Designing adaptive and shock responsive social protection to guarantee the rights of older people

During recent decades, the rapid pace of population ageing has been accompanied by other mega trends, such as in-country and international migration, urbanisation, a digital ‘revolution’ and changing climatic conditions. Population ageing has indeed been accelerating quickly; by 2050, the number of older people globally is projected to double to approximately 2.1 billion, and most older people will live in low- and middle-income countries. Recently, COVID-19 and international armed conflicts have further exacerbated the existing food, fuel and finance crises with dire consequences for older people. The pressure from multiple anthropogenic stressors has also intensified. In most countries, governments have implemented fiscal measures to contain the spikes in inflation which, in turn, have had knock-on effects on several sectors of the economy and compromised governments’ capacity to support those at the highest risk from shocks in society. A combination of pandemic effects, climate events and armed conflict have aggravated the risks to livelihoods and wellbeing faced by older people. This means that the low coverage and inadequacy of social protection systems in many low- and middleincome countries keep undermining older people’s capacity for resilience in the face of shocks and crises. Yet older people have the right to social protection as well as the right to unconditional, autonomous use of income without any discrimination based on age or any other ground, so they can live with dignity and fully participate in their societies. This report provides an overview of insights regarding the specific challenges faced by older people during different shocks and crises, highlights breaches of their fundamental rights, and makes recommendations on how to design an age-sensitive, adaptive and shock-responsive social protection (ASRSP) system. The report’s findings and recommendations are based on desk research and expert consultations.