Social Protection Floors are nationally defined sets of at least four basic social security guarantees that ensure minimum income security for all and access to universal essential healthcare.
Social Protection Floors (SPFs) are the first step toward the implementation of comprehensive social protection systems worldwide. By establishing nationally defined and context-specific Social Protection Floors, countries help realize the universal right to basic social security and essential social services while enabling and promoting future socio-economic development.
The Secretary-General’s recently launched synthesis report, entitled The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, takes the UN a step closer to a new era of sustainable development for all. The report recognises the contribution of social protection, as well as employment policies, in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) and calls for further strengthening of decent work for young people, social protection floors and labour rights for all to address the sustainable development unmet by the MDGs. Moreover, it reaffirms that the ‘responsibility for raising the domestic public revenues necessary for the core economic and social functions – for example to ensure a social protection floor and to remedy exclusion – rests primarily with each national government’. Social protection has thus been given a prominent role to play in poverty and inequality reduction in the Post-2015 Agenda.
17-18 November, Bangkok, Thailand: Representatives from trade unions, employers’ organizations, civil society, governments, and international development agencies met on 17-18 November, 2014, to engage in a Tripartite Seminar on Strengthening Social Protection in ASEAN. This meeting followed the commitment ASEAN member States made to giving effect to ILO’s Recommendation on Social Protection Floors (No. 202) and their adoption of a Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection - one of the key priority areas ASEAN identified as necessary to achieve growth with equity and ‘people oriented integration’ by 2015. At the tripartite seminar that took place in Bangkok member States now agreed on a specific set of Recommendations.
20-21 November, Seoul, Korea: A two-day high-level conference took place to discuss the important role played by economic and social councils and other similar institutions in promoting the extension of social protection floors. The event was organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS), in partnership with the Economic and Social Development Commission of Korea (ESDC). In line with the 2012 International Labour Conference discussion, the meeting focused on Recommendation No. 202 on Social Protection Floors. Over 90 participants discussed how social dialogue institutions such as economic and social councils can bolster social protection at the national level. At the end of the conference, participants arrived at the Seoul Declaration on Promotion of National Social Protection Floors for All by Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions.
Launch of the World Social Protection Report 2014-15
More than 70 per cent of the world population is not adequately covered by social protection. This is the main finding of the ILO’s flagship biannual publication, the World Social Protection Report 2014/15: Building economic recovery, inclusive development and social justice.
The report follows a life-cycle approach, starting with social protection for children, followed by schemes for women and men in working age, and closing with pensions and other support for older persons. It also assesses progress towards universal coverage in health. The report further analyses trends and recent policies, such as the negative impacts of fiscal consolidation and adjustment measures, and urgently calls to expand social protection for crisis recovery, inclusive development and social justice.
Helen Clark, Chair of the United Nations Development Group, and Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Office, called on UN colleagues working at country-level to advance the implementation of social protection floors by taking the following steps:
1. Building/strengthening One UN National SPF Teams
2. Supporting national dialogues on implementing context-appropriate SPFs
3. Helping countries identify existing social protection progammes, outlying needs, additional policy options, and possible monitoring and financing mechanisms
4. Promoting the SPF as an instrument in UN Development Assistance Frameworks.
5. Cooperating with national statistical offices to improve data on social protection.
Read their call for action.
All around the world, countries continue to develop and implement programmes that bring them closer to ensuring a Social Protection Floor for all. Some highlights of the latest progress are presented below.
Namibia launches National Social Protection Floor Assessment report
Recognizing that, despite its high level of complexity and development, Namibia’s social protection system could be improved to reduce poverty and inequality, the Parliament requested a comprehensive review of existing social protection programmes. In this context, the Government of Namibia and the ILO began a collaboration that led to the launching of the National Social Protection Floor Assessment report in 2014. This report sets out the socio-economic context and trajectory in Namibia and describes the components and performance of its social protection system (including its impact on poverty and inequality). Then, based on this evidence, it makes recommendations for improvement of the social protection system. It serves as the basis for more formal discussions on how to strengthen Namibia’s nationally defined Social Protection Floor.
Thailand expresses its commitment to implementing an SPF and begins work with UN agencies
Extending the scope and coverage of the social protection system (particularly to informal sector workers) is a key target of Thailand's 11th Five-Year Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016). Universal access to free basic health care and nine years of free, compulsory education – key elements of an SPF – are already in place but the government’s new National Economic and Social Development Plan envisages further extending access to services and providing an adequate level of social protection to all members of the population.
The SPF-Initiative has been a means for the government and the UN system in Thailand to work together in a coherent manner toward this unified goal. An effective partnership has been formed between UNICEF, UNFPA and the ILO on the UN side and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and the National Economic and Social Development Board on the government side. In August 2011, a government-led consultative workshop mapped out Thailand's social protection system (identifying and prioritizing gaps) and carried out an initial assessment of the cost of filling gaps in social protection coverage. This has helped identify the main social protection issues and strategies, and the support that the UN can provide to the Government of Thailand as it implements its SPF.
Opening remarks, Consultative Meeting on the SPF in Thailand Pre-assessment Matrix on the SPF in Thailand
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Asia-Pacific social protection issues brief, ILO, 2014
ILO Recommendation Concerning National Floors of Social Protection, adopted June 15, 2012