Social protection is a human right designed to protect individuals and their families and ensure they can meet their basic needs throughout their lives. It may include benefits and services for children and families, health protection, maternity, disability, employment injuries and old age, preventing relapses into extreme poverty and building resilience to shocks. While social protection is not a new concept, it is becoming more and more recognised as a key driver of sustainable development.
SDG 1 – End poverty in all its forms everywhere
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
Social protection is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Increasing social protection coverage for the poor and vulnerable is one of the targets of SDG 1 on ending poverty and is a fundamental element of SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth. Widening and deepening social protection coverage will also be instrumental in making progress towards many of the other goals, such as ending hunger (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3), achieving gender equality (SDG 5) and reducing inequalities (SDG 10).
Social protection systems are an effective tool in building a country's resilience and capacities to respond to crisis. By being part of a comprehensive framework, social protection can help manage disasters in a more predictable and sustainable way and can be extremely effective in situations of extreme fragility and protracted crises, providing support to affected populations and victims of forced displacement.
The EU promotes a basic level of social protection, as a right for all, and especially for children, vulnerable persons in active working age and the elderly. However, this right is far from a reality for most, with an estimated 71 % of the world’s population (about 5.2 billion people), lacking any or adequate social protection coverage (ILO, World social protection report, 2017). Effective coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa may be as low as 1 % of the population.
A major obstacle to building effective social protection systems is the lack of dedicated resources. In line with the new European Consensus for Development, which enshrines the commitment from both the EU and its Member States to promote "adequate and sustainable social protection", the EU advocates for and supports economic transformation and policies that mobilise resources, especially from domestic sources, to generate stable and sufficient revenues for social protection.
The EU Expertise on Social Protection, Labour and Employment, SOCIEUX+, is a demand-driven technical assistance facility which supports the creation of inclusive social protection systems and employment and labour policies.
Legal Commission documents
- The Communication of 20 August 2012 Social Protection in European Union Development Cooperation - COM(2012)446 presents the position of the Commission.
Other useful documents
- ERD 2010 on Social protection for inclusive development
- Study on Social Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa - Final report - 03/08/2013
- The Public Pursuit of Secure Welfare - Background paper on international development institutions, social protection and developing countries - Anna McCord The poverty and inequality practice - December 2013.
- ILO website - Social protection: Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems.