Hopeful futures. Photo: Peter Williams
The event, attended by representatives of government, workers and employers, as well as international organizations and NGOs, was held in Geneva on 8 November to mark the launch of the report, Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization , which was prepared by an advisory group chaired by the former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet.
The report says an estimated 5.1 billion people lack adequate social security or social protection worldwide, while just over 15 per cent of the world’s unemployed are receiving some form of unemployment benefits. The report argues for the establishment of social protection floors, which evidence shows are affordable even in low income countries, and which can reduce poverty, boost growth and enhance social cohesion.
The Social Protection Floor Initiative
Led by the ILO and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Social Protection Floor Initiative aims to promote a set of basic social security rights and transfers, as well as essential services in the area of employment, health, water and sanitation, nutrition, education and family-support to protect and empower poor and vulnerable people.
The initiative continues to receive widespread international support, most recently during the G20 Leaders Summit in Cannes, France, which recognized the importance of investing in and expanding nationally-designed social protection floors in developing countries, especially low-income countries.
Social security and social protection floors
Opening the event, ILO Director General Juan Somavia (photo, in centre) emphasized that international support for the social protection floor had been “exponential” since the proposal was first endorsed by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination in 2009 as a joint initiative in response to the economic crisis.
The ILO’s annual International Labour Conference in 2012 is to consider a new international labour standard on social protection floors.
In his remarks to the high-level panel, the ISSA Secretary General Hans-Horst Konkolewsky (photo, on right) welcomed the conclusions of the report and reiterated the commitment of social security institutions to the extension of coverage through the building of social protection floors.
The report underlines the complementarity of social protection floors and social insurance schemes, he noted, and he pointed to the indispensable role of high-performing and well-governed social security institutions, as well as appropriate ICT solutions, in contributing to the success of coverage extension.
“The social protection floor is not an alternative, but should always complement existing social security systems,” Mr. Konkolewsky stated. “It is crucial that the report upholds the importance of building social protection floor initiatives on existing schemes and exploring the interaction between social assistance and social insurance. We believe that additional analysis and conceptual development as regards these necessary policy and implementation linkages would be highly beneficial,” he concluded.
Also speaking during the high-level panel event were: