The notion of establishing social protection floors in all countries is sound from a social and economic perspective. Even in the poorest rural areas, provision of social protection (through cash transfers or otherwise) have been shown to foster food security and rural development, aside from providing immediate income protection to beneficiaries. In that sense I fully agree with Olivier.
However, such positive spinoffs does not mean that a “Global Fund for Social Protection” would be a good idea. In fact, it may be a bad idea. First, it might just add to an already confounded and highly fragmented international development assistance architecture (assuming the Fund would mainly aim to channel resources from rich to poor countries to finance social protection programmes). I don’t think we would be well served with yet another vertical fund for earmarked use. Second, and more importantly, social protection systems work best when tailored to country contexts. This is not a trivial matter. The needs for social protection differ greatly across countries and there are multiple mechanisms to provide it. In practice, most countries have an array of social protection mechanisms (ranging from food and energy price subsidies to social security transfers, and to cash transfers, direct food assistance, subsidized health care access, etc. etc.). These may not always have been construed in a coherent way, but typically have their contextual reasons. Many countries may need reforms to these mechanisms to provide more adequate social protection to all. However, it is not obvious that a Global Fund would be helpful in supporting this. Worse, it may just make such reforms subject to international donor conditionality. In short, social protection floors are best built bottom up (as floors should be), rather than top down.
Coordinator Strategic Programme on Rural Poverty Reduction (SO3) and
Director Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW)
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
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