ILO-World Bank Group

A joint mission and plan of action: Universal social protection to ensure that no one is left behind

Joint statement by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on the launch of the World Bank Group and ILO Universal Social Protection Initiative, calling the attention of world leaders to the importance of universal social protection policies and financing.

Statement | 30 June 2015
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and ILO Director-General Guy Ryder
The World Bank Group and the ILO share a vision of social protection for all, a world where anyone who needs social protection can access it at any time. The new development agenda that is being defined by the world community, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provides an unparalleled opportunity for our two institutions to join forces to make universal social protection a reality, for everyone, everywhere.

Universal coverage and access to social protection are central to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity, the World Bank Group's twin goals by 2030. Universal social protection coverage is at the core of the ILO’s mandate, guided by its standards including the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, No. 202, adopted by 185 states in 2012.

For the World Bank Group and the ILO, universal social protection refers to the integrated set of policies designed to ensure income security and support to all people across the life cycle – paying particular attention to the poor and the vulnerable. Anyone who needs social protection should be able to access it.

Universal social protection includes: adequate cash transfers for all who need them, especially children; benefits and support for people of working age in case of maternity, disability, work injury or for those without jobs; and pensions for all older persons. This protection can be provided through social insurance, tax-funded social benefits, social assistance services, public works programs and other schemes guaranteeing basic income security.

Universal social protection is a goal that we, the World Bank Group and the ILO, strive to help countries deliver. Social protection systems that are well-designed and implemented can powerfully shape countries, enhance human capital and productivity, eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and contribute to building social peace. They are an essential part of National Development Strategies to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development with equitable social outcomes.

We are proud to endorse the consensus that has emerged in the early 21st century that social protection is a primary development tool and priority.

Since the 2000s, universality has re-entered the development agenda. First it was education: universal primary education became a Millennium Development Goal in 2000. In 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution endorsing universal health coverage. Now it is time for universal social protection.

The African Union, ASEAN, the European Commission, G20, OECD and the United Nations have all endorsed universal social protection.

Now, it is time to join forces to make it happen.

Universal Social Protection in the Post 2015 Development Agenda

Beginning in 2016, the world will begin the pursuit of an ambitious new development agenda, under the auspices of the United Nations: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Social protection systems, including social protection floors, figure prominently among the SDGs:
  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and vulnerable.
Social protection policies also feature in goals to achieve gender equality and to reduce income inequality.

Our joint vision reinforces this universal aspiration, to be applicable to all countries regardless of income level. Now it is time to ensure that the international community has the means to make this vision a reality.

A joint programme of action to increase the number of countries adopting Universal Social Protection

Our shared objective is to increase the number of countries that provide universal social protection, supporting countries to design and implement universal and sustainable social protection systems. There are many paths towards universal social protection. It belongs to each country to choose its own, and to opt for the means and methods that best suit its circumstances.

Many countries have embarked on expanding social protection coverage and are reporting significant progress. Yet, the vast majority of the world’s population is still far from enjoying adequate protection. It is time to take determined and innovative steps to trigger change on a larger scale.