World Bank, ILO Call for Universal Social Protection

30 June 2015: Outlining their vision of a world where anyone in need of social protection can access it at any time, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder issued a joint statement on the “unparalleled opportunity” presented by the post-2015 development agenda to realize universal social protection.

The statement was issued on 30 June 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. It underscores that social protection is an integral component of: the World Bank’s 2030 goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity; as well as of the ILO’s mandate, including on social protection floors.

The two leaders state that well-designed social protection policies help to “enhance human capital and productivity, eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and contribute to building social peace.” According to the leaders, these policies are also instrumental in achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development with equitable social outcomes.

As defined in the statement, universal social protection is the “integrated set of policies designed to ensure income security and support to all people across the life cycle.” The statement notes the examples of cash transfers, pensions, social insurance, public works programmes and schemes for guaranteeing basic income security.

The statement reviews progress on integrating this goal into the international development agenda, such as: the inclusion of universal primary education as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG); the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution endorsing universal health coverage (UHC); and the endorsement of universal social protection by the African Union (AU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the European Commission, the Group of Twenty (G 20), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN.

Saying “it is time to join forces to make it happen,” Kim and Ryder highlight that social protection features prominently in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and call for this “universal aspiration” to be “applicable to all countries, regardless of income level.”

They say their shared objective is “to increase the number of countries that provide universal social protection, supporting countries to design and implement universal and sustainable social protection systems.”

Why support universal social protection?

There is considerable rigorous scientific evidence that well-designed and implemented social protection systems can be the foundation for sustained social and economic development – for individuals, communities, nations and societies.

  • It prevents and reduces poverty, promotes social inclusion and dignity of vulnerable populations;
  • It contributes to economic growth: raising incomes increases consumption, savings and , investment at the household level, and raises domestic demand at the macro level;
  • It promotes human development: cash transfers facilitate access to nutrition and education, thus resulting in better health outcomes, higher school enrolment rates, reduced school drop-out rates, and a decline in child labor;
  • It increases productivity and employability by enhancing human capital and productive assets;
  • It protects individuals and families against the losses due to shocks, whether they be pandemics, natural disasters, or economic downturns;
  • It builds political stability and social peace, reducing inequalities, social tensions and violent conflict; social protection ensure greater social cohesion and participation;
  • It is a human right that everyone, as a member of society, should enjoy, including children, mothers, persons with disabilities, workers, older persons, migrants, indigenous peoples and minorities.

[ILO Press Release] [World Bank Press Release] [Joint Statement] [UN Press Release] [Concept Note on World Bank-ILO Universal Social Protection Initiative Article Source]