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The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous research institute within the UN system that undertakes interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.

Through its work, UNRISD aims to ensure that social equity, inclusion and justice are central to development thinking, policy and practice. UNRISD focuses on the often neglected social content and impacts of development processes and the role of social institutions, relations and actors in shaping development policies and pathways; engages researchers, policy makers and civil society actors from around the world in generating and sharing knowledge, in order to shape policy within and beyond the UN system; mobilizes and strengthen the research capacity of individuals and institutions in developing countries through collaborative inquiry; and provides a space for the exchange of ideas, giving prominence to marginalized viewpoints, often challenging mainstream development thinking and offering alternative policy options.

The UNRISD programme on Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development focuses on understanding, analysing and engaging with processes of policy change that can tackle unsustainable practices, climate change and inequalities. The work entails attention to the intersectionality of social, environmental and economic issues at different levels of governance, in support of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.