Side Event: Decade of Action to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030

The virtual side event “Decade of Action to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030” (Theme: Austerity & Social Protection) co-hosted by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) and the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) will be held during the Global People's Assembly.

The virtual Global People's Assembly is part of the Global Week of Action for the SDGs and is organised in parallel to the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Decade of Action to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030

Cohosted by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) and Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP)

Theme: Austerity & Social Protection

Date and time: Wednesday 22nd September 12- 13.15 GMT / Virtual event

Link to Register: Registration for Global People's Assembly

The virtual side event will be at

French and Spanish translation will be offered.

Panel format

The event will take the form of a moderated dialogue between experts and activists, with conclusions and recommendations feeding into the GCAPs Peoples Assembly Declaration and to be used to support social protection advocacy with governments and civil society.

Moderation: Gabriel Fernandez: Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP)

Panel participants

Read more: the concept note, the speakers bios, Global People's Assembly.

Background context

Social protection is essential to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Social protection is not only a universal human right, investing in social protection also brings high social and economic returns.

There is global commitment to SDG 1 target 1.3 ‘To implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable’. But half the world’s population currently does not have access to any social protection, with coverage remaining particularly limited in most low-income countries. Those who lack access to social protection guarantees - which include essential services and basic income across the life course - include workers in the informal economy, marginalized children, people with disabilities, older women and men, refugees and migrants, and homeless persons.

We are entering the decade of action to achieve Agenda 2030 under extremely difficult circumstances. The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the depth and breadth of social and economic inequalities and is set to push up to 150 million people into extreme poverty , and 150 million children into multidimensional poverty . Governments have responded to Covid-19 by introducing or scaling up social protection measures to ameliorate the impact of job losses, impoverishment and the increase of inequalities in their countries.

Countries with established social protection systems have shown themselves to be in a much better position to cope with the social and economic fallout of Covid-19, to respond faster, more effectively and more efficiently than countries who have had to introduce new schemes on an ad hoc emergency basis. Covid-19 has focussed minds on the importance of social protection guarantees to health and income, enabling access to education, food and housing. The positive impact of social protection on long-term poverty and inequality has been demonstrated. Many countries are realizing the need for and the long-term benefits of universal, comprehensive and adequate social protection, based on sustainable and equitable financing, tripartite administration and anchored in law.

The Ministerial Declaration of the High Level Political Forum singles out social protection as a core policy to respond to Covid and to achieve Goal 1. The ILO has been tasked to recommend an action plan to achieve this for presentation to the International Labour Conference of November 2021.

However there is evidence that austerity plans are coming back into focus even though it is clear that their impact is heaviest on the poorest and their benefits are mainly for the already affluent, increasing already unacceptable levels of inequality.

Objectives of the panel

This panel will promote action on social protection guarantees by presenting evidence from experts and grassroots activists on why universal social protection is critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda, how social protection can prevent long-term poverty traps as a result of the ongoing crisis, how it will underpin resilient recovery and contribute to future crisis preparedness, how it will reduce inequalities and why efforts to introduce austerity programmes must be resisted.

The event will explore the role of national social dialogue and the global partnership for universal social protection. It will present the case for a global mechanism to support countries to create comprehensive systems, to collect necessary data and to mobilize finance to ensure universal coverage of social protection which is properly integrated into national development agendas, with funds used to transition social protection financing from being donor dependent to that of sustainable budgets within national budgets.

In the words of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights: ‘The proposal for a global fund for social protection is not that taxpayers from rich countries pay for social protection in poor countries. It is, rather, to kick-start a virtuous cycle in which international support matches domestic efforts and contributes to capacity-building in low-income countries.’

The virtual Global People's Assembly is part of the Global Week of Action for the SDGs and is organised in parallel to the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

We are in the middle of a global inequality crisis. COVID-19 has made this worse - the vaccine inequality divides even more. We need a strong people's voice for global justice. Civl society including representatives from organisations of women, youth, older persons and marginalised people from all over the world will come together in the Global People's Assembly. They bring the perspectives from communities - including from People's Assemblies organised in 30 countries. The participants will prepare a declaration, which will be presented to the governments at the UNGA and the UN leadership.

Global People's Assembly, 21 - 23 September 2021
Co-hosted by the following partners:
Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSD), Asia Civil Society Partnership on Sustainable Development (APSD), Asia Dalits Rights Forum, Asia Development Alliance (ADA), Bread for the World, Germany, Bridging Ventures, CBM, CIVICUS, Coalition for the UN We Need (C4UNWN), CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), Democracy Without Borders, EURODAD, No Profit on Pandemic, FORUS, Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), GESTOS, Global Forum of Communities of DWD (GFoD), Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Global Policy Forum, Gray Panthers, Latindadd, My World Mexico, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), SDG Watch Europe, Women Engaged for a Common Future (WECF), Women’s Major Group , TAP Network, Trust Africa.

Civil Society Call for a Global Fund for Social Protection

Civil society organizations and trade unions unite to call for a Global Fund for Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable.

Social Security for All

Civil society organizations and trade unions call governments and international financial institutions to make a commitment to create social security systems that enable everyone to realize their rights. Governments and financial institutions should end policies that have been failing millions of people.

SP&PFM Programme

The programme Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management provided medium-term support to multiple countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems at a national level and ensure sustainable financing. The programme aimed to support countries in their efforts towards achieving universal social protection coverage.
This initiative was implemented jointly by the ILO, Unicef, and the GCSPF.

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