UN Policy Dialogue "Building an inclusive and sustainable social protection system" held online

The United Nations in China in collaboration with the Government of China organised a social protection policy dialogue online

16 November 2020

Beijing, 10 November 2020 The United Nations in China, under the auspice of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office and in collaboration with the Government of the People’s Republic of China, organised a policy dialogue titled 'Social Protection at the time of COVID-19 and beyond: Building an inclusive and sustainable social protection system' on 10 November 2020. The policy dialogue aimed to share and learn from the efforts in China and globally to strengthen social protection for the groups hardest hit by the pandemic, and to initiate a policy discussion about innovative approaches to creating a more inclusive social protection system and its sustainable financing.

The dialogue was opened by Mrs Amakobe Sande, United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in China, who noted that the effects of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 posed a challenge to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 revealed gaps worldwide in the coverage of social security that risk increasing inequality and the proportion of people at risk of falling back into poverty. According to Ms Sande, COVID-19 provided a wake-up call to accelerate building universal social protection systems.

Mr Liu Xitang, Director-General, Social Assistance Department, Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) described the experience of China responding to COVID-19 from the perspective of social assistance. He noted the expansion of social assistance measures in China to cushion the economic effects of the crisis on the poor, especially those not covered by other social protection schemes. Mr Xu Yanjun, Director-General Level Counsel, Social Insurance Administration, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) presented how the social insurance administration in China responded to COVID-19 by extending coverage of unemployment insurance benefits and improving accessibility through digital registration and payment systems.

Mrs Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia noted that throughout the region, the most vulnerable groups of people before the crisis were the hardest hit and the ones who find it most difficult to get back to some sense of normality. These include workers in informal and flexible employment, women, children and young persons. She emphasized the role of social protection can play to stimulate the economy and facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy.Mrs Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF Representative to China closed the dialogue by noting that the experience in China has shown the irreplaceable role played by social security in promoting inclusivity and cohesion in society and in leaving no one behind. She indicated that the investment in social security needs to be sustained and called for more coherent, resilient and robust social protection systems.

The dialogue included 22 moderators and speakers, and 8 panels. Online, 100 national and provincial government officials, social partners and civil society and representatives of the United Nations agencies in China, in the region and internationally participated. Participants in China came from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS), civil society organisations China Enterprise Confederation (CEC) and academia.

The policy dialogue is the first of a series of events planned under the United Nations Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 and under the leadership of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China. UNDP, UNICEF and ILO were the hosts of the dialogue, in partnership with the technical ministries, the MCA and MOHRSS.

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