UNICEF and IPC-IG Webinar on Social Protection and Universal Child Benefits in Preparation for GSSD 2022


The Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD) is an annual event organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) to showcase evidence-based successful development solutions and initiatives, in collaboration with United Nations agencies and all other partners. South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC), mentioned in SDG 17 as one of the partnership modalities for delivering the 2030 Agenda, plays an important role in increasing timely access to relevant solutions, experiences, and technical assistance from the Global South; sharing knowledge, know-how and technology; and strengthening cooperation among countries.

The 2022 GSSD Expo, the 11th Expo and the first one to be hosted in Asia and Pacific region, will take place in Thailand on 12-14 September 2022. It seeks to:

  • To facilitate discussion on how South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) can best support COVID-19 recovery efforts, particularly in addressing extreme poverty, food insecurity, vaccination inequality, and other global challenges.
  • To identify, showcase, and facilitate the creation and strengthening of specific multi-stakeholder SSTC initiatives that have the potential to contribute significantly towards a speedy recovery.
  • To review and discuss development policies and capacity-building efforts, identifying impediments and remedial measures to be introduced through SSTC methodologies at the national, regional and global levels.

The 2022 GSSD Expo will be led by governments. In preparation for this event and to sharpen UNICEF’s own contribution to this event, a UNICEF webinar on social protection and child benefits is proposed. Like the GSSD Expo event, the central motivation is to share lessons and innovations around social protection and the various and diverse systems of child benefits. Such learning has become increasingly important not only for research and advocacy, but effective leaning has the potential to reduce costs of programming, especially in the current bleak economic context.


Context to the 2022 GSSD Expo and the UNICEF Webinar (18 August 2022)

More than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have left devastating impact on economies, livelihoods of people and social services most notably health, education and social protection. Those marginalized and vulnerable were worst affected.

Even before the pandemic, children were twice as likely to live in poverty as adults, and a staggering 385 million children, or one in five, are struggling to survive on less than US$1.90 a day. Poverty is about more than income, and over 660 million children are estimated to be living in multidimensionally poor households, again with poverty rates consistently higher than adults. Social protection is crucial in protecting and empowering children in poverty. Nevertheless, millions of children globally are not covered by social protection at all, with only one out of three receiving some form of child or family benefit.

While challenges remain, important advancements are being made. Efforts to tackle child poverty and address the policy imbalance in social protection over the last two decades have included the adoption of cash transfers across low- and middle-income countries as central elements of their poverty reduction and social protection strategies. Elsewhere, established child benefits, including Universal Child benefits (UCBs), are a cornerstone of national welfare systems. Child benefits are one of the most widely used social protection programmes for children and provide direct financial relief for families in the form of cash or tax transfers and have been proven to drive down poverty rates and help children flourish.

Out of 180 countries for which information is available, 108 (60%) have some type of child or family benefit anchored in national legislation. These trends have been accompanied by a growing body of evidence on the effectiveness of social protection in promoting children’s and wider social outcomes. Recent cash transfer reviews underscore how – if appropriately designed and as part of wider social policy – they can significantly impact both children’s intermediate outcomes, such as expenditure on children’s goods, school attendance and access to healthcare, and final outcomes, such as cognitive development and health.

Providing effective social protection responses depend on countries’ ability to sustainably finance social protection, the political will to serve the most marginalised communities, and an understanding that complementary social services and cash assistance combined could increase the overall impact of social protection in reducing child poverty.  It also depends on Country Offices’ ability to work across the development and humanitarian nexus due to the growing fluidity and instability caused by the pandemic and the subsequent socio-economic crises.

This webinar explored vital lessons, challenges, and opportunities from a range of country contexts, and how such inter-country and inter-region learning could be harnessed in the design and implementation of effective social protection and child benefit programmes.


Objectives of the UNICEF and IPC-IG Webinar on Social Protection and Child Benefits:

  • To obtain a high level and global picture of social protection challenges, opportunities, and deficits in UNICEF countries in the South in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To share experiences from countries represented at the webinar that have successfully implemented comprehensive social protection programmes that benefit children and their families.
  • Promote country-to-country learning on actions, experiences, lessons learnt and good practices on social protection and child benefits schemes in the context of COVID-19.
  • To understand how to harness the complementary power of social sector programmes that enhance the overall value and effectiveness of social assistance for children.
  • Discuss how such learning, sharing and stock-taking could be institutionalised in an annual UNICEF webinar series supportive of the goals of the SSTC. 


Concrete outcomes expected from the webinar

  • An enhanced understanding of successful social protection and child benefit system models in countries in the global South.
  • An understanding of the extent to which showcased models and innovations are exportable to other country contexts (opportunities, limitations, and enabling contexts).
  • Commitment by represented UNICEF partners to commit to an annual internal webinar series that would support the goals of the SSTC.



Niklas Stephan, South-South Cooperation Officer, UNICEF Brazil



Natalia Winder-Rossi, Global Director of Social Policy, NY

Sarah Shahyar, Chief Social Policy, UNICEF Thailand

Remy Pigois, Social Policy Manager, Tunisia Country Office

Anaïs Vibranovski, Researcher, IPC-IG


Closing remarks:

Christine Muhigana, Country Representative, UNICEF South Africa

Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UN Office for South-South Cooperation



Tayllor Renee Spadafora, Regional Social Protection Specialist, ESAR