UN launches social protection national consultations series

UN launches social protection national consultations series.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched a series of national consultations under a regional programme on strengthening social protection in Asia-Pacific in Jakarta today.

The first National Consultation was held on 4 June 2013 in Indonesia in cooperation with the Paramadina Graduate School (PGS). The Consultation reviewed preliminary research findings on how best to utilize various programme interventions as building blocks for universal coverage in Indonesia.

”We need to move away from using temporary social assistance as a means to reach universal social protection and instead build a sustainable system covering the entire population as prescribed in the national law,” said Dr. Surya Chandra Surapaty, Member of Parliament, fraction of the Struggle Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P).

“As highlighted in the national study, universal social protection coverage in Indonesia is urgently needed. We hope that this consultation will provide an opportunity to rethink government policies in collaboration with UNESCAP,” said Anies Baswedan, President of Paramadina University.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to the world’s fastest growing economies. Despite this remarkable development, only 30%of persons above the retirement age receive an old-age pension, only 10% of the jobless receive unemployment benefits, and about 30% of persons with disabilities have enough income for self-support. Furthermore, only 20% per cent have access to health-care services.

To a large extent, this is a result of insufficient spending on effective social protection programmes, leaving more than 800 million people in extreme poverty and more than half a billion people undernourished.

Well-designed social protection schemes are fundamental for promoting opportunities and choices for individuals and societies. As such, they improve well-being and generate economic growth.

“Social protection should therefore be seen as a universal right for all rather than a privilege for a few,” said Patrik Andersson, Chief of the Social Integration Section, Social Development Division at ESCAP. “As a driver for economic and social inclusion, social protection should not be seen as a cost, but rather as an investment.”

The national consultations bring together experts from the Government, academia, civil society and relevant international organizations to identify strategies to expand social protection coverage. The remaining ones will be held in the Philippines, China, Viet Nam, Thailand and India throughout the remainder of 2013.

The outcomes from this and additional consultations will be integrated into a practical, policy-oriented interregional online toolbox to provide support to national level initiatives, promote the exchange of experiences, formulate capacity-building activities and document innovative schemes with the objective of achieving fairer and more effective universal social protection schemes.