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Delivering social protection and essential public services

The Addis Agenda committed to establish a new social compact to deliver social protection and essential public services for all. As part of the social compact, the international community committed to provide support to country efforts and to explore funding modalities. This compact contains two components: a commitment to deliver social protection systems and measures for all, including floors; and a package of essential public services. While there is some overlap of these two areas, social protection generally refers to cash transfers and social insurance, such as adequate pensions for older persons, and essential public services refers to the provision of basic social services, such as health care and education. Support to social service provision is discussed in specific clusters on education and health in the action area on international development cooperation. This cluster focuses on the social protection aspects of social compact.

Exploring coherent funding modalities

The ECOSOC financing for development segment and subsequent FfD conferences can call for sector agreements to ensure universal access to education, health, social protection floors, water and sanitation and housing, respecting human rights. The objective of these FfD agreements is to establish financing commitments in each sector:

  1. Setting nationally appropriate spending targets for quality investments in essential public services for all. For example, in education, there is already a benchmark, adopted at the Incheon Declaration/World Education Forum 2015, to allocate at least 4-6% of GDP to education and/or at least 15-20% of public expenditure to education. Note that domestic investments, if they are to be pro-poor, cannot be raised by levying additional out of pocket payments on the poor and near-poor, keeping them in poverty or pushing deeper into poverty.  
  2. Agreeing on ODA/international public finance, specific commitments to each sector, including new innovative approaches.

Under the auspices of the ECOSOC FfD segment, these international agreements could be held every four years, led by the most relevant UN agency/agencies.

FfD Agreements for a Social Compact

SDGs/Targets

Potential Coordinating Agency/Agencies

FfD Global Commitment to Social Protection Floors

1.3, 1a, 8, 10.4

ILO

FfD Global Commitment to Health

3

WHO, UNITAID

FfD Global Commitment to Education

4

UNESCO, UNICEF

FfD Global Commitment to Water and Sanitation

6

UN Water

FfD Global Commitment to Housing

11.1

UN Habitat

FfD Global Commitment to Human Rights

All

OHCHR

 

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Implications for monitoring

Monitoring delivery on the commitments of the new national social compact, reflecting the Addis agreement, requires tracking funding for national fiscally sustainable development strategies that include nationally appropriate social protection systems/floors, health, education, water and sanitation, housing for all, respecting human rights. The monitoring comprises two categories:

  • Monitoring the commitment to the new social compact in national budgets:  National data already collected and classified by function in the framework of the System of National Accounts and Government Finance Statistics for general government spending; new social compact expenditures to achieve relevant SDGs (as per Addis) to be included in national sustainable development strategies. When possible, track spending that explicitly addresses geographic disparities of services (both quality and access) and inequities among different population groups in service provision, as well as international benchmarks.
  • Monitoring the commitment to the new social compact in development aid:  This may be done through the existing OECD DAC CRS codes, selecting those appropriate within codes 110 (Education), 120 (Health), 13020 (Reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS), 16010 (Social/Welfare Services), 140 (Water and Sanitation), 16030 (Housing and slum upgrading) and 15160 (Human Rights). When new innovative approaches exist like airline ticket levies, percentage of credit card sales, and others, it will be added to the relevant sections.
Social protection

Monitoring delivery on the national commitments on social protection requires tracking funding to national sustainable development strategies that include fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social protection systems/floors. The required monitoring comprises two categories:

  • Monitoring the commitments on social protectionin national budget:  National data already collected and classified by function in the framework of the System of National Accounts and Government Finance Statistics for general government spending; social compact expenditures to be included national sustainable development strategies. When possible, track spending that explicitly addresses geographic disparities and inequality among different population groups as well as international benchmarks.
  • Monitoring the commitment on social protectionin development aid:  This can be done through the existing OECD DAC CRS codes, selecting those appropriate within codes 16010 (Social/Welfare Services).

The figure shows data on general government expenditure for social protection or social security (including contributory schemes and tax-based social assistance) as a percentage of GDP, as presented in government statistics. Figures range from approximately 3 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa to approximately 18 percent in Western Europe.

However, only a share of this expenditure falls on the taxpayer, the largest share being financed by employers’ and workers’ contributions. Globally, employers contribute 14 per cent and workers 7 per cent of covered earnings. The role of contributions in financing public social security spending (or social protection spending) is better described by Figure 1, in which public social security or social protection spending in each country is contrasted with contributions.

 

Social protection policy updates

The effort to “Deliver as One” on Social Protection Floors at country-level and through regional United Nations Development Group Teams has gathered momentum, acting on the joint call by the UNDG Chair Helen Clark and ILO Director-General Guy Ryder to create One-UN Social Protection Floors country teams to implement Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors. Joint work at country and regional levels is underway in the Asia-Pacific region and Eastern and Southern Africa and is developed during 2017 in Europe and Central Asia, Arab States and Africa Region.

Furthermore, at the 2016 UN General Assembly, world leaders launched the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to support the extension of universal social protection in all countries. Heads of state, the World Bank Group, the International Labour Organization and other international Agencies convened on Wednesday 21 September 2016 to inaugurate the Partnership highlighting the feasibility of universal social protection in every country, as proven by 23 country cases where it has already been achieved.