Projects – Social and Human Sciences

Promoting Social Inclusion in South East Asia

Social Promoting Social InclusionInclusion denotes the process of individual’s self-realisation within a society, acceptance and recognition of one’s potential by social institutions, and unobstructed participation in civic, social, economic and political spheres of life. In present-day Southeast Asian societies, the rapid transformations occurring under forces of globalization create conditions of vulnerability that put individuals and groups at risk of social exclusion. For millions of people, Social Inclusion involves breaking increasingly complex barriers to fulfil their human rights as full members of society. When the government policies exclude people from equitable share of the benefits of economic growth, inequalities increase, while political stability, continued sustainable development and general social harmony are undermined. For the governments in the region, this presents a real challenge: what type of policies need to be enacted to ensure an environment that is conducive to Social Inclusion?

As a central concept of the 2030 Agenda and the foundation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Social Inclusion is everybody’s business – countries affluent and poor, governments big and small, the UN system and broader development community, civil society and private sector.

And yet, much remains to be done to understand the complex nature of Social Inclusion, to develop methodologies to monitor and measure progress towards this goal, and to translate the emerging knowledge into policy and action.

UNESCO, with its multidimensional mandate in Social and Human Sciences, is working closely with the Malaysian government to push the frontiers of knowledge for better understanding and effective application of Social Inclusion in public policy.  With the support from the Malaysian Funds in Trust, UNESCO Jakarta Office is pioneering applied projects to build the capacity of the “community of practice” – governments, universities, civil society – in inclusive public policy design in Southeast Asian region. These projects are designed to put into practice the Analytical Framework for Inclusive Policy Design developed by UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) programme, as well as other tools and methodologies from the academic and research institutions around the world.

Promoting Social Inclusion: “Strengthening ASEAN Community 2015 through South-South Cooperation, Foresight and Capacity-building”


The concept of social inclusion is at the heart of the 2030 development agenda and the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals ( While five different SDGs evoke the concept (numbers 4, 8, 9, 11 and 16) in different contexts, one of them – Goal 16 – is fully dedicated to it:

To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

This constitutes progress compared to the MDG 2000-2015 framework, which has been criticized for failure to capture this essential driver of human development. But at the same time, social inclusion elicits criticism from economists and policy practitioners as a concept that is not easily subject to measurement and therefore operationalization. While most agree on the importance of the concept in building sustainable, peaceful and just societies, the operational utility of social inclusion is considered limited due to the lack of measurable indicators that would help policy stakeholders assess and improve the progress towards this goal.

20Painter at UN Human Rights Day Celebrations, Podok Indah Mall, Jakarta December 2012

In the context of its contribution towards the achievement of SDGs, UNESCO has taken on the challenge to help its Members States translate the emerging knowledge and evidence on social inclusion into effective policies and action. UNESCO Jakarta office, with funding provided by the Malaysia Funds-in-Trust, has designed and is delivering capacity-building project targeting communities of practice in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste. Malaysia is spearheading this regional initiative through national projects on the assessment of social inclusion in selected policy areas, and sharing these experiences with other countries.

Key ActivitiesLinks To Report

The main achievements from the project can be summarized as follows:

The project is implemented in Cambodia, Malaysia and Timor-Leste. Cambodia and Timor-Leste have identified disability as an angle of social inclusion, while Malaysia chose the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation (NPSTI) as a model policy for the analysis from the angle of social inclusion in research and innovation.


The project was launched with the Policy Initiation Workshop in June 2015, and culminated with the National Policy Dialogue on Social Inclusion in March 2016. The National Policy Dialogue, held in Bangi, Malaysia was an occasion to present the Report produced by the National Workshop Group, and to discuss the overall policy assessment and revision experience with the broader audience of researchers and policy-makers.

The Working Group led by IKMAS, and regularly supported by the team of experts has produced a comprehensive report that provides a more general overview of social inclusion in Malaysia as a historical concept and major government priority throughout the years, as well as specific analysis of NPSTI. The report provides a positive assessment of the policy, but does formulate a set of recommendations that could further strengthen the social inclusion achieved by the policy, to be taken into account during the subsequent revisions of the documents.

The Disability Policy Analysis Initiation Workshop was held in December 2015, bringing together national stakeholders from the Ministry of Social Solidarity, Statistics Department, other official agencies, the academia and the civil society. The National Policy Dialogue on Social Inclusion of Persons with Disability was held on 28 June 2016 to present the Report, as well as the overall experience of the national policy working group, to the broader audiences. The report was received very positively by the Minister, especially in the light of the political decision made by the Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and UNESCO was requested to follow up the project by assisting the Ministry in realizing the recommendations produced in this exercise on addressing the gaps that exist in the current legislative framework.

Cambodia (implemented by Bangkok Office)

The project was launched in Cambodia in October 2016 with the Policy Initiation Workshop, focusing on disability policy. The National Working Group, led by the Cambodian Disability Action Council (DAC), worked with the team of international experts to analyse the national disability policy known as the “National Disability Strategic Plan”. The National Working Group used both the UNESCO Analytical Framework for Inclusive Policy Design (December 2016) and Equiframe/EQUIPP (October 2016), each worked through as a two day workshop supported by the international experts.  The Concluding Workshop/National Policy Dialogue was held on 9 and 10 January 2017.  The results of the analysis were presented to national and provincial leaders.

Under this project, UNESCO has produced podcast on The Inclusive Development Agenda and South East Asia which is uploaded on UNESCO’s Inclusive Policy Lab portal funded under the MFIT. The results from this project was also showcased at the First MOST Forum of Ministers of Social Development for the Asia-Pacific Region in Kuala Lumpur from 20-23 March 2017.





Promoting Social Inclusion: “Valorizing Evidence on Inclusive Social Development to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”

Philippines2014-06-19 10.27.24

UNESCO, with the support of Malaysia Funds-in-Trust, is delivering a capacity-building project to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and, in particular, its inclusive social development goals in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The project is designed to improve the availability, accessibility and usage (referred to as valorization) of research and evidence in inclusive policy and planning processes in each of the target countries.

The project will be carried out in four stages:

  1. Analysing challenges and opportunities for improved valorization of evidence in inclusive policy and planning;
  2. Developing and supporting the application of concrete scenarios and operational protocols for valorization of evidence;
  3. Running national interdisciplinary brokerage and capacity building platforms that connect knowledge producers, policy makers, social and economic working in the area of inclusive social development; and
  4. Developing and deploying an online facility that enables sustained (within and beyond the lifetime of this project) co-innovation, crowd-sourcing and systematic exchange between all stakeholder groups.

Key Activities

During the implementation period, the project had conducted the following activities:


IKMAS/UKM has been selected as the Lead National Implementing Partner. The National Working Group in Malaysia decided to focus on the area of social protection of women, children and elderly. It was also decided that the choice of the policy focus was validated by the Minister KPWKM. The working group in Malaysia agreed on the following timeframe (the timeframe is contingent upon the signature of the contract and transfer of funds by end of September):


UP-CIDS has been selected as the Lead National Implementing Partner. Extensive discussions led by the Lead National Implementing Partner (UP-CIDS) resulted in the identification of healthcare policy for the focus of the project. In particular, the National Working Group decided to focus on the issue of healthcare workforce in community-based health systems, and the relevant policies and institutions. The working group in the Philippines agreed on the following timeframe (the timeframe is contingent upon the signature of the contract and transfer of funds by end of September):




Linking Bioethics and Sustainability Science

Addressing environmental, social and ethical challenges of the annual haze in South East Asia: Bioethics and Sustainability Science in action



IMG_1504Haze is a reoccurring problem in Southeast Asia. Every year, peatland is dried out and burned in order to support the pulp, paper, and palm oil industry in the island of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The haze resulted from this activity had affected people in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, as well as the Philippines. Haze disrupts lives, costs the governments billions of dollars for dealing with its impacts, and leaves millions of people at risk of respiratory and other diseases. The unpredictable weather patterns caused by El Niño in 2015 also compounded the social, environmental and economic costs of haze.

This human-caused environmental disaster and its detrimental effect on human health has a clear ethical dimension. It directly relates to a fundamental ethical principle of social responsibility and health, elaborated under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. This principle was recently elaborated and explained by the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) in its special report on Article 14. The haze as an environmental disaster also evokes other principles from the Declaration, namely Article 13 – Solidarity and cooperation and Article 17 – Protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity.

Research in Riau  Peatland in palangkaraya

Research in Palangkaraya

The problems of haze can also be seen a classic case of collective responsibility shared by multiple actors beyond national borders. However, by linking bioethics and sustainability science, the region may be able take the lead in showcasing how universal ethical principles can be translated into concrete actions on the ground, based on scientific knowledge, to address environmental issues, including the annual haze problems. In pursuit of this aim, UNESCO has partnered with Malaysian Funds in Trust to implement a project on “Addressing environmental, social and ethical challenges of the annual haze in South East Asia: Bioethics and Sustainability Science in action”.

The project is based on two interconnected pillars:

  • Regional bioethical reflections, bringing together national bioethics committees and regional expert and advisory bodies to focus on haze as a bioethical imperative and to formulate recommendations on how to address the issue as such for policymakers.
  • Application of Sustainability Science principles, including the participatory and awareness-raising elements, to support socio-ecological transformations in critically effected communities in Indonesia.

The project mobilizes ethical and sustainability science dimensions to create win-win solutions between ecology, knowledge and innovation, creating synergies between economy, society and the participatory democracy. The overall project has three components:

  1. Producing analytical framework that explores environmental, social and ethical aspects of haze;
  2. Conducting the Forum of National Bioethics Committees (NBCs) of ASEAN countries to deliberate haze from the universal ethical perspective; and
  3. Piloting a community-based project to realize the recommendations generated through the ethical deliberations

Key ActivitiesMaterials

During the implementation period, the project had conducted the following activities:

Research on the ethical, social and legal implications of haze in the region as a collaborative effort by the National Bioethics Committees of the affected countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines) to develop the main document for the Stage II.

The project supported 5 different institutions to conduct research on the ethical, social and cultural aspects of haze, using as the framework the universal ethical principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights:

  1. Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM) – Malaysia
  2. NGO People’s Movement to stop Haze (PM.Haze) – Singapore
  3. Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) – Indonesia
  4. Gadjah Mada University (UGM) – Indonesia
  5. Andalas University – Indonesia

The research, analysis, findings and the recommendations from these 5 projects have been compiled into a Report: Understanding and Tackling Haze Pollution: Perspectives from Sustainability Science and Bioethics. This report served as the background document for the Forum of NBCs.

Organize a Forum of National Bioethics Committees from ASEAN Member States on the Ethical Dimension of Haze: Seeking Solutions through Bioethical Approach

UNESCO organized a Forum of ASEAN National Bioethics Committees (NBCs) on Haze Pollution at Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta from 6-7 December 2017). The forum gathered stakeholders from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It focused on the application of bioethical and human rights principles contained in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to the social and environmental aspects of haze pollution in Southeast Asia. The major output of the forum is the set of recommendations derived based on the available evidence obtained from the research during Phase 1, and on the intensive reflections and exchanges among various stakeholders, including the representative of the various indigenous communities affected by haze.