Social Protection Floor Made Easy


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A commitment to provide social protection to all workers, ensuring that all workers and their families are protected against the multiple environmental and economic crises they face. This we call the Social Protection Floor.

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Social Protection Floor Made Easy

  1. 1. e madSocial s impl e Protection FloorsWhat is social protection?Today, too many people fall into poverty as soon as their This is why trade unions demandhealth, employment or family situation deteriorates. 1.4 bil- the recognition in Rio+20 of sociallion people are currently living in extreme poverty, strug- protection systems as key tools togling to survive on less than US$1.25 a day, approximately build resilience and call for84 million more than before the global financial crisis struck. maintaining and strengthening75% of the world’s people have insufficient or no access to existing social protection security. Many more are at risk of falling into poverty In this context, it is very importantas a result of insufficient wages, unemployment, sickness, to distinguish a social protectionold age and other conditions that may threaten their liveli- approach (based on rights) from ahoods and dignity, such as climate change or food insecu- safety-net approach (based onrity. To address this ongoing humanitarian crisis and ex-treme global inequality, we need to expand the basic social temporary relief programs) andprotection guarantees to more people and enhance existing that social protection be integratedsocial protection systems. into each country’s long term development strategy.Social protection aims to provide men and women with basicincome security and access to essential services through thevarious phases of their lives. Social protection is an essentialmechanism to address inequalities, in particular gender and in-come inequalities. What is the Social Protection Floor? The Social Protection Floor is a set of basic social security rights and transfers, to help promote human rights and support decentSocial protection includes guarantees of: living standards worldwide. The aim of Social Protection Floors is to extend basic support and protection to all those in need. Basic income security, in the form of various social transfers(in cash or in kind), such as pensions for the elderly and people The Social Protection Floor should be established according towith disabilities, child benefits, maternity entitlements, income each individual nation’s priorities and resources and designedsupport benefits and/or employment guarantees and services for and implemented with the participation of all relevant socialthe unemployed and working poor; partners. It should be implemented through national legislation and be progressively enhanced according to the economic de- Universal access to essential affordable social services in the velopment of each country. The Social Protection Floor shouldareas of health, water and sanitation, education, food security, be a key aspect of a country’s development plans and strategieshousing as well as any other services defined according to na- and should be closely linked to policies that promote employ-tional priorities. ment and decent working conditions. Within this framework, the International Labour Organization (ILO) promotes four essentialHow does Social Protection relate to guarantees: access to healthcare, child benefits, basic retire-the goals of Rio + 20? ment pensions, and income support for the working poor, theRio +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Develop- unemployed and pregnant women. In 2012, the ILO will workment, in Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June 2012 is aimed at reviving toward developing a new international standard for the Socialglobal commitments towards sustainability, with a new set of Protection Floor. It is important to acknowledge that the ILO hasdecisions and actions. In order to contribute to long-term resil- developed several international standards in the area of socialience of citizens to the multiple crises our world is facing, Rio+20 security. ILO Convention No. 102 is the key Convention in thisneeds to be the moment that exponentially increases the cover- area and should be ratified and implemented by all countries, inage and the services of social protection around the world. parallel with efforts to secure a Social Protection Floor. Rio+20
  2. 2. Progress is being made at the national level in many countries, In the context of Rio+20, trade especially in Latin America. For example, Mexico’s “Progresa/ unions demand heads of state to Oportunidades” transfers have reduced the poverty gap by 30%, implement the Universal Social Brazil’s “Bolsa Familia” transfers have reduced extreme poverty Protection Floor initiative by by 16% and Chile’s social pension has reduced the number of in- digent households by 11%.1 India’s National Rural Employment 2020 and to ensure that, in the Guarantee Scheme now provides over 40 million poor house- context of the Sustainable Develop- holds with a guaranteed income for 100 days per year. ment Goals discussions, there is a commitment to ensure that Social Protection & Inclusion efforts under each ‘goal’ contribute There is strong evidence that national social protection systems to building strong social protection effectively reduce poverty and inequality. The United Nations systems. describes social protection as “the missing piece in a fair and inclusive globalization”.2 Social Protection Floors contribute to the redistribution of wealth, to sustainable economic and social development, to gender equality and to the achievement of theGood Examples Millennium Development Goals.3 Social Protection Floors canGermany, Denmark and Sweden are often mentioned as sound help build domestic economic demand and is therefore a strongEuropean welfare states and praised for their capacity to weather policy tool for social and economic development and for over-economic crises. There are also some recent examples of devel- coming future economic crises and shocks.oping countries that have introduced a Social Protection Floor orelements thereof, mostly in the form of social transfer schemesand measures to support universal access to health care. Studies What do Social Protection Floors cost?on the impact of basic social transfers in 30 developing countries Various United Nations agencies have calculated that a floor thathave shown that these types of measures have had a significant guarantees basic social transfers is globally affordable at virtu-effect on reducing poverty levels and inequality. The studies also ally any stage of a nation’s economic development, even if theindicate that Social Protection Floor measures have had a no- funding is not yet available everywhere.ticeably positive effect on various social development indicatorssuch as school enrolment and the health and nutritional status Affordable: Some countries such as El Salvador, Be-of the people. These studies also show that these measures nin, Mozambique and Vietnam could provide a major social pro-have had a significant positive impact on the enhancing of the tection floor for as little as 1 to 2% of Gross Domestic Productentrepreneurial behaviour in recipient families, helping them to (GDP). Low-income countries in Africa and Asia, could provideovercome barriers to enter the market and access credit. In some the transfer components at a cost of between 2% to 6% of GDP.countries, cash transfers have also helped to promote gender Some transfers would cost even less. For example, Burkina Faso,equality by strengthening the social status of women in house- Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania could provide aholds and communities. Rio+20
  3. 3. universal basic pension for just over 1% of GDP.4 In Brazil, the Tax reform, including the enforcement of corporate tax evasionconditional cash transfer “Bolsa Familia” already covers 46 mil- regulations as well as the implementation of a progressive taxlion people at a cost of a mere 0.4% of GDP. system could increase government revenues considerably. Many developing countries with significant natural resources couldFunded from domestic resources: also implement tax laws to increase royalty revenues, whichFinancing a universal Social Protection Floor will have to draw on could be used to fund social protection programs.existing government budgets and new financing mechanisms,including additional tax revenues and insurance contributions.5 International funding forInformal and unregulated economic activities continue to under- Social Protection Floorsmine public revenue and social protection in many countries. Some nations may initially require external financing to help es-Businesses and workers involved in the informal economy gen- tablish their Social Protection Floors. The United Nations Devel-erally do not pay taxes or contribute to social security insurance opment Program (UNDP), the World Bank and regional develop-programs. They are generally not protected by government regu- ment banks should prioritise loans and grants for this purpose.lations, labour laws or social security benefits. The situation of The International Monetary Fund (IMF) should work with the ILOunregistered workers must be regularised to ensure their access to help define fiscal policies to finance Social Protection Floors into social security schemes and other social benefits. Giving more every nation, including the least developed. Furthermore, if all ofworkers access to social protection and generating revenue to the developed nations were to meet their longstanding commit-finance these measures is one strategy for formalising the in- ment to devote 0.7% of GDP to development assistance, thereformal economy. Although this process may take time, there is would be no shortage of funds for social protection.6 New inter-also an urgent need to extend social protection to those currently national revenue sources such as a global financial transactionsinvolved in the informal labour market. National governments tax (FTT) could also help pay for social protection in the world’sshould prioritise the implementation of Social Protection Floors poorest!More information on the Social Protection floorUN report 2011: Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization: Social Protection Floor: UN Social Protection Floor Initiative: Protection Floor Advisory Group website, 2011:“Social protection floor key to addressing crises and social instability”: Social Security to All, 2010: information on Social Protection and sustainable developmentBackground document to the Madrid Dialogue – A new paradigm for employment, social inclusion and poverty eradica-tion in a sustainable planet, 2011. Michael Cichon, Christina Behrendt and Veronika Wodsak, The UN Social 4. Michael Cichon, Christina Behrendt and Veronika Wodsak, The UNProtection Floor Initiative, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 2011), p. 7 Social Protection Floor Initiative, p. 9.(table 1). 5. Kevin Cassidy, “Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization”, 6. Currently, only a few nations meet their commitments.International Labour Office, 2011: Michael Cichon, Christina Behrendt and Veronika Wodsak, The UN SocialProtection Floor Initiative, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2011, p. 6 Rio+20