Symbolic image on the subject of the social safety net: Three fishermen hold a net

Social protection

Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, with their wide-ranging social, economic and health-related impacts, have highlighted just how important effective social systems are. More than half of the world’s population still has no access to social protection, however.

Without a social safety net, many people and their families have no protection against risks such as illness, unemployment or damage caused by climate change. If they strike and people are left to face the consequences alone, this can trigger a poverty spiral. That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) assists its partner countries in establishing and expanding social protection systems that can provide vulnerable people with rapid, targeted support when needed.

Social protection as a human right Internal link

Social protection is a human right (Article 22 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Social protection is also enshrined in many international agreements, and in the 2030 Agenda.

Background: social protection systems Internal link

Social protection systems help to safeguard people against individual risks (such as accidents or illness) and collective risks (such as natural disasters or pandemics). They support a country’s social and economic development, and promote individual participation.

Germany’s activities in support of social protection

Global Forum on Adaptive Social Protection External link

In June 2023, the BMZ hosted the Global Forum on Adaptive Social Protection in Berlin, in collaboration with the World Bank. More than 300 participants from around the world came together to discuss the development, consolidation and expansion of Adaptive Social Protection (ASP).

The BMZ assists its partner countries in establishing and expanding social protection systems, and promotes social programmes in financially vulnerable countries and those affected by crises. It works closely with international organisations such as the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Social protection measures are promoted in many areas of German development cooperation.

Mari Pangestu, Managing Director Development Policy and Partnerships of the World Bank, Federal Minister Svenja Schulze and Gilbert Houngbo, Director-General of the ILO, at the press conference on 29 November 2022 in Berlin on deepening cooperation between BMZ, ILO and the World Bank in the field of social protection.

At a meeting of the G7 development ministers, which was held in Berlin in May 2022 under the German Presidency of the G7, Germany and its partners undertook to increase the number of people with social protection by one billion in the period up to 2025. This is a step towards achieving the internationally agreed goal set out in the 2030 Agenda (SDG 1, Target 3) of providing access to social protection for the four billion people who are still without it.

At international fora such as World Bank meetings, SDG summits and UN climate conferences, Development Minister Svenja Schulze is pushing for the advancement of social protection systems through global cooperation.

Advancing the international social protection initiative

14 October 2022 For a more equal future – Social Protection as a driver for female empowerment Internal link

Speech by Development Minister Svenja Schulze at a side event of a World Bank Meeting in Washington DC

In September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions. This initiative aims to create around 400 million decent jobs by 2030 and increase efforts to extend social protection to the four billion people who have hitherto had no access to it.

The BMZ is supporting the implementation of the initiative through a coordinated financing mechanism together with existing UN and World Bank funds. By improving coordination between the key players in the area of social protection and fostering a more efficient use of funds, the aim is to assist reform-minded partner countries in achieving shared goals regarding the provision of social protection.

Expanding social protection as part of shielding against climate risks

Logo: Global Shield against Climate Risks

The BMZ is working to combine social protection systems with climate and disaster risk financing in order to improve resilience to climate-related crises through social protection. This is made possible when social protection systems are adaptive and allow additional funds to be directed to those affected in a targeted, flexible way when needed. This enables people to rebuild their homes after a natural disaster, for example, buy new seed for the next harvest or invest in climate-proof ways of earning a living.

The combination of social protection with climate and disaster response financing is being developed in interested partner countries as part of the Global Shield against Climate Risks, for instance.

Promoting digital technologies

The BMZ supports its partner countries in developing transparent and efficient social protection systems using digital applications. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, the World Food Programme, Switzerland and other partners, the BMZ is developing and making available the open source software “openIMIS”. This software is used in partner countries to manage systems for social protection, for example in the case of illness or accidents in the workplace. It was also used for cash transfers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In cooperation with the World Bank, the openIMIS initiative also provides a digital solution for social registers. The fact that the software is “open source” means that its source code is publicly available, can be used collaboratively and can be further developed with partners to meet their specific needs. This enables the creation of more efficient, more transparent social protection systems that can be expanded more quickly.

As at: 08/10/2023