Contributing to the definition and implementation of appropriate and integrated social protection systems

Despite international advocacy for social protection, a number of issues are still subject to debate: How to define and finance a social protection floor? What does “universality” mean in terms of social protection? What are the links between social protection, growth and employment?

© Galbrun for AFD
© Galbrun for AFD

The United Nations estimates that 80% of the world’s population does not have social guarantees that would allow them to face the risks of life and get out of the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Yet the recent global crisis has shown that social protection plays a tremendous role as an economic stabilizer, while it is also an effective tool for poverty reduction and the fight against inequalities. Its redistribution and social integration mechanisms make it an essential element for sustainable and inclusive growth.

International consensus has been forged around the new policy concept of social protection floors, which has established itself on the international agenda in recent years. The latter are defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as “sets of basic social security guarantees that should ensure, as a minimum that, over the life cycle, all in need have access to essential health care and to basic income security which together secure effective access to goods and services defined as necessary at the national level.” France made them one of its priorities as President of the G20 in 2011. The International Labour Conference (which includes for each country, on an equal basis, a governmental delegate, an employer and a worker, and defines the main orientations of ILO) has adopted a recommendation to promote the establishment of social protection floors. The technical and financial development partners – which include the World Bank, European Union and United Nations agencies – have defined their development cooperation strategies in terms of social protection, a thematic area which could also be supported in the post-2015 agenda.

This international consensus in favor of social protection, which has prompted a number of developing countries to engage in a political implementation process, masks a whole host of actors, practices and issues which are still subject to debate: How to define then finance a social protection floor? Should universality be understood as access to income security and essential services for all or for the poorest? Are transfers more effective when they are combined with counterbalances? What is the link between social protection and employment?
In this context, the objective of AFD’s ongoing studies and research is to:

  • Consolidate the knowledge gained from the experience of programs conducted by AFD, as well as from the studies and research related to the theme, in order to generate a holistic and integrated approach;
  • Feed into reflection and knowledge production on the main cooperation issues in terms of social protection and the position taken by development partners;
  • Contribute to building strategic reflection allowing AFD to define its position and make it visible.
Last update in February 2015

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