Ahead of the 2023 Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that took place from the 9th to the 15th of October in Marrakech, the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, together with other 43 human rights and economic justice organizations, launched the campaign Social Security for All: Key Pillar for New Eco-Social Contract. The campaign demands the World Bank and the IMF to support states to progressively realize the right to social security beginning with the establishment of social protection floors in line with ILO Recommendation 202. They should then support a progressive development of a comprehensive and universal social security system, building on that floor.
The campaign is a timely response to the growing inequality and vulnerability faced by communities around the world, a consequence of the cascading crisis that is exposing social tensions and deepening fractures.
In fact, the COVID-19 crisis has consolidated pre-existing inequalities and has led to further increases in inequality levels, with the number of people in extreme poverty increasing for the first time in a generation. Now, combined with rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and the environmental crisis, global poverty is expected to increase considerably again, pushing millions of people back into poverty.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 estimated that the combined crises could lead to an additional 75 million to 95 million people living in extreme poverty in 2022, compared with pre-pandemic projections. Although nearly every country implemented new social protection measures in response to COVID-19, many of them were short-term in nature, leaving many vulnerable groups and individuals out.
In order to reduce inequality, Universal Social Security represents a bold and inclusive approach to tackling poverty, promoting economic stability, and safeguarding human dignity. By providing all individuals with access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and income support, universal public systems can be a transformative force in promoting sustainable development, social cohesion and solidarity, and contributing to all people’s ability to realize their economic, social, and cultural rights.
Yet, in recent years, some countries, often with support by the World Bank (WB) and the IMF, have adopted reforms that have eroded the right to social security reducing its coverage and benefits (e.g. reduced employers' contributions to social security, privatization of pensions, etc. ). Moreover, while the WB keeps directing the vast majority of its spending to narrowly targeted safety nets, the IMF is continuing to impose austerity policies that impede governments’ ability to deliver on rights.
SOLIDAR believes that Universal Social Protection systems and floors, together with quality public services, are the backbone of a sustainable economy and a just society, therefore we joined the call and signed the campaign statement.
In order to achieve this goal, public social investments are needed, and austerity measures cannot be an answer to raising inequalities, since they have been proven wrong in addressing previous economic crisis, and they would only exacerbate and worsen these inequalities. This is the reason why SOLIDAR is also part of the End Austerity Campaign, calling for better alternative ways to run our societies and economies at all levels, seeking to have a human rights-based approach and pushing national governments to prioritize public investments that are redistributive and promote climate, social and gender justice.