SOCIAL INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Over the last twenty years promising new frameworks have started to be built in the development context, such as human development theories. In particular, the idea of sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs - has created a new framework for global development, through the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs have been signed up through intense and widespread consultation, involving a large number of organisations, including governments at all levels, civil society, businesses and academia. The UN system and decision /policy makers are progressively recognizing the importance of changing social practices to underpin human development [Jeremy Millard,2014]. As a result, the UN acknowledges that social innovation approaches are needed as mainstream tools for delivering sustainable development, alongside large-scale public and private funding. Today, the role of bottom-up social innovation in designing and delivering public services to income-poor and marginalized people in a gender sensitive manner, is seen as an important issue in achieving the SDGs by 2030 [United Nations, 2015: Innovative Public Service Delivery: Learning from Best Practices].
Social innovation has indeed been one of the driving approaches, insisting on the recognition of civil society as an essential source of innovation, by interacting with local actors, social partners and universities. For this reason, social innovation can work across and support all 17 SDGs , helping to create a new mind set and supportive framework for sustainable development as an essential part of the new innovation and knowledge paradigm. Environmental and ecological concerns are also a key focus of social innovations by recognizing, for example, the need to much better contextualize and localize social development. Social innovation is thus increasingly recognised as an important component of the new innovation framework necessary for sustainable development, helping to meet social needs (for example for an education or health service) in a new way.
The increasing dialogue between the social innovation and sustainable development communities is helping to design the future policies and principles of societal development at all levels, in support of a socio-ecological transition for sustainable societies.