Universal social protection in the context of the SDGs – where are we now?


Social protection has been growing in relevance and interest over the past decades. Developing countries are increasingly adopting comprehensive social protection policies and strategies, beyond contributory social insurance or narrowly targeted non-contributory social assistance programmes. International organisations and donors have been working to enhance recipient states' capacity to develop effective and sustainable systems. However, despite some achievements in relation to improvements in coverage and governments implementation capacity, challenges remain, particularly on how to create inclusive, cost-effective, coherent and sustained social protection systems and on how to connect social protection to inclusive growth (World Bank, The State of Social Safety Nets 2018; ILO, World Social Protection Report 2017-19).

In this context, the achievement of Universal Social Protection has become part of a broader social trend, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specially the target 1.3 ‘Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable’ of SDG 1, 'End poverty in all its forms everywhere'. Under the co-leadership of the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation, the USP2030 organised the conference ‘Together to Achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030’, in collaboration with the OECD Development Centre as part of the EU-SPS initiative. The conference was held in February 2019, to discuss how countries can accelerate progress towards achieving universal social protection. 

Following up on the conference, this webinar contextualized macro challenges on the expansion of social protection coverage, focusing on global challenges and opportunities considering the SDGs' context. The concept of Universal Social Protection has been explored, and technical and institutional aspects were discussed. This webinar introduced the USP2030 Webinar Series and has set the scene for the next webinar of the series, which will dive into country cases to analyze progress on Universal Social Protection.


Anush Bezhanyan, Sector Manager, Social Protection, World Bank Group

Valérie Schmitt, Deputy Director, Social Protection Department, ILO Geneva

Anna McCord, Research Associate, ODI


Eppu Mikkonen-Jeanneret, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland


This webinar was the first of the USP2030 Webinar Series, which was organised by socialprotection.org and IPC-IG. Please join the USP2030 Webinar Series Online Community if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic.