ILO: Technology Plays a Crucial Role on the Modernization of Social Protection Systems
The International Labour Organization (ILO) issued its World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Social protection at the crossroads – in pursuit of a better future.
The Pursuit of a Better Future
ILO World Social Protection Report 2020-2022
The International Labour Organization launched its flagship report on the state of social protection around the world. ILO Director-General Guy Ryder presented the findings alongside Mrs. Shahra Razavi, from ILO’s Social Protection department.
What You Have to Remember
There is also glaring insufficient administrative capacity in low-and-middle income countries on the development and design of social protection policies and delivery of services. ILO’s Director-General Guy Ryder said the U.N. labour agency can play a role here, supporting countries that want to design forward-thinking programs, based on best practices observed by ILO experts around the globe. Argentina is a good example of social protection schemes for mothers and children, as well as its recent pension reforms that included women’s time away from the labour force to take care and educate children or care for older relatives, care credits, that are now included in the calculation of women’s pensions.
GDP: Who Spends What?
Developed countries spend 12.8% of the GDP on social protection programs.
Middle-income 8% of their GDP.
Low-income countries invest a meager 1.1% of their GDP.
Fiscal Policy Space
There is clearly fiscal policy space to address an increased need for social protection floors, stated ILO’s DG. The question of progressive taxation also was observed as necessary to invest on social protection programs.
For low-income countries there is talk of a Global Fund for Social Protection in the hallways of the UN, carried by the Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Poverty, Olivier de Schutter. UN Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, presented the ILO report to the wider public on 2 September, alongside UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, the outgoing Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, and ILO’s DG Guy Ryder.
ILO’s DG also announced an event that will take place at the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks, when heads-of-state speak, on 28 September. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also address the GA calling for adaptation and mitigation measures, social protection as a human right, and decent work as an anchor to dignity. UN SG will stress ethical and rational reasons for decent work to tackle social justice.
Technology plays a vital role in the delivery of services but there are caveats. It is not a panacea, and artificial intelligence must be used with beneficiaries in mind, Mr. Ryder pointed out, after all they are the one’s, along with employers, that finance social protection systems.
Pension Systems Still Leave Women Behind
On the question of pensions, while 77% of the world’s population of retirement age receives a pension, the amount of benefits received leaves most under poverty level as the pensions do not take into account indexation to current cost of living in developed as well as developing economies, with women the most affected, as they spend time away from the labour force as it falls upon them on most societies to take care of children, the sick in their families, and elder relatives, stated Ms. Razavi, ILO’s Director of Social Protection department. Something that was observed by the report on the impact of the pandemic on women’s careers and lifetime earnings, where the gaps were visible between countries with social protection systems in place and those that did not.
Watch their comments here:
Related reports of interest by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, on the question of digitalization of welfare programs. *From 2018 but still relevant.
Philip Alston paper on Policy Innovations Transformative Change
Watch Dr. Olivier De Schutter analysis of the current economic landscape in social protection schemes and fiscal dumping in Europe, which is primed for change and harmonization, and making the case for a global effort to support the economically vulnerable in our societies.