An innovative online platform that supports countries to build inclusive social protection systems through dynamic and interactive functions was launched today in Bangkok by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The user-friendly, Social Protection Toolbox, identifies national coverage gaps and provides countries with over 100 good practices for inspiration and cross-country learning. The Toolbox also features capacity and knowledge building, in-depth studies, learning modules, videos, as well as a quiz.
The aim of the Toolbox is to support countries in Asia and the Pacific to better realize the potential social protection plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In simple and easy-to-understand ways, it explains the basic principles of social protection and the impact it can have on poverty reduction, social cohesion, economic growth and the environment.
The Toolbox also features two new e-learning modules, developed together with Development Pathways, showing how investing in inclusive social protection can accelerate progress towards the SDGs, why universal schemes are better at reaching the poor than targeted schemes, and what policy options to consider when designing inclusive schemes.
Despite the critical role social protection plays for the region, only 3 out of 10 mothers with newborns receive maternity benefits, less than 4 out of 10 people have access to health care and fewer than half of all countries in the region offer benefits to children and families. With adequate social protection coverage, the region could see strong positive results in reducing stunting, malnutrition and child and maternal mortality, but also increase life expectancy, see economic growth increase, and importantly, reduce poverty.
“Investing in inclusive social protection is an integral part of sustainable and inclusive development. Social protection has to be affordable. It not only contributes to lifting people out of poverty but also helps build their resilience. In a time when inclusive social protection is under threat in the region, Asia and the Pacific could use the Toolbox and learn from what other countries are doing to close these gaps,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar.
ESCAP research shows that if the region invested only 0.81 per cent of its combined GDP – corresponding to a cash transfer to poor households of less than half a US$ a day – 1.2 billion people would be lifted out of moderate poverty (at US$ 3.10 a day), contributing to feed the 500 million people who go hungry every day.
A series of additional tools are planned throughout the year such as two new e-learning tools on how to administer and finance social protection and how to advance social protection for persons with disabilities.