IPC-IG's and UNDP's publication on social protection innovations in light of COVID-19 is discussed in webinar

Kids with face mask at school


The publication “Next Practices: Innovations in the COVID-19 Social Protection Responses and beyond”, launched last month, was discussed during a webinar held on 03 November. This Research Report was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and developed by the IPC-IG under the overall guidance of the Inclusive Growth team at the UNDP Bureau for Programme and Policy Support (BPPS).

“This joint report with the IPC-IG is to curate social protection innovations that have been implemented as support of the responses to COVID-19 crisis. Innovations that can leverage to build more inclusive and sustainable social protection systems, both in the medium and the longer terms", explained Mansour Ndiaye, Global Head of Inclusive Growth of the UNDP, who delivered opening remarks for the webinar.

He added that the report aims at supporting UNDP Country Offices and Member States by offering lessons learned so that they don’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’, but use these lessons as guidance to enhance their policies, programmes and next practices.

The research systematises the social protection innovations implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; showcases factors that enabled ‘inclusive innovation’; and provides lessons on the inclusion of traditionally excluded groups and the expansion of social protection systems to help countries achieve Sustainable Development Goal target 1.3: “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable”. 

During the webinar, IPC-IG’s Research Coordinator, Fabio Veras, explained the report’s concept of innovation, which is related to changes and practices that rapidly and effectively enhance the coverage, adequacy, and resilience of social protection systems. It comprises: (i) technological innovations, such as digital registration and mobile money; (ii) governance innovations, such as citizens’ engagement and social protection committees; and (iii) process innovations, such as changes in the planning and implementation of services and programmes. 

Veras then provided an overview of social protection responses globally, making use of data from the IPC-IG online Dashboard of social protection responses to the COVID-19 in the Global-South and other COVID-19 databases from the World Bank, ILO, and UN Women/UNDP gender tracking. Literature review was also part of the research methodology. According to Veras, social protection faces issues not only of coverage, but also of adequacy. 

Maya Hammad, a researcher at the IPC-IG, discussed best practices and lessons learned. On the identification and registration of beneficiaries, she highlighted the necessity of including the ‘missing middle’—informal workers—and specific vulnerable groups in social protection responses, such as people with disabilities, elderly people, women and children, and migrants and refugees. 

Country cases were shared to illustrate best practices regarding payment mechanisms. Jordan adopted mobile money and facilitated the opening of mobile wallets. Peru and Chile combined digital, partially digital, and non-digital payment modalities to ensure inclusion. Brazil simplified the process to open bank accounts and allowed citizens to open accounts remotely through IDs.

Finally, Hammad discussed issues related to the fiscal space and sustainability of social protection measures, addressing how they were financed during the health crisis: “Social Protection measures across the Global South mostly relied on public sources of financing (69 per cent), followed by international sources (18 per cent)”. According to her, one of the lessons learned pertains to the reallocation of public expenditures. It should focus on replacing high-cost, low-impact investments with those that are more relevant in crisis contexts, taking into consideration potential consequences for mid- and long-term development.


The Research Report is available here, together with its executive summary


Watch the webinar recording here


Photo: European Union Olympia de Maismont