The major emerging trends, including societal, technological, environmental and geo-political factors, represent a challenge for social security, which needs to investigate the best way of facing up to them. The objective is to identify what will be at stake for social security administrations in the five, ten or even twenty years to come and to develop a forward-looking vision to respond to these challenges when they arise.
The new exogenous “stress factors”, consisting of global warming and environmental issues, population movements in an environment that is changing rapidly and the scope of new pandemics, are becoming increasingly significant. In this respect, they imply the need to rethink the architecture of social security with a view to responding to the new expectations arising out of these changes. This is particularly true for low and middle income countries, in view of the fact that their formal social protection system is far from covering the whole of the population and that informal schemes are struggling due to the rapidity of economic, social and demographic transformations. Under these circumstances, research needs to be undertaken and policy recommendations made in respect of both existing schemes and new programmes. How can the impact of exogenous factors on social security programmes be assessed? How can they be confronted?
Social security institutions are today developing in a new environment characterized by new demands. The economic slowdown that is currently being experienced may offer these institutions an opportunity to adopt a balanced vision of their activities and to create possibilities for change which may help them to become more effective and better organized in time. Administrators have the opportunity to engage in innovations which can help them to confront the new situation of multiple challenges and decreased resources. They also need to find the means of optimizing the value of existing programmes and services, while developing new strategies that are capable of responding to the needs of the personnel and the expectations of clients, for example by developing the permanent participation of citizens in the formulation of policies and programmes. How can social security be adapted to the new requirements of the knowledge economy and the digital economy? What impact may new technologies have in return on social security in terms of governance values and methods?
The emergence of new economic powers will lead to changes in the conception of social security. The “European” and “Anglo-Saxon” models will now be confronted with new approaches adopted by recent arrivals on the international scene. For example, Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China (the BRIC countries) will question existing social security models in the light of their own principles and values and will participate in disseminating original types of social security policies that will find their place in countries at differing income levels and with different institutional architectures. How will these geo-political developments fashion a new future for social security? What impact will they have on the principal issues of the extension of social protection coverage, the ageing of the population and the increasing informality of the labour market?