The ISSA Virtual Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific demonstrated why this is one of the most dynamic regions in the world when it comes to social security. The Virtual Forum delivered three days of learning, sharing and networking to over 700 registered participants.
The International Social Security Association’s (ISSA) regional forum for Asia and the Pacific was organized for the first time as a virtual event from 22–24 February 2022. With around 60 speakers and panellists from ISSA member institutions, governments, regional and international organizations, the forum covered the full spectrum of social security programmes and policy developments in the region.
The institutional experiences and good practices of ISSA members form the backbone of any ISSA event, and the Virtual Forum was no exception. As a highlight, the Social Security Administering Body for Health (BPJS Kesehatan), Indonesia received the ISSA Good Practice Award for Asia and the Pacific, for its approach and results in building the largest single-payer health scheme in the world. A record 168 good practices were submitted in the competition, many of which were presented during the eight parallel sessions of the Virtual Forum.
The pandemic was naturally a topic that received considerable attention over the three days. The ISSA has studied social security responses to COVID-19 across Asia and the Pacific, and specific sessions looked at national resilience, the protection of vulnerable groups, digital transformation, and investment and financing in light of the pandemic. The COVID-19 study represents one of the chapters in the new ISSA report on priorities for social security in the region.
However, the Virtual Forum took a broader perspective and looked at long-term developments and trends, such as social security for ageing populations, health coverage, evolving Management practices, digitization, and service delivery, enhancing prevention, work injury compensation and rehabilitation, and strengthening unemployment insurance systems. The Virtual Forum was delivered on a unique online platform, with easy access to the programme, sessions, participants, and information on how the ISSA can support its members across the region. “I am very pleased to have witnessed such high degree of knowledge sharing and networking during this Virtual Forum for Asia and the Pacific 2022”, said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General.
The institutional perspective of ISSA members was supported by high-level presentations by governments and international organizations. Minister of Human Resources and Social Development in Saudi Arabia, Ahmed bin Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Rajihi, and Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security in China, Li Zhong, presented measures, innovations and strategies taken by their countries both in light of the pandemic and in a broader perspective.
Representatives of the Asian Development Bank, the International Labour Organization, and the World Bank, outlined their key role in supporting governments and institutions in their efforts to build adequate and resilient social security across the region. A special conversation about meeting the populations social security needs was organized with Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General, and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Virtual Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific was only the first of five major regional or international conferences to be organized by the ISSA this year, culminating in the World Social Security Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, in October. Here is more information on what’s on the agenda in 2022.