International conference in Berlin Germany and the World Bank are pressing ahead with support for establishing social protection systems

Minister Schulze said: Social protection is an investment that pays off

Press release 15 June 2023 | Social protection is both crisis insurance and crisis prevention – and a good investment in development. Nevertheless, around four billion people still have no access to social protection. The Development Ministry is working with the World Bank to boost international efforts for establishing and scaling up social protection systems. A new initiative will focus on coordinated joint solutions from various donors aimed at supporting partner countries in establishing adaptive social protection systems.

Participants of the conference "Global Forum on Social Protection" in Berlin

Participants of the conference “Global Forum on Social Protection” in Berlin

Participants of the conference Global Forum on Social Protection in Berlin

International alliances and strong partnerships are key in order to achieve the goal of all people being able to have access to social protection when they need it by 2030. The World Bank and the Development Ministry therefore convened a meeting of high-level representatives from partner countries, international organisations, development banks and civil society in Berlin this week. High-level representatives from countries such as Egypt, Senegal, Pakistan or Cambodia, and from organisations like the ILO, UNICEF, the WFP or the OECD, and from development banks such as the IDB were just some of the participants in the conference. A key aspect is that social protection systems need to be adaptive, so that if a crisis occurs – for example as a result of a drought or a pandemic – they can be activated quickly to deal with the specific situation, providing support for vulnerable people. This can prevent people sliding into poverty and hunger, thus also reigning in the costs for humanitarian assistance provided by the international community.

Symbolic image on the subject of the social safety net: Three fishermen hold a net
Development Minister Svenja Schulze said: “Social protection is an investment that pays off. It helps us to finally break out of the endless cycle of crises. It’s not just insurance, it’s also crisis prevention. Social safety nets reduce climate damage because they make it possible, for example, for a small farmer to buy new seed after a drought – and thus avoid falling into poverty. They help protect the climate, because only societies that are socially secure will be able to successfully master the necessary transformation of industrial, agricultural and energy systems. And social protection enables people to develop to their full potential, thereby advancing the development of society as a whole: because more parents can afford to send their children to school, because women become more independent and are able to realise their potential.”

Axel van Trotsenburg, Senior Managing Director at the World Bank, said: “Our recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the price shocks and disruptions to trade following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have shown that we must develop social protection systems that are flexible and build resilience of households. The World Bank has committed over 26 billion US dollars to support governments accelerate and scale up social protection measures to help people prepare for, cope with, and adapt to shocks. Looking ahead, we need to work with governments and partners to advance adaptive social protection systems that support low-carbon transitions and green jobs in sustainable economies.”

Together with UN organisations and the World Bank, the Development Ministry has launched a new initiative that will support partner countries quickly, efficiently and in a coordinated fashion as they work to establish their own social protection systems and create decent jobs. The Development Ministry will make seven million euros available as start-up financing for the new initiative before the end of the year. The first pioneer countries should soon receive support via the new international initiative to assist them in making their systems more efficient and more effective, and in mobilising additional domestic resources in order to stabilise and scale up their social protection systems.

The initiative is based around best practices from experience in the Sahel zone. This experience shows that a coordinated approach by different partners working together with partner countries leads to effective outcomes. Such as in the case of Niger: a collaborative effort has been organised here between the German Development Ministry and the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank-led Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program (SASPP). With joint needs analyses, and uniform disbursement mechanisms and monitoring and evaluation instruments, this intervention is making it possible for vulnerable people to receive swift support that is tailored to their needs. Study findings from Niger show that regular cash transfers via the social protection system mean that recipient households are able to meet their basic needs more reliably and are able to cope better with droughts. New approaches are also being simultaneously piloted in Niger via the SASPP. For example, support for affected households is activated automatically when satellite-based systems register inadequate rainfall. This allows provisions to be made to deal with a future drought before it has even begun.

The BMZ has contributed more than 130 million euros to this World Bank programme and is the biggest donor. The other donors are France, the United Kingdom and Denmark. In addition to assisting Niger, the programme is also helping Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal to establish and scale up adaptive national social protection systems.