Social Justice in Global Development
SocDevJustice

Strengthened Financing for Social Protection Floors

A SocDevJustice Initiative

Concept NoteProblem Description

The World Bank estimated that about 700 million people were still living in extreme poverty in 2015, mostly in developing countries.1 The world’s governments pledged in September that year to fully eradicate extreme poverty in 15 years, when their leaders adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda at the United Nations.2 However, much of the reduction in poverty over the past 15 years resulted from strong overall economic growth in China and several other developing countries, as well as through anti-poverty programs. Global growth prospects today are less buoyant and additional efforts are needed to ensure that the benefits of growth are distributed more equitably, and contribute effectively to improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of people living in poverty.One strategy to accomplish that is to develop strong social protection floors (SPFs) that would provide universal protection across all segments of a country’s population. Developed countries and many developing countries already have SPFs, albeit often not reaching all the poor. Not only should such floors be instituted where they do not yet exist and offer universal nationally defined coverage, but they should be financed in assured and sustainable ways, no matter the volatility and unpredictability of world events. The initiative described herein seeks to help bring this about through focused and credible analysis and advocacy, including by building support for specific reforms and initiatives at United Nations intergovernmental meetings, working toward political consensus and commitments that lead to policy changes on the ground, including regarding appropriate domestic and international public financing.

Expected Outcome and Impact

The initiative aims to build on the intergovernmental commitment made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), adopted by the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in July 2015,3 to provide strong international support for efforts of governments to provide social protection and to explore coherent funding modalities to mobilize additional resources, building on country-led experiences (AAAA, paragraph 12). A measure of momentum in this direction is being given by a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization and the World Bank Group and by a coalition of civil society organizations. The present initiative aims to complement those efforts by gathering together an international group of policy advisers as well as official and non-official stakeholders in social protection floors to develop practical concrete proposals which will then be brought to relevant global intergovernmental forums for consideration and action. The initiative aims, thereby, to contribute to the strengthening of pro-poor development policies, and thus to achieving the sustainable development goals of eradicating poverty and reducing inequality.

Objectives to be accomplished

  • Raise awareness through dissemination of materials prepared by the initiative about the opportunities and impediments to providing appropriate social protection floors, especially in developing countries.1 World Bank press release, October 4, 2015.2 UN General Assembly resolution 70/1.3 Endorsed by the UN General Assembly as resolution 69/313.2
  • Support efforts to build national and international political momentum toward prioritizing SPFs and assuring their funding at adequate levels.
  • Through lobbying at the Financing for Development Follow-up Forum and other venues, increase awareness of the reforms and innovations under consideration by the initiative.
  • Present to the Financing for Development Follow-up Forum for its consideration (and possibly other intergovernmental bodies to which civil society is accorded access) the results of deliberations facilitated by the initiative on 1) more adequate and assured financing of SPFs and 2) appropriate international cooperation and other support modalities for construction and expansion of SPFs.

Indicators to monitor the extent to which the initiative’s objectives are being achieved

  • Number of governments that voice support of proposals highlighted by SocDevJustice of effective instruments for financing SPFs (gleaned from public statements).
  • Number of civil society organizations and other stakeholders that voice support of SocDevJustice proposed instruments for financing SPFs (e.g., as derived from sign-on letters in the context of a SocDevJustice advocacy campaign).
  • Number of instruments put under active policy consideration or adopted to safeguard SPF spending in normal and crisis times.

Activities planned to achieve the objectives

  • Create an international group of expert advisers to assist coordinators of the initiative in carrying out the project (completed; see Section III below). Work with expert advisers to contract a set of papers with innovative proposals for funding SPFs.
  • Promote the holding of multi-stakeholder consultations to discuss, analyze, and draw from best practices, with a view to building momentum for agreement in appropriate forums on a set of concrete international policy proposals for funding SPFs.4
  • Publish the proposals and background documents. Use these materials to develop media products, including a dedicated website to disseminate proposals and project activities widely. Launch and run a SocDevJustice advocacy campaign, with the aim of spreading political interest and developing greater political momentum for in-depth intergovernmental consideration of the proposals.

Background and detailed description of the initiative


I. Proposal for a SocDevJustice Work Program, 2017-19........................................................................... 3

1. Motivation for the initiative - the need for deeper international cooperation on funding social protection floors .....3

2. Main elements of the initiative ................................................................................................................... 5


II. Background on the International Politics of Financing Social Protection Floors ................................. 8

1. Social protection floors in recent intergovernmental agreements................................................................... 8

2. International initiatives to boost national SPFs ......................................................................................... 10

3. International public finance for social protection ......................................................................................... 11

4. Global advocacy campaigns for SPFs ...................................................................................................... 14

5. Conclusions: the value added of the initiative ............................................................................................. 16


III - Biographies of Initiative Coordinators and Expert Advisers ............................................................... 17

Coordinators of the initiative ......................................................................................................................... 17

Expert Advisers .......................................................................................................................................... 17

Download full Project Proposal here >>>