This week, the right to Social Protection and its centrality in shaping a sustainable, and hence alternative, development model was at the core of our second edition of the universal social protection days organised together with a wide range of fellow NGOs including SOLIDAR members (OGB-L Solidaritié Syndicale, Solidaritè socialiste, FOS), Brot für die Welt and CSOs from Burkina Faso, Senegal, DRC, Uganda, and Burundi: three days for CSOs and EU representatives to have dialogues, exchanges, reflections and discussions on a) the role of different actors (European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, UN, and CSOs) in promoting the human right to social protection; and b) how to move from commitments to the implementation of the social protection-related SDG targets.
Indeed, Agenda 2030, adopted in September this year, commits both industrialised and developing countries to “end poverty in all its forms and everywhere” through the implementation of “nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, by 2030”. In other words, Agenda 2030 puts social protection at the heart of an alternative development paradigm.
To move from commitments to implementation some crucial steps must be taken, as highlighted during the universal social protection days.
1) Recognise that social protection is not just a cost: it is an investment in people with very high social and economic returns. Indeed, only healthy and well educated people can contribute to the economic, social and cultural life of their communities, have more chances to find decent work and lead a decent life. High productivity and high social expenditure can coexist and indeed, some of the most open economies have high social expenditure (e. g. Denmark, Sweden, Finland). Certainly, and this was the main focus of Conference hosted on 21st October at the DEVCO Info point, the issue of financing social protection is a serious one but many policy options are available for national governments to mobilise domestic resources for social protection as well as for the international community (e. g. through the establishment of a Global Fund for Social Protection).
2) Promote a human rights based approach to social protection: SOLIDAR believes that a human rights-based approach to social protection is the only way to ensure the fulfilment of a person’s “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). All social protection programmes and services must be built on the fundamental human rights principles of equality, dignity and non-discrimination; participation; transparency, and accountability.
3) Recognise the role of CSOs in monitoring and promoting an alternative economic development model. CSOs have a responsibility to raise awareness of everyone’s right to social protection, ensuring that beneficiaries participate in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes. In this framework, SOLIDAR – together with its partners - is already developing tools to monitor whether commitments are followed by actions: the Social Protection Monitor. Above all, CSOs are actors shaping an alternative economic development model rooted in the social economy approach and the principle of solidarity and inclusion.
These are three necessary steps to ensure that by 2030 we have made major improvements in ending poverty in all its forms and everywhere. Social protection for all is an opportunity not to be missed!