The ISSA launches a new report, Priorities for social security – The Americas 2021: Trends, challenges and solutions, to accompany the Virtual Social Security Forum for the Americas. The report details the important progress made in the realm of social security in the Americas over the recent extraordinary period. The report also carefully flags up a number of challenges that lie ahead on the road towards universal social protection.
Providing a virtual platform for social security organizations from across the continent, the Virtual Social Security Forum for the Americas, is hosted by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) from 1–3 December 2021. The new report shows how the COVID-19 pandemic remains a preoccupying concern in the Americas, and this will be an important theme throughout the event.
The region’s recovery depends critically on the restoration and growth of economic activity and the resumption of trade. This will require global cooperation, successful vaccination programmes and continuing safety protocols. Since early 2020, social security has played a vital role in helping to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis (ISSA COVID-19 Monitor). Moving past the pandemic, it will also play a critical role in rebuilding livelihoods and economic activity. However, social security cannot address this task alone.
As the report thoughtfully underlines, government leaders and policy-makers need to maximize the synergies between social security and policies on employment, active labour market policies, education, training, and job-creating initiatives such as entrepreneurship, microfinance and support for start-ups. Coordination on this scale is a daunting challenge. Yet, it must be done, to build back the lives and livelihoods that the pandemic has disrupted. Indeed, it is a matter of urgency and the common policy aim, for vulnerable populations especially, should be for truly inclusive outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious public health as well as social and economic challenges. Amidst the unprecedented adversity, social security organizations in the Americas are doing their best to deliver on the promise of protection. As the ISSA positively notes, pre-pandemic efforts to enhance operational capacities and improve services have supported social security organization’s unwavering and innovative responses to the recent unprecedented demands.
The report on the Americas addresses five themes:
- Evolving management practices, particularly approaches developed in the region based on three strategies, namely, digital by default, collaborative by default, and data-driven administration.
- Extending and maintaining social security coverage, especially to protect vulnerable groups such as domestic workers and low-income self-employed workers through combinations of contributory and non-contributory programmes.
- Meeting the needs of an ageing population, notably through evolutions in pension schemes and emerging long-term care programmes, while the region is preparing for the expected higher expenditures associated with this demographic shift.
- Promoting inclusive growth and social cohesion, which is a fundamental associated role of social security. Social security fosters economic empowerment and helps bind the national community together because it protects incomes against certain life risks and supports the development of individual skills and capacities for employability and productive activity.
- Social security responses to COVID-19, presenting the many and varied measures put in place in the region to respond to the crisis, including emergency programmes to address vulnerable groups and those that have lost their jobs during the pandemic. For their part, social security organizations are responding in a rapid, agile and flexible way by adding new innovations to existing IT systems, developing online platforms and providing various forms of online services
The report on priorities for social security in the region, feeds important knowledge about trends, challenges and solutions into the discussions during the Virtual Social Security Forum for the Americas. The forum will also benefit from high-level contributions from international and regional organizations, and over 50 speakers from ISSA member institutions across the continent.