HLPF: Universal Social Protection: End poverty and reduce inequality

During the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York, the significant majority of countries voluntarily reporting mentioned social protection programmes as an effective instrument to fight against poverty and reduce inequalities. But social protection is more. It can tackle poverty in all its dimensions and provide for education, appropriate health care systems and support a healthy and diverse diet. In this sense, Prof Martin Ravallion of Georgetown University demanded in his key note speech at the HLPF a “full basic income” meaning not just cash transfers but basic social security including education, health care and mechanisms for redistribution.

The Global Coalition at the HLPF

As a member of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, Bread for the World together with the International Labour Organization (ILO) organized a side event where the initiative of World Bank and ILO „Global Partnership on Universal Social Protection: Ending Poverty by 2030“ was presented. In September 2016 at the UN General Assembly, ILO and World Bank launched this initiative  USP 2030. It invites governments and other actors to engage for social security systems and to reach the goal of universal social protection by 2030. The main concept of this initiative is the social protection floor based on the ILO Recommendation 202 of 2012. The main focus is to support countries in setting up social protection systems that are designed to reach especially people living in poverty and exclusion. “Our shared objective is to increase the number of countries that provide universal social protection, supporting countries to design and implement universal and sustainable social protection systems” Guy Ryder, General Director ILO.

This issue of “other actors” that are invited to join the initiative is not yet clear. Certainly the private sector is asked to join – it was the main tenor of the HLPF – mainly providing necessary finance. However, the discussion about the catalogue of criteria and guidelines on which this “invitation” can be based is still due. Civil society organisations like Bread for the World demand clear frameworks and indicators, clear and transparent monitoring mechanisms, accountability, respect for human rights standards and a focus on poverty eradication, not profit making.

Social Protection in the Agenda 2030

Eleven goals and 27 targets of the Agenda 2030 have direct links to social protection. The eradication of poverty and the reduction of inequality were the main focus of a second side event organized by the Global Coalition for social Protection Floors, Bread for the World and the German Mission at the UN “Universal Social Protection: End Poverty and Reduce Inequality” that was held on July 18. The representative of the German government, Dr. Ingolf Dietrich of the Ministry for Development Cooperation, highlighted the great significance of social protection for the realization of the Agenda 2030. But what about financing? Apart from suggestions to include the private sector, Vinícius Carvalho Pinheiro, ILO Director and representative to the UN, presented several different and innovative instruments including the idea of a Global Fund for Social Protection that was presented by de Schutter / Sepulveda a few years ago when they were special representatives to the UN. Other concepts include the already existing World Solidarity Fund or several types of Trust Funds. Some instruments that are already established in other contexts could be adapted to financing social protection as for example an airline ticket levy or Financial Transaction Taxes (FTT) that already exists in some G20 countries.

The debate around social security has long been established and has gained reputation especially by proving that it has a positive impact and social and economic life. The presentations of the situation in Argentina by Dr. Gala Diaz Langou, Director of Social Protection Program at CIPPEC Argentina/Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors and of the successful Global Partnership and Joint Learning for Universal Social Protection by Mr. Adolfo Ayuso Audry, General Director of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Office of the President of Mexico, have shown the significance of concrete implementation. Some questions remain as for example – how can all people be reached through social protection systems, especially those who are marginalized and how can financial instruments be diversified at the national and international level? For civil society organisations like Bread for the World it is clear – social protection has to be rights based and should not be subject to political whim.

By Dr. Luise Steinwachs, Bread for the World.

Universal Social Protection:  End poverty and reduce inequality”
On Tuesday, 18th July, from 18:15 – 19:45 at the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United. Organized by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) and the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.
Download the invitation, the concept note, the agenda and the statements.

Mr. Reinhard Krapp, Minister and Head of Economics Department, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations
Dr. Ingolf Dietrich, Director, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Vinicius Pinheiro, Director, International Labour Organization (ILO)
Dr. Gala Diaz, Director of Social Protection Program at CIPPEC Argentina/Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors
Mr. Adolfo Ayuso, General Director of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Office of the President of Mexico

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