INTERNATIONAL PANEL ON SOCIAL PROGRESS

Since 2014, the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP) has harnessed the competence of hundreds of experts about social change to provide the best expertise to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers. 

 

The first IPSP Report published in 2018 (Cambridge Univesity Press, 3 volumes) provided a comprehensive review of the state of societies in the world. It covered economic, social, political, environmental and cultural issues and made a balanced assessment of the positive trends and the mounting challenges and threats in these domainsThis synthesis gave a striking overview of the multiple linkages between the components of the societal system. It also 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, democracy and inclusion.

 

Since the report was completed, the threats identified in the IPSP Report -–climate change, social exclusion, the rise of national populism-- have not receded and the Covid-19 crisis has deepened inequalities and revealed new vulnerabilities. While some hope that this crisis will be an occasion for progressive reforms, there is no guarantee such an agenda will be given prevalence, nor that it will become a worldwide trend. One can fear that democratic deliberation processes will not lead the way and that inadequate political structures will prove unable to face up to the challenges. 

 

In order to prepare for these future challenges that could prove disruptive for societies, a second round of IPSP reporting work will start in 20222. This rund will focus on actors and processes which can lead the transition to the vision outlined in the report, and that will promote concrete tools for action. What combination of social movements, civil society activism, business initiative, political action by networks of local officials, governmental and intergovernmental policies and platforms, and intellectual initiative can steer our historical path in the direction of social progress? What norms, processes, indicators and metrics of success can help them 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 and communicate?

 

This new contribution will build on the interdisciplinary approach of the first IPSP Report and on the wide geographical distribution of authors and contributors. It will potentially innovate with respect to the previous approach in one major aspect: it will involve actors from the beginning, not to blend academic work with activism but to make this work relevant and accessible to a large audience.