Global Initiatives

The Social Protection Floor has become a widely pertinent concept that helps ensure that global discussions - whether political, economic or environmental - do not sidestep important social protection considerations. As such, the Social Protection Floor approach has been widely recognized and supported at numerous international, regional and national conferences.


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20-22, 2012, bringing together heads of state and government and high-level representatives to discuss how to build a green economy, achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty.

As expressed in the conference outcome document entitled, 'The future we want', the leaders agreed on the importance of supporting developing countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty, including through the provision of social protection floors. They encouraged national and local initiatives aimed at providing social protection floors for all citizens and supported global dialogue on best practices for social protection programmes.

For more information, click here.

Post-2015 Development Agenda

Following months of consultations with UN member states and civil society, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals recognized the need to strengthen social protection floors as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be at the helm of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Views have differed as to how exactly social protection would be featured in the set of SDGs adopted. Some countries and major groups defended social protection as a stand-alone goal; others envisioned it as a component of a larger goal – one dedicated to employment and decent work, poverty, or equality.

In the end, social protection was represented in the SDGs and targets as follows. Indicators focused on measurable outcomes are still to be elaborated.

  • Social protection and SPFs feature prominently in ‘Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. Under target 1.3, it is proposed that countries ‘implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable’.
  • Under Goal 5, dedicated to achieving gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls, social protection features as a strategy. Target 5.4 calls on countries to ‘recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies, and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate’.
  • In order to reduce inequality within and among countries (Goal 10), target 10.4 proposes that countries adopt ‘fiscal, wage, and social protection policies and progressively achieve greater equality’.

For more information, see the policy brief on 'Social protection floors in the Post-2015 Agenda: targets and indicators'.

G20 Meetings and Recommendations

10-11 September 2014, Melbourne, Australia
At this meeting, the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers listed the facilitation of universal access to social protection as a priority intervention in the fight against informality and underemployment. These leaders also see social protection as a tool to strengthen the resilience of workers and households and shield them from bearing a disproportionate share of economic risk. Read the G20 Declaration.

19 July 2013, Moscow, Russia
The G20 Ministers of Labour and Employment and the G20 Ministers of Finance recognized the importance of establishing nationally determined social protection floors and of modernizing the social protection systems to raise their coverage, effectiveness, efficiency, adequacy, and sustainability. These leaders also declared that links between social protection policies, work incentives and employment should exist for those who are able to work. Read the Joint Communiqué of the G20 Labour and Employment and Finance Ministers.

18-19 June 2012, Los Cabos, Mexico
At the Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting, G20 countries recognized the importance of establishing nationally determined SPFs and committed to continuing to foster inter-agency and international policy coherence and cooperation in order to assist low-income countries as they implement nationally determined SPFs. The G20 countries also asked international organizations to work with low-income countries to identify policy options for sustainable SPFs. Read the G20 Declaration.

26-27 September 2011, Paris, France
Labour and Employment Ministers from the G20 countries made a declaration of support in favour of the implementation of worldwide SPFs and committed to extending their own social protection coverage. They also encouraged international donors to devote some Official Development Aid to strengthening SPFs in low-income countries while respecting the individual approaches these countries wish to take with regard to implementation. Read the Labour and Employment Ministers’ Conclusions.

Social Protection Inter-agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B)

At the request of the G20 Development Group, the Social Protection Inter-agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B) was created in 2012 with the objective of being an agile mechanism that would both enhance global coordination and advocacy on social protection issues and coordinate international cooperation at the national level in response to countries’ demand for support. SPIAC-B – which brings together over 29 international organizations, bilateral development agencies, social partners, and civil society organizations – held its fifth meeting on 5-6 May, 2014. During this meeting, SPIAC-B members agreed to support ongoing efforts to help countries establish social protection floors through One-UN Programme Frameworks and UN Development Assistance Frameworks. A call was also made for greater civil society involvement.

For more information on SPIAC-B and how its activities strengthen SPFs around the world, click here