‘Just join USP2030!’

BMZ supports Call for Action “Together to Achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030”

Delegates at USP conference in Geneva

At the high-level conference ‘Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030 (USP2030)’ hosted by ILO, the OECD and several other partners in Geneva, delegates shared experiences of how to accelerate progress towards USP in a time of increasing inequality. BMZ underlined Germany’s support for the USP Call to Action and invited others to join the cause.

Approximately 120 participants, among them government representatives from all continents, international and bilateral organizations, NGOs and trade unions, followed the invitation of the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to the high-level conference ‘Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030’ which took place on 5 February 2019 at ILO’s headquarters in Geneva. The conference brought together all actors in the field of social protection and to create a platform and governance structure that would allow them to work together, in a transparent and participatory way, towards making USP a reality for all by 2030.

In her keynote, Ms. Bachelet, UN High Commissioner on human rights, stressed that according to ILO research, USP can be achieved in all countries, including in challenging contexts. In contrast, societies that exclude people and do not use their full potential lose talents, capacities and skills whilst the lack of social protection creates tensions and gives rise to conflicts.

In a video message, Ms. Burrow of the International Trade Union Confederation reminded delegates that in a world three times richer than 20 years ago financing USP was less a question of financial resources than of governments’ political commitment to it. Highlighting the role of ILO’s Social Security Minimum Standards and Social Protection Floor recommendations, she stressed that in 2019 the time had come to build comprehensive social protection systems instead of relying on safety nets.

A session on essential building blocks for countries’ realisation of USP

One of the three thematic sessions that followed, entitled ‘Building universal social protection systems’, was organised by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Kerstin Nagels, Director of Employment, Economic and Social Development, GIZ, facilitated the discussion of panelists Ms Gabriela Agosto of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies, Argentina; Ms. Mary Anne E.R. Darauay of the National Economic and Development Authority, Philippines, and Dr Mukunda Paudyal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Government of Nepal.

At the start of the debate, Ms. Nagels referred to the recent publication “A systems perspective on Universal Social Protection – Towards life-long equitable access to comprehensive social protection for all”, stressing that comprehensive and universal coverage to all can only be ensured by a system in which different programmes are coordinated and harmonized within and across sectors. She asked the panelists which system building blocks or “enablers” for universal social protection they regarded as particular important for the realization of USP in their countries.

For the Philippines, Ms. Darauay stressed the importance of a coherent policy framework as the basis for intersectoral cooperation and roadmap for implementation. In addition, a comprehensive database would be needed to identify people's needs, to formulate the necessary legislation based on this information and to enable citizens to access services they are entitled to jointly through one “smart ID card”. Ms. Agosto agreed that integrated information management was key for the running of a social protection system, to share information across different levels of government and centralizing its management. To date, Argentina continues to rely on two separate central information systems. She stressed that in the process of consolidating information from civil registration and programme beneficiaries ‘clear rules on the use of data’ were indispensable as well as the understanding that all levels of government would not only be able to use the system but also to contribute to it.

Mr Paudyal explained that his main take-way from the conference for Nepal was ‘that we need to integrate social policies with our economic policies to ensure they complement each other’.

From targeting to ‘triggering’

Panelists at conference’s closing session

In the conference’s closing session, Florian Höllen, Senior Policy Officer at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), thanked the organisers for convening this conference, which had shown once more that social protection must be the basis for development, not its payoff. ‘We need to move from targeting to “triggering’’ he said, ‘keeping up with people’s changing needs in a changing world with increasing risks due to fragility, climate change and the changing nature of work.’ By defining a “trigger”, he explained, governments can ensure that benefits kick in as soon as they are needed, thus preventing economic hardship both for individual households and, more broadly, for countries’ economies.

Mr Höllen ended his statement with a passionate plea to all delegates to ‘just join USP2030!’ Germany would support a transparent and participatory governance structure for this platform by supporting an easy-to-reach coordination desk for all those ready to support the USP2030 endeavour. He encouraged country representatives to join Germany and take one of the free seats of the USP2030 interim steering committee to support the Global Partnership’s important cause: ‘Be part of this global push to bring all relevant actors in the field of social protection together for the first time!’

Christina Dankmeyer & Anna von Roenne, February 2019

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