January GCSPF #80 e-News!

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e-GCSPF #80 - January 2023

Virtual Side Event
On the Road to 2025: A New Social Contract with Universal Social Protection and Full Employment and Decent Work for all

The Virtual Side Event will take place during the 61st Session of the Commission for Social Development CSocD61. The event will tackle the diverse and interconnecting perspectives on social protection and the urgency of a “renewed” social contract anchored in human rights for a new era and consider why the Global Fund for Social Protection is necessary to deliver to all the right to social protection.
Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2023 - Time: 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm EST
Register at: http://bit.ly/3D3Dek7
The side event will be in English. French and Spanish interpretation will be provided.
Organized by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF). Co-organized by Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)Gray PanthersAfrican Platform for Social Protection (APSP)Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. Read more

Position Paper of the GCSPF at the Commission for Social Development 61st Session

The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, representing more than 120 civil society organisations and trade unions from all over the world, prepared the position paper for the the 61st Session of the Commission for Social Development CSocD61Read more

Can we overestimate the importance of ILO Recommendation 202?

The ILO Social Protection Department invited the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors to contribute to a blog on the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) and the 10th anniversary of the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) to accelerate progress towards Universal Social Protection. Read more

Social Protection and Climate Action

A policy brief by Act Church of Sweden, Olof Palme International Center, Social Policy Initiative, and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.
The main message is that social protection is a key tool in climate action to cope with crises for individuals and societies, and the climate emergency exacerbates risks at an unprecedented level.
The policy brief makes climate action possible – having economic security reduces people’s resistance to the transition. A case study about transition in the coal mining industry in South Africa is illustrating the latter point. The policy brief includes 15 recommendations. Read more

Home-Based Workers’ Access to Social Protection

Lessons Learned from the IDPoor Programme in Cambodia This report published by WIEGO is based on research that provides an overview of the situation of home-based workers in the key cities. It draws out the main lessons from the implementation of the IDPoor Programme according to the perspectives of this occupational group. The aims were to understand the relative vulnerability of home-based workers using some of the proxy indicators from the IDPoor Survey, and to establish whether IDPoor is accessible and inclusive to vulnerable home-based workers. Read more

Tight Tax Net, Loose Safety Net: Taxation and Social Protection in Accra’s Informal Sector

Using new and representative data on informal workers in Accra, Ghana, this paper published by WIEGO contributes novel evidence on the extent to which informal workers in Accra have access to social protection and benefitted from COVID-19 relief programmes.
The paper further explores the tax burdens of informal workers in Accra, as well the degree to which they might be able to make additional contributions through taxes or contributions to social protection schemes. It investigates the equity, redistributive, and gendered impacts of informal workers’ fiscal burdens and access to social protection and COVID-19 relief programmes. Three key findings emerge. Read more

Welcome to New Member

Building Blocks for Peace Foundation

Building Blocks for Peace (BBFP) Foundation is a non-governmental organization working on Conflict Prevention, Prevention of Violent Extremism, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development in Nigeria. 
BBFP advocates and campaigns for equal access of all citizens to primary health care. During the peak of COVID-19, BBFP provided relief services including medical assistance and food materials to 100 women and elderly.
BBFP organizes programs and dialogue on the role of ageism in the distribution of resources and services and calls for social security support for children, elderly and the unemployed.
Contact informationRafiu Lawal, Oluwaranti Adesola

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Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Time: 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm EST (Confirm your local time here)

Please register at: http://bit.ly/3D3Dek7

The side event will be in English. French and Spanish interpretation will be provided.

Organized by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF). Co-organized by Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Gray Panthers, African Platform for Social Protection (APSP), Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

Concept Note

Download pdf file.

The Virtual Side Event: On the Road to 2025: A New Social Contract with Universal Social Protection and Full Employment and Decent Work for all will take place during the 61st Session of the Commission for Social Development CSocD61.

Social protection is a human right and an investment with high social and economic returns – yet more than half the world’s population do not have access to comprehensive social protection. Coverage remains particularly low for marginalized children, people with disabilities, older people, widows, women, people working in the informal economy, migrants, and the LGBTQI community.

COVID-19 has highlighted inequalities and served as a stress test for access to social protection, basic human rights, income, health security, and such essential goods as housing and food. People living in poverty have been particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many countries have realized both the necessity and the long-term benefits of universal, comprehensive, and adequate social protection for all, based on sustainable and equitable financing, robust, adapted, and tripartite administration anchored in law. The necessity for guaranteeing, financing and delivering social protection to all, including the hardest to reach may require, notably in low-income countries, the technical and financial support of a Global Fund for Social Protection.

To respond to the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have put in place some social protection responses to support workers, children, and families1. However, these are, for the most part, ad hoc measures of short duration, and need to be transformed into sustainable social protection.

Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all is integral to an ethical and moral vision. However, the informality of work appears to be growing worldwide and becoming the new normal, with over sixty percent of the global workforce supporting themselves in this way- hoping to meet their basic daily needs without health coverage, social insurance, or access to maternity or sick leave. In Africa, this figure can be as high as eighty percent. Further, these informal workers do not have voice and representation for their interests and are often prohibited from unionizing.

While this has been the norm in emerging economies, today the trend is on the rise in more developed and globalized economies, in the form of deregulation, outsourcing, and flex and temp work. All of this erodes the dignity of the person and violates human rights and opportunities for decent work conditions. The globalized nature of finance, investment and business ventures is facilitating this erosion with exploitative practices against people and the planet itself2.

It is more important than ever to make connections between social protection and the ongoing crisis, strengthen and scale up social protection systems and for that a renewed social contract is needed to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery for all.

The Global Coalition of Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) invites you to a 105-minute side event with speakers from Governments, United Nations, and civil society.

We will tackle the diverse and interconnecting perspectives on social protection and the urgency of a “renewed” social contract anchored in human rights for a new era and consider why the Global Fund for Social Protection is necessary to deliver to all the right to social protection.

Insights and conclusions will be inputted into the ongoing work of the Commission for Social Development and the discussions about the Global Fund for Social Protection.

Read here the position paper of the GCSPF at the the 61st Session of the Commission on Social Development: ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’

Details of the virtual side event

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Time: 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm EST (Confirm your local time here)

Please register at: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEqf-qtrT8iGtekNIJL1OnNxMmYOcuopcwA

The side event will be in English. French and Spanish interpretation will be provided.

Moderator: Dr. Paul Ladd, Executive Director UNRISD

Session 1: Welcome and overview of the topic

• Ms. Hanna Sarkkinen, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland - The road to the Social Summit 2025, the urgency of a “renewed” social contract to ensure full implementation of the right to social protection.

• Dr. Veronika Wodsak, ILO/USP2030 - Priority Theme - decent work, SPF; evidence of SP impact

• Priscilla Gavi, Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) – Charting progress on the right of all Citizens of Africa to Social Protection.

Session 2: Action for Change: collaboration between civil society and the United Nations

• Laura Alfers, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) - Ensuring the informal sector have the right to social protection.

• Dr. Abiola Tilley-Gyado, Board Chair, Society for Family and Social Protection in Nigeria, board member of Nigeria Network of NGOs/GCAP Nigeria; Experience and call for action of those who are Left Behind

• Nicola Wiebe, Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors; Financing gaps and role of the Global Fund

Conclusions and Recommendations

• Dr. Paul Ladd, Executive Director UNRISD

Notes:

2 Statement submitted by Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd to the Commission for Social Development Sixty-First Session 6-15 February 2023.

Winifred Doherty of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd prepared the position paper.  International KOLPING, International Presentation Association, Social Justice in Global Development, JusticeMakers Bangladesh, and Free Trade Union Development Center Sri Lanka, all members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors endorsed the paper.

*************

Download pdf version.

The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) welcomes the theme of the 61st Session of the Commission on Social Development: ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The realization of this optimistic theme presumes a conducive socio-political-economic-human rights informed environment. The reality is that the global community is living through very turbulent times with ‘code red’ alarm bells sounding for the very survival of the planet. The ongoing economic effects of COVID-19, increasing hunger, ongoing war, displacement of people, and climate change, coupled with runaway inflation, are entrenching more and more people in poverty and further increasing inequality. This current situation has knocked us off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The recent report in the Third Committee by Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, highlighted povertyism” and “negative attitudes and behaviours towards people living in poverty that restrict people’s access to employment, housing, health care, education and social protection - the very tools put in place to support them out of poverty.”

Commitment 3 of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action (1995): ‘promoting the goal of full employment as a basic priority of our economic and social policies, and enabling all men and women to attain secure and sustainable livelihoods through freely chosen productive employment and work’, has failed miserably in the context of the global reality twenty-eight years later. One of the main reasons for this failure has been the lack of critical analysis of the impacts of dominant systems and structures and how these actually facilitate exploitation, perpetuate inequality, ignore human rights violations, and exclude people in poverty from having equal access and opportunity. Power imbalances, and unexamined systems and structures are the carriers and drivers of much of the inequality and injustice experienced in today's world. Decision making at the financial, corporate and business levels have not incorporated moral and ethical considerations.

A paradigm shift is required from long-established sets of concepts, mindsets and ‘business as usual’ approaches that have informed and shaped policies in the past but are now contributing to and exacerbating gross inequalities, while normalizing exploitation and violating workers’ rights and human rights. Alongside the technological and scientific developments, we need a corresponding shift in consciousness at the individual, corporate, societal and governmental levels- a shift informed by moral and ethical principles that are inclusive and life enhancing for all people and the planet.

The Copenhagen Declaration, with its principles, ten commitments and platform for action, is informed by moral and ethical principles. The same moral and ethical compass guided the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDGs 1, 5, 8 and 10 are at the centre and aim to promote inclusion and reduce inequalities. While the implementation of Social Protection including floors had been gaining traction prior to the pandemic, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Flagship Report, Social Protection Report 2020-22, underlines the fact that COVID-19 provoked an unparalleled social protection policy response to protect people’s health, jobs and incomes, and to ensure social stability. It further states that establishing universal social protection and realizing the human right to social security for all is the cornerstone of a human-centred approach to obtaining social justice. Doing so contributes to preventing poverty, containing inequality, and enhancing human capabilities and productivity. Social Protection also fosters human dignity, solidarity and fairness, and reinvigorates the social contract.

Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all is integral to an ethical and moral vision. However, the informality of work appears to be growing worldwide and becoming the new normal, with over sixty percent of the global workforce supporting themselves in this way, hoping to meet their basic daily needs without health coverage, social insurance, or access to maternity or sick leave. In Africa this figure can be as high as eighty percent. Further, these informal workers do not have voice and representation for their interests, and are often prohibited from unionizing. While this has been the norm in emerging economies, today the trend is on the rise in more developed and globalized economies, in the form of deregulation, outsourcing, and flex and temp work. All of this erodes the dignity of the person and violates human rights and opportunities for decent work conditions. The globalized nature of finance, investment and business ventures is facilitating this erosion with exploitative practices against people and the planet itself.

The ILO has long sought to implement a decent work agenda, stressing that a transition to the formal economy is a pre-condition to realize decent work for all. A specific statistical indicator, SDG 8.3.1, on moving from an informal economy, seeks to measure efforts towards formalization of the economy. The expert group meeting papers, in preparation for the Commission for Social Development 61st Session, outlined the many variations and complexities within the informal economy and how it is now imperative that Member States tackle the issue and formalize decent work.

An ILO Publication ‘Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture’ by Florence Bonnet, Vicky Leung and Juan Chacaltana note that poverty is a cause and consequence of informality - people in poverty face higher rates of informality, and there are higher poverty rates among workers in informal employment compared to workers in formal employment. Women are doubly exploited - firstly within the informal economy, and secondly with the burden of unpaid care work undertaken in the family and community.

‘Creating employment and decent work in new and growing sectors: Care Economy’, a presentation by Dipa Sinha, points to the unpaid nature of much care work, and to the informality that exists in the sector. The care economy is growing with increasing demand for childcare and care for older persons in all regions. While this sector is characterized by lack of benefits and protections, extremely low wages or non-compensation, and exposure to physical, mental and, in some cases, sexual harm, it has the potential to be reorganized and set within in a decent work agenda. It is clear that new solutions to the provision of care are needed on two fronts: in regards to the nature and provision of care policies and services, and in the terms and conditions of care work.

The multiple and complex challenges being surfaced during the review on informality can be addressed through the launch of global social dialogues that require a whole of government and whole of society approach in elucidating and defining a new social contract. This new contract requires a moral and ethical foundation upholding the dignity of the person, all human rights, and care for the Earth. Strong political will favouring inclusion, sustainability and accountability principles is called for, with zero tolerance of criminality, exploitative practices and human rights violations. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed”, provide an opening statement for promoting global social dialogues.

Recommendations:

Ensure Universal Social Protection as a right for every person. Governments and the international community will ensure that the budgetary resources to finance adequate social protection floors are guaranteed everywhere on the basis of national and, if necessary, international solidarity.

Accelerate the shift from informality to formality with full recognition and acceptance of the four pillars of decent work: promoting jobs and enterprise, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection, and promoting social dialogue. These pillars are basic to the inclusion of all, particularly people in informal work.

Hold Governments and all employers accountable for every infringement of worker rights, including the exploitative engagement of child laborers.

Engage a whole of Government and whole of society approach in the lead up to a second social summit – a summit that enhances the principles and commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration, and provide a relevant strategic framework for the transformation of systems, structures and gender relations towards a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable way of relating with one another and the planet.

End conflicts and war, which generate enormous profits for those who engage in the arms trade. Instead, invest in enhancing the well-being of people and planet through financing universal social protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and loss and damage.

The ILO Social Protection Department invited the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors to contribute to a blog on the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) and the 10th anniversary of the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) to accelerate progress towards Universal Social Protection. The blog is available here.

From a historical perspective, it’s difficult to overestimate the impact of ILO Recommendation 202.

After the second World War, during several “development decades”, the international community and the United Nations sought to address the challenge of development from a broad perspective, beyond peoples’ material needs or economic growth. This is well-illustrated by this phrase from the Secretary-General's report on Proposals for Action at the start of the first Development Decade in 1960:

“… We are learning that development concerns not only man and woman's material needs, but also the improvement of the social conditions of their life and their broad human aspirations. Development is not just economic growth, it is growth plus change."

During these decades, social policy, including the provision of public services like health care and education, was at the centre of development discourse and action. Development was also seen as a collective responsibility that required changes in policy, with strong public services and institutions. No surprise that in those years the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) tripartite constituents negotiated and adopted the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) which provides benchmarks to ensure adequate levels of coverage and benefits throughout people’s lives. This international labour standard remains to date, 70 years later, the reference for countries worldwide when they develop their social security system.

Unfortunately, after three “development decades” the paradigm shifted away from broadly defined social development towards a much narrower focus on “reducing extreme poverty”. Poverty was no longer considered the effect of factors underpinning the organization of our economies and societies that demanded comprehensive changes at all levels, but as an individual problem and responsibility that can be addressed through targeted interventions. Structural adjustment programs pushed countries towards austerity and the privatisation of public services, leading to increasing poverty. The ambitions were also reduced, as demonstrated by Millennium Development Goal 1: the international community only targeted a 50 per cent reduction of extreme poverty between 2000 and 2015.

“The year is 1990 A.D. Development is entirely occupied by the Bretton Woods Empire. Well not entirely! One small village of indomitable Genevans still holds out.”

During these challenging decades, if social protection was discussed, it was mainly regarded as an obstacle for growth that needed to be scaled-back. Only a few development actors and organizations, like the International Labour Organization (ILO), believed in and championed the importance of social protection for all. Even though it has been recognised as a human right since 1948 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and in several other international standards. There was a general believe that social protection was a luxury that only high-income countries could afford, impossible to achieve in low- and middle-income countries.

Recommendation 202 brought social protection from Geneva to New York

Even though several important events and decisions at the ILO preceded the adoption of the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, No. 202 by the International Labour Conference in 2012, it is difficult to overestimate its importance. This new international labour standard, complementary to Convention 102 (as a foundation on which to build a house), brought the issue of social protection firmly back on the agenda and in the discourse of the broader development community.

First there is the chosen language. Talking about a “floor” helped to change the impression of some “unachievable” set of expensive policy measures for low- and middle-income countries. The formulation of basic guarantees, notably health protection for all and income guarantee over the life cycle, made it concrete what the international community should aim for a first step on the road towards universal social protection.

Second, there was the timing. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial and economic crisis, the understanding had grown that at least a basic form of social protection was necessary to prevent the devastating effects of that crisis on large segments of the world population, which remained unprotected for any kind of risk or shock, as for example the workers in the informal economy, the migrant workers, people with disabilities, women and young people, and other vulnerable groups. The ILO, building on their decades long expertise could capitalise on the moment. Using the momentum to unite people around a new standard.

Is it safe to say that Recommendation 202 brought social protection from Geneva to New York? That it brought social protection from the ILO to the heart of the United Nations headquarters? Would there be a Social Protection Interagency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B) bringing together key agencies, governments, unions and civil society organizations (CSOs) without the process leading to the adoption of Recommendation 202? Could we imagine social protection to be central to at least five of the Sustainable Development Goals, without the adoption of Recommendation 202 and the wide support it received? Would there be a Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP2030) without Recommendation 202? And well yes, if we may say so: would there be a Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF)? This truly global coalition, consisting of over 100 civil society organizations and trade unions from all corners of the world, has been – and continues to be – promoting the full implementation of Recommendation 202 ever since its adoption.

At the regional level social protection is also gaining track. Recommendation 202 has proven to be an important inspiration for countries and regions. At the beginning of 2022 the African Union adopted a ratifiable Protocol on the Right of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security. There is also an ASEAN declaration on strengthening social protection and a framework and action plan to implement it.

Even if definitions and strategies still differ amongst international organizations, there is definitely a growing consensus about the right of every person in the world to adequate social protection throughout the life cycle.

And from the floor up, we build a house of universal social protection

For the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, the basic guarantees are the starting point, the steppingstone for rights-based, adequate, comprehensive and sustainable universal social protection, as outlined in Recommendation 202.

There may have been initial fears that floors could be turned into ceilings and that agreement on “minimum social protection guarantees” could be considered as “maximum responsibilities” for governments and social actors concerned. However, the ILO confirms time and again its two-dimensional strategy to extend social protection enshrined in Recommendation 202, which aims at the (speedy) implementation of national social protection floors (horizontal dimension) and the progressive achievement of higher levels of protection (vertical dimension). Hence it is worth noting that since the adoption of Recommendation 202, there is a small but significant increase in ratifications of Convention 102.

Rather than trying to formulate a blueprint, the recommendation seeks to forge unity in action for all actors involved, both at the national and the international level, by listing 18 key principles to show the way forward. These principles, which include the universality of protection, non-discrimination, solidarity in financing, transparency and accountability, remain as relevant as ever. In fact, as international financing institutions (IFIs) renew their push to replace collective social insurance with individual savings accounts, it is worth reminding ourselves that these principles are fundamental for social protection systems that are inclusive, effective and fair.

Even if the State holds the overall and primary responsibility, it is important that the recommendation highlights the role of other actors in society. It won’t be a surprise that for the GCSPF the explicit reference to the role of social dialogue and broader participation of relevant and representative organizations of persons concerned is crucial. This is even more relevant in these times when civic space is dramatically shrinking in too many countries.

Civil society organizations and trade unions develop specific social protection services, demonstrating that it is possible to reach otherwise excluded groups. These experiences can serve as good practice and should be taken into account and become part of comprehensive public social protection systems. Civil society organizations and trade unions also raise awareness and empower people to demand the extension and transformation of social protection systems. Finally, involving civil society and trade unions structurally and effectively in the effort of realizing universal social protection is a matter of democratic and inclusive governance, generating broad-based support and strengthening the social contract.

All in all, the Recommendation provides important political levers to convince policy makers to invest more and better in social protection. As shown in the World Social Protection Report 2020-22, there is still a long way to go, as more than half the worlds’ population does not benefit from any social protection guarantee. Thanks to Recommendation 202 and the broad national and international support for it some progress has been made, at least at the level of discourse and in the establishment of several international initiatives.

However, now comes probably the biggest challenge: providing sufficient means to implement the measures needed to guarantee adequate, comprehensive and sustainable social protection for all. We, as the GCSPF, argue for the establishment of a new global financing mechanism for social protection. We are still convinced that such mechanism is necessary to increase international support for social protection, to strengthen policy coherence between national governments and international organizations and to guarantee predictable, longer-term support for the countries concerned. The UN-supported “Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions” could be part of the answer to our call. However, our concern is that within this broad, ambitious and very complex initiative, there might not be sufficient means and attention provided to effectively support the expansion of national social protection systems. One way of dealing with this concern is by safeguarding a substantial proportion of the resources of the accelerator for social protection or through the establishment of a global fund for social protection as a complement to it. It is equally important that social partners and civil society are effectively involved in its governance and that the guiding principles in Recommendation 202 guide the Global Accelerator.

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, during which governments have spent large amounts of resources on (most often temporary and ad hoc) social protection measures, we have another historic chance to strengthen our social contract by putting universal social protection at the very centre of it. Globally, the world has never been richer so it seems the financial resources should not be the real challenge, but are we able to put them where they matter most?

A toast to the 70th and the 10th anniversary of Convention 102 and Recommendation 202 respectively!

1960-1970: First United Nations Development Decade: A/RES/1710 (XVI), 1960. We have rendered the original language more gender-sensitive.

Asterix - Wikipedia.

"Asterix the Gaul" is a bande dessinée comic book series about a village of indomitable Gaulish warriors who adventure around the world and fight the Roman Republic

In particular the definition of the Decent Work Agenda, in which social protection is one of four pillars and the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and the subsequent recurrent discussions on the strategic objective of social protection (social security).

In section 3 the Recommendation focuses on national strategies to extend social security.

Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, 9 December 2022.

Michael Cichon (1953-2022)
Compilation of tributes

Before I Go

Well before it may be time to go
Whenever that may be
And be it not
for quite a while
if I can help it.

I wish to place on record
That I will go
Deservedly or not
A happy, blessed and thankful man.

Leaving the people
I love
And their world
In hands I trust.
Their own

It is with great sadness that I learn about the death of a formidable man, Michael Cichon. The world has lost a social justice knight and a great human being.

Michael Cichon was a mathematician committed to social justice. This unusual combination made him compelling. In a world alienated by neoliberal economists obsessed with fiscal cuts, he was a knight: standing up to them, defying orthodoxy with its own quantitative weapons and showing with hard numbers that paying benefits to those in need, to those sick and without jobs, those disabled or elderly, to children and mothers, was not only right, but also affordable and feasible.

He worked very hard, and was unstintingly generous with his time. Michael Cichon believed in education and trained an army of knights to fight with his weapons, teaching in Turin, Geneva and Maastricht; always caring about his staff and students.

He wrote more than 50 publications, of which many have become battle manuals for social justice, known to everybody in the world of social protection.

There were tough times and hard battles, with many losses, such as the pension war, when enemies at the World Bank, IMF and OECD started privatizing pensions, no matter Michael and his team at the ILO Social Security Department showed they impoverish pensioners, particularly women. But Michael had the rare and inspirational ability to turn defeat into a call for yet greater effort and inspire others to do the same.

He navigated the difficult environment of ILO and despite petty bureaucrats, vested interests, and administrative obstacles, he managed to get a new international standard, the famous Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors, approved by governments, federated employers and trade unions from the whole world. That cost him his health.

In 2012 he had to prematurely leave ILO. Despite his failing health, he accepted to become President of the International Council on Social Welfare, the oldest global NGO, with the idea to further mobilize civil society to push for social protection floors. He spent the following years supporting the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) with more excellent work.

He was a honorable knight in his personal life too, faithful to his wife, Irmgard, and a proud father. His home was a joyous and welcoming sanctuary. So much so that he even remodeled his house in Germany, splitting it into two to accommodate a Syrian refugee family during the Syrian civil war.

I have no words for the sadness I feel. So many wonderful memories of this great man will be with me forever. From heartfelt reflections on history and development, to heated no-nonsense discussions in times of crisis… In the last email I exchanged with him, just one week before his passing away, he was at the hospital talking about our dangerous times and the need for a binding convention on social protection floors at the UN.

Michael left us this poem: “I wish to place on record / That I will go / Deservedly or not / A happy, blessed and thankful man / Leaving the people / I love / And their world / In hands I trust / Their own.”

Let this be a call to arms to all you knights around the world: raise your weapons to salute Michael Cichon, and continue his legacy fighting for social justice.
Isabel Ortiz, Director Global Social Justice/IPD, former Director of the ILO Social Protection Department


What a shock to read of Michael's passing! May he rest in peace! I first met him in New York in late 2010 or maybe 2011 when he was at the UN DESA in New York to talk about social protection. This was prior to the passing of Resolution 202. When I heard his presentation it was powerful and 'seeded' the imagination that indeed a world without poverty was possible and the tool was Social Protection by right for all. Michael was indeed a man of vision and dedication - an academic and yet having a simplicity and sense of wonder and fun that was infectious and drew all to him and enabled many to cross boundaries and to engage for the common good. The Coalition is one such endeavour and we will certainly miss him. I am in disbelief and what I am reading but your many e-mail indicate that it is reality. Rest in peace Michael. It was a privilege and a blessing to know you!
Winifred Doherty, The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd


Michael is so special, has been so special, he has changed the world in so many ways, his was a gift of selfless giving and struggle to make things better. He was very influential and such a great comrade. I hope you are comforted by knowing how loved he was. And what amazing words to leave. I mourn and at the same time am so glad I had the opportunity to work, have done memorable meals, and laugh with him, I and many others will always carry his spirit. Thinking of you and the children and grandchildren as you get through these difficult times.
Sylvia Beales, Gray Panthers, Africa Platform for Social Protection - APSP


This is an extremely sad news. Michael was a special person, full of kindness, love and a huge advocate for social justice. For me, he was a real monument and a true inspiration. He will be so much missed. Condolences to his family and friends.
Barbara Cacciolo, Solidar


Dear members of the Global Coalition, Michael passed away last December 30th. His great achievement was the adoption of ILO Recommendation No.202, for the application of which he has lobbied in the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. He was a member of the Core Team of the Global Coalition. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues.
Ana Zeballos, Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF)


The death of Michael is indeed a great loss to humanity and its movement for social protection. My heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones he left behind. May his spirit and works inspire the struggles of generations for a better world.
Baba Aye, Health and Social Services Officer Head Office, PSI, France


Dear Irmgard and family, I am so very, very sorry for your loss. What a terrible loss for us all. He has left an indelible imprint on all who have had the joy to know him, and has left the world a better place for his wisdom, perseverance and extraordinary creativity. His contribution to social progress is historical. I am so very sad. It is a challenge to enter the new year and imagine the future without him. The only comfort is in knowing that he has left such remarkable achievements for us all to carry forward. He did not leave us alone. We all have work to do. Our most significant tribute starts now, fom the time of the Recommendation + 10 onward.
Odile Frank


I am very saddened to hear of the loss of Michael Cichon and have been overwhelmed by all the touching messages shared over last days. Michael was one of the world’s most predominant advocates for the extension to social protection, and a fierce defender for social justice. His loss is deeply felt by the labour movement globally. He leaves behind him an important legacy of strengthening international commitments and frameworks for social protection, especially Recommendation 202 for Social Protection Floors – a key internationally agreed framework for guaranteeing an adequate floor of social protection for everyone.

Many of those who have worked with Michael know that he was a man of deep conviction. When he had a strong idea about something, he made sure that everyone knew it. And as some of you may know, at times we butted heads. Our debates were lively and passionate, but always respectful. And at the end for the day, we agreed far more than we disagreed, and were fully united in our commitment for rights-based, universal social protection systems for all – a goal that as a coalition, must continue to advance.
Evelyn Astor, Economic and Social Policy Advisor, ITUC International Trade Union Confederation


I am very sad to hear about the passing of Michael Cichon.

I met Michael in Maastricht in 2001 at the MSc Social Protection Financing where he taught; and was privileged to work with and learn from him over past 2 decades. I have, witnessed with great admiration, his strong and pragmatic leadership, promoting and nurturing inclusive social protection systems everywhere.

I share my deepest condolences to his family and friends in the SP world.

Michael leaves us a great and noble challenge: to complete the social protection revolution he started. Well played, Michael. Rest in peace.
David Lambert Tumwesigye | Global Advocacy Manager, Child Poverty | Save the Children International


Michael always seemed to be juggling the heaviest issues in the room with the lightest air of humility. He once quipped in passing at a night out with some of us masters students (in the early years of the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance) that ‘life is a budget’. On the face of it, seemingly technocratic and chilled, but underneath a sobering reminder that for most of the world, life is about how the common budget is set, and also (more romantically) how important it is to balance our lives. Michael was always there to help if he could, and advise when he could not. He is missed. Humans like him do not come around so often, and I’m happy to know he left a legacy to lead the future Michael Cichons of the world. Thank you for everything Michael.”
Daniel Horn, Senior Research Officer, Understanding Society, Institute for Social and Economic Research


Dear Irmgard, I have joined forces with Michael since 1994 when I became part of the ILO Social Security Department. Michael has always been a very dependable and straightforward colleague and friend. In his work he had all the qualities that made him so useful for the ILO: good at this subject, a good manager, a good colleague and good political acumen. His great achievement was the adoption of ILO Recommendation No.202, for the application of which we have since lobbied together within the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. We shall miss his insightful comments, his enthusiasm and commitment. I shall also miss his warmth, love and straightforwardness. Unfortunately I cannot come to Bocholt to say goodbye to him, but I wish you and your family all the strength to overcome his absence. Sending you lots of sympathy and best wishes for 2023 and beyond.
Wouter van Ginneken, International Movement ATD Fourth World, Geneva


Such sad, sad news.

As many of you said, Michael was unique, unique in many ways; full of enthusiasm, a visioner, and a smart, strategic-thinking person with a warming sense of humour.

Without him, there would be no Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. It was back in the early days of 2012 when my then director, Matthes Buhbe, and I came to his office at the ILO to chat about possible joint activities during that year when Michael suggested to bring together a group of NGOs to build support for a strong Recommendation on social protection floors. And he knew exactly what he was doing.

He knew that the battle for the envisaged Recommendation could not be won by like-minded countries and (some) trade unionists alone. And he knew that such a workshop could not be organized by the ILO, but a strategic “neutral” partner could do that. So, Michael was not only a vital and crucial element of the Global Coalition. He was the person who kicked the ball first. Luckily, the ball was kicked to some of you back in 2012 who played it further into the right direction. The Global Coalition was born after the ILC in 2012 - more than 10 years ago - and has become an inevitable part of the call for human rights based social protection worldwide.

Michael has left us. It is an indescribable loss.
Yvonne Bartmann, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - FES Geneva


I have no words for the sadness I feel. Michael was my mentor and at the heart of the coalition. Without him all this wouldn’t have been possible.
In loving memory and with sad greetings to you all,
Cäcilie Schildberg, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


Good and bad live together. While we celebrate the new year 2023 and received the shocking news that the demise of Michael. This is the way of an unbelievable world.
Tilak, Ftudc Free Trade Union Development Center, Sri Lanka


How is this possible? I was only just getting to know Michael over the last several years. Only in 2019 at a conference in Hawaii we said how unfortunate our paths did not cross during our UN days. How vital! How sharp! How much fun! Like those of you who knew him for decades, I will miss him tremendously.
Barry Herman, Social Justice in Global Development


The sudden passing of Michael Cichon, who left a lasting legacy in the field of social protection, has left the Social Protection Civil Society Network (SPCSN), Nepal and its members inconsolably heartbroken. Although he will be sorely missed, his legacy will endure.

He will be always in our thoughts and memory for his contribution with rigorous advocacy to adopt ILO Recommendation No. 202 in Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors.
Memorial,
Saroj Acharya, Social Protection Civil Society Network (SPCSN), Nepal


This is tragic news for many people who knew Michael. Very difficult to believe that he is no longer with us. A wonderful person, a man of principle and wit, so widely respected. He will be sorely missed.

I had a privilege of knowing him for almost a quarter century, both at the UN and ILO, and beyond. Several years we worked together at ICSW. I always admired his intellectual foresights, and his human qualities. At Bocholt, in New York or elsewhere his company was so engaging and always a pleasure. Michael was full of life and creative plans. It is a huge loss not only for his family but also for all of us, his colleagues and friends. Deepest condolences to Irmgard and his family.
Sergei Zelenev, International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW)


I express my deepest tribute to the late Michael.
Daya Sagar, NACASUD-Nepal


Extremely sorry to hear about it. May his soul rest in peace.
Sanju, Ageing Nepal


What a sad news for 2023. My thoughts go to Michael’s family and friends. Michael will be remembered for his wonderful work for the adoption of the ILO 202 recommendation and his great contribution to the GCSPF.
Johanna Wagman, Action Contre La Faim France | ACF-France


It is sad to hearing this news. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved family. His contribution to the GCSPF is always remember to us.
Om Shanti. Tilottam Paudel, Chairperson, Social Protection Civil Society Network, Nepal


Michael was an icon in the area of Social Protection. He was a colleague, a friend and a comrade in arms. His contribution to our focus area is without measure. On behalf of the African Platform for Social Protection - APSP family, we pass our deepest condolences. May his soul rest in peace.
Tavengwa (Nhongo), Africa Platform for Social Protection - APSP


So sorry to hear that news. What a great legacy he left us in the adoption of the ILO Recommendation no 202. May he rest in peace.
Jean (Quinn) - UNANIMA International


It is very unfortunate that Michael is gone. He brought about boundless contributions to the GCSPF.
Frederick Ouma Bwire, Uganda Reach the Aged Humble - URAA


My deepest condolences to his family and friends
Ahmad M. Awad, Director, Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, Amman Jordan


Very sad news!! May his soul rest in eternal peace!
Hur Hassnain, Evaluator Treasurer at the International Evaluation Academy


My condolences to the family. He was such a great guy and a giant in the field of social protection. May his soul rest in peace.
Ebenezer Durojaye, Dullah Omar Institute (DOI), University of the Western Cape, South Africa


Remembering Our Colleague, Teacher, and Friend, Michael Cichon
Chris De Neubourg

I am so saddened to receive this sad news about the death of the Global Champion of Social Protection and Social Justice - Michael Cichon. I have read and used the works of Michael Cichon in most of my work on social protection. My deep condolences to his family. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Despite his physical departure, he has left a good legacy behind and will always be remembered for the good works that he has done for humanity. With deep condolences.
Isaac Kabelenga, PhD, Founder of the Zambian Think Tank for Social Protection Foundation Limited (Za Think Social Protection), Lecturer of Social Protection and Social Policy, University of Zambia - School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Social Development Studies

 
e-GCSPF #79 - December 2022
   
   
   
 

Webinar recording: "Progressive realisation: Building inclusive social protection systems in low- and middle-income countries using the principle of universality"

   
 

There is broad consensus that expansion of social protection is a necessary response to the global food and economic crises. But an immediate reaction of countries when approached with the solution of universal social protection is “we can’t afford that!”. The teams at ACT Church of Sweden, Development Pathways and Action Against Hunger showed how, in actual fact, universality can be affordable.
Daisy Sibun launched the new paper, ‘Can a leopard change its spots? A critical analysis of the World Bank’s ‘progressive universalism’ approach to social protection’. The paper scrutinises the justification through which the World Bank continues to promote poverty targeted programmes, despite its more recent high-level support for the idea of universal social protection, and contrasts it with the human rights-based approach to social protection as promoted by the ILO. Watch the video

   
   
   
 

GCSPF response to the World Bank’s new social protection strategy

   
   
 

With this statement, the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), representing more than 120 civil society organisations and trade unions from all over the world, intends to react to the World Bank’s new strategy for social protection, published under the title “Charting a Course Towards Universal Social Protection: Resilience, Equity, and Opportunity for all”.
Recognising the human right to social security, as well as the central role that social protection plays in ensuring adequate standards of living, promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, enhancing resilience, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), the GCSPF promotes the right of all people to social security and universal Social Protection Floors (SPF). Read more

   
   
 

World Bank’s definition of ‘universal’ social protection – another buzzword?

   
 

The Covid-19 pandemic and its related shocks have revealed the value of public services and social protection floors. Institutions tasked with ending poverty like the World Bank are increasingly under pressure to support vital public services and play a key role in wider universal social protection (USP) discussions.
The World Bank recently released its latest commitment to social protection: A Social Protection and Jobs Compass to “chart a course towards USP,” which provides guidance to Bank staff on jobs and social protection issues.
Following a limited consultation process, civil society were eager to respond to the Compass. Read more

   
   
 

Global Solidarity Funding for Social Protection

   
 

A brief for the case of Nepal and Uganda
To support the global debate on the Global Fund and extend its factual base, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) commissioned this study, by Zina Nimeh, Giulio Bordon, Mitja Del Bono and Guido Heins, whose objective is to support global discussions on the feasibility and necessity of a Global Fund for Social Protection through providing two country-based analyses that demonstrate the potential effects of a global social protection funding mechanism.
The study established (i) the cost of the Global Fund; (ii) the redistributive impact of the supported SPF benefits in terms of poverty reduction and the reduction of inequality; (iii) the effects of fund support on the achievability of the social protection-related SDG targets by the sample countries; and (iv) the effects of Global Fund support on countries’ resilience in the event of future crises. Read more

   
   
   
 

Financing care systems and policies in Latin America and the Caribbean

   
 

By ECLAC and UN-Women.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, care has gradually been placed at the centre of public agendas, as a result of growing political commitments, as well as the work of women’s movements and feminist economic studies.
These contributions have focused on the need to reorganize and redistribute care work as a key factor in more egalitarian and inclusive societies. The right to care is among the human rights already recognized in international covenants and treaties, to be enjoyed by all human beings, regardless of their situation of vulnerability, fragility or dependence.
English and Spanish

   
   
 

Global Wage Report 2022-23: The impact of inflation and COVID-19 on wages and purchasing power

   
 

This ILO flagship report examines the evolution of real wages, giving a unique picture of wage trends globally and by region. The 2022-23 edition also includes evidence on how wages have evolved through the COVID-19 crisis as well as how the current inflationary context is biting into real wage growth in most regions in the world. The report shows that for the first time in the twenty-first century real wage growth has fallen to negative values while, at the same time, the gap between real productivity growth and real wage growth continues to widen.
The report analysis the evolution of the real total wage bill from 2019 to 2022 to show how its different components – employment, nominal wages and inflation – have changed during the COVID-19 crisis and, more recently, during the cost-of-living crisis.
The report also looks at changes in wage inequality and the gender pay gap to reveal how COVID-19 may have contributed to increasing income inequality in different regions of the world. Together, the empirical evidence in the report becomes the backbone of a policy discussion that could play a key role in a human-centred recovery from the different ongoing crises. Read more

   
   
 

Podcast: Climate change - How can people in poverty be better supported to cope with climate shocks?

   
 

People in poverty contribute least to climate change yet also benefit least from policies that either try to mitigate climate change or help people adapt to it. It’s a double injustice that needs fixing. Social protection, and cash transfers in particular, can help people to adopt strategies that help them withstand the consequences of severe weather events, such as floods or droughts. With COP27 to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt next week, it’s an issue of utmost importance.
In this episode, Keetie Roelen is joined by two colleagues from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. Nicholas Sitko is Senior Economist and Marco Knowles is Senior Social Protection Officer, both at FAO’s the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division. In their work, they especially focus on reducing poverty and vulnerability of rural populations, including small-scale producers such as farmers. Together we discuss why people in poverty are more vulnerable to climate change, and how they can be supported to be better able to withstand negative effects of climate shocks. Listen here

   
   
 

November SP&PFM e-News

   
 

Read here the November SP&PFM e-News! This newsletter communicates about ongoing activities and results from the Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management programme (SP&PFM). SP&PFM is a joint collaboration between the EU, ILO, UNICEF and the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), which provides medium and shorter-term support to 24 countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems and ensure their sustainable financing. Read more

   
   

JOIN US TO ACHIEVE SOCIAL PROTECTION FOR ALL

GLOBAL COALITION FOR SOCIAL PROTECTION FLOORS - GCSPF

For comments, suggestions, collaborations contact us at:

info@socialprotectionfloorscoalition.org

To stop receiving this newsletter send a message with the subject "unsubscribe" to:

info@socialprotectionfloorscoalition.org

The Covid-19 pandemic and its related shocks have revealed the value of public services and social protection floors. Institutions tasked with ending poverty like the World Bank are increasingly under pressure to support vital public services and play a key role in wider universal social protection (USP) discussions. The World Bank recently released its latest commitment to social protection: A Social Protection and Jobs Compass to “chart a course towards USP,” which provides guidance to Bank staff on jobs and social protection issues.

Following a limited consultation process, civil society were eager to respond to the Compass. Lena Simet of Human Rights Watch concluded that the Compass guidance note, “makes a strong commitment to USP. However, its guidance on how countries can get there is problematic.”

The Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) have long been challenged on their claims of being pro-poor in their approach to social protection. A wealth of evidence has highlighted the flaws of the targeted approaches to social protection preferred by the BWIs, such as Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs), which have been shown to be ineffective at reaching the poorest – as the Bank itself acknowledged – prone to corruption, and less likely to protect human rights than universal schemes.

Instead of simply dismissing public social insurance and potentially creating costly parallel structures, we call on the World Bank to support countries in adapting their social security systems to be more inclusive.
DR LAURA ALFERS, WIEGO

The International Trade Union Congress released a statement citing “considerable reservations”, about the Compass as it “prioritise[s] the extension of targeted, non-contributory social assistance at the expense of social security, especially pensions.” The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF) also responded, echoing concerns about the Bank’s ‘universal’ approach, citing incompatibility with the Bank’s focus on privatised and voluntary schemes, and a “lack of references and alignment with human rights and international labour standards,” such as social security minimum standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 102 and Recommendation 202. GCSPF also highlighted that both private finance and voluntary private schemes, which rely on individuals to have savings and often are inaccessible to informal workers, are considered by the Bank to be alternatives to public social security. The Bank’s preference for privately schemes and targeted systems, which are methods to define eligibility for programmes between the poor, not only “fail to cover the majority of the population but also fail to reach the people living in dire situations, [it] also prevents States from developing their own social protection systems,” noted a September report by civil society organisations (CSOs) Action Against Hunger, Development Pathways and Act Church of Sweden titled Can a leopard change it’s spots?.

Dr Laura Alfers, of global network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organising (WIEGO) commented: “We welcome the commitment by the World Bank to Universal Social Protection. As informal workers remain largely excluded from social protection, it is encouraging that efforts to extend coverage to the ‘missing majority’ are central to the World Bank’s new strategy. However, we disagree with the promotion of voluntary savings schemes, which are presented as central tools to expand coverage to informal workers, and as ‘alternatives’ rather than complements to public social security. Instead of simply dismissing public social insurance and potentially creating costly parallel structures, we call on the World Bank to support countries in adapting their social security systems to be more inclusive.”

‘Universal’ support, with a side of austerity

The World Bank’s influence over countries’ social protection spaces is significant; it describes itself as the largest funder of social protection, citing a portfolio of $29.5 billion across 71 countries. The Bank commits to the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (USP2030), a mission to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1.3.” Further to this, the Bank entered a global partnership with the ILO on achieving universal social protection in 2016.

USP2030 defines USP as “nationally defined system[s] of policies and programmes that provide equitable access to all people and protect them throughout their lives against poverty and risks to their livelihoods and well-being,” which can consist of “cash or in-kind benefits, contributory or non-contributory schemes, and programmes to enhance human capital, productive assets, and access to jobs…benefits/support for people of working age in case of maternity, disability, work injury or for those without jobs; and pensions for all older persons.” USP2030 also defines universal social protection as a human right.

UK-based CSO Development Pathways found that the BWIs not only do harm by prioritising poverty targeting, but have actively advocated for removing universal systems created by governments (see Observer Spring 2018). Both institutions tend to attach austerity-driven loan conditionalities focused on shrinking fiscal space and cutting public sector wage bills (see Observer Winter 2019), and national social protection systems are often the target of such cuts.

8 December 2022

Source: Bretton Woods Project.

The video of the webinar “Progressive realisation: Building inclusive social protection systems in low- and middle-income countries using the principle of universality” is now online. The webinar was held on Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

Speakers

Daisy Sibun, Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways, author of ‘Can a leopard change its spots? A critical analysis of the World Bank’s ‘progressive universalism’ approach to social protection (download the presentation)

Marion Ouma, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Nordic Africa Institute

Stephen Kidd, Principal Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways

Moderator: Lena Simet, Senior Researcher and Advocate, Human Rights Watch

Background

There is broad consensus that expansion of social protection is a necessary response to the global food and economic crises. But an immediate reaction when universal social protection is proposed is often that “it is impossible, because it is too expensive!” or perhaps “we agree that universal social protection is the ultimate goal, but we must see it as a long-term vision. For now, we must target the poorest”. At this webinar we show how, in actual fact, universal programmes are a feasible and far more effective policy alternative to poverty targeting available to low- and middle-income countries. And, critically, that universality can be affordable if programmes are gradually introduced but maintain the principle of universality in their approach from day one.

Daisy Sibun launched a new paper, ‘Can a leopard change its spots? A critical analysis of the World Bank’s ‘progressive universalism’ approach to social protection (Executive summary). The paper critically analyses the justification through which the World Bank continues to promote poverty targeted programmes, despite its more recent high-level support for the idea of universal social protection, and contrasts it with the human rights-based approach to social protection as promoted by the ILO.

Stephen Kidd presented evidence on how countries can implement universal social protection schemes progressively in an affordable way through the reports Building universal social security systems using the principle of universality and Taking stock of progress: A compilation of inclusive social security programmes in low- and middle-income countries.

This event was co-organised by Act Church of Sweden, Action Against Hunger France, Development Pathways and Human Rights Watch, with the support of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF).

Response from the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors to the World Bank’s new Strategy for Social Protection.

Download pdf version.

With this statement, the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), representing more than 120 civil society organisations and trade unions from all over the world, intends to react to the World Bank’s new strategy for social protection, published under the title “Charting a Course Towards Universal Social Protection: Resilience, Equity, and Opportunity for all”.

Recognising the human right to social security, as well as the central role that social protection plays in ensuring adequate standards of living, promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, enhancing resilience, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), the GCSPF promotes the right of all people to social security and universal Social Protection Floors (SPF).

The GCSPF therefore welcomes the explicit commitment by the World Bank to Universal Social Protection (USP). We further appreciate the strategy’s systems approach to social protection, emphasising that comprehensive and effective coverage requires expansions of interconnected social insurance, social assistance, economic inclusion programmes, and care services. The recognition that social protection is not just an effective tool to fight poverty, but also vital to help people face a wider range of challenges and vulnerabilities throughout their lives, is likewise important. The emphasis that social protection, as well as tax systems, can reduce inequality is also crucial. While ambitious plans to expand coverage are necessary to close the large coverage gaps, the World Bank’s strategy rightly highlights the importance of ensuring the adequacy of benefits and the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups that may face barriers to access. Given the widespread exclusion of informal workers from social protection systems, it is encouraging that efforts to extend coverage to the ‘missing majority’ are central to the World Bank’s new strategy.

The GCSPF also agrees that social spending is a necessary and effective investment in human development, as well as inclusive and sustainable growth. We hope that the new World Bank strategy represents a step up of support from International Financial Institutions on social protection, enabling in particular low-income countries to put in place adequate and comprehensive social protection systems in line with people’s rights. Increased investment in social protection is particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has decimated the incomes of the world’s poorest people and left low-income countries exposed to the current social, economic and ecological ‘polycrises’.

While the GCSPF appreciates the overall direction of the World Bank’s new social protection strategy, we have a number of serious concerns. Primarily, we are surprised by the lack of references and alignment with human rights and international labour standards. It thus appears as though the World Bank’s vision of universal social protection deviates from internationally agreed commitments and definitions, in particular social security minimum standards set out in ILO Convention 102 and Recommendation 202.

The GCSPF also disagrees with the role that private finance is accorded, as well as the promotion of voluntary private schemes, which are promoted as key mechanisms to expand coverage, in particular for informal workers, and presented as ‘alternatives’ rather than complements to public social security. Given the often low and volatile earnings of informal workers, and following the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, it is questionable whether individual savings accounts alone will offer much protection. The continued promotion of individualised and privatised approaches to social protection is all the more disappointing as the strategy recognises that the previous wave of pension privatisations in Latin America and Eastern Europe “did not lead to the expansion in coverage that early reformers envisioned, and the systems are also increasingly failing to deliver adequate pensions” (page 36). It is therefore crucial that the World Bank re-considers these efforts to individualise and privatise social protection and recognizes that the responsibility to realise the human right to social security cannot fall entirely on individuals but is instead a responsibility of governments. The GCSPF disagrees with the World Bank’s dismissive stance towards public social insurance systems and their ability to include informal workers, which certainly requires adaptations of systems but is clearly possible, as a number of countries are showing.

Even though the strategy is framed around universal social protection, it underplays existing efforts of governments to provide universal protection. The strategy claims that governments “have played a role in increasing access to risk management tools, but only in limited ways. [...]. First, they provide social assistance to a limited portion of the population who are either income-poor or vulnerable” (page 18). This ignores the fact that numerous countries across the income spectrum have made significant progress towards USP and introduced universal child benefits and social pensions.

While rightly emphasising the importance of reaching excluded and hard-to-reach groups, the strategy fails to recognise that universal programs tend to be the most effective way to reach all and leave no one behind. More generally, the strategy lacks a clearly articulated and credible pathway for the progression from largely poverty-targeted to universal systems. Therefore, we call on the World Bank to develop, through meaningful consultation, concrete action plans at national levels to move towards universality. It is concerning that in the recent past, the World Bank has discouraged or opposed the introduction of universal programs in many contexts. Moreover, we are worried that the World Bank is blurring the conceptual distinction between means-tested and universal benefits in an effort to reconcile the discrepancy between its endorsement of USP and its continued operational focus on narrowly targeted ‘safety nets’. While the strategy is less explicitly advocating for poverty-targeting than previous documents and refers to ‘progressive realization’ rather than “progressive universalism” the World Bank’s approach still fails to live up to the principles of social protection standards. Indeed, the persistent focus on poverty-targeting is evident in the promotion of ‘social registries’. While recognising significant challenges in their design and implementation, the strategy does not present convincing arguments or evidence that “dynamic inclusion” can overcome these challenges.

Despite welcoming the necessity of addressing unpaid care and domestic work, it is concerning that the World Bank appears to assume that the default provider of care services should be the private sector, with the state merely regulating or providing financing. Indeed, public care services are presented as if they were needed only in case of particular difficulties in the household. The GCSPF reiterates that care and education services should be publicly organised and accessible to all. The strategy could offer a more critical framing of the burden of unpaid domestic work, recognising the role of patriarchy, and that the impact of austerity on households is often cushioned by women absorbing both paid employment and domestic responsibilities simultaneously.

Finally, while appreciating the opportunities to engage with the World Bank during the development of the strategy, we regret that it was shared only in its final form, with no possibility to react to it. In addition, the finalised version did not take on board the comments provided by civil society in the process.

The strategy closes by stressing the importance of partnerships and collaboration between governments, donors, civil society, labour unions, and the private sector to achieve universal protection. As civil society, we intend to do our part by holding duty bearers to account, amplifying the voices of the people, and supporting the realisation of universal and rights-based social protection for all. We call on the World Bank to ensure the meaningful participation of civil society, unions and workers’ organisations in the operationalisation of the strategy at all levels.

November 2022.

e-GCSPF #78 - November 2022
 

Launch of the "Global Solidarity Funding For Social Protection" Report

   
 

UNU-MERIT will host the virtual launch of the “Global Solidarity Funding For Social Protection” report.
Date: 08 November 2022 - Time: 14:00 - 15:30 CEST - Registration.
During the launch event, key stakeholders from FES, ILO, World Bank and UNU-MERIT will jointly discuss topics of financing and extending social protection floors. The exchange will focus on the opportunity and cost of implementing a global mechanism for cofinancing social protection floors. Read more

   
   
 

How low- and middle- income countries can implement universal social protection progressively

   
 

There is broad consensus that expansion of social protection is a necessary response to the global food and economic crises. But an immediate reaction of countries when approached with the solution of universal social protection is “we can’t afford that!”. Today, the teams at ACT Church of Sweden, Development Pathways and Action Against Hunger show how, in actual fact, universality can be affordable.
Daisy Sibun will be launching a new paper, ‘Can a leopard change its spots? A critical analysis of the World Bank’s ‘progressive universalism’ approach to social protection’. The paper scrutinises the justification through which the World Bank continues to promote poverty targeted programmes, despite its more recent high-level support for the idea of universal social protection, and contrasts it with the human rights-based approach to social protection as promoted by the ILO. Tuesday, November 22, 2022 - 2 PM - 3 PM CET - Register - Read more

   
   
 

Webinar presentation and recording: Work Bank, IMF and Universal Social Protection following COVID-19: The Good, the Bad and the Unclear

   
 

Representatives from different CSOs, unions and workers’ organisations shared their perspectives on whether, and if so, how, IFIs have changed their position on social protection in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on newly published evidence, we discussed what is new regarding IFI’s engagement on social protection, what counts as progress, and what are areas where IFIs may continue to fall short on realising the right to social protection for all. Watch the recording

   
   
 

USP2030: Principles for Financing Universal Social Protection

   
 

The Financing Working Group of the Global Partnership on Universal Social Protection (USP 2030) realeased a joint statement on key principles for financing social protection.
Universal social protection is an essential means to prevent and reduce poverty and inequality and is at core of the social contract that connects the state with the society, contributing to more inclusive, equitable, stable, and peaceful societies. With the ongoing economic effects of COVID-19, the unfolding cost of living crisis, and the ever-growing impacts of climate breakdown the need for social protection has never been greater. And yet large and entrenched coverage gaps remain, with a lack of available and accessible financing a major bottleneck in achieving universal social protection. In light of this challenge the USP2030 working group on financing has jointly agreed the following key principles to guide the international and national financing of social protection Read more

   
   
 

Global Inequality: Don’t Look Up!

   
 

By Francine Mestrum, Global Social Justice (Brussels)
Today, inequality is high on the international agenda. After the hype on poverty – Millennium Development Goals -, U.N. organisations and the Bretton Woods institutions play a major role in producing and distributing knowledge on the different dimensions of inequality and on how it is shaping today’s world and its perspectives on development.
In this contribution, I want to examine what knowledge these institutions create and disseminate about ‘inequality’ and how this knowledge has evolved since their inception – the end of the Second World War and the start of a decolonisation process with an associated development project. Read more

   
   
 

World Bank Guidance for Universal Social Protection is Lacking

   
 

By Lena Simet
The World Bank published their new Social Protection and Jobs sector strategy, also known as the SPJ Compass. The strategy makes a strong commitment to USP. However, its guidance on how countries can get there is problematic.
Human Rights Watch and others, including a recent study by the nongovernmental organization Development Pathways, have found that poverty targeted programs fall short in protecting human rights, are prone to mismanagement and corruption, and that they can stigmatize people in poverty. Everyone has the right to social security, which is key to securing other economic and social rights, in particular the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the rights to food and to adequate housing. Read more

   
   
 

October SP&PFM e-News

   
 

Read here the October SP&PFM e-News! This newsletter communicates about ongoing activities and results from the Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management programme (SP&PFM). SP&PFM is a joint collaboration between the EU, ILO, UNICEF and the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF), which provides medium and shorter-term support to 24 countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems and ensure their sustainable financing. Read more

   
   
 

Contributions to the discussion on Social Protection in South America

   
 

With the aim of strengthening the political incidence of civil society in favor of social protection in South America, a cycle of conferences with the participation of various organizations of civil society (e.g. feminists, trade unions, ecumenical, etc.) and experts in the field took place. It is necessary an official care policy which contemplate supports and complements care work and defends the recognition of the "right to care", gender equality and human development. Likewise, ways of financing social protection are explored, including the creation of a global fund. The following videos (in Spanish) of the conferences are on line.
1. “Thinking about social protection from care”. Speakers: MA.(Econ) Soledad Salvador (Uruguay), Licenciada en Ciencia Política Patricia Cossani Padilla (Uruguay), PhD. Hildete Pereira de Melo (Brazil) and PhD. Corina Rodríguez Enríquez (Argentina). Moderator: BA(Econ) Alma Espino (Uruguay).
2. “Community care in times of COVID-19”. Speakers: MA.(Soc) Norma Sanchís (Argentina), Mag Ec. Natalia Moreno (Uruguay), BSc. (Psych) Alma Colin Colin (Mexico) and Mag. Florencia Cascardo (Argentina). Moderator: BA(Econ) Alma Espino (Uruguay).
3. “When the State misses the appointment: the (un)sustainability of life”. Speakers: Mag. Graciela Rodríguez (Brazil), Soc. Rosario Aguirre (Uruguay), Dra Verónica Serafini (Paraguay) and Dra. Alison Vasconez (Ecuador). Moderator: Mag Soledad Salvador (Uruguay).
4. “What the pandemic left us: necessary transformations”. Speakers: Roberto Bissio (Uruguay), PhD Lucía Pérez (Mexico) and PhD Valeria Esquivel (Argentina). Moderator: BA (Econ) Soledad Salvador (Uruguay).
These activities were organized by Ciedur, Red de Género y Comercio, Social Watch and the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors.

   
   
 

Kazakhstan: Families Struggle to Enjoy Basic Rights

   
 

A new Human Rights Watch report on Targeted Social Assistance (TSA) in Kazakhstan finds that the country's main social assistance program has very rigid eligibility criteria and means tests that exclude many people in need of support. The report calls on the government to make changes in the program to eliminate errors in determining eligibility and arbitrary barriers that leave out qualified people and increase the benefits amount to ensure that people have adequate protection of their basic economic rights. Read more

   
   
 

Third virtual OECD Policy Dialogue on Social Protection and Development

   
 

The Third Virtual OECD Policy Dialogue on Social Protection and Development on Social protection in times of growing vulnerability and poverty crises will take place via the Zoom videoconferencing platform, on 29 & 30 November 2022 from 13:00PM to 16:30PM (Paris time).

Register here for the 29 November sessions and

register here for the 30 November sessions
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GLOBAL COALITION FOR SOCIAL PROTECTION FLOORS - GCSPF

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Civil Society Call for a Global Fund for Social Protection

Over 200 civil society organizations and trade unions unite to call for a Global Fund for Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable during COVID-19 and beyond.

Read the Call

SP&PFM Programme

The programme Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management provides medium-term support to multiple countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems at a national level and ensure sustainable financing. The programme aims to support countries in their efforts towards achieving universal social protection coverage.

This initiative is implemented jointly by the ILO, Unicef, and the GCSPF.

Read more

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