The future of social protection in the midst of a protracted social crisis in Latin America: advancing towards universal, comprehensive, sustainable and resilient systems

Social protection systems in Latin America and the Caribbean face multiple challenges to enhance their universality, comprehensiveness, sustainability and resilience. The region must tackle structural inequalities that are reflected in the coverage, sufficiency and financial sustainability of these systems. These issues are exacerbated by additional problems related to a highly complex context. A series of cascading crises, which includes the health, economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been compounded by a reconfigured social risk structure that conditions the future of social protection systems. The overall challenge is threefold and involves (i) closing the structural gaps in these systems that have existed in the region since before the pandemic, (ii) designing strategies to reverse the profound impacts of the pandemic on the population’s well-being, and (iii) preparing for a more complex reality for the future of social protection. This requires bolstering specific instruments and the systemic, comprehensive and resilient approach to social protection systems. In addition to identifying the main structural challenges of social protection systems and the social protection responses that countries implemented during the pandemic, this document seeks to characterise the current risk structure in the region.