Systemic Change: walking the talk?

Short description

What is a ‘systemic change’? As the old joke goes, it’s like a birthday present: Everyone wants it, but no one is quite sure what’s inside.

Conceptually, the definitition of systemic change is actually quite clear; it’s about changes that spread and behaviours that become a new normal, rather than benefits that remain confined to a narrow group. Translating this into development language, this means scarce aid resources can be leveraged to stimulate more inclusive growth across whole sectors; not just narrow segments.

Systemic change sounds like a good idea, however, market systems development projects have generally struggled to generate systemic change – it has just been too difficult to operationalise. So what can market systems practitioners do better? The first step is to take a hard look in the mirror and learn from the past and the solid systemic frameworks that already exist. And this think-piece does just that – diving into understanding what we know about systems change before identifying what we can do better in the future. This piece also sets-out the ILO’s emerging thinking on ‘productivity ecosystems’ – the interconnection between productivity, working conditions and systems change.

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