The Unnayan Onneshan is a progressive think-tank that undertakes research for advancing ideas and building constituencies for social transformation. The Institute advances critical scholarship, promotes inter-disciplinary dialogue and amplifies grassroots perspectives. The public-interest research institute works in collaboration with national partners, international organisations and leading universities.
The Unnayan Onneshan - the Innovators was registered in 2003 as a not-for-profit trust to contribute towards search for solutions to endemic poverty, injustice, gender inequality and environmental degradation at the local, national and global levels. The philosophy, ideas and actions of the organization focus on pluralistic, participatory and sustainable development and seek to challenge the narrow theoretical and policy approaches derived from unitary models of development.
The mission is to champion innovation for exploring paths of social transformation towards a world, free from poverty, injustice, gender inequality and environmental degradation.
The purpose is to provide innovative ideas, alternative perspectives and critical approaches with a view to building constituencies for progressive transformation of people, environment, economy and society.
● A knowledge provider: The organisation infuses pluralism in perspectives by examining development intervention strategies, exposing its underlying paradigms and the impacts on the people, and explores alternative concepts, approaches, practices for contributing towards progressive social transformation.
● A catalyst for change agents and organizations: The organisation embarks upon perspective and capacity building as social action to build and strengthen constituencies of change agents of social transformation.
● A bridge between margin and centre: The organisation brings in indigenous perspectives from the margins to the centre with a view to shaping the global development discourse and democratizing policy making.
Since the organisation’s aim is to search for alternative paths of social transformation, we conceptualises paradigm of development as of social transformation and change. Therefore, the unit is society, which according to us, is an interwoven system consisting of economic, political and social sub-systems, intertwined at every sphere – local, national and global. The societal sub-system entails configuration of classes, which interact with each other in political arena in order to retain control over productive resources in the economic sphere. The political sub-system is reflection of societal sub-system as the dominant class attempts to arrive at or impose a set of collective goals. The economic sub-system actualized goals through the production of goods and services. In other words, the societal sub-system defines players, the political sub-system inscribes rules and economic sub-system actualizes the system of accumulation. Thus our policy analyzes and research is based on a theoretical structure that grids the transmission mechanism of the realities of concentration of wealth and power, differential access to markets and resources, and the impact of discriminatory policies and practices.
Research and Dialogue: As a think tank, much of the organisation’s work is about public policies, advanced from pro-poor perspectives. The organisation’s research outputs are designed to contribute to reframe policy debates and help citizens as well as policy entrepreneurs make optimal choices by providing the tools and information they need. The organisation has integrated stakeholder-learning as well as consensus-building workshops as part of its "thinking", research and dialogue process.
Constituency Building and Policy Literacy: A wing of the centre is engaged in perspective building and policy literacy programmes to help prepare change agents in association with civil society groups and social movements, as the organisation is concerned about social change and recognises that for social change to take place, it needs change agents. Besides the organisation use research and other projects to educate and outreach to a wider audience.
Strategic Influence and Policy Advocacy: The organisation put ideas directly to decision-makers at national and international levels through long cultivated connections with stakeholders such as public sector officials, politicians, business leaders, NGOs, trade unions, women groups, educators. The organisation also provides tailor made policy advisories and briefings to these stakeholders.
Action Research for Change: The organisation pursues an integrated knowledge management approach to employ participatory action methods that elevate the status of local observation and knowledge. Thus this Unit’s work embark on methods, which promote emancipatory praxis in the participants - a critical consciousness that is expressed in political as well as practical action for change.
Student Internship Programme: The Centre runs an active student internship programme. The fellowships are offered to dynamic, motivated fresh university graduates to up-skill their abilities to critically analyze and address the problems of development processes, pursuing progressive non-orthodox approaches.
Operational Units - Human Resources
The internal professional staff and external fellows are grouped into four function based operational units – Economic Policy, Social Policy, Climate Change, Biodiversity & DRR, and Perspective Building and Policy Literacy. The professional staffs, with expertise i all areas of development studies, were educated from top - ranking universities..
Economic Policy Unit: The Economic Policy Unit provides research and analysis to enable advocacy and campaigns in the field of economic policy for social justice. The aim is to examine public policies and development intervention strategies by exposing its underlying paradigms and the impacts on the people, and to explore alternative approaches to public policy questions. This Unit considers the processes and policies that potentially influence national and regional development in the context of an increasingly global economy. Research considerations include the roles of institutions, government policies, market structures, distributional issues, international trade and finance, and economic geography in explaining development and welfare.
Social Policy Unit: The Social Policy Unit conducts research and fosters discussion on all aspects of social policy. The aim is to reflect the experiences and views of the rights holders on policy interventions, and to communicate research findings with stakeholders in thinking through their implications with a view to bringing about change. The main topics of inquiry are: education, health, women and children.
Climate Change, Biodiversity and DRR Unit: The Unit forms a focused, interdisciplinary programme of research and advocacy to integrate rigorous natural and social sciences with policy, education and socially responsible conservation action. The work of the Unit relating to emergencies including disaster is rights-based to cover a full range of activities including, advocacy, prevention, preparedness, direct response and rehabilitation in situations created by war, drought, floods, earthquakes and famine.
Perspective Building and Policy Literacy Unit: The Unit provides resources and undertakes programmes for change agents and organisations with a view to building constituencies for progressive transformation of people, environment, economy and society. The programmes on capacity building is conceptualised as social action.
The organisation is located in the central part of the capital city of Bangladesh. The organisation has an expanding Resource Centre. The organisation has state-of-the-art technology for the workshops/policy literacy programmes which include multimedia computers with Plasma Screens. Each computer is connected with LAN and 24 hours internet is available.