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Social Protection Floor Advisory Group held first meeting

On 11-12 August the first meeting of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, a Group of prominent experts and policy-makers with the mandate to provide general guidance and catalyze policy coherence in relation to a social protection floor, took place in Geneva. Convened by the ILO Director-General, Juan Somavia and presided over by Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, the Group discussed the meaning of a social protection floor; its main components; its political, economic and financial feasibility, as well as its institutional dimensions, fiscal space availability and overall sustainability in very diverse situations and according to different countries’ circumstances and needs.

“The launch of the Advisory Group comes at a critical time. The global financial and economic crisis has created greater vulnerabilities in terms of decent work, health, hunger and education which will have dramatic social effects unless decisive action is taken” said Juan Somavia, while underlining that “It is the United Nations’ duty to protect those fundamental elements of social cohesion that make human development possible, but which are often the first to be discarded in a recession.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that worldwide, four out of five persons in the working-age population have no access to adequate social protection. It further underscores that the situation has worsened as a result of global crises (e.g. economic and food), which have increased poverty as well as unemployment levels, particularly of women and young people. The Group therefore emphasized the need to pay special attention to these groups of society.

Members of the Group include:

Mr. Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General;
Ms. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO);
Mr. Aurelio Fernández Lopes, Chair of the European Union Social Protection Committee (since 2007);
Ms. Eveline Herfkens, Founder of the MDGs campaign, Executive Coordinator for the MDGs Campaign (2002-2008), Minister of Development Cooperation of the Netherlands (1998-2002);
Mr. Kemal Dervis, Vice-Chair of the Brookings Institution (since 2009), Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (2005-2009) and Minister for Economic Affairs of Turkey (2001-2002);
Ms. Margaret Wilson, Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Waikato (New Zealand), Member and spokesperson of the New Zealand House of Representatives (2005-2008), Minister of Labour (1999-2005);
Mr. Martin Hirsch, former High Commissioner for Active Solidarities against Poverty and for Young People of France (since 2007), former head of Emmaüs;
Ms. Sudha Pillai, Secretary of the Planning Commission of India (since 2007), former Secretary of Labour and Employment; and
Mr. Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development of South Africa, former spokesperson of the Workers Group in the Governing Body of the ILO.

For more information on the first meeting, click here.

For more information on the social protection floor initiative, click here.