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Authorities and specialists discuss the future of social protection systems in a context of cascading crises

8 May 2024|Briefing note

The recent interregional seminar, organized within the framework of the "Transformative Reactivation" project by ECLAC and German Cooperation (GIZ), explored the challenges of social protection systems in Latin America and the Caribbean amid profound transformations and a context of cascading crises.


Reunión en la CEPAL

The interregional seminar “The future of social protection in the face of a cascade of crises: moving towards universality with solidarity and sustainability” was organized by ECLAC and the German Cooperation, within the framework of the joint project “Transformative reactivation: overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean”, financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The event explored the challenges and opportunities faced by social protection systems in the context of profound transformations in the world of work, technological advances, demographic changes, the climate crisis, disasters, violence, and epidemiological and nutritional transitions.

Authorities from the social sector, labour, and social security representing at least ten Latin American countries and social protection specialists from various organizations and regions came together to discuss the strengthening of social protection systems amidst multiple crises.

Issues such as the reconfiguration of the social risk structure and the triple development trap in which the region is mired were addressed. The triple development trap refers to a situation with low growth, high inequality, low social mobility, and low institutional and governance capacity (Salazar-Xirinachs, 2024). The meeting highlighted progress towards universal, comprehensive, sustainable, and resilient social protection systems, particularly the challenges left by the enduring social crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic. This event took place on Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.

Design of social protection policies at the forefront of discussions

Advancing social dialogue to create a fiscal and intergenerational pact that allows for strengthening social protection systems was at the centre of the discussion. The presentations focused on strategic guidelines for designing social protection policies, addressing the challenges in covering informal and independent workers, and navigating the challenges regarding the implementation of social registries, and the financial sustainability of these systems.

Strategies to expand social protection for independent and informal workers were explored during the event, along with debates on the evolution of active employment policies and the challenges faced by platform workers. The importance of social registries and social information systems was highlighted, as was the need to strengthen financial sustainability and increase investment in social protection.

The seminar served as an opportunity for interregional dialogue, highlighting the need to move towards universal, comprehensive, sustainable, and resilient social protection systems. The event promoted reflection and dialogue between regions, reaffirming the commitment of Latin America and the Caribbean to building more inclusive and solid protection systems.

These topics will remain on the agenda at future events, such as the Fourth Regional Seminar on Social Development, which will be part of the framework of the preparatory discussions for the Sixth Meeting of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean held next year. Likewise, they will play a role in the positioning of Latin America and the Caribbean towards the Second World Summit on Social Development in 2025