Ministerial Forum Declaration. The future of Social Protection in the Arab Region: Building a vision for a post-COVID-19 reality
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 Protection1, 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, organised 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 were also invited.
The output of this meeting was a Ministerial Forum 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.
1. The Issue Based Coalition on Social Protection in the Arab Region/MENA includes the following members: ESCWA, FAO, ILO, IOM, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UNRWA, UN Women, WHO, WFP and the UN Development Coordination Office.