- The Global e-Conference “Turning the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity: What’s next for social protection?
Amidst the health, social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the need for adequate and comprehensive social protection has become more evident than ever. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for national governments to the urgency of accelerating progress in building and expanding social protection systems to leave no one behind. In this context, socialprotection.org aimed to provide a space for taking stock of, exchanging information about and facilitating learning on the social protection responses to COVID-19.
From 5 to 8 October 2020, the Global e-Conference “Turning the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity: What’s next for social protection?” has served as a common space for the global social protection community to share innovative ideas and practical insights, and brainstorm about the future of social protection in a post pandemic world. The e-Conference also marked socialprotection.org’s 5th anniversary, consolidating the platform as a tool for knowledge sharing and capacity building on social protection.
On the first day of activities, we used a regional lens to assess the various social protection responses across different regions. Day 2 applied a thematic approach to address specific questions related to COVID-19 and beyond through round tables, clinics and virtual booth talks. The third day was reserved for Side Events organised by some of our partners. And on the fourth and last day of the event, special guests summarised the discussions, lessons learned and conclusions of the previous days and participated in discussions about the future of social protection.
The event has brought together 183 speakers, 28 moderators and 72 different sessions, organized in collaboration with 55 partner institutions. It has also attracted 2,150 registered participants (mostly from international organizations, 54.8%, 14% from NGOs, 10% from Academia, 9% from governments) from 112 countries (33% from Europe and Central Asia, 22% from North America, 16% Sub-Saharan Africa, 13% Latina America, 7% South Asia, 6% Asia and the Pacific, 2% MENA).
Predicting what is next for social protection is not an easy task, but the regional and thematic discussions showed that there are strong indications that this crisis can indeed be turned into an opportunity, despite the many challenges still ahead. Below are some key examples:
- Although a lot still needs to be done, the use of technology has been shown to help reach people previously not covered by social protection and might, in the long run, help to enhance digital and financial inclusion.
In many countries, the crisis has helped to set up or enhance social registries, a key building block for comprehensive social protection systems.
This has also been an opportunity to test and strengthen coordination, not only among different government stakeholders, but also among international partners.
Turning this crisis into an opportunity is more than ever a question of political will, and there are promising signs at the moment. Given the attention that social protection has gained now and the desire of governments to secure livelihoods as we move into the recovery period, there is a real opportunity to bring forward social protection systems.
This is also strongly connected with identifying and building fiscal space for social protection financing now and in future. To turn this crisis into an opportunity, governments will need to invest more and better in social protection systems.
And finally, the crisis has helped to bring countries together and allowed them to learn from each other, as this conference also aimed to do!