Over the past two decades, the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed a number of economic crises that have threatened progress towards reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. These crises reflect the increased risks associated with globalization, especially for the poor and those without voice. In addition, several countries in Asia and the Pacific have been profoundly affected by high-impact natural disasters which have exposed vulnerabilities and amplified the insecurities of many people’s livelihoods. This has especially been the case for poor households located in rural areas. Such crises and development challenges have generated renewed interest in social protection as a tool to mitigate not only the impacts of shocks but also to help accelerate the recovery of people most affected by such events.
Much of this interest has focused on the risks and vulnerabilities that have emerged as a result of specific events and, consequently, social protection initiatives have tended to be reactive rather than proactive. Yet, it is also known that poverty and exclusion magnify the effects of crises, and so to be truly effective and transformative social protection must be linked to efforts to reduce poverty and exclusion and in so doing eliminate the structures that place people in situations of vulnerability in the first place.
This report provides a compelling argument for advancing the social protection agenda in Asia and the Pacific along this direction.