and decide their course of action? What levers can they pull, what type of coordination should they pursue, and at what geographical and jurisdictional level should they operate ?