Arab Ministerial Forum 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has not only reaffirmed the relevance of comprehensive and inclusive social protection in the Arab States but also allowed for policy innovation and advances in the social protection field. Even before the pandemic, the region had seen noteworthy policy developments in the social protection sector, including the introduction of new schemes, the initiation of tax and subsidy reforms to ensure equity and financing, the establishment of coordination committees as well as the introduction of integrated registries.

However, the COVID-19 crisis has also shown some of the key remaining gaps in national social protection systems. Social protection systems in the Arab region continue to show significant deficits from the perspective of coverage, adequacy, and comprehensiveness and face profound challenges in relation to governance, coordination, and financing in the context of the economic, social, and demographic transformations across the region.

Opportunities to reflect on the lessons learned for the future of social protection in the region on a high policy level have been limited. Given the significant socio-economic challenges in the region, a forum to discuss and strategize the future of social protection is more needed than ever.

Against this background, the Regional UN Issue Based Coalition (IBC) for Social Protection, coordinated by UNICEF and ILO, in collaboration with UN-ESCWA, and with support from the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and the socialprotection.org platform, are organising a high-level Ministerial Forum with the Ministers responsible for social protection in the Arab region. Representatives of employers and workers organisations and civil society as well as regional social protection experts are also invited.

Objectives: Based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and developments in the social protection field in recent years, the Forum aims to:

  • Reflect on and formulate a social protection vision and declaration of principles for the countries in the Arab Region in the post-COVID recovery phase
  • Identify priority areas for support from the UN (at regional and/or country levels)

Key Topics: The forum will be structured around four key topics and accompanying guiding questions:

  1. Coverage – Delivering the right to Social Protection for all through inclusive Social Protection systems, leaving no-one behind
  2. Shock responsiveness – Enhancing the resilience of Social Protection systems for future shocks
  3. Financing – for comprehensive, adequate, and sustainable Social Protection systems post-COVID-19
  4. Governance – Integrated and coordinated Social Protection approaches for greater impact

Expected outputs:

  • A Ministerial Declaration endorsed by the participants of the Forum, stating key guiding principles for post-COVID-19 social protection that will inform policy making for countries and international partners in the region.

The event shall take place on November 30, 2021 at 15:00-18:00 (GMT +2:00).