Megatrends and social security

Social security systems can anticipate and influence global trends affecting societies and economies

Climate change and natural resource scarcity

Taken together, resource constraints and climate change represent a significant change in the environment in which social security is, and will be, operating. The era of strong global economic growth fuelled by accessible and cheap resources is coming to an end for many countries. Despite regional variations, financial resources available to social security are likely to decrease over time.

Megatrends in climate change and social security responses

Extreme climatic events Emergency response capability
Flexible benefits and contribution terms
Targeted and temporary interventions
Appropriate health responses
Increased migration and precarity Redesign of benefits, application of bilateral and multilateral agreements
Improved communication and access
Reduction in economic growth Reassessment of financing approaches and the nature of benefits
Impact on social security reserve fund assets Move to carbon neutral investment and assets less exposed to the scarcity of natural resources
Higher morbidity, increased health challenges Proactive measures to reduce risk
Adapted health-care services


At the same time, demands on social security will increase due to a fall in population wealth, the impacts of extreme climatic events, changes in morbidity and other effects of climate change such as increasing migration rates. A fundamental re-think of the role of social security systems in this context may be required if they are to continue to meet their objectives.

While the challenges ahead are significant, a number of policy and administrative measures have already been taken to address certain aspects of climate change and natural resource scarcity. These experiences can act as a model for future intervention and be adapted as the external environment changes. Social security institutions can, however, continue to play an essential role in society's response to one of the key challenges facing humanity this century.

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