Social protection has been a growing area of national
and international development policies, and is an integral component of the
2030 Agenda. Many low- and middle-income countries have adopted social
protection policies and it has rapidly become a priority of bilateral and
multilateral development agencies.
This reflexion paper contributes to SDC’s strategic
positioning. It builds on the SDC’s Issue Paper on Social Protection and analyses
the experience and comparative advantage of the SDC and of Switzerland in
Although social protection is not a stand-alone theme,
the SDC has long experience with social protection instruments in a variety of
contexts and across the whole spectrum from emergency cash response to building
national capacities. This includes humanitarian cash transfers and
shock-responsive safety nets, inclusive insurance and micro-insurance schemes,
social health protection for universal health coverage, and livelihood
promotion for excluded or vulnerable groups.
Switzerland’s social protection system is recognised
internationally for its quality. Some elements of the Swiss approach to social
protection are highly relevant in the context of development cooperation. For
example, the decentralised provision of services and the involvement of civil
society and the private sector can be interesting options for SDC’s partner
countries in developing their social protection systems. Engaging in the
international dialogue on social protection also offers opportunities for
exchange and learning to Swiss institutions.
SDC Social Protection Reflexion Paper
December 2018 / Justine Boillat, Scientific collaborator, Quality Assurance and Poverty Reduction Section, Swiss Department for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Social protection is a growing field in both national and international development policy and is a prominent feature of the 2030 Agenda. In fact, at global level, only a few countries have been able to reduce poverty and improve living conditions on a broad scale without putting comprehensive social protection systems in place. International initiatives receive increasing support indicating that social protection is perceived as an investment into the future rather than a cost. For example the ILO’s Global Flagship Programme on Building Social Protection Floors for All brings together governments, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, civil society and the private sector to invest in social protection.
Across the SDC, the consensus is also growing that social protection is a key approach to sustainable systemic change in partner countries, as well as fundamental to promote inclusion and meet the commitment to leave no one behind.
In 2018, the SDC produced a reflexion paper on social protection based on its experience in multiple contexts. Switzerland’s own social protection system was also taken into account. The SDC defines social protection as the set of public and private initiatives designed to support all people across the life-cycle, providing protection against social and economic risks and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. It can be provided through three main modalities: social assistance, social insurance and labour market policies. Social protection protects vulnerable women and men from the consequences of living in poverty, prevents people from falling into acute poverty and enables sustainable escape out of poverty.
An independent evaluation of the SDC’s performance in social protection is currently ongoing. The evaluation results and recommendations, expected in 2019, will provide useful elements to pursue and strengthen SDC’s engagement in social protection. In general, the topic will be high on the international agenda in 2019: in addition to the ILO which celebrates 100 years of social protection, it will be the annual priority theme of both the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Commission for Social Development.
2018 Report on the World Social Situation: Promoting Inclusion through Social Protection
Building Social Protection Floors for All, ILO’s Global Flagship Programme
SDC papers on social protection
April 2017 / Kim Andreas Kessler, Academic Trainee, Quality Assurance and Poverty Reduction Section, Swiss Department for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Have a look at the
new Lightbulb video in which Simon Zbinden speaks about microinsurances. Lightbulb shall inspire, trigger reflection and debate, and eventually shape good practice.
March 2016 / Anne Moulin, Focal Point Quality Assurance Poverty, Swiss Department for Development and Cooperation
In the last decade, social protection has become an important component of development policy. While the SDC supports interventions such as cash transfers in humanitarian settings and private/semi-private (agricultural) insurance schemes, it has done so without particular guidance or reference to an SDC position on social protection.
As part of the SDC-IDS Collaboration, researchers from the
Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at IDS have been working with the SDC to look at the part social protection plays in SDC's work and how this could develop in the future.
The focus of this work was a Mirror Event, held on 18 February 2016 and hosted by the SDC. It was attended by
Keetie Roelen and
Stephen Devereux from the CSP, members of the SDC Directorate and other interested SDC staff.
March 2016 / Stephen Devereux, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
On 18 February 2016, the SDC hosted a Mirror Event on Social Protection as part of the SDC-IDS Collaboration.
Presenters from the Centre for Social Protection at IDS introduced the concept and explained why social protection is important for the SDC in relation to its strategic objectives and priority themes. The SDC then set out preliminary findings from a light-touch mapping of social protection interventions currently supported by the SDC.
IDS summarised positions taken to social protection by other agencies, ranging from the instrumentalist approaches of the World Bank and World Food Programme to the rights-based approaches of ILO and UNICEF.
A lively discussion followed, focusing on how the SDC should engage with social protection going forward. There was consensus that a more coherent focus was needed, while recognising that the nature of SDC engagement is always context-specific and responsive to needs.
In the afternoon a participatory mapping exercise started to clarify SDC's emerging approach to social protection, including the mandate and objectives, guiding principles, target groups, modes of engagement, funding modalities and partnerships.
The high level of interest in this topic across all domains and levels within the SDC was very encouraging. SDC-QA will start a consultation regarding next steps in March 2016.
For further information please contact Stephanie Guha, SDC-QA.
December 2015 / Jane Stevens, Communications Coordinator, Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
On the 18-19thFebruary 2016, the SDC will host an Event on Social Protection as part of the SDC-IDS Collaboration on Poverty, Politics and Power.
In the last decade, social protection has become an important component of development policy. While the SDC supports interventions such as cash transfers in humanitarian settings and private/semi-private (agricultural) insurance schemes, it does so without particular guidance or reference to an SDC position on social protection.
This event, a collaboration between the SDC and the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies, will consider the question "should the SDC engage further in this area and if so, how?" It will include the development of recommendations on social protection followed by consideration and discussion of these by the SDC Directorate.
You are welcome to attend the first morning session and the closing session. The morning session will include an introduction to the collaboration and overall event and will present main frameworks of social protection, the roles and positions of other donors and international organisations and key issues in the future of social protection. It will also include preliminary findings of a light-touch mapping of social protection interventions already supported by the SDC. At the closing session you can find out more about the thinking, learning and outcomes of the event.
Keetie Roelen and Stephen DevereuxThis Briefing Note introduces the current topics and thinking in social development, including political leverage, fiscal affordability, targeting, labour market linkages, impact, 'sensitive' social protection, and systemsbuilding.SDC-IDS Briefing Note 01 (151KB)
Stephen Devereux and Keetie Roelen
This Briefing Note summarises the position of several key development partners in terms of their thinking and practice on social protection.SDC - IDS Briefing Note 02 (191KB)
Keetie RoelenThis note was written in February 2016 by Keetie Roelen (IDS) based on findings from a light-touch mapping exercise as undertaken by Anne Moulin (SDC) in January – February 2016.SDC - IDS Briefing Note 03 (209KB)