ESCAP in the Asia-Pacific Social Protection Week 2019
What will it take to “Secure the Future of our Region”? Thought leaders in government and development arenas have brought attention to the key role of social protection not only in reducing poverty, but also in tackling inequality and upholding everyone’s human rights, during a week-long event that has just concluded in Manila, the Asia-Pacific Social Protection Week. As the Asia-Pacific region is going through demographic shifts, while the impacts of climate change are looming over the environment and the economy, and decent work is threatened by automation and persistent informality, social protection is increasingly seen as an essential policy tool to leverage a prosperous future for everyone in Asia and the Pacific.
ESCAP research, for example, finds that if ESCAP developing countries in Asia and the Pacific were to increase public expenditure on social protection to the global average of 11.2 per cent, from the current levels of 3.7 per cent, 233 million people would be lifted out of moderate poverty by 2030, while Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines would eradicate extreme poverty. Investing more in social protection does not depend on a country’s level of economic development, as measured by GDP per capita, but on its political leadership’s commitment to investing in people. Kyrgyzstan and Timor-Leste, for example, among the poorest countries in the region in GDP per capita terms, both spend above average on social protection. Many richer countries do not.
As a main co-organizing partner of the event, ESCAP actively engaged in various sessions throughout the week. The ESCAP Executive Secretary, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, delivered avideo message at the opening session. The Social Development Division (SDD) joined a scene-setting panel on challenges and opportunities in achieving the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific – and in expanding social protection for all. SDD also participated in a panel that discussed inclusive Social Protection Systems that support the participation of persons with disabilities. ESCAP also highlighted how it was supporting member States in setting up a regional modality on strengthening regional cooperation on social protection, in partnership with the ILO.