This article provides a reflexive analysis of the design and implementation of social protection systems and anti-poverty programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean. It focuses particularly on the expansion of the conditional cash transfer and non-contributory pension programmes implemented over recent decades. The aim of this study is to distil policy lessons and foster debate on the challenges and opportunities that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development currently poses for social protection systems. The article argues that more of the same will not be enough to maintain progress and achieve higher levels of development in the future. Using examples, the discussion turns to the challenges lying ahead under the paradigm of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These include excluded groups, life cycle needs, better coordination between sectors and fiscal constraints. It ends with a number of questions to foster discussion and a conclusion with policy recommendations.