With a new year, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and its members also step into a new triennium. In line with its vision and mandate, the ISSA will consolidate its strong focus on knowledge, networking, collaboration, capacity building and member-focused services, with an even stronger focus on innovation in social security.
The ISSA is guided by a strategic vision to “Promote dynamic social security through supporting excellence in social security administration” and has a unique mandate to co-operate in the promotion and development of social security administration to advance social and economic conditions based on social justice. The ISSA’s programme of activities for 2023–2025 was adopted by the ISSA Council at the recent World Social Security Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, and the thematic priorities for the coming three years will be:
- Transformation and innovation in management and service delivery: Focussing on the ingredients and strategies for accessible, data-driven, pro-active and high-quality delivery of people centred social security benefits and services.
- Social security coverage for a diverse workforce: Focussing on difficult-to-cover groups, new types of work (such as platform work), health coverage and unemployment insurance schemes, whilst ensuring that all eligible populations can access their social security rights.
- Protecting and supporting people during a changing life-course: Focussing on analysing how social security systems can achieve their objectives in the context of changing patterns of work, family and demography.
- Social security supporting resilience and sustainability: Focussing on social security systems’ resilience and how to build institutional capacity and risk management approaches that ensure business continuity in times of crisis.
These topics reflect traditional focus areas for the ISSA, such as the management and administration of social security, and extending and securing coverage, as well as recent trends in view of COVID-19 and other societal shocks and developments. The 2020–2022 triennium was a watershed moment not only for social security institutions but also for the ISSA. The pandemic led to unprecedented speed of transformation in ways of working and ways of delivering services. Innovation became even more important, and the ISSA will build on this as it plans to launch the ISSA Collaborative Innovation Hub in 2023. Innovation has also been given a more prominent position in the Good Practice Award Competitions with the launch a new ISSA Special Distinction for Innovation.
The ISSA Guidelines will continue to be at the core of the Association’s activities, as they represent the authoritative international standards in social security administration. It will be important to introduce and mainstream the new guidelines on human resource management and on continuity and resilience, but also to review and update a number of the existing guidelines and consider the need for new ones. This work will be done in close cooperation with the ISSA Technical Commissions. There is also increasing interest in the ISSA Recognition programme, whereby social security institutions receive a certification of their implementation of the ISSA Guidelines (view video testimonials).
Build on the best of two worlds
The sudden move from in-presence events to virtual events was one of the most noticeable changes within the ISSA when COVID-19 struck in 2020. Despite its challenges, it also brought positive outcomes, with member participation in ISSA activities reaching an all-time high. At the same time, the gradual return of in-presence events in 2022 was warmly welcomed, as there can be a different quality and depth to exchanges when one is able to meet in person.
As we move into the 2023–2025 triennium, the plan is to build on the best of both worlds. While the traditional regional and international conferences are planned mainly to be in-presence, capacity building activities will be strengthened through a combination of in-presence and online events. This goes for the Diploma training programme, for which both online and onsite courses have demonstrated their value. The e-Workshops, which were mainly piloted in 2021 and 2022, will be mainstreamed as a service for members. The highly successful ISSA webinars will continue, based on the topical priorities and interests of members, and other channels of communication will be explored. In addition, a new set of virtual short courses will be developed. Other technical seminars, meetings for regional structures and technical commissions will be planned online or onsite based on the needs and wishes of members.
Working tools will become more digital, building on the positive experiences of the last triennium, including the new ISSA Events App used at the major events in 2022. More reports will be produced using an online interactive format, like the Priorities for social security – Global 2022, launched at the World Forum. This facilitates the access to a wide range of resources for additional learning. The first new report of this kind will be released in connection with the Regional Social Security Forum for Africa, to be hosted in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in May 2023. This will be the first major event of the 2023–2025 triennium, and later in the year there will be the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, the Regional Social Security Forum for the Americas, and the 21st ISSA International Conference of Social Security Actuaries, Statisticians and Investment Specialists. We look forward to meeting and working with all our members in the various activities planned for this triennium.